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September 12, 2011

Cleaning: Is it Better to Create a Schedule or Not?

In this post Jennifer shares her evolving thoughts on implementing a cleaning schedule. The first time someone suggested the idea, she balked at it. In time though, Jennifer decided to give it a try. What she found may suprise you just as it suprised Jennifer. Scheduling tasks like cleaning can give you a tremendous sense of  freedom...and even room for spontonaeity! What works for you? Do you prefer to have a cleaning schedule...or does your life work better with out one? 


Sometime between the birth of our first and second children, my good friend Janice (who is such a good friend that she had children roughly the same time I did, except for she went for a third child because she is an overachiever like that) began talking about her “cleaning schedule.” I tuned her out for a while. It sounded a bit to akin to “Meatloaf Monday” or something equally as rigid. But Janice is gorgeous and brilliant and accomplished, so eventually you just have to ask her How do you do it? Her answer in this instance was to clean by a schedule.



I laughed. I shuddered. I balked. And then I broke down and gave it a try. I had worked full-time for years before having my daughter, Joy. Janice was quick to point out that in my job, I had not just shown up for work and drifted through the week. There were things on my calendar each day – meetings to attend, calls to make, tasks to accomplish – so why not operate that way in my new career as a stay-at-home mom? Janice makes a good point, doesn’t she? So I created a schedule based on hers and gave it a go. 

Immediately I felt a huge relief. I found that I could walk across the Cheerio-ridden kitchen floor on Monday with acceptance because I knew that cleaning floors was a task for Tuesday. It made my workload seem more manageable, and I felt much better when I opted to take Joy to the park instead of trying to tackle the endless housework. 

When Joy was 4 and my youngest daughter, Faith, was 2, I went back to work on a part-time basis, working every other week. I tried to maintain my schedule, but what quickly happened was that I would keep up with housework one week and keep up with my job the next. It was good in the sense that it was still somewhat of a routine, but looking back on it now I see it would have alleviated so much pressure if I’d come up with a schedule. Even if it had been a “light-duty” week for my workweeks, combined with a “heavy duty” schedule on my weeks off, it would have helped. Ah, hindsight.



Once I knew I would be transitioning to new hours at my new job at simplify 101, I decided to dust off the ol’ schedule. I revamped it to work with how our life works, intentionally leaving room on Friday for catching up (or slacking off). I also kept Sunday virtually blank since that is our family’s day for rest and fun time. All I do is menu plan that day, which takes little time and sort of helps me focus and plan on the week ahead anyway.

I keep my list posted in the kitchen inside a page protector and use a dry erase marker to check things off or make new notes as I go.  This also helps me in recruiting help from the rest of my family. Anyone can plainly see at the end of the day or week what hasn’t been done. 




What about the tasks that are not spelled out on the list? I struggled with that one my first time around, but this time I’ve struck on something that’s working well at our house. When I see those things that are bothering me but I don’t have time to deal with right then, I note it on my schedule as an “extra cleaning job.” I know there are so many ways to deal with the extra jobs in an organized fashion -- tickler files, monthly checklists, seasonal routines -- but I’m not there yet! This way I’m at least dealing with the stuff that’s irritating me most (cobwebs on the light fixture!) and feeling good that there’s room in the routine for it.

It’s not a perfect system, and I continue tweaking it as I go. I think it’s also worth telling you that I don’t check everything off each week, and I don’t honestly expect to. That’s too much pressure! If there’s a chore that gets skipped or glossed over, I make a dot next to it and give it more attention the following week. And for now, this routine is serving my family pretty well – helping us stay on top of the housework instead of buried under it, and helping us make space for the really important stuff, like family fun time together!

How about you? We’d love to hear about your cleaning habits and routines. Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.



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Great post!! My friend and I were talking about this the other day. I keep wanting to start but feel like it would be easier to stick to a schedule if I could start with a really clean house. I probably should just try anyway, after getting my menu planning under control. :)

Evelyn Cucchiara

I would be lost without my weekly schedule!

Otherwise I would always feel like there was something I should do, since there is always something that needs to be done.

without schedule = work, work & more work

with schedule = guilt free time to sit & read a book.

Alana of SPARKLE

I have tried numerous times to implement a cleaning schedule but nothing has ever stuck. Right now, we're living with my in-laws until our home is repaired {fridge flooded half our house...}. Once we move back in, I plan to go through everything, have a yard sale, donate the leftovers, and implement a cleaning schedule! :)


@Emily, thanks! Both times I've started the schedule, I've found my house keeps getting cleaner as I go. Anyway, I had to start with a dirty house, otherwise it never would've happened for me! ;-)

@Evelyn, I totally agree about the schedule giving you guilt-free time. Doesn't it feel great?

@Alana, yikes! I, too, have had a fridge flood, and that is such a mess to deal with. I hope you can get back home soon. Good luck with all your awesome plans at de-cluttering and organizing!


I've had a cleaning schedule for several years now. My house is simply to big to tackle in a day without killing myself. It was overwhelming! Instead of having a day to dust/vaccuum/mop, etc, I break my house out into rooms. I have 3 rooms to do Mon-Thurs and Friday is the kitchen only (Monday is 3 easy rooms, so I do laundry also). I add "extras" onto Friday if need be. This gives me weekends free of chores to spend with my family. I love this schedule because once the rooms are clean they are easy to keep tidy the rest of the week. My house has an overall sense of "clean" and not just dusted or mopped. I have recommended this routine to many people. Those who have had enough and decided to join in have loved it too!

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I live in apartment so it's not too bad. However my sister she's such a scatter brain and doesn't plan her day accordingly. I will be e-mailing her this post. Thanks for sharing!!!

Jeff Ehrlich

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Mine is not a real schedule, but what ever the state of my home is, I don't have to clean on weekends. That just ruins the whole two days. I can relax better with this. Although I occasionally organize things on weekend, but I like organizing.


I know you like that blue trunk under the table, but I really like the table. I am looking for one exactly like that for my stairs. I want to put baskets underneath for the kids things that need to go upstairs. I love your cleaning schedule. I need to get to making one of those today.

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I have always wanted to be more organized but usually fail miserably. I like your ideas and am inspired to give it a go again.


As a former working Mom (teacher - yes big into structured routine and schedule), I found another way to help accomplish the cleaning that spins off of this. I shift into "I hired a cleaning service - I just pay myself" mode.
It's on the calendar for a certain day/time (the flexibility to shift for priority and unforeseen conflicts is great). Then I know the cleaning service is coming on/at, and I need to get ready for them.
Yes, the "clutter patrol" has to be decommissioned first. The service also doesn't do dishes, laundry, or phone answering. They don't mess with decor, organize, or 'find a home' so this needs to be done before they come.
Then at 'x' o'clock I clean hard core, like I'm getting paid to do someone else's house. Just stick to the list (yes there is a list of basics). I know straight through this will take 2 hours, and I allow a 15 min break - if I am 15mins late I don't get to take it, and if I get done early, I'm done as I get paid for the job not the hour.
Then, I have predetermined payment value at $20 (I can't afford to pay much, and sometimes I plunk it right back into the savings account, but it's there for the extra incidental/indulgance.


I am not always good about doing the things that need done. Even with a plan/schedule/list this is why I need to organize my time and my house.

Just the last 4 days now I've been better about doing the chores first thing in the morning and doing at least one organizing item in the afternoon. It does help and slowly I'm finding my way.

Eventually though, I'd like to follow a schedule just to be sure I'm getting everything done. I would like to have a schedule for seasons too.

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a few weeks ago, I've had the insatiable itch for more!!

Kerala Tourism

one organizing item in the afternoon. It does help and slowly I'm finding my way. d


laundry is the worst chore ever so I just do one load a day and roll it right into my morning routine - get up, put a load into the washer, have some quiet time, eat breakfast, move the load to the washer, at some point later I fold it, and eventually (I'll admit sometimes it;s a day or two later) I put it away. The other stuff I like to do all at once on Saturday morning. Dishes - i like to do once a day - seems like waste of time to me to do it as you go (I'm sure it's all in your perspective, but that's my thought).


I use a small sized planner, and have created a spreadsheet with multiple tabs "monday week 1, tuesday week 1, etc". I found some printable sheets that come pre-punched and fit right into the planner. I have the basics (like do a load of laundry, put shoes away, clean kitty litter, do dishes...) on every day. Then I broke down the rest of it based on weekly/monthly/quarterly. Usually I only have to clean about 15 minutes each night after work, and then I leave the floors for Saturday. I don't always get to it all, there have even been whole weeks when I haven't touched it but in general that really works for me! I also take the planner with me to work every day for those random thoughts that pop into my head (like I need to deadhead the annuals tonight) so I can write it down on the spot, I don't forget, and I no longer have a million post-it note reminders floating around the house. ;)
Also - I don't know what it is about scratching items off that paper list, but I get a LOT more "job" satisfaction doing that than when I just had the spreadsheet on my computer and would "strike-through" items and then delete the lines at end of the week.
Lastly, I have learned to no longer feel GUILTY if I don't get to the list for a few days or a week. There are so many things in life more important than cleaning, so I adapt (maybe push some things to a later day) or ignore the list sometimes, and if someone is offended by my "dirty" house, well then I guess they don't need to come over again (and I don't think that actually happens much, mostly WE project that onto other people - after I really thought about it, I know I am more concerned about MY house being clean/dirty than I EVER notice or think about anyone else's when I am visiting their house, I am too focused on the good company!!)

Kaarina Niskavaara

Creating schedule for cleaning is really a good idea for a mom,most of the time people around the world specially in Finland country people are looking for cleaning services but most of them are are the one who are also cleaning,i seen one of the useful product is vacuum which is really important specially on dust control and other stuff.

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