Sunday, January 24, 2010

Messy Monday: Excel at Your Tasks

Unless you can afford to hire the help, you are your home's cleaning lady each week (with perhaps some little "Merry Maids" as your helpers, depending on your children's ages). When it comes to getting your housework done, thinking of yourself as hired help can help.

Recently, I came across the cleaning checklist for our church. All of the jobs in each room were listed on an Excel spreadsheet, with four columns for each row. As each job was completed, the cleaning person would check that box. At the end of the month, there should be a check in every box--indicating all jobs were performed as expected.

When I saw this, something clicked. I knew that this system would help me. So I opened my own Excel spreadsheet, thought about my home, and listed the jobs that really should be done in each room each week (you can also include once-a-month jobs). Each week, I'm either completing jobs and checking off boxes, or I'm not. If I'm diligent with getting the work done, I will excel!
For me, this system is far superior to keeping track of everything loosely in my head. That's because it's very concrete and visible. There either is or is not a check in each box. That means certain jobs are less likely to be consistently  neglected. You'll see if sweeping the sun porch or vacuuming the stairs, for example, are always falling by the wayside each week. As you enter a new week (and a new column on the spreadsheet), you can give priority to jobs that have not been checked off from the week before.

As far as completing the tasks, you can either do a little here and there if you find yourself with some downtime. There are probably many tasks on the spreadsheet that require fewer than 5 minutes to complete. Or you can set aside a length of time each day to one section on the spreadsheet (take a half hour each morning, for example to do your housework. One morning, do the bathrooms; the next, vacuum and dust the living room; etc.). Another option is to set aside one morning (or afternoon) or two (depending on the size of your house and how much you can realistically get done with your children) to complete your spreadsheet in full.

I suppose this system resembles the Fly Lady's zone system (where you do your daily jobs and work in a certain "zone" of your house each week). However, it works for me much better because it is my system. I am not following someone else's routine that works great for them but feels awkward to me. That's really the key: taking all the tips you've learned and read and modifying them to devise your own system. When you reach that point, it will click, and you will excel at your tasks (maybe using Excel!).

(The winner of last week's giveaway was Rebecca (comment #6). Rebecca, please email me at with your address & Karen will get your book sent out to you! Congratulations!).

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday


  1. to my ears: Excel.

    Hope it works for you, Cheryl!

  2. you are so funny Cheryl. I just clean. It takes discipline, and its hard, but if its messy I clean it. I could never take the time for a spreadsheet, or anything else. Our house has been really clean for showings, and it takes a lot of discipline, but I think one good thing has come out of keeping the house perfect for over 2 months....I am gaining more discipline! I dont like chaos since we now have 3 kids. We just couldnt do chaos anymore, so then came a cleaner house! I wasnt always a very clean person. I think I am very messy by nature, so it takes a lot for me to keep on top of things. BUT when my house is clean, I relax more, and am happier all around, towards everyone!

  3. What a novel idea! I really like it for the kids They would get a kick out of seeing the chores checked off after they are done. Or perhaps stickers...hmmmm even better!!!

  4. I remember doing this last year and suddenly couldn't find my list. Come to find out my 5yo needed something to draw on and my list was just perfect...apparently. ;-)

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  6. Have you thought of making a homemakers binder/household notebook?
    You can see how to put one together here:
    I am in the process of putting one together now. I'm hoping this will keep me a little more organized having everything in one place.

  7. This is terrific. I like this idea, because although Flylady rocks there are times when I am in the kitchen with some time to kill and can clean but feel guilty about it if she is in the Living Room this week! This system would be awesome! I am gonna give it a try! Thanks!

  8. Can you share your spreadsheet? I think this would help me and DH SOOO much! -Amanda Y. (ayyogurt at yahoo)