My friend KJG shared an awesome time (and work!) management strategy the last time we visited at her home on the far, far west side of the Valley.
KJG’s lovely home is always enviably tidy, clean, and free of the recurrent chaos that characterizes my house. Not only does she manage a large and handsome house, she also cares for an acre of irrigated land’s landscaping and garden, and trains and cares for a large rescued doberman pinscher. To say nothing of an active and bodacious husband.
Both of us have reached the point in our lives when we regard extra clutter and extra work with a jaundiced eye. I remarked on how difficult and, more recently, how painful I find it to get through the work entailed in maintaining just 1,860 square feet on a quarter-acre of low-maintenance fake desert landscaping.
And she said she had learned to manage the workload by doing only one task a day.
Instead of having a cleaning day and a shopping day and a laundry day and an ironing day the way our mothers taught us, KJG does only one housecleaning task in any given day. On Monday, for example, one might clean the bathrooms; on Tuesday vacuum the floors; on Wednesday do the routine yard jobs.
Hm. I’ve been mulling that over ever since she described it.
My mother, like most of our mothers, had a regular cleaning day. And a regular laundry and ironing day. And a regular shopping day. And so forth. Most of the hours of each day were occupied by getting through all the tasks entailed in each of these projects.
But what if instead of doing projects you divided the projects into tasks and spread those tasks over an entire week or an entire month? Instead of cleaning the house from stem to stern every Monday, why not do one or two parts of that project each day? Wouldn’t this reduce a big, tiring project to a manageable daily chore, not so large as to actually cause physical pain?
This week I finally climbed out from under the paid work long enough to think this idea through, create a schedule, and get started on it.
Here’s what the routine would look like, casa mia:
Well. The back pain is unrelenting. But it’s a lot more unrelenting when I have to spend a whole lot of hours lifting, hauling, squatting, climbing under the furniture, scrubbing, scouring, dusting, vacuuming, mopping… The last time I spent a day cleaning house, I hurt so much I could have cried. Maybe even did cry.
Today is Tuesday. This evening after I mopped the floor — that would be all 1,860 square feet of tilework — I felt pretty good. Actually, since I just started this plan today and spent most of yesterday and the day before building the new rose beds, I did a little catch-up and vacuumed before mopping.
Tomorrow — Wednesday — will be the busiest day of the week. So the housework will be limited to light dusting and the ten-minute job of testing and balancing the pool water.
Wednesday Chamber of Commerce meetings usually convene in a north Scottsdale restaurant. A straight line home from those parts will take me past an upscale Costco outlet and the community college campus, where a once-a-week visit will suffice to say hello to colleagues, wave at the all-powerful Admin Assistant, and pick up the mail. Tomorrow I’ll meet a client directly after the CofC meeting before heading back into town via the campus. The surface-street route home from there takes me past a Home Depot.
Sunday after choir, “central area” errands will include trips to the city’s cheapest Costco gas station, located in the ghetto shopping center near M’hijito’s house (providing an opportunity to pester the kid as I breeze through his neighborhood); a trip to Safeway; and possibly a trip to the favored gourmet grocery store that sells my beloved coffee beans.
Note that this scheme a) rarely requires much work; b) leaves plenty of time to walk the dog and hike around the local mountain parks; c) could in theory limit the gasoline-burning automobile trips to three a week; and d) also leaves plenty of time to work on clients’ work. It builds in hours for business networking and still provides ample time to have a life.
Such are the prerogatives of (heh!) “retirement.”