Thursday, February 04, 2010

Housekeeping Checklist

If you think that I'm going to share some kind of meticulous and systematic checklist here that details how often I scrub the floors and clean behind the refrigerator, you are reading the wrong blog.

However, when I do want to buckle down and do some heavy-duty housekeeping (most likely organizing and purging), there are some things that I need to have. In the spirit of one of my favorite picture book heroes, Scaredy Squirrel --

From my favorite of his adventures, Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

A few items Jennifer needs to insure a successful housekeeping session:
  • A clear schedule -- Nothing impedes my already-shaky motivation like having to take a kid somewhere or get a few items at the store. A block of time bids me to fill it and use it so that I have something to show for it later.
  • Comfy clothes -- This isn't that different from any other at-home day, but ideally the clear schedule (see above) extends throughout the evening so that I don't feel compelled to undergo any beauty rituals at all.
  • My ipod, and a great podcast or audiobook -- This turns my chores into an almost-enjoyable activity. I can spend a couple of hours tackling a particularly brutal cabinet mess (one of the goals for today) or an unhinged closet if I have good entertainment. I added "Listening" to my sidebar on the right and will keep it updated with my current podcast series or audiobook. I bought a bunch of audiobooks from at the members-only sale, and I am excited to have many many hours of wonderful entertainment. I'm really enjoying the one I started this week, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
  • Pockets -- In order to most effectively use my ipod, there are two hoodie sweatshirts with the hand-pocket in front that are perfect to hold the ipod. The most effective is this cheap oversized fleece pullover (bought in San Francisco one "summer" when we were all freezing!) that has two large side pockets.
  • Trash bags -- The key to making a big housekeeping/organizing session effective for the long-term is to get rid of the stuff that is causing the problem. I always keep one bag handy for trash and another for Goodwill, and I'm always amazed at just how much stuff I get rid of.
  • Blinders and earmuffs -- In order to overcome by biggest obstacle of distractedness, I need to wear those figurative blinders to shield me from other projects I could jump to, leaving the first unfinished, or the computer, which beacons me to just "send that email that I remembered I need to send," or the TV that begs me to veg out and take a break. The earmuffs protect me from incoming chatty phone calls that will cause me to jump off track.
What are the things that help you tackle big chores and projects effectively (if it's a natural inborn desire for cleanliness and order, I just don't want to hear about it, okay)?


Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

When I took time off last week to get projects done, I had my iPod in (or my TV turned to the digital music channel). I made sure I had 3 full days at home to get things done, instead of having to run errands. I also wore comfy clothes (i.e. PJs).

As far as the blinders & earmuffs...I learned a trick from an organizing book I read (and it works great for me when I have 2 projects I want to complete, because I tend to rabbit trail):

Set a timer for 15 minutes. Work in one room for that time (it's longer than you think, but you'll be rushing to see how much you can get done in that time). Do NOT leave the room for that 15 minutes. If something doesn't belong, put it in a basket to take out & deal with later. After that 15 minutes, move to another room. Same drill. For the 3rd 15 minutes, go back to the 1st room. Then TAKE A BREAK for 15 minutes. Make yourself do it for the whole time. That's when you can get the emails done, read a book, etc. When you're ready to go again, head back to the 2nd project/room & start your next hour. If you finish one project, you can always bring another in. It sounds confusing, but it's basically alternating 2 projects at a time. It has done wonders for me.

Kimberly said...

I'm with Melissa on this one. I follow FlyLady's philosophy of 15 minutes at a time. I've gotten way more done in 15 minutes of focused activity than I have in an all-day scurrying from room to room trying to get something/everything done. I used to end up with a bigger mess than I started with. Plus I get to take those last 15 minutes of the hour for myself, which is great motivation.

Good music playing in my iPod also helps!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I've heard of the whole timer thing (and used it -- along with the 42 item fling or whatever Flylady does about throwing stuff out), but I DO think that the alternating would help my ADD tendencies when I'm working!! I'm going to do that right now.

I did get a good hour and a half of work of work done this morning -- some regular stuff like dishes and laundry -- but I did complete 2 of my projects. However, I still have other ones, and I'm excited about trying this out.

planetnomad said...

My best motivation is to have guests coming. That's about the only time I get to the really deep stuff ;) Would you like me to come visit?

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

A good audiobook goes a loooong way toward helping me clean and/or organize. Also, it helps for me to be alone in the house...which doesn't happen very often. Which might be why this place is such a mess so often. :)

(Love the Scaredy Squirrel reference, since he's one of my favorites, too.)