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Stay Organized in No Time Flat

The Daily 7 for a Highly Successful Household

Ah, chores. They are such a necessary evil. As I mentioned in my Clean Less, Play More post: I don't like to clean. Instead, I choose to do a tiny bit each day to ensure that I never waste a day cleaning house when I could be out conquering the world.

Or answering email.

Our family has a list of chores that we try our best to accomplish daily. Now that the kids are old enough to help, they do. When I am sick or am away from the house, the kids and Adam step up and help maintain order in the house.

Sort of.

We're still real people, and we don't live in a museum. I'm not going to lead you astray and say that I make sure the following tasks occur each and every day no matter what. I might burst into flames.

I came up with this Daily 7 after reading the Stephen Covey books. (I told you I liked to read personal development books!) I like how Covey breaks down complex tasks into 7 steps-not too many to get overwhelmed, but not too few that nothing gets accomplished.

  1. Make Beds Right Away
  2. Do One Complete Load of Laundry
  3. Empty All Garbage Cans
  4. Keep Your Kitchen Sink Empty
  5. Clean Up After Yourself and Help Children Do the Same
  6. Bathroom Wipe-Down
  7. Before Bed 10-Minute Clean Up
Make Beds Right Away

The second you climb out of bed in the morning, make it. It's such a wonderful feeling to have accomplished something at 6am. Teach your children to do the same-if beds are made daily, they don't get destroyed as easily, and it really takes less than a minute to pull a sheet taught and straighten the comforter. If you haven't already done so, streamline your bed linen to the bare essentials. There's no need for 50 decorative pillows or an elaborate stuffed animal collection. Really.

Do One Complete Load of Laundry

A complete load means one that is washed, dried, folded, and put away. I'm not trying to be mean; I'm trying to be realistic. It is no fun to save all the laundry for one day a week and not be able to leave the house. Do a little each day, and you will no longer waste away a beautiful afternoon because you are stuck inside tackling a mountain of clothing. I hate ironing, but have found that if I iron clothes while slightly damp I save a ton of time.

Empty All Garbage Cans

On our honeymoon, Adam promised he would empty the garbage cans every single day without being asked. This hasn't happened. It actually kind of ticks me off. Instead, the kids help with the wastebaskets in the bathrooms and their bedroom, and I take out the kitchen garbage every morning after emptying the dishwasher. If I fill it again during the day, I put it right in the middle of the kitchen with the recycleables and hope Adam trips over it. I'm kind of mean like that.

Keep Your Kitchen Sink Empty

I don't know what it is, but if you put something, anything, into the sink, other pieces of flatware are magically drawn to it and all of a sudden the sink is completely filled and rendered useless. Instead, take the time to put your dirty items into the dishwasher right away, or wash the item quickly by hand. It really doesn't take that long. Just do it.

Clean Up After Yourself and Help Children Do the Same

My friend Alison homeschools her nine children. I love Alison. I met her before having children of my own, and she is hands-down my mommy idol. She shared with me once that the secret to parenting is to remember that your goal is to raise capable adults. Chores are not only okay, they are necessary. Model good behavior for your children. Take the time to put your shoes all the way into the closet and hang up your coat. Once you are putting your own things away, your children will be more likely to follow suit.

Bathroom Wipe-Down

This is my favorite. I keep a container of disinfectant wipes in the bathroom, and wipe down the toilet (inside and out) every day. If it's been a particularly um, busy day-I will do it twice. This keeps me from never having to scrub out the toilet with one of those scrubber brush things that I find beyond disgusting. I also quickly wipe down the shower stall and bathroom floor. After showering, use an item from the dirty clothes pile to dry the shower walls and door. This will keep mold and soap scum from accruing. Now use your damp item to quickly mop up the bathroom floor. Dust and hair will disappear and will keep you from needing to mop.

Before Bed 10-Minute Clean Up

Before retiring for the night, do a super quick once over the living spaces of your house. Recycle the magazine left on the coffee table, and stack leftover drinking glasses in the dishwasher. Put the couch cushions in order, and fold the blanket. You will wake up much happier each morning if you aren't greeted to last night's mess.

Stephanie O'Dea is a blogger and mother. She is the author of the forthcoming book "Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking," inspired by the blog A Year of Slow Cooking. She writes about home organization at

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