Time Out - Working a Routine

This morning, I was about to start my day and my mind began to race.  "I'm going to paint the back door, plant mums, oh look the flower bed under my window really needs to be weeded, I'd like to start fall cleaning, I want to make yogurt, pizza, cook those short ribs I thawed on Monday, write a blog entry, work no the newsletter, find those fall decorations..... and I want to get the house clean."

Too much planning going on!  I brought myself to a fast stop as I realized that the last line "and I want to get the house clean," was really my first priority.  Why?  Because the house needed a proper pick-up and straighten so that it would look presentable.  I know from past experience that jumping feet first into projects means I will be worn out by the end of the day and if routine work has not been done, then I shall be exhausted beyond words by the time John comes in from work because I will not rest until that routine work is done, too.

So this morning, I called "Time Out!" and restated my plans for the day, in order of priority.  "I'm going to do a home routine, except for vacuuming, dust my bedroom really well, then vacuum all the floors.  Then I will plant mums, start kitchen prep for other projects, write a blog entry, etc."  I knew that my home routine would take me about an hour to accomplish.

What is my 'routine'?  It is a list of chores I feel I should do daily.  That routine keeps my home looking neat and presentable at all times should someone come by unexpectedly.  I thought I'd share that routine with you just in case you too are challenged by a long list of things you'd like to do in a single day's time.  My routine  keeps me from biting off more than I can handle energy-wise.  John likes to come home and see the fruits of my labors.  He's not at all keen on coming home and finding I'm draped across my chair looking haggard and falling asleep at 8:30pm.

I start at the beginning:  I start at the door used most often by guests.  For us, that is the backdoor.  I look over the deck.  Is there trash or dirt or clutter there?  Usually there isn't because I'm very conscious that is our main entry and I dislike seeing it as much as I'd hate others to see it, but every now and then, I slip up.  So I start with the back deck.

Then I begin in the back entry.  This is where my laundry closet is.  I fold any clothes hung to dry the day before, start a load of wash if needed.  I straighten the shoes and sweep the floor.  I check for undue clutter.  Since this is also where I'm likely to put items that need to go to shed or car, there are usually a few things extra here, but if there are lots of things, I'll sort them out and put them away before I move on.

On to the breakfast area to clear the little table of any accumulation that doesn't belong.  This is John's spot to drop keys and hat and sunglasses and such when he comes in the door.  I try to leave his things where they are, but now and then there are extras like tools and cd's he'd been listening to in the car or receipts that must be removed.

Then I straighten the top of the chifforobe, straighten the kitchen desk.  Note that I am not dusting, cleaning drawers, organizing, I'm just straightening and putting away.  So far I might have spent about ten minutes doing all these tasks.  This is not about deep cleaning, it is merely making things presentable.

I start with the kitchen counter and wipe up any spills near the coffee pot, rinse our coffee cups, empty grounds etc.  I empty the dish drainer and put away clean dishes, wash breakfast dishes, wipe the counter between the sink and stove and then the stove top and the counter on the other side of the stove. The whole while I am putting things that might be sitting on the counters where they belong.  Then I do the same to the baking counter and island.  I sweep the floor and that whole section of the house is done.

Into the living room/dining area.  I straighten and put away.  Empty trash cans. Vacuum floor.  I check the front porch for clutter and sweep if necessary, move pet food buckets out of sight, just in case we have someone who is unfamiliar stop by (strangers usually come to the front door).  Again, this all might take fifteen to thirty minutes including the kitchen work.

Then into our bed and bath to do the same tasks: straighten, empty trash, put away, sweep or vacuum. I usually make my bed prior to eating breakfast or immediately after so that is not included but it could be.  In the bathroom I swish the toilet, wipe down the counter.  This morning, after skipping yesterday's routine entirely, it took me all of an hour to do these tasks, except the vacuuming.

I have one hard and fast rule about my routine:  I never leave a room to take an item to another.  I get distracted easily and will begin work in the room I've gone to rather than finish my tasks in the other room first.  Instead I create a pile (or fill a basket) which moves from area to area with me.  I put away items that belong in that area as I come to it.  So the clothes I folded will move from the laundry to the breakfast area, from there to the kitchen, to the back of a chair in the living room and then into our bedroom, for instance. I work forward, not backwards, so if I come across an item that belongs in the kitchen, it will be moved to the kitchen when I'm headed back to that room ( after I've finished our bath). Again, I never leave a room until I'm finished with it.  This is key for me.

Now I do not include the back part of the house in my routine unless I have had or am about to have company.  John's music room is his room.  It's the only place in the house where his things can be left just as he chooses and I think it's important he knows this.  So I just don't go in there unless he's specifically asked me to put something there or I find an item that I know he usually keeps there.  My craft room is the guest room.  I try to leave it in good shape when I work there, but again, this is my space and unless we're expecting guests I don't worry about it overmuch.  The guest bath is seldom used.  I usually will check it twice a week for supplies and cleanliness but it's not part of the daily routine.

Again, notice what I didn't do: I don't dust, polish, straighten drawers, organize shelves, clean under funiture, or deep clean.  I simply straighten and make presentable each area of the home, starting at the point where guests are most likely to come and working my way inward.  If guests arrived before I began my bedroom work, I'd simply shut the door.  We've done that before.  The rest of the house looked neat and no one knew that what lay beyond that door didn't.

That's it. I average about one hour most days doing these jobs.  It's what keeps my home looking neat and nice and enables me to do the other tasks I want to tackle or fun things I might want to enjoy.


MotherHen said...

Sounds pretty much like my morning routine :-) I feel so much better if my home is presentable or "Company Ready" before I begin any other projects.

Terri said...

I was especially glad to have done this this morning. I had a visitor this afternoon just as I got through with my fall clean of the bedroom (still hadn't vacuumed but all else was done).

Anonymous said...

Love this post. I would love to see photos of your home... I have visions in my mind of the sweet, homey character that your home likely exudes. :)

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