Tidying vs. Cleaning

There is a big distinction between tidying and cleaning. Marie Kondo does a wonderful job describing the uniqueness of both in her book Spark Joy, "Tidying is the act of confronting yourself; cleaning is the act of confronting nature" and "tidying deals with objects; cleaning deals with dirt".  For the simplicity of this post, I'll expand by saying that tidying is the act of decluttering, rearranging, putting back and organizing of things. Picking up toys off the floor and putting them away on the shelf is considering tidying. Another example is rearranging the furniture in your living room. By comparison, cleaning is the act of removing organic dirt. Scrubbing the floors, dusting and washing down walls are all examples of cleaning. 

I can tell you from my own experience in going through the KonMari Method that the cleaning I do now, is not what it use to be. Before I completed my tidying, every time I tried to clean I always ended up feeling overwhelmed and as Kondo remarks, "incompetent". I felt I never made significant headway, because there was always so much clutter impeding my ability to actually clean. Completing the KonMari process eliminated the clutter so now when I clean, I'm productive and my house is reflective of this change (yay!). But, let's not get too carried away, cleaning is unavoidable and requires effort; if you're anything like me, it is not your favourite way to spend your time. Keeping your cleaning efficient and routine is the easiest way to ensure you stay on top of the work.

Below are five ways that I have streamlined my cleaning and tidying. Even if you haven't completed the KonMari Method (psst, I can help with that), these tips are still valuable and are sure to help:

1. Schedule Having a cleaning schedule is so, so important. Breaking down cleaning into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual chores takes the guess work out of what needs addressing and ensures everything is getting done. Here are some examples:
Daily - Kitchen counters, cleaning floors, laundry
Weekly - Changing linens, cleaning mirrors, emptying small garbage cans, dust
Monthly - Vacuum couches, wipe down cupboard doors
Quarerly - Clean behind appliances
Annually - Wash exterior of house, clean gutters
If you're looking for a cleaning schedule to follow, I suggest checking out Pinterest, there are a lot of good ones out there!

2. Routine Incorporate using the above cleaning schedule daily or until your routine becomes second nature. Post your cleaning schedule in a spot where you know you'll see it each day (i.e., beside the telephone or calendar), this way you won't miss a day and get behind (cleaning isn't fun, no one wants to play catch-up)!

3. Keep Rooms Zoned This suggestion reduces the amount of effort and time devoted to tidying. In my home, we have a "no toys in the bedroom" rule. This is in place for several reasons, but one of the main ones is, having to take toys out of my kid's bedroom and back downstairs to the playroom is unnecessary work. The playroom is where toys are to be used and stored, conversely the same for clothes being kept in bedrooms. Following this suggestion eliminates one extra step... and for me, means more time spent doing the things I actually want to be doing (win!).

4. "If you don't live alone, don't act like you do!" I share this phrase with my clients all the time. If the home is shared with others, then they too need to pitch in with the work. Now sometimes there are circumstances and arrangements where one member of the household assumes more of the responsibility for cleaning and tidying, but overall, everyone should play a part. Allocate certain cleaning and tidying jobs to each member of the home. Even if one member doesn't do as much of the home maintenance, there should still be an expectation that they are responsible for their own affects. Children can certainly help too in maintaining tidiness by taking care of keeping their own bedrooms and belongings in order. As they say, "many hands make for light work"!

5. "Don't start your day with yesterday's mess" Another one of my coined expressions, but I don't get the credit for this one, it's a phrase I grew up hearing from my Mum and have adopted into the running of my own home. Starting your day by having to take care of the things you didn't address the day before is a defeating feeling (been there). I know at the end of a long day, it is so much more appealing to call it quits and crawl into bed (done that), but pushing through and finishing the day's work (which is usually never more than 20 minutes) is one of the best ways to reduce feeling overwhelmed and start each day motivated.


If you are interested in pursuing your own KonMari journey, you may be interested in my 12 Weeks to Tidy Program.