Goal Tracking

40 Minute Focus Cleaning: How I Streamlined and De-Stressed My Cleaning Routine

Change your cleaning world and mindset with this 40-minute focus cleaning routine!
Mom Improvement Presents: 40-Minute Focus Cleaning

House Cleaning…

It’s a struggle, isn’t it?  Especially with little ones.  There are so many frustrations associated with cleaning, from finding the time to do it all the way to actually doing it.  I used to feel like such a failure because I would get so behind on my chores.  The entire house was so messy it made me feel depressed.  I would take hours to catch up on my cleaning… only to have my heart broken when it was messy again a few days later.

If this is how you feel, take heart.  First, remember how much you love your kids and how well you take care of them.  They are your priority right now, and you are absolutely allowed to fall behind on your cleaning.  There’s zero need to get down on yourself.  Give yourself a gentle hug, some kind words, and then we can get down to work.  I have a new system for you to try.  It has changed my world and my whole perspective on cleaning, and I hope it will do the same for you!

This focus cleaning schedule is changing my whole cleaning game plan!
One Step at a Time!

What Does Focus Cleaning Have to Do With Mindfulness?

There’s a simple reason why I call my system “focus cleaning”: because I’m focusing on cleaning!  Before I adopted this system, I was packing cleaning into stressful, frustrating periods of time.  For example, when I was getting ready to have friends over.  I was doing seven things at once: feeding the kids, making treats for guests, cleaning, doing laundry… that’s just not an effective system.  When I changed my methods and scheduled into my day a “focus cleaning session”, my mindset shifted so dramatically.  I focused on one cleaning task at a time, one room at a time, one day at a time.  That’s all mindfulness, baby!

Why Should You Switch to Focus Cleaning?

If you’re looking for ideas and inspirations for cleaning, I’m guessing it’s for a pretty simple reason.  You’re not happy with your system and you want to find a better way. Most likely, your chore list is long, and you try to tackle too many chores at once.  I understand. I will continue to push you in one direction, always, and that is the direction of a focused, intentional, habit-forming lifestyle. The key to changing your system may surprise you, but nonetheless, it’s true:

Spending hours on cleaning won't help you, but this new focus cleaning system will!
Clean Less, Not More!

40-Minute Focus Cleaning

Don’t get discouraged by the name.  This method can be adapted to any period of time, which is the beauty of it. I was inspired to create my routine after reading this post from I Heart Frugal. She created a genius system to clean your house in 25 minutes a day (check it out!).  I knew I could never be organized enough to clean effectively in just 25 minutes a day. But I wanted to clean a little bit, every day, and I didn’t want to clean for a whole hour. So I came up with my compromise: 40 minutes. I also figured I could sneak 40 minutes of cleaning time into most of my days without too much trouble. The time you choose can be more, or less, based on the size of your house, your daily routine, or how much time you want to spend each day cleaning!

Master Weekly Cleaning Tasks List
Click Here to See my Master List!

Start With Your Master List

If you click the picture above, you will see the list of weekly cleaning tasks I use for my house. Check Pinterest to find some really handy checklists and ideas if you aren’t sure what you should be cleaning on a regular basis.

You will notice, there’s a couple cleaning tasks on my master list that aren’t on my focus cleaning worksheet- that’s because they’re in my daily priority picker task list.  This allows me to sneak in a couple extra very short minutes of cleaning every day, which just helps to keep my system running smoothly.

Once I had my master list put together, I decided how long each task would take.  Then I grouped tasks together in a logical way. In general, the tasks for any given day occur on the same floor of my house. This allows me to smoothly transition from one room to the next.  Since I’m doing similar tasks in each room, I can gather all my cleaning supplies at the beginning of the session and have them right at hand when I need them.  Here is my Filled Out Focus Cleaning Schedule so you can see how I do it. But yours can, and might, look totally different from mine, based on your timing, the layout of your home, etc.

Cleaning is a challenge, but if you change your mindset, you can change everything! Check it out!
A nice, clean kitchen!

The Fantastic Upside to Focus Cleaning

Focus cleaning has made such a dramatic impact in my life. I feel so much more confident about my process.  I know what I need to do, and I don’t feel like I’m forgetting or neglecting anything. Even better that that are the results that you can see around my house!

Case in point, my kitchen: on my first day of focus cleaning, I didn’t finish wiping down all my appliances in the time allotted. I got my stove, dishwasher and coffee maker. That’s a key to this process: testing your timing (more about that in a second).  But, the next week, it didn’t take so long to wipe those appliances down, so I was able to move on.  I got The Kitchen Aid, the microwave, the fridge, too, all in ten minutes!  And now that I’m wiping them down on a regular basis, I can even take a few extra seconds to do some deep cleaning.  Like the hinges of the dishwasher, or use the special cleaning polish on my glass stovetop.

This is the great secret to cleaning that I was never able to appreciate or take advantage of before.  It gets easier and faster when you have a system in place. Because I clean the same things every week, they don’t have as much time to get dirty!

Clean less, not more! Change your mindset with a 40 minute focus cleaning routine!
Stick to your time limits!

Chart Your Progress and Look at Your Timing

Like every other goal we set or habit we track, this will be a process.  Especially if it’s a big change in how you are used to cleaning. I found it helpful to make myself a sticky note list for each day of the week, with each day’s tasks written on it. That way I could just carry the sticky note with me while I cleaned, and I could check off each task as I went along.  This meant I didn’t have to memorize my cleaning schedule or worry about forgetting anything.

In the beginning, I also kept track of how long it took me to complete each day’s tasks.  I thought it would be helpful to see if I was, week after week, ending certain days always having extra time, and other days not having enough time. This would have made it easier for me to switch around my task list so that the timing balanced out. Once I got used to my schedule, I am now able to complete all my tasks in my planned time frame.

However, if this isn’t the case for you, then don’t hesitate to change your plan. The point of a really good, effective focus cleaning schedule is to get all your weekly tasks done in as little time as possible. Don’t hesitate to change your strategy if a particular day is always giving you grief or you feel too rushed to get things as clean as you want them.  Track your schedule in your planner, use sticky notes, put something up on your fridge… make it convenient and easy for you to find and use!

Pick Your Days

My focus cleaning schedule is formatted for 5 days a week.  But if you have a particularly long master list of chores, or much less time you can devote to cleaning each week, then you could consider making your schedule a six or seven day list, just to give yourself the extra chances to get things done. Conversely, if you have extra time in your cleaning schedule or you can get your tasks done more quickly than me, you may not need a full five days!

I Want To Hear From You!

Give this schedule a shot, and then leave me a comment or send me a message! Let me know how it’s going for you or if you need more help, guidance or additional worksheets or trackers!  I truly hope this is the beginning of a new mindset for you on cleaning!  Let me know what I can do to help with that!

 

Re-Evaluating Your Goals and Maintaining a Positive Mindset!

If you're not hitting your goals, it may not be the goal that needs to change, but instead, your mindset and methods! The "Re-evaluating Your Goals" freebie can help!
Mom Improvement Presents: Re-Evaluating Your Goals

Re-Evaluating Your Goals

We’ve taken the last few posts to make some small improvements to your life. Your focus should still be your 28 Day Goal, and you should be giving yourself time each day to make that a priority. We also gave you the opportunity to set yourself some small daily priorities that give you some structure and balance.

After you’ve practiced those things for a few days, you should be re-evaluating and helping yourself to fix any problems. That’s what we’re going to work on today.  We will be re-evaluating the process and continuing to problem-solve to help yourself feel less stressed and more mindful! And I’ve made yet another freebie to help you do just that!

What’s Going Well?

Take some time to be positive! Before you can get down on yourself, make sure to look at everything you’ve accomplished.

The top section of your worksheet gives you space for 10 good things. Fill in all ten spaces! You don’t need to dig deep here- even getting yourself dressed, making your daily coffee or tea, or feeding your children counts towards your successes! My most successful mindful moments are the times in which I take a few seconds to focus on life’s small happy moments. Did you share a good laugh with the kids? Take them on a fun outing? Play a fun game or play outside? Give yourself credit and praise for all your hard work. Errands, housework, play time, anything you did for yourself. It all counts for your list! Write them all down and then read it back to yourself and take some time to feel pride. This is a part of mindfulness, too!

 Keeping flexibility and re-assessing your goals is an important part of the process! This will help!

What Isn’t Working Quite Yet?

Be gentle and honest with yourself about what you still want to change. Start with your 28 Day Goal– how is it going?  How is your tracking? Do you need to change what time you work on your goal or for how long? Does your tracker need to move to a place where you will see it more readily and remind yourself to work on it? Take a few minutes to look at your progress, then brainstorm and problem-solve how to keep working towards it. Do you need more resources, ideas or help? Figure out what you need and where you can get it.

Now think about your daily time-block priorities. Do they need to change? Did you get them done? Do you need to re-configure the timing or change when and how you complete them? More research and brainstorming! And always remember the alternative: you can cut down your priority list to two things for each time block instead of three. If you have been feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, cut down on your work load. Take a look at what you’ve been doing and what you’ve been trying to do, and ask yourself that crucial question, “How can I help myself?” Those answers are the first and best place to start.

The only way to get where you want to be is to keep trying and doing your best!
Don’t Give Up! Keep Trying!

Patience and Perseverance May Be What’s Required

If you’ve been having some success, but you’re just not quite 100 percent yet, then your process of re-evaluating may not need to be particularly intense. If you think you’re on the right track and you just need more practice with mindfulness, that’s totally OK! You can give yourself time and patience! Sometimes creating habits is simply a matter of taking the time to do them consistently. Consistency will come with mindfulness and intention. If you’ve picked something you really want to do, but you’re having a hard time actually doing it, you may simply need to keep trying. If you don’t need more information, more support or reminders, then all that’s left is to breathe and focus.  Take the time in your day to do what you need to do!

The most helpful thing you can do is to practice as many days in a row as you possibly can. This will do 2 things- it will give you the pride of accomplishment and it will help you get adjusted to this new routine, which is the same as creating a habit. One of the worst excuses you can make is “I don’t have time”, because the truth is, if it’s something you care about, you will make the time. This is where an accountability partner or your partner/spouse/SO can help you. If you have someone with whom you’re checking in on a regular basis, then you might be more motivated to do your task.

Daily Self-Care Routines are often very effective if they include positive affirmations, belief in yourself!
Breathe and Focus on a Positive Message

Don’t Give Up; Create an Affirmation

Remember that your attitude can have a tremendous amount of power over your success. In addition to mindfulness, positivity is a huge component of a successful mindset. Give yourself a small “mantra” to say each day, either before or after you work on your goals. Giving yourself permission to change, to improve, to take time for yourself, can be very freeing. Especially if you are prone to guilt about taking for yourself when you have others to care for. I understand those feelings immensely.

But here’s what I also know to be true- something I talked about in my very first post- you will be a better mom if you are a happier mom. Constantly taking from yourself and giving to others will only lead to a deficit in your own personal satisfaction with life. Affirm your desire to create your best “self”, and then you can be your best self for others!  Affirmations can be anything; a positive word or phrase, an inspirational quote that you keep by your front door and read each day before you leave the house, the options are limitless.

What do you need from me?

My next question is very simple- what other ideas and suggestions do you want from me?  We’ve come this far together, we are working hard on small change, building consistency, and making time for self-care!  So, what’s next?  Leave me a comment to let me know what tools you are looking for.  More worksheets?  A podcast?  Posts about specific goal-setting obstacles and how to overcome them?  Let’s keep building momentum together!  And don’t forget to download the freebie!\

Setting a 28 Day Goal (or how I learned to do the dishes)

I'm setting a 28 day goal to change my life and I'm going to track my change one day at a time!
Mom Improvement Presents: Setting a 28 Day Goal

In my last post, I talked about setting a goal and creating your path to completion, and I gave you a worksheet to help!  Now, it’s time to talk about the benefits of making your goal a “28 Day Goal”.  This will help you be more successful and intentional with whatever it is you plan to do!  If this post makes you want to change any of your answers in the last worksheet, or set a different goal, or change your methods for achieving your goal, that’s no problem!  You can always print out a new worksheet to revise your plan!

Small Goal, Big Surprise

Sometimes big life changes come in small packages.  In my last post, I mentioned that I took 90 Day Budget Boot Camp.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I feel like I’m a pretty darn good budgeter and I still learned so much.  PS- I’m not paid to recommend that course, I do so because it’s just a great course!

Probably the biggest, most beneficial takeaway of the whole camp was the “do your dishes” assignment.  The rules were simple: at night, after dinner, you had to clear your sink.  Run the dishwasher, do the dishes by hand, Rosemarie didn’t care how, it just had to get done.

Are you skeptical?  I totally was.  How were my dishes- dirty or clean- impacting my budget?  How was getting them done going to help me pay down our credit cards?  While the direct correlation between budget and dishwasher might be hard to draw… it really does make a HUGE difference in… life.  A clean sink is a major benefit for my psyche.

My life changed when I started this goal- get my dishes done every night, no matter what!
Washing dishes for a better tomorrow!

It’s not actually about the dishes

When I come downstairs to make breakfast in the morning and stare into my beautiful, clear sink, the entire day becomes more manageable.  The clear sink, in this case, represents my clear mind.  I’m free to brew coffee, fill the Brita pitcher, make breakfast, run water.  But I’m also feeling the pride of sticking to a commitment.  Between my husband and I, the dishes are getting done every single night.  That requires a level of discipline we didn’t really have before.

I’m guessing, if you’re looking for solutions to life’s messy problems, that discipline isn’t something that’s super high in your skill set either.  That’s nothing to feel bad about.  I feel like the laziest, most undisciplined person of all time sometimes.  The key to changing your attitude is to change your method.  And that’s what today’s freebie is all about.

Creating daily accountability

The goal you’re working on right now is one small piece of your daily pie.  You picked one thing about your life that made you unhappy, and now we’re going to fix it.  Most likely, you picked something that you do (or don’t do and want to start doing) every single day.  That’s a good idea!  Making something a habit is much easier if you incorporate it into your regular pattern or routine.  That’s what today’s freebie is here to help with- daily implementation.

A bubble a day…

The cheat sheet allows you to fill in one bubble every day you complete your goal.  We had a tracker for our dishes right on the kitchen refrigerator.  It was there, staring at us, telling us to do that job.  This sheet will be the same tool for you, but there’s a couple important things you need to do to be successful with your tracker:

  1. Keep it near where you are completing your goal.  This could be tricky, depending on what your goal is.  If there really is no convenient place to keep it (if your goal is happening outside your home or in a few different places within your home), then keep it right by your bed.  Tape it to the wall in your bedroom if you have to, and tape a writing implement right next to it so that you always have something to use to fill it in.
  2. This is so dorky, but it helps me to have a special pen that I use to fill in my tracker.  I don’t really know why, it just makes me happy!  Find something like this for yourself.  Maybe you don’t like pens, but maybe you do like stickers!  Find a special sheet of stickers at the dollar store or in the dollar section at Target to use only on your bubble sheet.  Sometimes a simple incentive is all you need to give yourself that extra bit of motivation.
  3. The final element to success with a bubble sheet is the hardest- commitment.  You are making an agreement with yourself that you’re going to complete this goal, and you’re using your bubble sheet to track your success, but you’ll have nothing to track if you don’t do what you need to do.

There were nights when the very last thing I wanted to do was the dishes.  But I looked at my tracker, and I thought about how I would feel in the morning, when I came downstairs to a dirty sink.  My husband and I had made a commitment to stick to something.   No one could do it for us- we had to do it.

Achieving a goal takes patience and time!
Give yourself time to achieve your goal!

Building habits takes time!

Filling in your bubbles could take some real willpower for the first two weeks, maybe even three.  When I was in school, the theory was if you did something 14 days in a row, it would become a habit.  I think they have since revised that number to 21 days.  That’s why I give myself 28 days, pretty much an entire month.  I remember thinking somewhere around day 17 of our dishes goal that it felt like routine.  It felt easy, it felt do-able, and it got done.  We’re also doing other things we never used to do like wiping down counter tops and sweeping the floor!

Break down your goal even more

However, looking at an entire month of commitment to something could probably still be too daunting.  If the idea of one month doesn’t bother you, great, but if it does, then it’s important to break down your mindset even further.  Imagine, for the time being, that you are only going to do your goal for one week.  Once that’s in your head, that temporary timeline should give you the freedom to complete those seven bubbles.  Is a week still too long?  Commit to three days.  Then another three days, and so on, and so forth.  And if you are truly having an impossible time after that first week, then it is time to go back to the drawing board and re-assess your goal.  More about that in my next post. For now, don’t forget to download the freebie.

Each new day brings the promise of a fresh start to complete your goal!
Wake up and try again!

Tomorrow is another day…

You may still miss a day in your first week or two.  It’s very important not to beat yourself up if that happens.  You are allowed to have life intervene, you are allowed to forget, you are allowed to get distracted.  Just get back on the horse.  Your bubble sheet will help you to stay on track, but it is not a magic wand.  Don’t give up on yourself.  You picked this goal for a reason- you want to make a positive change in your life!  Take a deep breath, start over again if you have to, and keep going.  And leave me a comment or send me a message to tell me how you’re doing and how it’s going!  I can’t wait to hear from you!