It is possible to reduce the ever-expanding “To-Do List” by using small blocks of time more efficiently.
Not all housework tasks are time consuming. Many household chores take less than 15 minutes to complete. With busy, hectic lifestyles, it is important to learn to take advantage of “spare” blocks of time and to use them effectively. Here are some quick tidying tips to assist with the daily housework.
15 Minute Quick Household Chores
Fold washing as it is removed from the clothesline or dryer if possible. This saves handling the items twice, which wastes time. Sorting clothing can be done quickly and piles of folded clothes can be placed into the appropriate bedrooms to be put away.
Wash Up or Stack the Dishwasher after a Meal
Plates and pans are easier to rinse and clean soon after they have been used. Washing up or stacking the dishwasher as soon as practical after a meal makes the job easier and leaves the kitchen tidy. If this job is left, it is too tempting to leave dirty plates to be dealt with the following morning, which starts the next day off messy and disorganised.
Clear the Entry Table
Tables or benches in entry areas often accumulate junk and clutter. Take 15 minutes to gather up what doesn’t belong and put it away. This makes the first impression when entering a home more pleasant for family and guests. This can also apply to kitchen countertops and sideboards.
Clean the Shower
Spray the shower with a preferred cleaner and leave for 5 to 10 minutes before taking a shower. Come back and scrub/wipe down the tiles then turn the shower on to rinse away the detergent before getting in.
Sorting and Filing Papers
For some people, pieces of paper multiply like rabbits. There will never be enough time to deal with them all at once. If there is 15 minutes available, pick a pile and sort through the papers making sure that anything that has to be dealt with immediately is placed in a safe place and anything that can be discarded goes straight into the bin.
Reduce clutter and don’t simply create six more piles by sorting the papers. Be decisive and complete whatever is required so that the paper can either be filed or discarded.
Sort through Email Inbox
For some the email inbox is more cluttered than their desk workspace. Ignore the temptation of solitaire or Facebook and take 15 minutes to delete unwanted emails and sort others into folders.
Create folders for social emails, work emails and any other categories that are appropriate. Keep only emails that need some kind of response or action in the inbox.
Make a Phone Call
Many phone calls can be completed in less than 15 minutes. Making appointments with a hairdresser, doctor or dentist can usually be done quickly, as can ringing businesses to get quotes or make enquiries. If these quick tasks are put off, however, they can accumulate into an overwhelming list.
For those that hate housework, breaking larger tasks down into 15 minute blocks can make things more bearable. Cleaning a bathroom and ensuite entirely might take more than 15 minutes, but breaking this job down into two tasks – cleaning the toilets/sinks and cleaning the bath/showers – makes it more manageable. Mopping the floors can be grouped with mopping the kitchen and laundry floor: three 15-minute jobs that leave two bathrooms and the floors clean.
5 Minute Tasks to Help Declutter and Tidy a Home
Sometimes housework can seem neverending. Too many jobs and not enough time. Here are some quick cleaning hints for tackling small tasks regularly
The multitude of tasks required to keep a home tidy can become overwhelming. Lighten the workload by taking care of quick, simple cleaning tasks as they arise. Here are some tidying tips:
Make the Bed
It is a one-minute job first thing in the morning and it makes a bedroom look much more organised. This is a good habit to develop in children, and even children who are quite young can be encouraged to make their bed when they first get up each morning.
Close Cupboard Doors and Drawers
Closing a drawer or door takes only a few extra seconds, but it makes a big difference to the appearance of a room.
Hang up Jackets and Put Shoes Away
Shoes and jackets should immediately be placed where they belong when removed. This saves time and reduces clutter in bedrooms and entryways.
After Ironing or Folding Clothes, Take the Piles of Clothing to the Appropriate Rooms
Washing, folding and ironing clothes takes time. When the job is done it is tempting to leave the piles of clothing where they are and distribute them later. It only takes a further minute to take clothes to the bedrooms or linen cupboard.
Older children can be responsible for putting away clothing, so the pile simply needs to be placed on their bed.
Wipe down the Kitchen Bench
After using the kitchen, always take an extra minute to wipe down the kitchen bench. Food splatters and drips are easier to clean up while they are fresh and the next time the bench is needed it will be ready.
Put Books and Magazines back on the Shelf or in the Magazine Rack.
Most people have a particular room or location in their home where they like to relax to read – on the lounge, sitting in bed, in the sunroom. Have a basket or coffee table where books that are still being read can be kept.
Always return books and magazines to this spot when moving on to another task. If they are no longer required, return them to the bookshelf or magazine rack/basket.
Pick Things up when Moving from One Room to Another
It takes no extra time to carry a book from the bedroom to the study than to walk between the rooms empty handed. Before leaving a room, do a quick visual check to see if there is anything out of place that can be taken to the next room.
Open Mail Immediately
Letters that are left to be opened and dealt with later are often forgotten. Open them and put them in the appropriate place straight away.
Soak Stained or Marked Clothes Immediately.
As soon as a potential stain is noticed, place the item in a bucket in the laundry with the appropriate temperature of water and/or detergent. Many marks are easily and quickly removed if dealt with immediately. Items left sitting on the laundry bench for days usually result in more work to achieve a less satisfactory result.
Keep a quick reference guide taped on the inside of the kitchen cupboard on how to treat basic common stains. Many detergent company websites have information regarding this and Spotless by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming (ABC Books, 2005) provides information on treating stains on a variety of surfaces including clothing, furniture, leather goods and flooring.
By following the “if it takes less than a minute, do it immediately” rule, it is possible to reduce household clutter and time spent on household chores. Keep a mental list of jobs that can be done immediately or in less than 15 minutes to ensure that ‘spare’ blocks of time are used well.
By keeping a mental list of tasks that can be completed quickly, it is possible to declutter and create a more ordered, tidy home. Some tasks require less than 5 minutes to complete while others can be easily managed in less than 15 minutes.