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a chore-phobic’s guide to creating (and sticking to!) a cleaning schedule

anyone who knows me will know one thing: I hate to clean. I despise it with every fibre of my being. I would rather move house every week than pick up a hoover or a sponge, and left to my own devices I can easily end up with every surface of my kitchen covered in dirty pots and pans. I am an absolute pig, despite how much it stresses me out and upsets me when my house is untidy and unclean!

recently, me and my partner blocked out an entire weekend to deep clean our home and I decided that it was high time we start being proper adults and keeping on top of our housework – if only for the sake of my mental health. I know I’m far from the only one stuck in the vicious cycle of depression making me unable to do housework and then a messy house making me depressed and anxious, and I hope that the following guide can help anyone else who has, unfortunately, not been bitten by the mrs hinch bug!

cleaning schedule

start by blocking out any days where you have scheduled plans every week: for example, I go to the gym on tuesdays and sundays, and go swimming on a thursday. on these days, don’t schedule in anything other than the ‘daily’ tasks we’re going to specify below. I also leave friday nights free as I know that even with the best will in the world, I will not be hoovering my entire house when I get home from work at the end of the week!

then, make a list of all the housework tasks you need to do regularly in your home, regardless of how often you need to do them. this is best being done either on paper or on a spreadsheet as it’s easier to visualise each task when you’re then putting it into the day planner. figure out realistically how often you need to do each thing and colour code them accordingly. here’s my suggestions, from my own schedule:

daily: make the bed, remove any solids from the cats’ litter trays, wash the pots/load the dishwasher, wipe down kitchen sides

weekly: clean the microwave, wipe down the kitchen cupboards and front of appliances, fully clean the cats’ litter trays, tidy round the main rooms of the house, water the plants, wipe round the bathrooms, clean the hob top, fill the relevant bin for collection

twice weekly: sweep hard floors, mop hard floors, hoover, do a full laundry cycle (you’ll notice I currently have laundry in the daily section, because we’re still catching up, but it’ll be moved once we’re at the bottom!)

monthly: purge fridge and freezer for out of date food, make a shopping list, clean the dishwasher filter

obviously, not all of these will be relevant and you may need to do some more/less frequently – although I don’t recommend doing the pots or wiping kitchen sides any less than once a day as they can easily build up into a massive task!

once you have these sorted out, figure out which days make sense for each task and group ‘like’ tasks together. for example, my bins are collected on a monday morning so we have ‘fill relevant bin for collection’ on a sunday and we sweep/mop the hard floors and hoover on the same evenings. I recommend assigning 2-3 tasks for any working day (on top of the ‘daily’ tasks) and 4-5 tasks for non-working days. this might seem like a lot to look at, but most of the tasks take next to no time at all, especially if you’re keeping on top of things.

remember, however, to be realistic – for example, if you’re not able to stand for long periods of time, trying to sweep, mop and hoover in one evening will likely wear you out so you’ll need to split this across several days or if you’re a better plant-parent than me and are able to care for anything other than jade trees and succulents, you might need to increase the frequency of your plant-watering task.

for the monthly tasks, try to assign a particular day each month in your calendar to carry them out, so that you’re not getting to the last day of the month and getting in a tizzy trying to do 7 things at once. if you block out a day to do it and treat it like any other plan, it will be easier to ensure it gets done.

put your new schedule into a format which works for you. I load everything into the ‘todoist’ app and use my phone to track what needs to be done, because I know I’ll always have it on me and that I check it regularly. if you prefer, you can create a spreadsheet on your computer or a print out to go on the fridge. there is no right or wrong way to do this, just do whatever is going to be most likely for you and any other members of your household to check and complete.

my final piece of advice, and possibly the most important, is that once you’ve done each days’ tasks, relax! treat each day as a standalone to do list and don’t pick up any of another day’s tasks if you finish earlier than anticipated. this will allow you to bask in the glory of having completed your list for the day, and relax knowing that everything else has an assigned time to be completed and won’t just fester and build up. downtime is just as important for mental health as your environment, and you need to allow yourself to unwind or you’ll quickly burn out and lose track of all your hard work.

now, go forth and bask in your newly clean home! remember, I love to see your reactions to my posts, so don’t forget to tag me at #agentleexistence!

catch you next time,

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