How to Clean Your House When You’re Too Busy

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy

One question that has come up around here a lot over the years is this:

How do you get a house clean when you’re just too busy (or worn out!) to clean it?

I feel your pain on that one.

Even if you have a free day, who wants to spend that day cleaning?

I thought since we’ll be talking about housekeeping here and there over the next few months, I’d share my number one strategy for cleaning even when you’re crazy busy.


Commit to keeping up with the stuff that piles up.

Yep, don’t hate me for saying it, but this means I clean every day. I just don’t clean everything when I’m busy. I let other things go. But I don’t give up on the house and do nothing at all. I just stick to the stuff that piles up every day.

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy

I know, cleaning every day seems awful when you’re tired or busy. You might think it sounds impossible if it isn’t something you do right now. And it can feel counterintuitive. If you’re busy, you really believe you don’t have any time to clean. So you don’t. By the weekend, the house is a pit and you’re not in the mood to spend the weekend cleaning. Four weeks later, it’s become embarrassing. A few months later, it’s depressing.

Even when we’re tired and in a super busy season around our house, we’re still committed to keep up with the stuff that piles up. That means the dishes have to get washed after dinner. We will wipe out the sinks every day and the toilet, too, as needed. We will do a load of laundry daily or at least several times a week. I’ll clear the junk off the main clutter hotspots so there are some moments of sanity.

Trust me, when I first tried cleaning this way I thought I hated this plan. I remember thinking OH MY WORD, I’m cleaning all day long now! That was an exaggeration, but in my mind it really felt like it was way too much.

But guess what?

The reason I felt like I couldn’t possibly clean this way was simply because it wasn’t yet a habit.

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy

Until daily cleaning was ingrained in my daily routine, I thought all the time about how hard it was! Once I got the hang of keeping up with what I didn’t want to pile up, I stopped giving any of it a second thought. The result became so worth it, the effort seemed to pale by comparison.

That doesn’t mean we don’t drag our feet when we realize we still have to do the dishes before we can head to bed. But we almost always do it anyway. Once in awhile we decide to skip it, but when we do it’s no big deal now because tidiness has become a routine we won’t forget or need to relearn.

So our main rule about daily housekeeping is…we just do it. It doesn’t take much time to clean up the kitchen when you do it regularly. Putting away that pile of clutter on your entry table, or tossing the piles of shoes in a basket will really only take a couple minutes each day. A load of laundry isn’t that big of a deal, you can even fold while you watch TV!

Keeping up with the dailies saves so much time and stress later on that it’s not even a question for us any more! We just do it because it’s worth it.

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy

If you’re feeling behind on everything, I still recommend you start the clean as you go plan! Of course everything won’t get done every day, but you’ll feel more in control with what you do accomplish. Plus keeping up on a few things feels more hopeful and inspiring.

If it helps, you could set a time limit you can handle every day, such as I will clean up the stuff that piles up every evening for 15 minutes. It’s not too hard to clean for 15 minutes a day, so a simple goal like this will empower you for success.

PS. Come back here later today for details and an invite to join my Simple Organizing Challenge Group and Launch Team for my new book!

My housekeeping books:

My latest book available for preorder now- Simple Organizing.  or 

Love the Home You Have (NY Times Bestseller).  or 

Make Room for What You Love.  or 

Onerror in The Cottage Journal

Onerror in The Cottage Journal

Hey friends! Hope you had a nice weekend. I can hardly believe it but we actually had SNOW at our house yesterday. Not much, but enough that it dusted the ground, cars and rooftops.

Come on spring, enough with the cold and snow. Sun and spring flowers only. Thank you. 

I just wanted to let you know this fun news today–my house is in an eight page feature in the spring edition of ! I’m so excited and honored to be included. I’ve always loved this magazine. There is a great article in it, too!

Onerror in The Cottage Journal

I think this might actually be the first time Jack and Lily have appeared in a magazine, so of course they are quite proud (haha). When Better Homes & Gardens came out to photograph our last home many years ago, I hoped they would take a picture of Jack in our kitchen, but they didn’t seem to want to. I remember so many people messaged me to ask why Jack wasn’t in the magazine! HA! Poor Jack. They did photograph Lily, however. She was just a wee puppy back then. Sadly the photos with her didn’t make it to the magazine. I still keep hoping that someday those images will appear somewhere!

But, I’m so happy that the pups made it into The Cottage Journal.

Onerror in The Cottage Journal

Anyway, I know many of you have mentioned seeing this issue of The Cottage Journal because you subscribe to the magazine, but if you aren’t a subscriber, you might want to look for the Spring issue in a store near you (someone said it might be at Costco). It can also be ordered online .

I have some super fun projects in the works at my house that I can’t wait to share, plus I’m excited to mix in some housekeeping posts soon. :)

Have a great day!