Written by Joanne Potter BSN, RN
As busy nurses, the thought of slowing down to enjoy spring sounds nice. What’s not to like about going outside for leisurely walks while enjoying the beautiful weather? On the other hand, the thought of spring cleaning might not be as appealing- even just the phrase spring cleaning might cause feelings of overwhelm or dread.
Imagine having a clean and organized house by the end of spring. Spring cleaning allows you to start summer with a clean house that will be manageable to keep tidy with little effort, so you can spend your days off enjoying life instead of just catching up on chores.
Working as a night shift nurse for over a decade, I realized I needed to create a plan to get my house clean without feeling like I was spending my days off only scrubbing and housekeeping. I found a system that works for me and would love to share it with you here.
Planning my spring cleaning was the only way I was going to be successful. By planning ahead, I knew exactly what I needed to do each day, and for how long.
Start planning by making a comprehensive list of everything you want to get done. Once you’ve completed your list, assign a “time” to each item. How long will it take you to complete this chore? Don’t spend too long over analyzing. Consider how long it would normally take you to do the task, and go from there to estimate times.
If I don’t prioritize, then I get things done that aren’t necessarily the most important to me while procrastinating on the more important tasks.
For example, before I started prioritizing my list, I would spend ages organizing my spices alphabetically (I mean, who doesn’t love an alphabetized spice rack?), but I still had a cluttered kitchen countertop. What is a bigger priority? While having an organized spice rack is extremely satisfying, I would have preferred having the kitchen counters decluttered first.
Prioritizing my list not only helped to keep me organized - seeing all the progress I made motivated me to stick with my plan. (i.e. I was able to see things on the surface that were organized and decluttered first, versus organized drawers and closets). A clean and decluttered house felt so refreshing. I was much more able to sit back on my days off and enjoy, without seeing all the clutter.
Of course, everyone has different priorities. What is most important to you? What tasks can wait? For me, I realized that clutter out where I could see it made me anxious. So, my priority was to declutter counters and surfaces first. Then I moved on to organizing drawers, closets, and storage.
3. Break It Down
Once you have your list prioritized, break it down into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. The amount of time you have listed next to each item will help you categorize each task. For instance, a big task like cleaning the bathroom isn’t something you should do daily. Save the more time-consuming tasks for the weekly or monthly categories.
4. 10-15 Minute Cleanups
Nurses know that time off between shifts is precious. The last thing I wanted to do after working a 12+ hour night shift was clean the house. So, I came up with a way to still get a little done in 10-15 minute increments, even on the days I worked. This helps make my days off not nearly as overwhelming. The key here is to keep it simple and manageable. Find something you can do that takes minimal effort or energy. It’s amazing how much you can get done in those 10-15 minute chunks. If you work 3 shifts a week, those little cleanups add up to 30-45 minutes!
5. Ask For Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire a cleaning service. If you feel overwhelmed and stressed by even the thought of having to do 10-15 minute cleanups, or if spring cleaning gives you anxiety, it’s OK to ask for help.
There are many options for hiring someone to help. This can range anywhere from weekly house cleaning to once every few months. Maybe you just need someone to come deep clean the house and you’ll be able to manage it in between those deep cleans. Nurses already have enough stress on their plates, so if this is something that helps to alleviate that stress on your off days, then it may be worth exploring.
You can start today by planning for spring cleaning. Take a few minutes by writing down your goals and organizing your thoughts for what you want to accomplish. The thought of having a clean and organized house by the end of spring is refreshing. By spending the time now, you’ll save time in the long run. Just think of being able to enjoy summer and your days off. Instead of scrubbing and organizing, you’ll be sitting back and relaxing.
About the Author
Joanne Potter BSN, RN is a writer that specializes in health and wellness. She has fifteen years of experience as a Registered Nurse in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Her years working on the frontlines at the bedside enable her to write with a deep understanding of what patients want from their communities.