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How to make ordinary and frankly boring household chores quicker and easier

By Luke Rix-Standing, PA

Death, taxes, and mildly boring housework – the three ever-presents of modern life. While nobody really enjoys doing the chores, there are certainly ways to make it more or less tolerable, and maximise the hours of the day you spend doing other things.
Here is how to power through laundry, cleaning and ironing as rapidly as is humanly possible…

Work top down
You most probably clean the bathroom after using it, not before, and sometimes household chores require a little bit of sequencing. Don’t hoover the floor, for example, and then vigorously wipe down the surfaces, because you will probably then have to clean the floor again. If in doubt, go with gravity, as dust can’t climb from the floor back up onto your cupboards.

Declutter first
Cleaning logically takes much less time if there is much less stuff to clean. Most houses could benefit from the occasional purge, and it is remarkable just how much more streamlined an emptier house can feel.

Do one thing at a time
A lesson for life, not just for cleaning, jumping around between different tasks is a sure-fire way of never crossing anything off your to-do list. There are people out there who thrive on multi-tasking, but they are few and far between.
As most of us fit household chores in around other (more urgent or enjoyable) things, strict scheduling is probably doomed to fail. Expect to do little and often, and prioritise must-perform tasks like laundry, because you never know when life will get in the way.

Upgrade your equipment
Throwing money at a problem does not always make it go away, but if you throw it in the right places it sure can help. If you use a cordless hoover, make sure it has decent battery life so you don’t have to stop and charge it halfway through, while a handheld, corner-appropriate hoover can save time with the dustpan and brush.
Make sure your washing machine has settings appropriate for your wardrobe’s range of materials, so you don’t have to spend ages divvying up your laundry basket, and a good quality iron can halve the time spent at the board. Time is money, and just a little extra spending could save your hours of housework in the months and years to come.

If something takes less than two minutes, do it
This is a strategy for powering through procrastination in any arena of life, not just household chores, because putting off something that takes a very small amount of time is just a bad idea. It might be one minute, two minutes or five minutes – different people have different thresholds – but if it fits your definition of ‘quick’, then bang it out and cross it off.

Do chores in the background
Most household chores do not take up much brain space, so can be done in tandem with more enjoyable activities, or squeezed into otherwise dead time. Hang up the laundry while powering through an audiobook, or wash the dishes during an ad break on TV.

Enlist your co-habitants
Partners obviously, children if they are old enough to be corralled – anyone using your household should expect to help with maintaining it. Use classic parenting methods to try and motivate children, with clear to-do lists, and low levels rewards or praise when they do well.

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