For those of us on a budget who can’t afford cleaning services, it seems like it is hard to stay on top of the constant clutter and mess. Maybe once or twice a year you have budgeted for a clean house service, but these simple tips can go a long way to helping you keep it all together.
1.Prioritize the most impactful daily tasks and have a set time of day that you do them.
My three daily chores: Make the bed, load/unload the dishwasher, wipe off the kitchen counters. Easy and quick to do and boy do they make a difference. I like to do these things first thing in the morning after the breakfast chaos because it makes everything look better and gives me a sense of accomplishment without taking up too much time.
2. Have a place and system in the house for organizing all of the paper (mail, artwork, schedules, lists etc.)
If you are lucky to have a desk area in your kitchen, this is a big bonus. But another solution is to create a small desk area near the entryway that includes containers for sorting mail, a bulletin board to pin things that you want left out, and a whiteboard to write notes and keep lists on. Include a small caddy to hold pens and pencils and the indispensable sticky notes.
3. Create a system for weekly meal planning and grocery shopping.
This has saved me a ton of time once I found a way to easily manage it. I use a whiteboard that is a magnet on my refrigerator. The days of the week with dinner for each day is written on the top and the grocery list is below. Whiteboard markers and eraser are also magnets on the fridge so anyone can write what they want for dinner that week or help build the grocery list. That way, when your kids complain that dinner is boring or there is nothing in the house to eat, you can simply point to the whiteboard and tell them to write down what they want. Pro tip – ask your family members who can drive to take a photo of the grocery list when they head out.
4. Once per week, empty out leftover containers from the fridge.
I typically put near-empty containers or old leftovers in the sink and whoever is on dish duty that day has to rinse them all out or put them in the dishwasher before they go in the recycle. No dirty containers in the mixed recycle allowed!
5. Finish one task before you move on to the next one.
Not only is this more efficient in terms of actually tidying up, but the act of finishing a task makes you feel better and more accomplished.
6. Clean one room in the house really well once per month.
This should include decluttering and sorting things out that are lying around just taking up space in that room. Use this opportunity to dust under the furniture, wipe the baseboards and crown molding, and clean the floor. Doing one room per month takes maybe an hour or two and you will notice that your house simply looks and feels cleaner.
7. Designate one weekend per year where you sort out and sell or give away things that you don’t use any more.
There are 52 weekends in the year and one of them should be used to lighten you and your family’s load in the house. This makes it more fun and easier than waiting 10 years to sort things out and being completely overwhelmed by it all.
Discuss this with your family and plan it out. Make a game out of it to see which family member can not only get rid of the most stuff but can also either donate to a charity that you care about or sell it and make some spending money. Our kids loved going to the flea market once a year and honing their marketing and sales skills in our little family stand. And when we loaded things up in the car to donate to the charity, we involved the kids in choosing an organization they were interested in supporting and we did it together.
8. Create a system for keeping your car clutter-free and ready to grocery shop.
First, remove and throw away all trash from your car’s interior. Second, remove all the “crap” you’ve collected in your car. Sort out the things that go back in the house or garage and put them away.
There are very few items that I recommend putting back into your car but two things are a must. Find a good container for trash that you can empty out periodically but isn’t too big. Secondly, choose a durable trunk organizer to store reusable grocery bags and totes, wine carriers, and cup carriers for grocery shopping and spontaneous take-out purchases.
9. Make a list of small spaces in your house that need organizing and tackle one per month.
Examples include – under the kitchen sink, hall closet, entryway table or cupboard, Tupperware drawer, junk drawer, freezer, desk area.
10.Pick one day a week to do the bulk of the laundry.
Pick one day a week to do (most of) the laundry and start in the morning, working through the loads during the day. When you work from home, this works well during the week. Otherwise, choose Saturday or Sunday.