There was a time when I could block out a weekend on my calendar and devote two full days to cleaning, but no more. Family schedules have too many moving parts for anything of epic proportions, so major tasks like spring cleaning and decluttering need to be broken down.
Organizing maven Sarah Nelson had to change her own approach as her family expanded and she found herself working around feedings, nap schedules, play dates, household tasks and family activities. With an interrupt-driven lifestyle, Sarah carves big cleaning projects into realistic 15-30 minute tasks.This is her strategy:
Day 1. Make a List Walk through each room of your house and jot down what small areas need to be cleaned out. Write down specific tasks, like "desk drawer" rather than "home office." Estimated time: 15-30 minutes.
Day 2. Prioritize your list
Ask yourself, "What causes me the most pain?" If the bin of winter gear isn't as bad but the kitchen junk drawer makes you grimace every time you open it, then the drawer is the place to start. Estimated time: 15 minutes.
Day 3 and after. Go.
Spend 15-30 minutes tackling one small project. Set a timer and make sure you focus solely on that project until the timer rings. If you are still motivated, move down the list, but don't do so much that you begin to feel overwhelmed.
Here are some ideas for what can be tackled in short bursts of time:
Clean out a kitchen drawer while you are waiting for coffee to brew.
Discard expired pantry items while you are waiting for vegetables to roast.
Sort through a stack of paper in the time it takes for your TV program to return from commercial break.
Clean out your make-up drawer while you are waiting for the shower to get hot (and cleaning out unused or expired items from under your bathroom sink will only take 15 minutes.)
By working with the slots of time you have and avoiding "an all or nothing approach," you'll be able to transform your space without adding to the stress of your day.
(Image: Flickr member wwarby licensed for use under Creative Commons)