Saturday, June 16, 2012

The List-asaurus

I like lists.  Very much.  I've been a "to do" list maker for years.  I have a notebook dedicated to lists and a whiteboard in my kitchen for more lists. It declutters my brain.  It soothes my mood.  It gives me a false, but very comforting, sense of having done something about something by writing it down to do some other time. Most of my close friends love lists.  Some of them probably laminate their lists (you know who you are).

But I bet my list is bigger than your list.  It's the mother of all to-do lists.

The List-asaurus was created because I struggle with housework.  Apart from sheer laziness and the lure of the internet, I find it hard to know where to start.  At any given time, there are about twenty jobs that could be done and they all seem equally worthy.  Without a system, it all feels random and like I'm not getting anywhere.  And when I feel like I won't be able do it all perfectly, I freak out a little and I end up doing nothing at all.

That's where The List comes in.  It's a weekly list of jobs divided up into regular every-day jobs and once-a-week jobs listed under various days.  Some jobs appear every week and some are on a rotation. I might clean the freezer part of the fridge one week and the door shelves the next week.

You can see from the photo of my list that I don't get everything done.  That's okay.  I pick what I can do and I leave the rest knowing that they will get done eventually because they will appear again the next day, the next week or in a few weeks.  The bathroom doesn't get out of hand because if I see several days missed I prioritize it for the next day.  If I don't dust the family room this week, it's not that I'll never dust the family room. It'll come around on the rotation again.  This stops my "all or nothing" perfectionism getting out of hand.  Not that my house is ever perfect.  It's the "nothing" part of "all or nothing" that I major in.

Last year I tried a housework list I purchased online -  But because it was created for someone else's house and life, it had jobs on it that I never needed to do (I don't live in a place with snow) and didn't have other things that I needed to do frequently.  So in January this year I created a 52 page Word document - one page for each week of the year - and made it specific to our family.  Then I printed it and had it ring-bound.  The List for the year.

And now that I have some direction of what needs doing, I am getting a lot more cleaning done.  I'm not managing it all but what needs to get done is getting done.  Because the big task of keeping house has been broken down into small jobs, I tend to use my time more efficiently and procrastinate less.  Previously, I'd often leave cleaning the house until I had a big chunk of time and waste a lot of the smaller time slots I could have used to get some of it out of the way. The other nice thing is that other people in your house who might want to share some of the housework can see the list too and know specifically what you'd like done.

I know the list probably seems crazy - either because you can't imagine anyone would need to be specific about when to load the dishwasher, or because it makes you start to hyperventilate just thinking about having a list like that staring you down each morning.  But I find it really helpful.  It probably won't last forever.  I think when I've gotten better at housecleaning routines, I'll stop using it.

But for now I love it.  I love marking off a little circle when I've swept the floor.  Oh so happy.

If you are crazy enough to want the list too, I'd be happy to email you my Word document and you could do a "search and replace" to modify it to your heart's content.

Does anyone else have a master list or super system for housework?  I'll take all the advice I can get!  Especially if you know how to get shower recesses to stay clean for more than two minutes.


Tasmanian said...

Make sure you notice she said 52 pages, people. It's a 52-page list.

Deb said...

Thanks for binding it for me, Tasmanian. ;)

Karen said...

Wow. Organisational genius. I am in awe of your work.
My house mostly just stays not cleaned apart from essentials like emptying dishwashers, hanging out clothes, sweeping floors and picking up toddler toys and anything else off the floor that the baby really shouldn't pick up and eat (unless like this week, we are having billets or other visitors staying with us). Then I run around doing a frenzied clean of the areas they will see to get ready for their arrival.
The other thing I've tried that works well is to set the clock and do fifteen minutes of some kind of tidying up. I tell myself that I'll do as much as I can within the fifteen minute time limit and then I'll read a book, have a cup of tea, blog, look at the internet or whatever I want to do as a reward. Sometimes if I get on a roll I'll go for longer than fifteen minutes. But knowing that it's *only* fifteen minutes is enough to get me started. If I do a few fifteen minute blocks each day, then quite a lot ends up getting done.
Hope some other commenter will have shower ideas. Ours gets cleaned so rarely that the glass has developed a permanent cloudy look. But I have found the Viva shower wipes aren't too bad when I do get around to doing the job.

Deb said...

The shower recess drives me crazy. Partly because it's such a big scrubbing job that I find it physically demanding. Then again, if I didn't put it off so long the job wouldn't be so hard. Also, I never know what to wear! Don't laugh. You end up getting wet doing it and then you have to change clothes afterwards and I don't want to ruin good clothes by accidentally getting some kind of cleaner on them. If you have to change clothes twice to do a job, it gets put off in my house. I think I'll check out the Viva wipes - thanks for the tip!

Aimee said...

My shower tip is to have a squeegee that you keep in the shower recess. Every time I have a shower, I wash it down with water (I have one of those shower on a hose thingies) to clear the soap then wipe down with a squeegee. If that doesn't work, spray on a shower-clean spray each time too. Only takes a minute each shower and works well (for me).

I've also just bought some anti mould stuff I'm going to put on the grout between the tiles in an attempt to stop mould growing on it.

Deb said...

Aimee, how do you squeegee and not get cold??? Especially in winter???

Aimee said...

Shhh... i have a heater light in my bathroom. My excuse - we live in canberra. Often I'll also keep a little bit of water running on me - I'm not incredibly fussy about having a totally dry shower, just like to avoid scrubbing more than I have to.

Deb said...

Your secret is safe with, sort of!

Petrina said...

"I love marking off a little circle when I've swept the floor. Oh so happy."

This is me, exactly. I love the look of your circles :)

Could I have the word document please? teamench at