I love lists.  I get WAY more done working from a list than I do without one.  In the past year, I’ve started a habit at work whereby every morning I make a list of things to do that day.  When new things come up, I’ll add it to the list.  When I do something, I’ll cross it off.

I love crossing things off.  Or using check marks 🙂

I decided that I needed to apply the same principle to keeping up on the little things that need to be done around the house throughout the year.  Our house is usually pretty clean and we try to keep clutter to a minimum, but sometimes things get kind of dirty.  We also try to keep up on standard maintenance stuff but many times things get delayed or slip through the cracks.

Thus, my creation of a list.

Making a daily list for household stuff is a little too intense, even for a list lover like me.  So, I decided to tackle things on a monthly basis.

I love using Excel, so I created a new file called Monthly Task List.  Below are the steps used to create my list.

1.  I created the following columns:

  • Room
  • Recurrence (Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-Annually, Annually)
  • Month Due
  • Done (an empty box that I can use to check it off)
  • Project/Task

2. I did a room-by-room walkthrough and wrote down tasks that I wanted to get done (went back to paper for this step).

3. I wrote down the frequency at which I wanted to repeat these task (still using paper).

4. I went back to my spreadsheet and started entering the tasks.  The trick is that I created multiple rows with the same task based on the frequency.  So, if I had a monthly task, it got twelve different entries.

5. Once this was complete, I started assigning months to the tasks.  I first did all the monthly tasks because I was able to copy the month names (actually used the format 01 – Jan, 02 – Feb, etc.) all the way in a row, then paste the twelve entries into all the tasks that had twelve rows.  I tried to space things out as best I could so that no month had a ton more tasks than another.  I also made sure to factor weather and season into the month so that I wasn’t, for example, spraying around the house for bugs in January. I also added some blank rows at the bottom.

6. I created a Filter and filtered the Month column on 01 – Jan and ‘blank’  I hit print and was given a four page printout, three and a half filled with tasks and a few extra rows from including the ‘blank’ rows in my filter.

7. I started working off this list.  When I finish something, I can check it off and enter that back into the spreadsheet.  I also use the notes column so that I can go back and make tweaks, and the extra blank rows to write in stuff that comes up that I didn’t figure in the first go-round.  That way, they’ll be covered for future years.

That’s it.

Now, there are around 500 items in my list.  That seems daunting, but when you look at some of them, you realize it’s not so bad.

Twelve entries each for ‘Change Furnace Filter’ or ‘Check Tire Pressure In the Cars’.  Things that need to get done and take a few minutes, but can easily get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Cleaning out closets around the house.  Something that needs to be done to keep clutter, dust mites, and general grime away from your home, but something we often don’t do.  Now, there’s a rotation of closets to be cleaned.

Going through stuff in the file folders.  I just did my first go-around of this and found lots of credit card statements from 1996 and the area.  Very interesting to see, but not necessary in a goal of keeping a clutter free life.  Quarterly reminders here will keep me on top of my paperwork and make sure things don’t fall through the cracks.  Other areas like this are bathroom cupboards, cleaning out clothes from the closet or drawers that are no longer worn.

Going through stuff in storage drawers.  I’d received old coins and keepsakes from various relatives who have passed on throughout the years.  Hitting this task allowed me to sit down one evening, and realize that I have silver coins which are over 100 years old.  I have a picture of my grandfather with a note on the back ‘Last Picture Taken’.  Pretty cool stuff that I’ll be happy to revisit more often.

I’m hoping that my new system works.  A few years ago, I’d tried something on a smaller scale and stopped using it after just a couple of months.  This actually goes into a little more depth, and quite honestly, I wasn’t ‘into’ lists a few years ago, so I’m predicting greater success.

So far I’ve ‘done’ 33 of 49 things for the month.  Outside of some of the things I mentioned above, I’ve also done things like:

  • Verified that all computers have updated virus and malware software and done a full scan on each (one item per computer)
  • Scrubbed out the grimy buildup from the inside of the washing machine
  • Cleaned out and re-organized the under-kitchen sink area
  • Vacuumed under all the beds
  • Cleaned the tops and around the baseboards in the hallway areas

Would I have done all of these things otherwise?  Probably not.  Would I have a ‘record’ of when I had done them last?  No way.

This is shaping up to be a good endeavor.  I think it will help a lot, and I think that as time goes on, some of the tasks will be less cumbersome after I’m able to keep on top of them.

Do you have a system for keeping on top of day to day household tasks?