For many people a clean home means a clear mind.
For me, a clean space attracts calmness.
You may have noticed a change in how you feel when you have stayed somewhere that has clear spaces (like a holiday home or apartment, or a friend’s house). Pay attention to this – not everyone feels this way, so it’s a good idea to think about whether this is you.
Getting started setting up a Zone Cleaning Plan
Before you start to develop a Zone Cleaning Plan, think about what has not worked in the past – and take the lessons you have learnt to help you figure out what is the next best step you can take that will help you move forward.
The goal here is to find what works best for you so that you feel more motivated, and also to cultivate the belief that you can do it!
Remember there is no one-size fits all plan – what works for me might not be right for you.
Also, this won’t work at all for some people – you might like to do all your cleaning on one day and not do a Zone Cleaning approach at all and that’s ok too! Do what works for you.
Spending some time planning your Zone Cleaning schedule will help make it successful and sustainable.
How to plan a Zone Cleaning schedule
A great way to start is to identify what matters most for your home to function well.
For example for us it is having the washing done, so everyone has clothes for school, work, gym etc.. I try and stay on top of this (daily load of laundry) and as a back-up the boys check each night that they have the right uniforms ready and washed for the next day. If not, I will be sure to wash them before I go to bed. Dishes are the next most important.
These 2 activities are foundational to the functioning of our home. I would drop things like cleaning windows, and dusting when I get really busy, however I would not drop the daily laundry and dishes.
For some people floors are the most important for them to feel comfortable, so for them it would be a priority to keep the floors clean.
- What time do I have available to spend on housework? For example, 30 minutes per day, or 1 hour per day?
- What rooms or spaces would I like to include in a Zone Cleaning plan? Is it just inside the house? What about the car? What about an outdoor space or garage?
- Looking at our family schedule: When/what days am I teaching? What days do the boys have sport? What business commitments do I have etc ..?
- Thinking about the zones/rooms, when might I have time for a particular space or room?
- Consider which spaces are enjoyable and easy to keep clean or work on, and allocate them to a day when you are busy and it won’t seem too burdensome to do the space/room.
- What days do I have more capacity and energy to tackle the tricky and/or less liked zones? Or am I able to do 2 zones on any day (like a weekend day or day off)?
The Zone Cleaning Schedule
Every day of the week I work on one (or two) spaces in the house. I suggest you start with one space and build up to two.
Your 15-minute clean might include: dusting, wiping over the ceiling fans, removing some clutter, vacuuming, etc …
Some examples from my current schedule –
- Monday: Master Bedroom and Home cinema
- Tuesday: Pantry and Living Room
- Friday: Garage and car
By the end of the week, every space in my house has had 15 minutes spent on it and this works really well for us right now.
It’s a bit of trial and error to find a system that works for you and your home and circumstances.
You may find you don’t have time to do any space at all on a particular day of the week, but that you can complete 2 zones another day.
Look at habits that have formed over time around your home and work on replacing these with helpful habits. For example, dumping bags in the entry, or dining room, leaving shoes at the door, lunch boxes on the kitchen bench, laptop on the dining table, towels on the floor etc … you need to address these habits.
You need to catch yourself as you dump those clothes over the end of the bed and redirect yourself to put them away, or into the wash. A quote I read recently that has stuck with me is, “Do it once. Do it now”.
As a parent you might need to say, “Please pick up your towel and hang it up” over and over again! Be consistent and make the comment every time, “Can you please hang your towel up?” and do not do it for them, because in the long term you are not helping them to create this habit if you are doing it for them. This is individual .. pick your battles. On some days I will leave an item where it is until the next day, and then ask the boys to pick it up and put it away.
The 15-minute tidy up
Another habit that makes the world of difference for us is the 15-minute tidy up.
I do this on top of the daily zone cleaning. This really makes such a difference to a zone cleaning system. It means you can focus on cleaning that space during the Zone Clean, rather than spending the time tidying up and putting items away. This frees you up to clean, that is, dust, vacuum, mop, wipe surfaces, clean windows, declutter, etc ….
Every night after dinner I zip around and do a 15-minute tidy up. This is where I dart around and tidy up the day’s mess at the end of the day (and of course ask the boys to join in and put their things away). It is a time of pure concentration – no distractions permitted; just stay focussed on tidying up 😊.
Even on busy days I try my best to stick to this. It makes such a difference.
One way I often do this is to put a load of washing on for a 30-minute wash. While the washing is on, I do 15-minute tidy up and then a 15-minute zone clean and then I hang out the washing and I am done for the day!
Set me up Sunday – the safety net
Set me up Sunday – this is a safety net that provides some time to catch up if something happened during the week and I missed a Zone Clean session for some reason. I also use this time to plan for the week ahead, meal plan etc ..
List of 3
If I walk past something in the house and notice it needs some attention, for example, marks on walls, marks on skirting boards, dusty fans etc … I will often pop it on my Lisa of 3 for the next day, or later in the week when I can schedule time for it, rather than addressing it then and there.
Are you starting to see how my other strategies and systems all work together to support each other?
My Top 3 Tips
- Start small and build up momentum. Set a timer for 15 minutes and get into it. It’s ok if you don’t finish the room or it’s not yet perfect – just focus on the task itself not the outcome or how the room looks at the end or when it is “finished”. Once 15 minutes is up, you’ve achieved what you set out to do, and you can ‘tick’ that off and move onto something else.
- Focus on consistency – try showing up and spending 15 minutes in a room or space every day. You will be surprised at how much you achieve in 15 minutes! Showing up consistently in this way over time will deliver great results around your home.
- For a bit of fun: Find 5 songs that are roughly 3 minutes long each and play them while you are cleaning … when you’ve listened to all five, your 15 minutes is up!