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Monday, April 16, 2012

Organizing and Cleaning

by Christy Carlyle

I confess it. I’m a doer. I’m a pleaser. I hate saying no to people who need help. That is probably part of the reason I became a teacher. However, it is also a tendency that frequently causes me to scoop far more onto my plate than I can reasonably handle. Those are the moments my mind screams for organization. I find that when I step back, make a plan, and then tackle it, I can get more done in less time. I think the equations look like this: 

lots of stuff to do + lots of time stressing = not enough time

vs.

lots of stuff to do + organization (- lots of time stressing) = just enough time +/-

Organizing and scheduling my time and tasks seemed a natural way to tackle my day job, writing, hobbies and all my other extra commitments. But that still left me with chores at home that piled up and brought stress back into the picture. So, I decided to apply my scheduling methods to house cleaning.

First, another confession. I have a love-hate relationship with house cleaning. Once I’m doing it, I actually enjoy it. I get a thrill out of the clean lines my vacuum produces (I know…don’t laugh). There is a total sense of instant gratification when dishes go from dirty to clean. A clean house makes me happy. What I don’t love is the time it takes to accomplish it.

I realized I need an organization method for cleaning, just as I did to manage all of the other commitments in my life. At first, it seemed strange to schedule house cleaning, but, like writing and other important activities, it wasn’t going to happen unless I carved out the time. I adapted a method I saw on the Flylady website that involves dividing your house up into zones and focusing on one zone per week.

Basically, you divide your house up into four or five zones. Perhaps the bathrooms will be one zone. The kitchen might form another zone, while the dining and living rooms combined make yet another. The idea is that you deep clean one zone per week. You also make a clear list of what that deep clean should include. Obviously, basic cleaning, like doing dishes or running the vacuum, will happen more frequently. I do such tasks daily. However, I know that each part of my house will get a deep cleaning every month. I had a friend who worked part-time and used the zone method, though she focused on one zone each morning. For me, between a day job, writing, and other stuff, I do my deep zone cleaning on weekends.

Before I used this method, I struggled to find the time for deep cleaning and, honestly, was struggling at times to keep up with the basics. Cleaning is still not my favorite activity, but now I have a plan and it doesn't feel so overwhelming. I've broken down cleaning into doable chunks and it now has a reasonable place on my to do list.

Have you ever tried the zone method? Do you have another type of organized structure to your cleaning method?

5 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Christy, I've heard of this method of cleaning (as well as several others) the trick for me is to actually do it. Loved your 'clean lines of the vacuum' - I no longer have carpet but I can relate. (I didn't laugh but I did chuckle).

Sarah Raplee said...

Love your equations!

Unfortunately, my life is such that when I tried the Zone method, my equation looked something like this:

lots of stuff to do + organization (- lots of time stressing) = still not enough time +/- pulling hair out

SIGH

So my DH and I do what we can and try to be philosophical about the rest.

Diana Mcc. said...

I've never tried the Zone method. It sounds like it might work great for the deep cleaning, that needs to be done.

Great post!

Paty Jager said...

I like the zone idea, but I always seem to put the deep cleaning off until I can't stand things anymore and then spend a whole day cleaning the whole darn thing.(like this past weekend) I'll try the zone thing and see if it makes me less stressed over house cleaning. Thanks for the tip!

Christy Carlyle said...

Judith - I totally agree. Getting it done is the issue as much as planning how to do it. Believe me, even with a plan, it sometimes just doesn't get done. Sometimes a sunny day beckons for time outdoors or, more often, characters demand that their story get onto the screen/paper.

Sarah - Thank goodness for a great and helpful DH. I should have mentioned mine. I can't do it all without him.

Diana - Thanks so much for the comment, and forgive me for taking a day to offer that thanks. :)

Paty - I think that's why I fell in love with the zone cleaning idea. It reduced my stress. It's really just a way of chunking a huge, continuous task and that somehow "feels" better and more doable to me.

Thanks for your comments, everyone. :)