Fitting it all in: Tips to finish chores fast

I won't win any clean house awards, but over the past few years, I have learned how to maintain a decently decent home without dedicating my life to vacuuming and dusting.  We all know how to clean, it's just the finding the drive to clean that is the problem.  So this list doesn't tackle the how.  Instead, I try to focus on what I could do differently that effortlessly integrates cleaning into my everyday.  How can I make chores quick and painless.  I hope some of these tricks work in your home too!

1.  Set a timer and only clean for as long as the time runs.  Make it a race.  Why vacuum and dust to achieve perfection, when everything will just be dirty again?  Settle for good enough.  Laura Vanderkam has argued (and I agree) that the amount of time chores take expands to fill the time we have.

2.  Brush your dog or cat every night.  This will cut down on the amount of hair shed and is a calming ritual to put your furry loved one to sleep.

3.  When you are heating something up in the microwave, clean instead of standing and waiting.  Wipe down the countertops, wipe out the sink, or wipe down your appliances and cabinets.

4.  Divide and assign chores ahead of time so that there is no arguing or procrastinating concerning who does what task.

5.  Keep track of your chore cycle by using a to-do list manager like Wunderlist, which prompts you to complete your tasks.  Determine what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonally. like the strategy of spacing chores out so I don't feel like I am cleaning all day. 

6.  Subscribe to a service like epantry or Amazon Subscribe and Save so you never run out of cleaning products and household essentials.  I buy all of my soaps and detergents online.  The prices are competitive, the convenience can't be beat, and companies like epantry are actually do some good, too!

7.  Invest in a cordless vacuum.  I cannot stop talking about our vacuum because it's that good.  For quick vacuuming jobs, the cordless vacuum saves loads of time.  If you have stairs, this is a must.  It works great for the car also.

8.  Wash and dry your sheets and then immediately make your bed.  There is no need to fold them only to unfold them later.

9.  Fold your laundry while watching a favorite TV show.  Matching socks becomes so much more pleasant this way.

10.  Overpower bad odors by lighting and burning a candle for five minutes and then blowing it out.

11.  Spray your shower with a few squirts of all purpose cleaner every time you shower. This will cut down on mold and grime.

12.  Whatever goes in the car must go out the same day.  Or, if this is too much, once a week go in the car with a basket and declutter.

13.  Find a home for everything. This takes more time on the front end, but it makes picking up a breeze because you won't waste time trying to figure out where something should go or worse, coming to a standstill and leaving the clutter where it is.

14.  Go paperless.  This tactic is not for everyone, but if I don't need the paper, I don't keep it. Consider investing in a scanner or even taking a picture of something on your phone so you can eliminate the paper clutter.

15.  Wipe down your counters every time you are in the kitchen.  We use a rag instead of a sponge because we find it stays cleaner and simply replace the rag every couple of days.

16.  Use the same water cup all day.  It's not getting significantly dirty in the span of hours, and there is no need to fill your dishwasher needlessly.

17.  Use premoistened wipes for quick touch ups.  I don't use many paper towels, but this is one of my favorite but less green convenience items.  Wiping off smudges from the fridge or cleaning the sink goes quickly with these in hand.

18.  Designate a shelf or closet for "overflow" so extra items (like the ten packs of Ziploc bags you bought at Costco) have a place go until you need them.  

19.  Prioritize vacuuming out your garage (if you have one) or entrance areas.  The majority of the dirt tracked in can be eliminated by attending to these spots.

20.  Declare a rule: Whoever gets out of bed last must make the bed.  Obviously this only works for people who share a bed, but the practice carries the added benefit of encouraging good waking habits.

21.  Ditch your plastic shower liners.  They gather grime and mold and are yet another thing to clean!  Allow our shower curtain to dry fully by pulling it closed and allowing all surfaces to receive airflow.

22.  Cut down on the products you use.  This may be my favorite, most helpful tip.  Many cleaning and personal care products accomplish similar goals.  Identify the minimum number of products you need and either chuck everything else or wait until the supplies run out and don't replace them.  I prefer having less filling my shelves and fewer options to weigh.  The more complicated cleanings seems, the less likely I am to do it.  This logic also makes figuring out what I need to restock much easier.