I often wake up in the morning with the best of intentions; I have a list of things around the house I want to get done and I am ready to conquer it. However, between helping my husband out the door, trying to make sure my toddler doesn't flush anything else down the toilet, and the multiple texts or phone calls I need to respond to, I often find myself distracted, weary and unable to complete that ambitious list I started out with. If this sounds at all familiar to you then don't worry. There's a very simple, yet effective way to “systemize” your housecleaning and help you get your work done in a timely manner. The Index Card Cleaning System.
The index card cleaning system is approached on 3 levels: daily jobs, weekly jobs, and deep cleaning jobs. All you need to start is 12 lined 3” x 5” index cards.
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Think of which household tasks you want to do each morning. This can include things like make your bed, exercise, shower and get dressed, fix and clean up from breakfast, straighten the front room, get a batch of laundry started, sweep the kitchen floor and scrub out the bathroom sink. If you feel you are in a complete mess and have had little success with daily housecleaning, limit the number of jobs to 12. Write down each task on an index card so that you will have 12 separate index cards prepared. As you practice and gain confidence, you can add more and more jobs each morning with greater and greater ease.
The goal for the first week is to complete all 12 daily jobs each morning. This is how. Get up in the morning and spread the cards out on your kitchen counter. Choose one job to tackle, do it, and then turn the card over. If you're like me, it can become a sort of game, but it is an awesome game for two reasons:
1) Many times we get distracted with the needs of others. When we want to return to our chores it takes a lot of effort to overcome the current mood, possible weariness and frequent mental distraction. Having your chores listed on cards keeps you on track. Off you go again to finish the next job, turn the card over, and on and on.
2) Somehow, when you have previously decided what to do each morning and have listed those jobs on cards, the decision-making has already been done. Just finish those twelve cards and you will be done with all the “daily” housekeeping you wanted to do this morning. You don’t have to decide each and every day what needs to be done, you can just get going and get the jobs done.
Once you have successfully completed your daily jobs for one week, it is time to set up a weekly housecleaning system. This is a bit more complicated to set up, but you will enjoy the freedom it brings. Each and every week, if you do your weekly housecleaning jobs according to your housecleaning plan, you housework will be kept up.
Here’s how! Gather or purchase a 3″ x 5″ recipe card box. Label blank card dividers with the following: Daily (which is where you will store the “daily” cards which you have already prepared), Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (When you set up your deep-cleaning job system, you will need another set of twelve 3″ x 5″ card dividers which will be labeled January – December.) Then take about 25 lined 3″ x 5″ cards and go to work listing jobs which need your attention on the various days of the week.
Label one card “Laundry” (in the top left-hand corner) and write in the upper right-hand corner how often you plan to do your regular laundry, i.e. “Monday, Wednesday, Friday”. Store this card behind the “Monday” divider for now.
Label a second card in the upper left-hand corner “Vacuum” and write in the upper right-hand corner how often you plan to do the vacuuming, i.e. “Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday”. Store this card behind the “Tuesday” divider.
Label a third card in the upper left-hand corner “Dust” and write in the upper right-hand corner on which day you plan to do the dusting, i.e. “Friday”. Store this card behind the “Friday” divider. Continue with all the jobs you desire to do each week. Once you have set up your weekly housekeeping system, you are ready to go again.
Each morning, complete your daily housecleaning cards first, flipping each card over as the job is done. Then put these cards away and get out your weekly housecleaning cards for that particular day. Spread your cards and go to work again. The daily cards are always completed first, then the weekly cards second, and finally one of your deep-cleaning cards is pulled out and that job tackled (if there is still time).
Deep Cleaning Jobs
Just as you have prepared cards for your daily and weekly jobs, prepare cards for your jobs which will be less frequently, say monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually.
Again, we list the job in the upper left-hand corner of the index card and the timing in the upper right-hand corner of the index card. A card for vacuuming the baseboards might be prepared for July and then filed behind the July divider. As time and energy allows (meaning your daily and weekly jobs are done), pull out a Deep Cleaning Job and get to work.
With practice, you will constantly be cleaning your home and it will consistently be neat and orderly. It may take more work initially to create and gather your index card system, but it is a great way to stay organized and take away some of the thinking for you! The better you are at sticking with it too, the quicker each job will become because of how well maintained your house is on the regular!
Good luck and let us know how it works out for you! If you are really getting in the cleaning spirit, check out our Home Organization Course for a steal of a deal!
What would you put on YOUR index card cleaning system?!