In this month’s blog series, we’ve been working on a specific theme: How to keep the house clean on a regular basis.

Today in the final video blog on this theme we’re going over a specific system that is just ingenious! It is what I teach in my course, Tidy Tutor University, now known as The Tidy Tutor Masterclass. You work on the house in sections known as zones.

Here’s how it works: There are five zones for each month, or five weeks. Zone 1 begins on the first of the month no matter what day of the week it is. Zone 2 will begin on the next Sunday, and each zone after that will also begin on a Sunday. The first week of the month can be only a few days long or even sometimes only one day. Once in a while, you’ll have a total of 7 days in the first week or the last week but that is rare. Take a look at your calendar months and you’ll see what I mean.

For the first week and the last week, since these are often just a few days long, you’ll choose a section of the house that normally doesn’t require a lot of time such as a powder room or entranceway. Note: It may need a lot of work right now if it’s very cluttered or hasn’t been cleaned in a long time. But if it was totally clear of clutter these are the types of spaces in the house that don’t have much to do in them.
These smaller areas of your home generally don’t take a lot of time to clean up so assign them to zone 1 or zone 5. (How much really has to be done in an entryway and a powder room?) Other choices could be the laundry area, a side entrance, a hallway, and stairs.

Weeks two, three, and four are for spaces that require a lot more time. The kitchen, for example, deserves an entire week all to itself. So let’s say week two was the kitchen. Week three might be the living room, dining room, and breakfast nook. Week four could be the bedrooms and the office.

And when I say bedrooms, I mean all of the bedrooms are done in that week. If you don’t live in all the bedrooms, you’re not responsible for all the bedrooms. If you have children who live in some of those bedrooms, then they are responsible for their own bedroom except of course, if they are very young. In that case, you’re responsible for helping them learn how until they can do with themselves.

If you have children who are grown and able to do it, then you might want to teach them how to clean a bedroom and maintain it, and then assign it to them to do. You are responsible for your bedroom, and if you have a master bath, you could include both in that zone if that would work.

During weeks 1 to 5, you would go through the entire house so that at the end of the month, every single room in your house has been thoroughly gone over.

Now, in my course, “Tidy Tutor University,” now known as the “Tider Tutor Masterclass,” we go over how to do this in greater detail. If you have a lot of clutter, first you declutter in the zone you are in. You stay faithful to the zone focus plans and you just keep going until it’s decluttered.

And once a zone is totally decluttered, that’s when you begin with the detail cleaning.You have an entire week to clean each zone. You could do it all on a Saturday if you want to. You could do it on a Saturday and Sunday. You could break it up during the week.

If you don’t live alone the work has to be delegated. What I always did when I lived with my family was to announce at the beginning of the week what the zone was. “This week is the kitchen zone!” and everybody would know and then I would give a specific job to each person deciding when they would get to that job.

I learned this from Pam Young and Peggy Jones. In their second book, “Get Your Act Together,” they changed from originally cleaning the house with one heavy cleaning day and one moderate cleaning day to doing the house in zones and sections. Pam Young said that she got this idea from her husband, who was responsible for their property upkeep (and it was a large piece of property). He was always on top of it. It never got away from him, and seemed to be effortless.

He told her that he coordinated his tasks by how the property was broken up via the sprinkler zones. He did one or a few sections a week throughout the month. And before you knew it, everything got done and then it just started all over again. Pam realized she could transform that concept into maintaining the house. When Sidetracked Home Executives was written back in the late 70s, it was primarily written for stay-at-home moms and women who were home all day. But things changed, women went out into the work world, they had less time for cleaning and so the system had to change.

It seems like there’s quite a lot to it but it is really a simple concept. Once you get it, it’s easy and becomes simple! Like a self-cleaning house.

To recap:

  • You break the house up into zones.
  • The first week and last week are things that don’t require a real lot of time.
  • The second, third, and fourth are more meaty sections of the home.
  • You declutter in each zone before you clean.
  • Zones go from Sunday to Saturday except for zone 1, which always starts on the first of the month. Then the next zone starts Sunday to Saturday.
  • If you don’t live alone, delegate things to do in each zone.
  • If there is more than one bedroom, you do all the bedrooms in a zone week.
  • If there are people living in bedrooms, they are responsible for their own bedrooms.
  • You can break up a zone all throughout the week.
  • You can do an entire zone all on a Saturday, or on a Saturday and Sunday. (It all depends on your lifestyle and schedule)

So if the first of the month is on a Thursday, then you just have Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to work on Zone 1 before you start the next zone. Now, you may realize that the spaces in your zones only get cleaned once a month using this system. So how do you keep things from getting dusty for example the rest of the time? Incorporate what I call a “Once Over Day” each week.

In Sidetracked Home Executives, it was referred to as a “Slipshod Cleaning Day.” This is the day when speed takes precedence over detail. You dash through the house, dusting around picture frames and objects without fussing over specifics. The aim? A quick spruce-up as if guests were knocking on your door at this very moment.

On “once over” day, you quickly go over the floors too, but only in the areas that are visible and easy to access. Hit any spots on mirrors or doors too. The Once Over Day should be shared – divvy it up throughout the week to those who live with you. You can dedicate 15 minutes a day or concentrate it all on the weekend. The approach you take hinges on your lifestyle and the responsibilities you juggle both inside and outside your home.

I go into this process extensively in my course, “Tidy Tutor University,” also known as “The Tidy Tutor Masterclass.” If you’re curious about the course or the membership group I offer, where I’m dedicated to guiding you through the challenges of home life along with the valuable Tidy Tutor Content, I would be so happy to have you join. You’ll find a community that provides support, erases any feelings of isolation, and encourages accountability. Additionally, special monthly workshops are designed to help you allocate time to tackle your priorities.

As we move ahead, our focus for the upcoming month will be on the kitchen. Last month, I taught The Seven Steps to Declutter Success – we had so much fun! To uncover more details, simply click on the link, whether it’s in the description box or right here on this page where you’re currently watching this video.

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With Love!

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