Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How The 80/20 Rule Applies To Housework

Yesterday I talked about how the 80/20 Rule (Pareto's principle) applied to the clothes in my closet.

Today I'm going to talk a little about how it applies to housekeeping.

A few years ago, I made money by cleaning houses. I charged a flat rate and tried to do a quality job in just a couple of hours or so. In the beginning this was difficult, because I was cleaning too well! I was trying to clean every little nook and cranny to a shine and was finding that after two hours, I wasn't even done with someone's kitchen, let alone with their entire house.

I knew something had to change or my hourly earnings weren't going to be worth my time and effort. That's when I read about the 80/20 rule as it applies to housework. I'm not sure where I read it. I suspect it was at FlyLady.net, as I was an avid participant in her methods at the time.

Basically, the 80/20 rule means that you'll see 80% of your cleaning results in just 20% of the time allotted to cleaning. So, if I was planning on getting out of a clients house in two hours, I'd see the majority of results in about 25 minutes.

I started with the big, easy work. I made beds, gathered laundry and put it in the hamper, pick up stray items on floors and tables. I'd scrub sinks and bathtubs, clean toilets and sweep and mop the floors. I'd vacuum, then dust and clean glass. Yes, I'd vacuum before dusting; most vacuums send a fine spray of dust into the air as you use them, which settles back onto furniture.

That would take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Then, and only then, would I pick a room and start tackling the detail work, such as grime built up around the knobs on the stove or errant crayon marks in the kids' rooms. I would do as much as I could until I reached the two hour mark (give or take a few minutes). I never received complaints that I wasn't doing enough, and my hourly earnings were no longer a sore spot for me.

I don't clean for other people anymore, but I still apply the 80/20 rule to my own housework. I do what's easy to see first and most often, and do what's harder to notice later and less often. I'm happy with the results without having to work my butt off every day.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I had not thought about applying the 80/20 rule to housework. I just generally clean everything on Saturdays while the husband is working on the family farm. But I am finding that as the pregnancy progresses, these marathon cleaning sessions are leaving me fatigued and achey. I think I will start using this rule in my life. Perhaps doing the things I can "see" in a room each nigh (with hubby's help) and then each Saturday I will do the "hard" stuff in a particular room.