In this post, I’m going to give you 10 effective cleaning strategies that will help you knock out more tasks in less time as a busy mama.
Over the past year, I have been trying to become more intentional about everything I do.
I’ve found that being intentional about my cleaning routines and strategies makes an enormous impact on my productivity.
Today, I’m walking you through my favorite strategies that boost my effectiveness and allow me to keep my whole home clean every day (even with an ultra-clingy toddler).
10 Cleaning Strategies to Help You Tackle More Messes In Less Time
1. Use the motivation formula
In “The Motivation Myth,” Jeff Haden crushes the mistaken belief that motivation is the starting point of success.
He warns that if you wait to do something until you “feel motivated,” you’re going to be waiting a long time.
Rather, he suggests that success generates motivation, so in order to acquire motivation, you need to create a small success for yourself.
From his ideas, I came up with a motivation formula to help catalyze your productivity when you just don’t feel like cleaning (or doing anything else).
The formula is this:
- Completing the task
- With the biggest impact
- That requires the least effort
- Produces the motivation you need to get in gear.
In order to jump into your housework and trigger your efficiency so that you can get as much done in as little time possible, you need to leverage motivation to build momentum.
Creating a small success for yourself will cause your success-motivation cycle to snowball and propel you through your tasks.
2. Make a plan before you start
Before you clean a room, stand in the doorway and create a mental plan of action.
I like to start with the easiest task that will make the biggest impact (following my motivation formula).
For me, that’s usually picking up the floor and sweeping or vacuuming.
Part of making a plan can also include deciding how long you plan to spend cleaning.
Instead of looking at the whole room as one project, break it down into pieces.
For example, in my bedroom, the to-dos might include:
- Picking up dirty laundry off the floor
- Sweeping or vacuuming the floor
- Removing items that don’t belong in the bedroom
- Clearing off the bed and making it
- Clearing off the nightstands
- Cleaning off the dresser
In your mind, see each distinct project area. Be intentional about separating out the individual projects. It will help you when you get to strategy #6.
3. Use timers/time limits
You don’t have to set a timer for yourself every time you clean, but if you really want to kick your productivity into high gear, this trick will get results.
Even if you plan to clean for a longer period of time, like 30 minutes or an hour, use short timer intervals (2-5 mins) to keep yourself focused and motivated.
Choose a task, start a short timer, and go all in on that task until you either finish or the timer beeps.
Then restart your timer, either resume where you left off, or move on to the next task if you time is limited.
Also set an upper limit for yourself on how much total time you’re going to spend cleaning.
Stay committed to the job for that time, but once you’ve hit that max, stop working.
It’s important to have a set end-time if you want to stay efficient and productive.
4. Turn your phone on silent
If you’re using strategy #3, then ideally you’ll use a physical timer whose only job is to buzz obnoxiously at set intervals.
That way, you can keep your phone in a separate room so you’re not easily distracted by it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself I was going to clean something and wound up scrolling on Instagram for 15 minutes.
If you must have your phone close by, turn off the notifications/put in on do-not -disturb/whatever you have to do in order to forget it’s there while you’re working.
And whatever you do, DO NOT use it for anything other than a timer until you’ve reached your set end-time for cleaning.
5. Use a cleaning routine and schedule
A cleaning routine and schedule provide a structured system that allow you to know exactly what you need to accomplish on which day.
Related: The Ultimate Cleaning Routine
Having such a system ensures that you don’t do any more work than necessary because you know what’s on your agenda for each given day of the week.
Here is the cleaning routine I use in detail.
You can snag my printable cleaning routine template below. Just drop your email address and I’ll send it straight to you.
6. Focus on one thing
If the task you’re working on is cleaning off your desk, then your only goal should be to clean off the desk.
Don’t put a couple of things away in the desk drawer, and then move over to dust off a cabinet, and then carry some laundry over to the washer…
JUST clean off the desk.
Then move onto the next single task.
If you’re cleaning an area with a lot of items that don’t belong there, then have a basket close at hand where you can collect those items to be put away when you finish what you’re doing.
7. Clean what you can when you can
If you’ve got really little kids, you might not be able to devote a whole hour to cleaning all at one time.
The good news is, you don’t have to.
Set a timer for a very short period of time (2-5) minutes, tackle as much of one task as you can, and then stop if you need to.
Prioritize tasks according to the motivation formula.
Start with the tasks that make the biggest impact in your space while requiring the least amount of effort.
Even if you only get a few things done, you’ll still feel like you accomplished a lot!
8. Don’t try to clean when you know it’s not a good time
If your toddler is in the middle of back-to-back tantrums where EVERYTHING seems to set her off, then don’t expect to spend 30 minutes cleaning the kitchen.
Trying to get things done when you know you can’t be effective is just setting yourself up for frustration.
Some days, I just have to step back and recognize that I won’t be able to get anything done as long as my one year old is awake. (And pray that she takes a good long nap).
9. Prioritize efficiency
Don’t spend your whole cleaning time running back and forth all over the house.
Try to stay in one place until the job you’re doing is done.
If things need to be moved to other rooms, use a basket to collect them so they can be delivered all at once.
Each thing you do, consider whether it’s the most efficient action.
Over time, you’ll naturally start to complete tasks in a systematic and effective way.
10. Use a reward system
If it works for dogs and potty training toddlers, then why shouldn’t it work for mamas, too!?
When you approach strategy #2 (making a plan), decide what your goals are and how you will celebrate accomplishing them.
I’m not saying take yourself out for a pedicure every time you clean the bathroom, but even small rewards will help signal your brain that cleaning is a pleasant experience, and you’ll have an easier time kick-starting your motivation next time.
Some rewards you could try are:
- Making a cup of tea (or coffee)
- Sitting down to read for a few minutes
- Watching a YouTube video, or a few minutes of a show you like
- Enjoying a tasty treat you’ve been thinking about all day
- Indulging in some self care (like a face mask, or painting your nails)
- Taking a couple of minutes to call a friend
Ideally, your reward should come in close succession to the completed task.
But if you really need to, your reward could be something you save until later when kids are asleep.
What are your strategies to clean faster?
Which of my strategies are you going to try first?
Share your ideas in the comments below so that we can all get better at what we do!
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