Tackle big homemaking jobs by breaking them into smaller ones. (This handy step-by-step guide will help!)

Woman smiles while cleaning a stovetop

Reader question: Can you please help me? I’ll start a big job in my home, then have to stop part way, then have a bigger mess, then I don’t have time to get back to it, so the mess grows and becomes overwhelming. How do I break up big homemaking jobs into smaller homemaking jobs?

When you care for your home, so many jobs are big.

And it’s tempting to not do any work instead of digging into a major project out of fear that you’ll never be able to finish in the amount of time you have available.

Think, for a minute, about cleaning your kitchen. You may walk into your kitchen as see a huge mess:

  • Cupboards need straightened up.
  • Unintentional science experiments need cleaned out of your fridge.
  • The inside of your oven is a hot mess.
  • Dirty dishes are piled in your sink.

When you think of all of those cleaning jobs, it’s easy to realize it would take hours to do it all. And quite frankly, you just don’t have hours to dedicate to cleaning anytime soon.

Instead of just writing off the entire project and resigning yourself to life in a dirty house, relax. There’s a better way.

My overwhelming mess

On New Year’s Day last year, I felt so overwhelmed. I created an ambitious list of things to do in the next 12 months – mainly getting my life, finances, and home under control.

Feeling like everything was a mess, I knew I needed to get things in order.

But how would I begin? What should I do first?

Deep down, I knew I needed to focus on small steps – a whole bunch of small steps – to make any difference.

So I began.

You can clean your home — and keep it clean! You just need to know what to do and then follow through with a cleaning strategy that works for YOU and your home.  From Mess to Success can help!

Here’s a 4-step process that works well for me … and will help you tackle big homemaking jobs.

Step 1: Know what you need to do.

As you narrow down the cleaning projects in your own home, start looking at all of the little cleaning jobs that go into a big room.

Instead of seeing your kitchen as one huge project, look at all of the little cleaning jobs that go into cleaning that one room.

Then focus on just one small cleaning project at a time.

Overwhelmed woman stands by a counter filled with dirty dishes

Step 2: Tackle the worst first.

In my home, I knew messes lurked everywhere. A few rooms were definite mess magnets, but besides those clutter-filled places, I noticed a lot of disorder throughout my home.

To fix this problem, I jumped in with the least desirable place – my basement. And I spent a month working on it 10 to 20 minutes a day.

I’d focus on one single area (a single box or storage bin), purging what I didn’t need and organizing what I did need.

Step 3: Try to make some kind of progress every single day.

Days came when I didn’t want to do the work but I made myself do it anyway.

At times, it seemed so overwhelming, like I would never finish the job. But I kept working my way methodically around the room.

When I needed to take a day or two off, I did – and then I’d get back to it, working on one small project at a time. Once I finished cleaning my entire basement, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me.

When my basement was finished, I took a day off to celebrate – then started in on my next messiest room, a school room/art room/storage room.

Small but filled with books and art supplies for my children, I spent another entire month sorting through every single thing in that room and putting every single thing where it needed to be. 

Yes, it took one month to slowly work through one single room.

Just like the basement, I worked 10 to 20 minutes a day on one project a day – I’d focus on one bookshelf one day, then work my way through the rest of the bookcase day by day.

Woman stands in a clean living room, holding cleaning products

Step 4: Work past frustrations by keeping your focus.

During this long and methodical process,the temptation to feel overwhelmed was strong.

As I watched the pile of purged belongings grow and grow and grow, I noticed I created other cleaning jobs.

When you’re working through your big homemaking jobs, it will be natural to feel overwhelmed. Don’t give in to those feelings, though.

Give yourself lots of grace and keep slowly but steadily working. Believe it or not, you’ll make a difference. You’ll make progress.

During my cleaning process, instead of fixating on the distraction of the added work, I kept my focus on each day’s small area to clean.

Yes, I was creating more work as I cleaned out certain areas and shifted belongings to other areas. But I kept working my way around a room (clockwise, from top to bottom) and tackled any project once I got to it.

By having a plan of what I wanted to clean and how I was going to clean it, I was able to focus on my plan – and do it.

“When you’re working through big homemaking jobs, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Don’t give in to those feelings, though. Give yourself lots of grace and keep slowly but steadily working. Believe it or not, you’ll make a difference. You'll make progress.” – Hilary Bernstein, HilaryBernstein.com

The secret to success

It took three full months of working like this, five to six days a week, but by April 1st, my entire home had been decluttered and organized. I then was free to deep clean it – again, methodically and room by room.

By reminding myself to forget about the distractions, I was able to tackle huge cleaning projects without feeling overwhelmed.

That was a huge homemaking success … and how I completed my New Year’s resolution.

Through my own process, I was reminded of the importance of breaking big jobs into smaller jobs – and the importance of focusing on getting things done little by little, bit by bit.

By slowly and methodically working your way through your cleaning tasks, you’ll also be able to break big homemaking jobs into smaller ones. Eventually you’ll notice success.

It’s how you’ll be able to tackle big homemaking jobs, too!

Mom and daughter sit on the floor with cleaning supplies

How do you tackle big homemaking jobs? How do you break big homemaking jobs into smaller ones?

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All images courtesy of Adobe Stock and Unsplash.

Hilary

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