Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How-To Tuesday: Organizational behavior, Stie style

Before I got married, I made all sorts of promises to the Husband. Promises that the now me rolls on the floor laughing at. Promises that, if made today, the Husband would double over with laughter and say, "I'm sorry, have we met?"

Yes, as a soon-to-be-newlywed, I naively said things like:

I am going to be dressed and ready every day before you leave for work.
I am going to make sure you always have ironed shirts waiting in the closet.
I am going to have a hot meal on the table when you come home every day.
I am going to devote hours of my life to keeping a clean home.

Bwaaahhhaaa, right?

Okay. So maybe I kind of do the last one. But the others? Took me less than two weeks to pretty much abandon the lot of them. Unapologetically, at that.

But one thing I did embrace was my inner OCD, and our home has been (for the most part) neat and organized ever since.

Keep in mind, short of laundry days, I probably only spend 30-45 minutes cleaning each day. Believe me, there are bigger fish to fry in my life. But with a little bit of planning and organization, you can stay on top of your work and enjoy a clean house, too. Here's how:

Number one: I do laundry twice a week, and only twice a week: Mondays and Thursdays. Laundry must be finished to completion. No loads are allowed to be left undone for the next day. Otherwise, you'll NEVER get caught up. Stay on top of it and fold each load as soon as the dryer is done.

Lucky for me, my dryer finishes a load about 12-13 minutes before the washer is done washing. (I know. It's awesome). I grab the dry load and have it folded before the wash cycle is done. Then it's a quick switch and I'm off to read blogs the next task on my list.

Number two: I clean two bathrooms on Tuesdays and two bathrooms on Fridays (we currently have four of them, so it means they get a thorough scrubbing once a week). I loathe cleaning the bathrooms, but it is a necessary evil. I have two boys whose aim defies the laws of physics. It is not pretty in there. But until I can convince the Husband to pay someone else to do it, the dirty job has got to be done.

Number three: I pick a problem area (be it closet, drawer, cupboard, desk or occasionally even a child's room) and clean it on Wednesdays. When I have more time, I tackle the bigger projects. But sometimes just cleaning out a drawer or cupboard in the kitchen makes all the difference for my sanity, and it takes very little time. I feel like I've accomplished something and it motivates me to keep going.

Number four: Multi-task. Key to this is speed and constancy. Don't let any one area get out of hand. Hurry and throw those breakfast dishes in the dishwasher right after breakfast. Dust while you're on a phone call. Sweep/vacuum quickly while the kids are doing homework. Wipe down a glass door while dinner is cooking. We are all busy. We all have no time. But ten minutes here or there can make a huge difference. You'll be surprised how much you can get done in a short amount of time.

Number five: Be organized. Everything has a place, and every member of the family must know where that place is. If you find you are constantly clearing the mail pile off the kitchen counter, then you need a designated spot for it. Get a cute basket or mail sorter and find a home for the wayward bills. If your kids are constantly leaving their shoes in a pile by the door, get a shoe cubby. It takes time to train your family to be organized, but I am living proof that it can be done. If there is a mess in the same place all the time, then it means you don't have a place for that mess. Find a place, train your people, and sit back and watch your house clean itself.

Well, almost.

Your turn. What have you got for us today?

P.S. A reader sent me a great suggestion: Leave what you're teaching in the linky rather than your name. Makes it easy to go back and search for a particular link without having to dig through piles and piles of posts, you know?

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Kymmie said...

I LOVE this post. Actually I just wrote about my lists and write constantly about my OCD (I call it COD, because it's in alphabetical order - problem? Perhaps.)

But love your system. And as I write, I have a line full of washing, that should have been taken down before sunset.

But it's still there. xx

Cares and Mimi said...

Great ideas, definitely going to use your laundry schedule! I do a lot of my organizing by playing mind tricks and setting deadlines. The in-laws are coming, the office must be painted before they come. The bus is coming in 10 minutes, the dishes must be in the washer, counters cleaned, table washed down and crumbs swept. It's a game that plays well for me and keeps the house very tidy. ~Cares

Cindy said...

I could use a schedule like this one. My cleaning life revolves around the idea that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Hopefully, as my children continue to grow, I can make my home run so smoothly. Thank you for this! I may try to incorporate this schedule in my home.

Donna said...

I've heard of the old-fashioned "Monday is Wash Day; Tuesday is Vacuumimg and Dusting", etc., but I never wanted to be a slave to a fixed schedule. I mistakenly thought that freedom meant not being told what to do, even by myself! NOT a workable plan! I've spent years being a list-writer and doing as much on it as possible each day, but again, not always workable because sometimes necessary things are left undone and catching up simply overwhelmes me. I like the idea of the minimal schedule and the multi-tasking mindset. Let's give this another try!!

Lauren in GA said...

Such a great post, Stie. I try to take on everything at once and end up defeated by 2:00p.m. I don't know why I don't just pick specific days for specific things.

You said it perfectly. My boys' aim definitely, "defies the laws of physics", too. What is freakin' UP with that?

Oh, and Dan kills me.

Lizzy said...

Love your post! Some of your philosophy is in my Brain Box. I think you have discovered the Key to the front door of a clean and organized home. Go girl.

Thelma said...

You have great ideas. A clean house IS a happy house. My problem is the whole "teaching my kids to work" thing. How do you fit that in?

Jeanelle said...

I finally had an idea...hope I did it right.

You know how everyone always wants what they don't have? I'd love to have a schedule where I could do a different organizational or cleaning task each day. My time at home is so limited and thus, I live in a sty most of the time. So grateful to have a job and a busy life though - just wouldn't mind a little free time now and again.

Amy at Ameroonie Designs said...

I started doing laundry on Monday a while ago- at my grandmother's suggestion. It has changed my world! I love that once the last load is folded on Monday- I don't have to worry about laundry again until the next week. I also try to iron the shirts right as they come out of the dryer, so there's no ironing pile either. Now the bathrooms...they're another story. :)

Karey said...

Great ideas. I like assigning bathrooms a certain day. I think I'll give it a try.

Suzanne said...

That's what I get for posting my link before reading your post! I'll put my subject instead of my name from now on. =)

You are a woman after my own heart! Especially the part about how you don't spend much time each day cleaning. I try to explain that to people, but nobody seems to get it. If you just stay on top of it, you never have to be a slave to chores. We do things a little differently, but essentially, it's a lot the same. Love it, love it, love it.

the wrath of khandrea said...

i agree with the fact that boys can't pee straight. which is why my boys must clean their own bathroom, the only one they are even allowed to use in this house. and make no mistake, they have been SCHOOLED in how to properly do so.

we kinda operate in the same way in this department. at least in points 4 and 5. the others... not so much.

kristen said...

this is perfect! just in time for spring cleaning too! thank you stie!

Kristyn said...

This may be my favorite how-to post yet!! I have waiting to hear how your inner OCD gets a house clean. This has been the biggest source of inner contention for me as a SAHM...pathetic, I know. 30-45 minutes a day? Seriously? I don't know if I totally buy that, but I guess I must sit down and make a daily schedule. Thanks for this! It might just save me! :)

Maria said...

Sorry I linked up and THEN i read your post. Please delete my first link that has just my name, if you can! :)

Julianna said...

Yeah. Also linked then posted. :(

It's been that kind of a day.

I do laundry on Sundays. Only Sundays. Laundry that gets done any other day is Almost Hubs's job. :)

Sunday is my only day off, therefore, the only day I have at home where I'm awake for more than 6 hours total. So, sadly, that is when I do most of my cleaning, cooking, etc. But I do agree with the mess thing. I have a place for everything, and everyone knows it's place. Except that pile of bills on the counter. That is it's place. If I put it in a pretty basket, I forget about it... then the pretty pink bills come, and that's never good. ;)

Tristan said...

Now were you able to do all this when your kids were really young? Cuz it is really hard for me. But I love your suggestions and schedule. I'm going to try it but make it work for me :)

Mine is up!

Dalene said...

You know we are totally kindred spirits, right? There is no denying it after this post, my friend. We just tackled our front coat closet this weekend... it looks and FEELS awesome! HOWEVER... please tell me this was more difficult for you when you had little ones or else I might feel like a complete failure. Right now there are hand prints on the TV(!), dishes in the sink, magnetic letters on the floor, and I am sitting here reading blogs. Ugh.

Nurse Graham said...

Wednesday's are laundry day for me; except for this week because I'm on laundry strike.

Unfortunately, I am one of those people who always has piles of "stuff" laying around. When it gets too out of hand, or every couple of weeks, the "stuff" gets sorted through and either put away or thrown away. I know I should be better at sorting and I applaud those women who are.

Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

jessica said...

I only do laundry on Mondays and Thursdays too...CRAZY! I also don't leave a load behind. In fact last night at midnight I remembered I forgot to put the last load in the dryer so I got up and did it!

My house is in construction mode and in desperate need of a deep cleaning but that will have to wait until this weekend...I am actually waiting on pins and needles to attack this place with my cleaning supplies!

crystal said...

Sadly, I have been in Spring Break recovery this week and did not do a How-To post. I have a few good ones up my sleeve, though.

Or perhaps I should do a belated post titled, "How Not to Kill Your Children When Driving Alone on a Road Trip." (may or may not include the illicit usage of nyquil.)

Amanda D said...

Great post! So many useful tips. I WISH my dryer dried clothes that fast. Usually it takes 90 minutes to get one load dry here. The vent goes all the way across the house and it must be clogged because it takes for....ever. I can't imagine cleaning four bathrooms. Our two and half make me crazy.

sistaoutlaw said...

To those of you who are wondering whether Christie kept her home like this when her children were little, I just want to say-YES!!!!! Her home has always been organized. It makes her giddy inside. All of you who are OCD KNOW what I am talking about. If you want to know how she keeps her home so tidy beyond her how to tuesday, just look up her job charts. Her chidren function like clockwork in the morning getting all their jobs done. It is part of why staying at her home is so much fun. Clean, comfortable surroundings and lots of time to play because she is so organized, the work gets done FAST!! Loved the post Christie-It helped motivate me to start cleaning out the closets before the kids are home for the summer!!

Lala said...

This was great. I totally motivated to really give it a go. I have your topic for next Tuesday... The How to Train Your Kids (& Husband) to keep things clean. Really- Or just come for a visit and we can do it together! Fun! Fun!

Kay said...

I know I'm late on this post, but I have 2 random questions, how often do you get around to mopping (or did I miss it in the post)? And do your children ever have to do these jobs?