This post is by reader request (thanks, Mama). At the beginning of 2017, I decided I wanted to try out a few resolutions to see if I could make them behaviors. I made three goals (two personal, one home) – this one is all about my home goal of getting on an weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, semi-annual and annual cleaning schedule. Now, let me start by saying you don’t have to go to that level. I have found that sometimes I slack on the more regularly recurring items, but in general am doing a decent job sticking to this. So, here is a step by step guide to building a cleaning plan, along with my cleaning plan as an example.
- Decide the granularity. This is a thing I talk about with co-workers a lot (due to the nature of our work) – how granular into the detail do we get? You need to sort this out first because it will impact your upcoming steps. Do you want to plan down to the every week activities? What do you want your recurrences to be? Here are some options to consider: Daily, Weekly, Bi-weekly (also known as fortnightly), Semi-monthly, Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-annual, Annual. I suppose if you wanted, you could go to larger periods of time (like Bi-annual, or every 2 years), but I would recommend you cap it at Annual.
- Make an activity list. This can be a bit hard, especially for the items that occur less frequently (you probably think about them a whole lot less frequently too, or it’s something you never really notice). I would encourage you to check out Pinterest – there are some good suggestions of items to include using search terms like Cleaning Schedule or Seasonal Cleaning. You can also check out my plan below for what I’m doing. When you’re working on this step, consider your level of granularity – if you are not considering daily or weekly activities, you don’t need to include things like laundry, dishes, or taking out the trash. On the flip side, if it’s easier for you to make a list of all your cleaning duties, you can just filter these items out in the next step.
- Sort the activities. Next to each activity on the list, determine the frequency you need to complete it each year – once, twice, every 3 months, etc. Consider the level of granularity that you chose in #1 – you want to break your list up into these groups. If something on your list is outside those cadences, you need to determine if the frequency changes, the item is omitted, or you add a level of granularity. Basically, this is what my paper looked like:
- Determine the when. For this step, you can basically ignore anything that will occur monthly or more frequently. If you have quarterly, semi-annual or annual activities, this step is for you. Start with your annual activities because this group will be the easiest to assign. Take the number of activities and divide by 12. This will give you how often you need to schedule an annual activity. I had 12 annual activities, which made it really easy to determine I needed to schedule 1 activity every month. (You may be thinking to yourself – I don’t get it, why don’t we just do all the annual stuff at the same time every year? Well, because that sounds like it’s going to suck a lot, in my opinion, to have to do that. However, if that is your style and you’re okay dedicating a weekend to knock everything out, you may also feel free to skip this step.) I went through my list and decided which month paired best with each activity, taking into consideration factors like weather, other activities at the same time of year, etc. I then applied this same method for my semi-annual activities list, except this time, I divided by 6 because these activities would occur 2x a year (12/2=6). I had 14 items on this list, which meant I needed to schedule 2 activities per month and then add 1 activity to four months (ie, 8 months would have 2 activities (4 semi-annual sets) and the other 4 months would have 3 activites (2 semi-annual sets). I then paired up my months (January/July, February/August, March/September, April/October, May/November, June/December) and assigned them to the groups of tasks. I didn’t go to the quarterly level, but for that, you’d divide by 4. As with my annual activities, I applied reasoning on weather and time of year impacts to these pairings. Here is how it worked out for me:
- Schedule the activities. Once you’ve worked out what you need to do each day/week/month, you need to go through and schedule it onto a calendar with reminders. I am a fan of the Google products (and am a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 user, aka Android), so I have my calendar synced to my Gmail and on my phone. This enables me to get both phone alerts and email reminders. I even have a smart watch (Samsung Gear Fit 2) that’s connected to my phone and vibrates my wrist with reminders, so it makes it pretty hard to ignore. The other great part about using a synced calendar like Google Calendar is that you can sync other email addresses to the same calendar. I have my hubs hooked up so I can invite him to events we have going on (like our Family Dinner Meeting every Friday night – more about this in another post, or my family gatherings, of which there are many). So, he is able to see what’s going on and, when he’s interested, will take part in the cleaning plan. (NOTE: I do not have him set up to receive reminders – something to think about if you share your calendar with anyone, you can customize who gets what reminders.) I entered my activities in this order: Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Monthly, Semi-Annual and Annual. I went in this order so I could try to ensure one Saturday didn’t end up getting activities in EVERY category – if you vary between days of the week, this won’t be as big of a deal. For each group, I added the recurrence, set the time I wanted to set aside for the activity and also set a reminder. See below for how to do this in Google Calendar:
- Clean. This is the final, and if you ask me, hardest step. Since I can tend to be really good at planning and sometimes slackerish on the follow through (can’t we all), I went one step further and made a tracker to keep a record of the actual dates I completed my semi-annual and annual activities. I have justified this level of ridiculousness to myself by adding a cost column to track anything I have to spend to complete the activities (ie, purchasing a new filter for my fridge). But, and this little tidbit is a non-cleaning related bonus, I also have started keeping track of the money I spend on my home (which comes in handy for insurance purposes, should you ever need it, and is helpful for reference later on). This includes things like purchasing large pieces of furniture, installing new features or items, building any custom pieces, or making any significant changes. Each of these trackers is a separate tab in an Excel spreadsheet – here are some screen grabs of what these look like:
If you’re a control freak like I am and like to plan and document everything, check back for a post on my Monthly Budget Excel Book.