How To Avoid Housework | Giftie Etcetera: How To Avoid Housework

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How To Avoid Housework

I hate cleaning the house. I like a clean house, but I am allergic to dust and I get grossed out scrubbing bathrooms. Also, I'd just generally prefer to watch Netflix read go to the dentist do anything else!

So I put some Magic Minimums in my planner that keep my house from getting too filthy. The idea between Magic Minimums is that if they are ALL that you do, it should be enough to get by, as if by magic. (They work, too. Well, as long as 1) you do them at least 4 or 5 times a week and 2) you also erase the evidence of whatever you are doing throughout the day, including swishing toilets with a toilet brush and wiping down the sides of the tub daily.)


I use a sticker on my weeklies, normally, as a checklist, but I am redesigning the sticker, so you get the handwritten version in the meantime. (After all, done is better than perfect.)

Sweep (5 minutes) - This does NOT mean to sweep the floors. This means sweep around your house (every room, every bathroom, every closet) and quickly put away anything out of place.

This should not take more than 5 minutes, if you are erasing the evidence regularly.

Sometimes, if I am really pressed for time, I only sweep the public areas. Another shortcut is to jot down in my planner if I come across a pile o' stuff and schedule to deal with that pile later. (You know you have a pile o' stuff somewhere in your house, right?)

Food Prep (1 to 15 minutes) - Early in the day, I check that we have food for dinner. The important thing here is that I make a decision about what's for dinner and defrost anything needed from the freezer.

If I am going to be around all day, this might mean making some salsa for the fridge, throwing some chicken in the crock pot, and putting some rice cooking on the stove. On a work day, however, this basically means getting some hamburger meat out of the freezer to defrost for dinner.

Laundry (2 - 10 minutes) - I have two goals with laundry. One is to get a load started in the wash. Sometimes, this doesn't happen until right after work.

The other is to put away any laundry lingering from yesterday. That's when laundry takes a full 10 minutes. If you do a batch most days, laundry really doesn't take as long as you think it does.

15 Minute Quick Clean (15 minutes) - Once a day, for fifteen minutes, I clean the house. I set a timer and stop (and put away cleaning supplies) when it goes off.

Obviously, I do not clean the whole house. Instead, based on my sweep, I clean in the following order:

1. the highest impact areas (often, that means wiping down counters in the kitchen or sweeping/mopping the floor),

2. the areas that need cleaning the most (which is how grimy toilets ever get cleaned), and

3. spaces that have gone the longest without cleaning or organizing.

The 15 minute quick clean is not a science, but an art. You only get 15 minutes, so prioritizing matters. But if you do it daily and really do erase the evidence as you go, your house really will stay pretty clean.

Right now, my 15 minute quick clean would likely focus on my kitchen floors, which take the whole 15 minutes to clean. But, tomorrow, I could dust the kitchen and living room. The next day, vacuum all rooms. (It's a tiny house.) On the next day, since the high impact areas (where we mostly live and see the mess) are clean, I'd move to places like bathrooms, that NEED cleaning the most. If the whole house is clean (say, because a house guest is over), I might spend that 15 minutes organizing the junk drawer. 


Dishes (10 minutes) - All dishes should be in the dishwasher (since we usually run it at night) or clean and put away before bed.

It is especially important that handwashed dishes are clean and put away.

Prep (2 minutes) - Take a minute, look at your planner, put things to leave the house in the morning on your launch space (lunchbox, tote bag, purse) and list things that you need to get from other places (like lunch from the fridge or cell phone from the charger) on your planner. Pick out clothes or write down what you plan to wear.

TIP: If none of this works for you, just invite a house guest over or throw a party. That'll force you to clean.

BONUS TIP: If you can afford it, hire someone. I can't right now, but when I could afford it, it was such a blessing to my family.

This entire cleaning system takes about 35 to 57 minutes a day, maximum. In barely more than a half hour, you can keep your life in order and avoid EVEN marathoning housework.

And if you really dedicate to this, it will take even less time, since your house will be straightened and cleaned. Do you know how little time it takes to clean a bathroom when NOTHING is out of place and it was cleaned last week? Under 15 minutes!

35 to 57 minutes might seem like a lot, but in order to save time, I generally do a lot of it while cooking supper. So pasta water goes on the stove and onions go in the sauce pan, and I sweep the house. Pasta goes in the water and meat goes in the sauce pan, and I throw laundry in the washer and put away a sweater from yesterday. Pasta gets drained, and, while tomato sauce warms, I spend five minutes cleaning the microwave.

I also do a good bit either first thing in the morning (while the kids eat their breakfast, since I eat after they are at school) or right when arriving home from work. I also clean during tv commercials.


If you have kids, spouses, partners, or roommates, it takes even less time. (My kids do some of the laundry and my husband does a lot of it. My kids do all of the dishes except the cast iron pan. I don't do their rooms, except for a quick check about once a week, so I can spend time sweeping or cleaning other areas.)

Also, as long as I do it pretty regularly, I can skip a day or two (or, lets be realistic, three) and still get by with a fairly clean house.

Etcetera.

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