New Years has triggered a lot of talk about making and breaking habits. To create a new habit, some scientists report that it’s best to start with something easy, get it under your belt, and add on slowly. One habit at a time is all your brain can handle, and starting with the easy stuff primes your brain for success with harder lifestyle changes ahead. When it comes to breaking bad habits, experts used to say it took just 21 days, but anyone who’s tried to break a habit already knows this number to be false. More recent research suggests 66 days, or even (and this number makes the most sense to me) 254 days. I’ve successfully held off a bad habit for three months, but never eight, which might explain why I have these habits still.
But I’m going to give it a go again, with cleaning. Apartment Therapy has a plan to keep your place spotless with just twenty minutes of cleaning a day. I started this plan many months ago and just creating the chore list took days. Initially, I wrote each task on a magnet and put it on a dry-erase calendar board, but it was easy to ignore. This time, I used my laptop to create a cleaning calendar. I put the weekly tasks on every month and doled out the every-three-months, and every-six-months jobs so that each month had a few. Now I’ll print off a sheet each month, and cross off the jobs as I complete them. I like to cross off finished tasks. It’s much more satisfying than moving a magnet off a board.
I’ll be honest. I don’t think this is going to work for me. But, what the heck. Maybe if I can keep it up for 254 days it will become a habit.
Since it took me so long to come up with my list, I’ll post mine for anyone needing inspiration.
Weekly1. Surface clean living/dining room. (Pick-up, dust, vacuum)
2. Surface clean entry. (Pick-up, dust, vacuum)
3. Clean bathroom. (Toilet, shower, mirrors)
4. Sweep kitchen and pantry
5. Kitchen sink
6. Sweep all floors and stairs
7. Clean stove
8. Wipe washer/dryer surfaces
Monthly1. Bathroom walls, floor, shower wall
2. Surface clean bedrooms (Pick-up, dust, sweep)
3. Deep clean living/dining room. (Dust art work, window sills, baseboards, piano surface)
4. Clean hat/mitten drawer/straighten shoe area/coat racks
5. Mudroom (pick-up, baseboards, sweep, vacuum out doorjamb)
6. Clean counter by stove, including utensil holder
7. Clean shelves by coffee maker
1. Deep clean bedroom (organize drawers, tidy closet)
2. Deep clean bathroom (inside drawers, trash can)
3. Sweep porch
4. Clean car. (Pick-up, wash interior windows, vacuum)
5. Clean all door knobs, remotes, switch plates, phones
6. Straighten downstairs bookcase
7. Clean stove hood, refrigerator top, microwave
1. Surface clean basement. (pick-up, dust, sweep)
2. Surface clean studio. (Pick-up, dust, vacuum)
3. Clean all interior windows on first floor
4. Upstairs dusting. (Bedrooms: dust fan, blinds, lights, art work. Bathroom: top of mirror, window sills, mop floor)
5. Clean fridge
6. Polish (TV cabinet, piano, tables)
7. Deep clean linen closets
8. Deep clean kids’ closet, our closet, studio closet
9. Straighten upstairs bookcase
10. Deep clean kitchen table and chairs
11. Deep clean silverware drawer
Here’s the first month. I hung it next to our calendar. As you can see, this list is not going to be accomplished in just twenty minutes a day. My husband did some from the list, I did some from the list. With easier tasks, I’m going to get my little kids involved. They have already helped with: deep cleaning the silverware drawer and organizing the shoe area and mitten drawer.
If I miss something, in one month, I’ll push it forward. (Or decide it should be moved to every six months. Or create a new category: once-a-year.)
But now that I've got it implemented, I'm wondering what the big deal is about keeping everything spotlessly, anyway? Maybe I'd rather spend that time drawing, playing piano, or reading a book. I'll be thinking about this as I clean and cross-off chores. In a few months, I'll re-evaluate my priorities and put them in a post. Until then, what do you think is more important? Free time or a very clean home?