How to Create a Cleaning Routine for Your Busy Schedule

Have you ever thought, “Ugh, I don’t have time to be doing the dishes right now. There are other important things I need to be doing!” If your home's cleaning and de-cluttering needs are overwhelming you, it may be time to ask your family to help out.


Use a Chore System

Use a chore system to save you time and energy
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The first step is learning how to start your chore system. Write down all the chores you do in the house. Next, use Brian Tracey’s ABCDE prioritization method to organize what you need to do, what’s most important, and what others can help you with.

How to Prioritize Chores

Mark each chore on your list according to where they fall in these categories (A-E).

A: Chores that are important for you to do (then label them A1, A2, A3 according to their daily or weekly importance).

B: Chores that you “should” do (because it’d be nice).

C: Chores that it’d be nice to do but that wouldn't cause a problem if you put them off.

D: Chores that you need to delegate.

E: Chores that you need to eliminate off your list by hiring someone to do them.

Now that you have a plan, you can create a checklist that you and everyone else in your home can follow. Nothing feels better than checking things off a to-do list, right?

Make a list for everyone in the family (including you!). Laminate it at your office or a supply store (or buy a lamination machine), then think of incentives to add.


Teach Your Children How to Keep a Clean House

Teach your kids how to keep a clean house
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Although you and your family don’t spend all day at your house, isn't it amazing how it looks like you spent all day there? Toy tornadoes come on so quickly and without warning!

If you want a cleaner house and a schedule that isn’t filled with cleaning time, you have to start by disciplining your family. Here’s how to put in the time and effort needed to teach them how to clean up after themselves.

You'll want to dedicate about a month to teaching your family how to keep a clean house. However, before announcing your plan, you’ll need to set a solid foundation.

Make Sure Everything Has a Place

First, find a home for everything in your house. Set a timer over the weekend to do just that. Tell everyone in your family what you’re doing as you're doing it (“I’m putting your things in their home, where they belong).

Pick Incentives

You will also need to think of incentives. Make a list of things that you can give everyone in your family when they start cleaning up after themselves.

Rewards can be simple things like:

  • Long hugs and a thousand kisses
  • Telling them why you loved it that they cleaned up after themselves
  • Little games you picked up at the dollar store and store in a special treat box
  • A trip to the park
  • Points that will add up to them getting a gift card to their favorite stores.

Think of how you could give your family members something that they want if they give you what you want—a cleaner house.

Watch for Teaching Moments

Next, stay on the lookout for teachable moments. When your child comes home from school and drops their stuff on the floor, resist picking it up. Take your child by the hand, bring them over to their items and instruct them on how to put away their things.

Reward Your Family

Finally, break out the incentives to congratulate your family on a job well done. Rewards don’t have to be dished out every time (in fact, it may be more effective if they aren't). It's also more fun to keep them a surprise and unpredictable.

Run through this program for one month, then evaluate the results. Since it's extra work for you at the outset, you don’t want to burn yourself out. Knowing there’s an end in sight will help you persevere.


Get Your Spouse to Help out Around the House

How to get your spouse to help around the house
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If your spouse is not especially helpful with household chores, you may need to take a different approach.

Once you have prioritized the household chores, you'll have a better sense of which tasks you'd like your spouse to tackle. When you're armed with this list, use the assertiveness technique (the A-E-I-O-U mode) to ask for the help you need.

The steps of the A-E-I-O-U Method are Acknowledge, Express, Identify, Outline, and Understand.

For example, say that you do seven loads of laundry per week and you would like to ask your spouse to start washing their own clothes plus the towels.

Here’s how the A-E-I-O-U method could be used in this situation.

A: Acknowledge that your spouse has positive intentions. Show them that you appreciate all the work they do around the house and outside the house (such as at their job or helping out with your kid's sports or extracurriculars).

“I know you do work around the house. I love that I married such a handyman.”

E: Express how you feel about the request. Using the phrases “I think” or “I feel” tell your spouse what you need or how you feel about the chores. This is your chance to explain why you need their help.

“I feel overwhelmed with the abundant amount of chores I’m doing. I never get to sit on the couch with you, relax with the kids, or just do something I want to do because I’m constantly cleaning up after everyone.”

I: Identify a plan or suggestion. Here’s when you suggest the change in chore assignment

“I’ve made this list. I plan on giving these chores to the kids. And these chores I’d love your help with.”

O: Outline your plan. Now that you’ve asked for help, share what you need help with.

“I’d love it if you’d wash and put away your own laundry as well as the towels. You could have the kids fold the towels if you want.”

U: Understanding and open for discussion. Now you talk about your request. Bring back in that you appreciate all the work they do already and the hope you have that if they help you out you’ll be a happier person.

“I know I’m asking for you to take on more responsibility, but I’m just at my wit's end. These tasks would take less than an hour for you to do over the weekend, but it’d give me an hour back of my time to do something I’d like to do. What do ya say?”

Using this method, you’ve shared how you feel and asked for what you want and need without making your spouse feel bad. By acknowledging that both of you are busy, you aren't implying that your spouse isn't pulling their weight.


Get Everyone to Help With a 15-minute Clean Up Every Night

Start the 15-minute clean up
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After everyone has cleaned up after dinner, announce that it’s “Round Up Time”!

Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes, but before you hit the start button yell, “On your mark! Get set! GO!” to turn a nightly cleanup chore into a game.

The object of the game is to have a clean living room and dining room—no toys, clothes, or paper on the floor and the kitchen table and counters clear.

Here are the rules:

  1. If you run, you’re cheating.
  2. Everyone picks up their own things first, no arguing because they’ll waste time.
  3. When everyone is finished, meet back at the timer and celebrate.
  4. For every minute they have left over they get that time back with stories, a longer bath time, etc.
  5. You need to restrain yourself from giving directions. Allow your kids to prove themselves.

After Round Up Time, everyone can retreat to their rooms for the evening instead of going back into the rooms you just cleaned up.


Assess Your Cleaning Equipment

Assess your cleaning supplies
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Take a close look at your mop. Are you doing twice the work because it’s old or inefficient? Did you only buy it because your mom or friend recommended it?

Do some research and get really good cleaning equipment that helps you clean efficiently and quickly. This may be a steam mop, a better vacuum cleaner, or new scrubbing brushes.

Whether it's a mop, broom, or vacuum, if you feel like you are doing double the work to make up for your equipment’s poor quality, it’s time to upgrade.

Are your cleaning supplies the rights ones to pick up the messes in your house? Everyone’s messes are different so it’s up to you to find the right brand that works for your home.

While experimenting with different brands don’t be afraid to return cleaners that didn’t do what they promised. Keep your receipts when trying a new cleaner and proudly return ones that didn’t pass the test.

Give yourself a month to assess your cleaning equipment and your needs. Do you have all the right tools to get the job done? Start a list on your whiteboard of equipment that would help you clean quicker so the next time you go shopping you know what you need.


When You Are Tired, Clean From Left to Right

When you feel overwhelmed start left and go right
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When you are exhausted but you know you need to clean look at the left side of the room and then scan to the right. Think to yourself, I’m going to start on the left and finish on the right. This gives you a plan to follow.

With a plan, things seem a little easier. You have a place to start and a place where you’ll end. Teach this to your children as well so they don’t feel like cleaning up their room will take forever.

It can also help to use a timer. Give yourself “x” amount of time to clean. Once the timer goes off, consider yourself done. If someone is around to finish up the rest, you’ve given them a head start. If no one is around there’s always another day. You’ll have more energy tomorrow and hopefully more support from your family.

With these suggestions, you’ll feel better about the state of your home. When you have tricks and tools to communicate your needs more effectively, your family will feel they understand your needs better, too.

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