My house isn’t the worst. I won’t make it onto reality TV with the state of my dishes. But the clutter and dust has been getting me down. I can see unfinished DIY jobs, dust collecting in corners and a general grubbiness creeping in. It’s depressing because it reminds me of my lost physical ability. Had I felt like this a few years ago I would have blitzed the tasks (probably when I was supposed to be doing something important for my PhD). It bothers me that I can’t see how I can get on top of it again. It reminds me that the normal routine parts of everyday life are now very difficult. And living in a disorganised, untidy environment isn’t great.
A very helpful member of an online guild introduced me to an app called Tody. It turned out to be really helpful. The app itself is a useful reminder app for keeping on top of your housework. I’ve been using the app for a couple of months now and it’s helping me to tackle the housework a little at a time without feeling overwhelmed or disheartened. I really like it because it works well with a slowly, slowly, one thing at a time approach that I think is very important when living with chronic illness.
How does the app work?
Instead of setting a date based reminder (e.g. do the hoovering every Wednesday) you set reminders based on intervals (e.g. hoover every 7 days). This is useful because once you do a task it resets and no matter how overdue the task was before you completed it as soon as it’s completed you have a fresh start.
The house is divided into rooms. There are presets to choose from or you can add your own custom areas. I think this is really helpful for someone with a chronic illness because jobs are immediatly broken down a bit. In the past I might have mopped all the floors in one go. That made sense when I was healthy but would be way to much to take on now.
There are indicator bars showing the condition of each room on the home page. In either the ‘Today’ list or the ‘room’ list you can see the state of each individual chore. I like this feature. It’s visual so at a glance I can see if the whole house and individual rooms are good enough or falling back into chaos. The app simplifies decision making for me. Instead of wondering where to start I browse through the overdue or due tasks and choose the ones that I want to do today.
You tell the app what your attitude to housework is and the app then adjusts the intervals for it’s preset tasks accordingly. You can adjust the intervals yourself if you want. Again this reduces decision making upfront, makes it simple to get started while keeping plenty of flexibility. I was pleased to find that my stardards are a bit higher than the apps in some areas.
Using the app to build a cleaning routine
Initially I got carried away and started entering all the jobs I’d like to get done beginning with the kitchen. This meant I had a long list of overdue tasks which was a bit demoralising. There were also lots of jobs that were more urgent elsewhere in the house and I still felt a bit overwhelmed by the volume of housework that needed doing.
I deleted every task I had added to the app and started again. This time I only added chores to the app after I had completed them. I began with the washing up after dinner. Then I set aside just ten minutes each afternoon for housework and added in chores as I completed them. I only looked for new chores to start on when I was up to date with what’s on the list. This way the things that matter most to me are on the app and I’m not taking on more than I can do. Sometimes I get a bit behind but it doesn’t take too long to catch up.
- Getting lots of things somewhat cleaner is more satifying than scrubbing one thing perfectly clean.
- Doing it less than perfectly is okay because I’m building a long-term routine. I’ll come back to this job again and again. And it gets a little cleaner every time.
- It’s better to build sustainable routines and habits slowly than to set overambitious goals.
- Do the things that bother me the most or have the most impact first.
- I don’t need to do all the cleaning myself. And I don’t need to clean every day. It’s okay to delegate or delete a task for now.