Sunday, February 7, 2010

Messy Monday: Excel With Discipline!

(First, let me apologize for the failure to post the posts I said I'd post last week--wow, a lot of "posts" in one sentence! :) My husband had some unexpected trips out of town, and I just didn't have time to write something thoughtful. I'd rather wait and write a decent post than throw up something just for the sake of having a post. So I will aim to reschedule those for Thursday and Friday of this week. Thanks for understanding. :) Now onto Messy Monday: Tips for Getting It Together) 

I’ve been using my spreadsheet for weekly cleaning tasks for the past several weeks now, and it’s working out real well. Some of you may have thought the spreadsheet was a silly and superfluous step, but for me it was necessary because I was missing too many tasks week-to-week. Fortunately, it's now becoming routine enough that I don’t need the spreadsheet to remind me of some of the more infrequent tasks.

While it’s fairly easy to psych up and tackle a bunch of tasks in a few hours one morning a week, it is much harder to discipline oneself to not let things get too out of hand between cleaning days (Thursdays are working well for me). Everything looks so nice after it’s cleaned and shined, but it can all go downhill fast in a matter of minutes. If I allow this downhill trend to continue to compound, I'll be buried in an avalanche fast. Then, I'll be dreading my cleaning day because it will seem so overwhelming.
Keeping a consistently clean house requires much diligence. I used to think that I was the only one who struggled so hard with housekeeping—not so much the act scrubbing, dusting, and vacuuming, but the discipline of not letting things get out of control. I have come to realize that there really is no magic formula for keeping a clean house, nor is there an easy way out. It is hard work, and that’s ok.

"Let us not dread labor. Beautiful rewards and satisfaction come from labor. Sweat and work are not to be despised, as they bring enjoyable results. Cleanliness and order enhance the environment of our homes and surround our loved ones with comfort. This makes the labor of our hands worth the effort." (Heaven at Home: Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home
Helpful housekeeping hints build on top of each other. Slowly as time goes on, you’ll find you’re doing better than you were before. It’s a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Plus, there are different stages of life—some much harder than others for keeping things tidy. Be patient through these stages and don’t be too hard on yourself. As you consistently practice discipline, it will become a habit. When the stage of little children (or whatever else) passes, housekeeping disciplines will be more noticeable in your home.

What are some of the disciplines I’m talking about?

  • Putting something away right away, all the way.
  • Picking up a mess right away, all the way.
  • Not allowing too many messes to happen simultaneously (This is my weak point. The kids can dump out toys, and I allow them to leave them to have a snack, which they spill and get crumbs all over the floor, and then I remember I have to throw in a load of laundry, and then they get markers out and write where they shouldn’t, and on and on we go. You can see how things can get completely out of control very fast).
  • Doing dishes and putting them away right away. (They don’t build up too badly this way).
  • Sweeping the floor after every meal.
  • Many others!
Practice the disciplines this week and reap the benefits!

Please share any housekeeping disciplines that help you in the comments section!


  1. I think you are on to something, Cheryl and it sounds as if you are enjoying the benefits. I am glad the excel spreadsheet is working for you!

    The biggest tips (and ultimate time-savers later) which I have found are:

    1. Cleaning the kitchen well after each meal. Period. For me this includes wiping the counter, loading each dish in dishwasher, washing every other dish AND sweeping the floor. I have found that it really doesn't take that long if I am consistent in this practice.

    2.I assign different kids (even the little ones) with different jobs every day.

    3. Prior to any snacks, Tim and Savannah are required to "tidy" up for 10 minutes. If they are not truly working, then no snack. It is a very good motivator (and Biblical too - "You don't work, you don't eat.") because snacks are usually the fun food but I know that if they miss them, they won't starve. The key for me is consistency and teaching them that I will follow through because I love them that much to help them make wise choices. Singing "right away, all the way, with a happy heart" helps too :).

    4. One other thing that has helped discipline me is to challenge myself to do a more obscure task each day (before I enjoy reading blogs or posting) in the afternoon when my children are sleeping. Last week I did some closet reorganization, laundry room deep cleaning, etc. This week I have a goal of one project per day including wiping out bathroom drawers/cabinets, sorting through Savannah's closet, re-organizing linen closet, wipe out fridge, and go through a too-full basket of papers and books near my reading chair.

    Now I have to be accountable to do it since I told you!

    Happy Monday!!

  2. Is there any way you would share your spreadsheet via e-mail? I think many of us would find it a valuable tool. Just in case, my e-mail is:
    Thanks for posting and have a great day!

  3. Hi Paula,
    Thanks for asking. Someone asked me if I could post it a few weeks ago, and I am intending to. I just have to figure out a way to do it (I'm kind of new to Excel) :) Give me a few days and you will probably see it here (otherwise, I can email it to you!).

  4. I so need to hear this! Great tips & encouragement!!! Thank you! Actually just found your blog this morning thru Organizing Junkie. :) I want to subscribe to your blog via email but I do not know how. Please tell me how. Thank you!!!

  5. Hi Jenny! Glad you stopped by. I just added a "Subscribe via email" link. It's on the left, under the flowers, right above the ad. Thanks for asking! :)

  6. Enjoyed your post. I am a reforming Messy as Sandra Felton so eloquently put it. I used to be terrible at putting things away and keeping things tidy. Out of frustration I have learned organization is a hot button for me and not only do I love it I love teaching it to women's groups. I use the Happiness File by the Sidetrack Sisters. I think they were watching through my windows when they wrote that book. :)
    It's 3x5 index cards that are colored. Yellow: daily, Blue: weekly, White: monthly, Green: periodically. I divided up each chore to fit into the month and have them in an index box labeled with the days of the months and put accordingly. I only do them M-F. It's amazing how clean my house is or stays. I'm usually within a 5 minute pickup if it needs straightened. My best tip is to straighten up before going to bed. Doesn't take long and it's so nice to wake NOT starting behind from the day before. Thanks and I would love to see your spreadsheet. Always room for improvement. :-)