STAYING ON TOP OF THE MESS

Organization and planning

In my experience, the best ways to get the most out of your cleaning and be as efficient as possible are preparation and organization. Motivation Getting motivated to clean does not come easy for many of us. Sometimes, we can get so overwhelmed with the mess that we really don’t know where to start. These simple steps will help activate you. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking to clean one room or an entire house, these tips will give you the drive to tackle any task at hand.

THE CLEANING CALENDAR It’s important to have some sort of plan in place. I have created a monthly cleaning calendar with daily tasks to keep you on top of your housework (see pages 132–133). Follow the calendar or even create your own and you will find that you get into such a good routine that the cleaning becomes easy. It’s the perfect tool for anyone feeling lost with their housework and it will really help start the motivation process.

BE STRUCTURED Choose a time of the day when you feel at your best and fully motivated and keep to cleaning at this time of day when you can. I’m an early riser and love to get all my cleaning and household chores done first thing in the morning, so I have the rest of the day to enjoy. You may choose to come home from work at lunchtimes and have a quick tidy up when the house is empty, or you may prefer to do your cleaning in the evening. However, whatever you choose, you must stick to a structure.

KNOW YOUR HOME This may sound silly, but really get to know your home. Work out where those ‘WA’s (worst areas) are and give these areas extra time and focus. Where are the high-traffic areas? Where do you find the dust settles the most? Where do all the bits and bobs end up?

REMOVE DISTRACTIONS This is easier said than done, but there are a few things you can do right now to stop the distractions that can crop up when you are tidying and cleaning. Set your phone to ‘do not disturb’ while you are cleaning – a phone constantly beeping at you with social media alerts and text messages isn’t going to help. You don’t need the constant distractions that kids can create. Try to do your cleaning when they are at school or doing their homework or, if you have younger children, during nap time.

LISTEN TO MUSIC I find music helps you clean faster and keeps you focused and on track. Choose some fast-paced happy music to clean to. Make yourself a different playlist for each day of the week and listen to it when you’re tidying and cleaning. Music helps keep you motivated and makes you move your body more, which, in turn, transforms your cleaning into a little workout. Speed cleaning is just as good as any gym workout. Cleaning makes you work every part of your body and the faster the work is, the better it is for you.

MY 5-MINUTE CLEANING CHALLENGE

For quick tidy-up and cleaning sessions, my most simple and effective cleaning method is to set a timer. When you walk into a room and see all the mess, it can be worrying – you think to yourself ‘how on earth will I get all that done?’ The timer will give you encouragement and focus. Set the timer on your phone, oven or clock to 5 minutes.

Start at the room entrance, press ‘start’ and see how much you can get done against the clock. Rather like a game, you are setting yourself a personal challenge. Now, 5 minutes might seem like very little time. I mean, in that time you can probably just scroll through social media, send a quick email or a few texts… but 5 minutes used wisely is actually quite a long time. When the timer goes off, stand back and see what you have achieved. Trust me, you will be surprised.

Quick Room-by-Room Cleaning Schedule (to take no more than 5 minutes per room) Take the bedroom; in 5 minutes you can: Open the curtains Open the window Make the bed Put away any clothes that are lying around Okay, you haven’t given your bedroom a deep clean, but you have made a start. If you then go off to work or the school run, you aren’t leaving your room in a real mess. Let’s look at the kitchen; what can you achieve in 5 minutes: Empty the dishwasher Spray and clean the surfaces Run the vacuum around So, if you wanted to invite a friend back for a cuppa and catch up after the school run, you could do so without feeling embarrassed.

The timer motivates you and makes you want to achieve. I tend to advise people who have a busy life and very little time for housework to give this a try. Choose the rooms that are lived in the most and that you want to see tidy.

Set the timer and go! Timers don’t just come in the form of a clock Think about the mornings when you get up tired and go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea or coffee.

While the kettle is boiling, what do you actually do? Do you just stand there? Do you scroll through social media? Why not use this time wisely instead? A full kettle takes roughly 3 minutes to boil.

Use the time to do something productive. Why not: Empty the dishwasher Do a pile of washing up Start to make the kids’ packed lunches Empty the washing machine Fold some laundry Write a to-do list Declutter and tidy a kitchen drawer Sort through your handbag Wipe over an appliance Clean the kitchen window There is so much you can do in this short amount of time that can make a difference to your whole day.

Next time you boil the kettle or put something in the microwave to defrost, I want you to think about this and try it