I’m not obsessive about neatness at all, but I have learned ways of keeping my house neat and clean in a simple, stress-free way. It is called the “Clean-as-You-Go Principle.”
A very basic principle!
The basic idea is that, instead of waiting for the house to get really dirty and then having to spend a lot of time cleaning it, you just clean a little bit at a time. I have also found this principle to be great for other areas of my life: finances, email, work tasks, etc.
how to apply it?
Here are some ideas to try:
- When I’m done eating, I wash my dishes instead of leaving them in the sink. I’ll also often put away any food that’s leftover, wash cooking dishes like the pan, knife and cutting board, and wipe up the counters. It will only take a few minutes but makes a big difference. It feels amazing to wake up to a clean kitchen!
- When I’m done brushing my teeth, I wipe the bathroom sink and counter to keep it clean. Having a washcloth nearby makes this easy.
- If I see a mess as I walk through the house, I’ll usually put a few things away. Takes just a minute, and no more mess!
- I’ll often sweep up the kitchen if I see some crumbs on the floor. Not every day, maybe every other day.
- When I am working at home, I use my rest periods away from the computer to clean the house or do the laundry, a little at a time.
- When I am cooking, I clean up the kitchen as I wait. So when I’m done cooking, there’s not a big mess.
None of these take a huge amount of time, but by doing it as I go, it takes very little effort and I never have a really messy house.
Of course, a deeper cleaning is still required, but not as often, and it’s not as hard. Overall, this is an easy system that works really well for me.
When it comes to my kids – they do not always follow these tips, but I either pick up after them or ask them to clean their mess whenever I see them.
What tips do you have?
Applying the Principle to Other Areas of your Life
- Emails: Every time you go into your inbox, clear out a batch. Archive/delete the ones you don’t need (or better yet, unsubscribe), then do some quick replies. Put ones that require longer tasks into a folder and add the tasks to your to-do list. You can do all of that in 5 minutes. Then get out of the inbox. Repeat later.
- Work tasks: As you go through your day, in between the important tasks, take care of mini-tasks for work. Just take care of them a little at a time. Break bigger tasks into things you can do in a few minutes.
- Finances: I like to put my bills, savings and investments on direct debit, but I will very often check them and make payments or adjustments if needed.
- Health & fitness: I don’t dedicate large amounts of time to fitness. I just do a little bit every day. Do some pushups and chinups today, go for a run or bike ride tomorrow, do some yoga for 20 minutes or so the next day etc. Much more manageable I think you will agree!
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