In our home, there are responsibilities that have to be completed multiple times each week — and some, each day — to keep clutter from spinning out of control. Laundry and dishes are two of these responsibilities that apply to most homes. We also have to sweep under my son’s high chair, feed pets, prepare meals, clear out the car, water plants, recycle the newspaper, a general pickup around the house, scrub the toilet, and numerous other activities just to maintain our base level of order.
These recurring responsibilities are best handled by setting up routines, and I recommend creating and following a chart of when to complete these responsibilities until these activities become habit. To create a chart:
- Make a list of every chore you need to complete and how often. For example: Launder bathroom towels–1x/week. Feed cats–2x/day. Launder bedroom sheets–1x/week. Make lunch–1x/day.
- Group any activities together that would be more efficiently done at the same time. For example: Laundering bathroom towels and sheets in the same load. Filling the car with gas and grocery shopping on the same errand run.
- On your chart, start by filling in those activities that are time sensitive. For example: Loading the dishwasher or washing dishes will need to be done after dinner.
- Once the time-sensitive activities are on the chart, fill in the other activities based on when you have the most time and energy. If you’re exhausted after dinner and just want to relax, you might benefit from putting some of your responsibilities on your chart before you leave for work in the mornings, when you’re more likely to finish the chore.
- Keep in mind your social calendar when creating your routine chart. If you tend to spend Friday nights out with friends, don’t schedule activities for Friday nights.
- Be realistic. You are not superhuman. Only put on your chart those responsibilities that must be completed to keep your home running smoothly. After a few months of working on and mastering your current list, you then might consider adding more lofty routines to your chart.
- Create an incentive structure to reward yourself for following the chart. Have fun and use stickers to track your progress. After 10 days of following the chart, have a nice dinner or take yourself to the movies. Identify the reward on your chart so that you have a reminder of your prize.
If more than one person lives in your house, be sure to assign specific actions to each person. Divide the responsibilities equally. Good luck creating your responsibility chart and getting work done around the house!