Looking for the perfect cleaning resource? Check out my book, The Organically Clean Home!

Working From Home : Increase Productivity with Block Scheduling

Working From Home - Increase Productivity with Block Scheduling - Clean Mama

The concept of block scheduling isn’t new, but it’s how I get just about anything and everything business-y done.  If you work from home or outside the home, today’s post has applications you can use anywhere.  It’s even the premise of my cleaning routine – focus on the same thing every day and get more done.  Instead of trying to get a lot of things done at the same time, concentrate on a batch or block of the same thing.  If you haven’t tried it, it’s revolutionary and potentially life and business changing.  If I’m starting to feel overwhelmed I check to see how many things I’m trying to accomplish simultaneously and chances are it’s more than one.  I go back to my one thing at a time and all is well.

How to use block scheduling to increase productivity:

Simply block off any amount of time and focus on one task or group of similar tasks.  Instead of just sitting down to work, have specific goals and tasks in mind that you can accomplish.  Take this one step further by separating tasks into blocks of time.  If you have a 9-5 sort of job, have specific things that you do at certain times of the day.  By eliminating the ‘what should I do next’ you’ve already become more productive.  Plan according to when certain things work best in your day.  If you are groggy in the morning it might be best to drink a cup of coffee and answer emails for a block of time.  Then after you’re warmed up, work on something that requires a little more creativity.  Use block scheduling for days, hours, or minutes – whatever works for your work at home schedule.

Why it works:

When you focus on one thing at a time and don’t multi-task your efficiency increases and can accomplish more because you are concentrating all your effort on that one thing.  For instance, instead of answering emails on and off all day long, schedule them in a specific period of time.  It could be 2-3 times a day or it could be 2-3 times a week.  Focus on answering emails and only answering emails for a specified block of time and all that time opening and closing the email program is never wasted.

Here are a couple ways that I use block scheduling when I work from home:

  • SET UP AND PLAN A CALENDAR – taking a couple minutes to plan ahead a work schedule or a blog schedule, etc. is helpful.  Set up a time to draft out the calendar and then work only on filling in that calendar.
  • WRITE BLOG POSTS – I try to have a couple months of blog posts planned on my calendar and set up in WordPress.  This really helps to keep me focused on the writing process and keeps things moving on the content side of things.
  • TAKE PICTURES FOR BLOG POSTS – I find it much easier to batch-shoot pictures for multiple projects or posts at the same time.  Setting up camera and shoots once versus multiple times is a huge timesaver.
  • ANSWER EMAILS – I try to answer 2-3 times a day so it’s not a huge time commitment at once.  I’ll answer for 5-10 minutes early morning and around lunch.  If there’s something pressing or urgent that I’m waiting on or expecting I’ll peek again in the evening.
  • SHIPPING – I ship products out on Tuesdays and Fridays.  This way I’m not shipping every day all week long.  Sometimes I will add an extra shipping day if I’m especially busy.  I’m planning on not doing shipping for that much longer though 😉
  • HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY – I set aside a day or two a month to only work on Homekeeping Society.  I could stretch it out for a week, but I’ve found that I can get much more done if I only focus on that for a day or two.
  • ODD WORK HOURS – I don’t work 9-5, I work in segments during the day so block scheduling is especially helpful for me because I can concentrate on one thing for 30 minutes to an hour and then move on to something else.  If you’re working from home during odd hours and working around nap times or bedtime, using block scheduling could be extremely beneficial for you.

Block Schedule - Clean Mama

Share your top block scheduling tip in the comments or how you’ve used it to work for you or if you have a topic you’d like me to cover in this series, let me know!

This post is part of a Working from Home Series:

Working From Home - Flexibility is Essential - Clean Mama

 

Psst…my Everyday Work @ Home Kit is perfect for working at home!

everyday work @ home kit - clean mama

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Clean Mama Printables 50% OFF FLASH SALE

JULY FLASH SALE - Clean Mama

It’s July 25th – isn’t that like Christmas in July?  How about a flash sale?  Come see what you need and stock up – I rarely do a 50% off sale – like I think I’ve had two or three in the last couple years.  2017 calendars will be on their way soon and on sale then too, but not this price – don’t miss it!   Clean Mama Printables is all stocked up – use the coupon code 50FLASHSALE for 50% off your ENTIRE ORDER!

Clean Mama's Productivity Planner

Productivity Planner – undated and full of productive goodness

Everyday Complete Kit - main - Clean Mama

Everyday Complete Kit

Homekeeping Foundations Kit - main - Clean Mama

Homekeeping Foundations Kit 

Schedule Reset main via Clean Mama

The Schedule Reset – perfect for a re-boot!

Streamlined Life Complete Kit - main - Clean Mam

Streamlined Life Complete Kit

Clean Mama Printables Flash Sale - Clean Mama

Don’t miss the Flash Sale – it ends 7/26/16 at 10pm cst!

JULY FLASH SALE - Clean Mama

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Come Clean – Free Cleaning Calendar for August 2016

It’s almost August and that means that it’s time for August’s FREE cleaning calendar!

Come Clean (main) August 2016 - Free Cleaning Calendar - Clean Mama

Every year I choose a new theme for the cleaning calendar and blog and this year it’s COME CLEAN.  2016 is the year to get your cleaning routine in order, find some new and workable solutions for organizing, hold yourself accountable, and get your home in a routine that works for you and your family.

Don’t miss the FREE Summer Calendar here (June-August) – it’s a great way to see the whole summer at a glance!  I use it to sketch out classes and activities to ensure we aren’t over-scheduled.  If you’re looking for a little more in-depth cleaning this summer I also have a FREE Summer Cleaning Checklist here.

If you’re feeling like you need some help with your cleaning and homekeeping and don’t know where to start, you’re going to love my cleaning routine and calendar. I keep daily homekeeping tasks to 15-30 minutes a day and this simple plan is how I do it! This is a solution for busy households – give it a go, I think you’ll be surprised how a little bit every day can make a huge difference in your home.

Come Clean 2016 - Clean Mama

If you’ve been following Clean Mama for even a week, you know that every day is a chance to start over and so is every week, month, etc. I hope that you find that my cleaning routine is SIMPLE, EASY TO IMPLEMENT, and full of GRACE.

Read on, grab the FREE calendar for AUGUST 2016 and get ready to see how doing a little bit everyday really is the secret to a clean house.

Here’s an infographic that explains my cleaning routine:

Weekly and daily tasks are detailed at the top, rotating cleaning tasks are on the bottom of the calendar with a little checklist.  How you use the calendar is up to you – put it on a clipboard, in your planner, on your refrigerator.  Use checkmarks, draw lines through tasks or simply keep it up as a reminder.

Come Clean Infographic - Clean Mama

Want to join in on the fun? Grab a FREE cleaning and organizing calendar for August and join me!  Follow along (subscribe in the sidebar) for motivational posts and tips to keep up with the daily and weekly tasks. I also post daily reminders on Instagram and Facebook and have a private Facebook group too called Homekeeping Society (just ask to join and I’ll add you) – it’s great for support and to meet others that are following along with my cleaning routine.

Come Clean August 2016 - Free Cleaning Calendar - Clean Mama

Go here to grab your FREE calendar for August 2016!

(Please note: You’ll need to put the calendar in your cart and checkout – it’s still FREE – once you create an account it will save any free printables and you can come back and access them anytime. Upon checkout you’ll see the link for the free calendar AND it will also be emailed to you automatically!)

Find Out More Homekeeping Society

If you like this FREE printable you’ll love my HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY and the organizing printables in my shop!

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Want to up the cute factor in your cleaning?  Check out Clean Mama HOME!  Come see the new stickers 🙂  I’ve put together the BEST homekeeping tools just for you (and me).

Cleaning Routine Sticker - Clean Mama

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Laundry Made Easier

Laundry Made Easier - Tips to Help you Simplify your Laundry Routine - Clean Mama

You may be hard pressed to find more than a handful of people in life who love to do laundry. While fresh sheets or clean clothes certainly can be rewarding, the actual process of washing, folding and putting away can easily become mundane. Over the years, I have found a handful of tricks that help make the process a bit easier and dare I say more enjoyable. Implement one or all of these suggestions in to your own routine and see how much something seemingly simple can revolutionize the routine.

  1. Cold water is your friend when it comes to washing. I mix lights, brights and darks together. This tip is especially helpful for washing the kids’ clothes – everything goes in together!  Make sure to wash and dry new bright or dark garments at least three times with like colors to prevent color bleeding and transfer.
    Laundry Basket - Clean Mama
  2. Use the minimum amount of detergent suggested on the container. Adding more than suggested to get your clothes cleaner will only result in a buildup of detergent which will cause the fibers to actually become dirtier.  Save money and make your detergent last a little longer with this simple tip.
  3. Love soft and fluffy towels? Skip the commercial fabric softener and add vinegar to the rinse cycle instead. The chemicals in fabric softener actually coat the towel fibers and create a buildup. This buildup causes the towels to become less absorbent as well as attract dirt and residue – yuck! You can also use wool dryer balls or a laundry booster  to add more fluff as well as a little natural scent.
    White Towels - Clean Mama
  4. Don’t overload your washer in an effort to get the job done quickly or finish that load sooner. While you may save some time, your clothes won’t be as clean and your washer will have to work harder and it’ll probably take longer to dry the load as well.
  5. One laundry routine method may not work for everyone. My preferred method is to do a load of laundry daily with sheets and towels on Saturday. Other people prefer to do a laundry blitz one day a week. Do what works for you and your schedule and stick to it. The key is to find and implement a routine that doesn’t leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
    Laundry Supplies - Clean Mama

What laundry tips have you found to be helpful in your home? Do you have a system that has worked wonders in your laundry routine?  Share it with us in the comments!

Looking for more laundry and cleaning routine posts?  I have some great posts in the archives, here are a few you might enjoy…

Keeping Your Whites White - Tips + Tricks that Work - Clean Mama

Keeping Your Whites White

How to De-Stink Active Wear - Clean Mama

How to De-Stink Active Wear

Six Things I Do Every Day to Keep the House Clean via Clean Mama

6 Things I Do Every Day to Keep the House Clean

Clean Mama's Cleaning Routine - everyday a little something

All about the Clean Mama Cleaning Routine

 

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In the Market for a New Washer + Dryer?

Samsung Washer + Dryer - Clean Mama

A couple months ago the folks at Samsung contacted me to see if I’d be interested in trying out their new AddWash Front Load Washer and DV9100 Dryer.  The timing was perfect as we were in the market for a new set so of course I said, ‘yes, please!’  You can read my full disclosure policy here – I only endorse products that I wholeheartedly love, use, and feel that my readers will enjoy.

Wash Controls - Clean Mama

Look at all those options – it’s a laundry-lover’s dream!

I’ve been loving the set – it has definitely simplified laundry in our house!  I thought I’d point out a couple of my favorite features of each unit.  If you haven’t shopped for a washer and dryer in a bit, you won’t believe how things have changed!  Our washer and dryer were 7 years old (and showing some signs of being on their last cycles) and after using the Samsung set I was blown away by some of the changes.

Samsung AddWash Washing Machine

Add-Wash - Clean Mama

AddWash door – Let’s start with the most obvious benefit – the AddWash door.  I just love this little door.  I’m always coming up with ‘just one more thing’ to add to the wash or dropping a sock on the way to the laundry room and finding it after the wash has started.  No problem!  Just pause the wash, open the door, toss in the item, and start it up.  

Full Washing Machine - Clean Mama

Capacity – this washing machine is HUGE at 5 cubic feet – the number doesn’t really matter that much to me but the amount of clothes and towels I can fit does.  I can wash the equivalent of 2-3 loads of kids clothes at a time and about 15 bath towels.  This isn’t crammed in the machine, this is fitting in nicely.  Seriously, the capacity is something else and a huge time saver.

Superspeed – I love the AddWash door but this SuperSpeed option is probably where I’d place my #2 favorite feature.  A huge load of clothes washed in 30 minutes?  Insanity.

Self Clean+ – I love this feature too – to be honest, I wouldn’t buy a washing machine nowadays without the self clean feature. I haven’t smelled anything in the drum that would lead me to believe that I need to use the button, but I have run it a couple times and it’s pretty great!  The Self Clean+ feature removes dirt and bacteria without chemicals.  Bonus – Self Clean+ also sends reminders to clean the drum every forty wash cycles.  That’s pretty cool!

Dispensers - Clean Mama

Powerfoam – The AddWash basically turns your detergent into a luxurious bath for your clothes and fabrics with the power of foam.  I’ve found that I need about half of the detergent that I used with my previous front loader – hooray!

Steam Wash – From Samsung, ‘Samsung’s Steam Wash uses the power of steam to eliminate stains without pre-treatment. Unlike other washers which release steam from above, Samsung releases steam from the bottom of the laundry tub, saturating every item in the load and leading to an even deeper clean.’

Samsung 9100 Series Dryer

Dry Time + Capacity – This is from Samsung and it’s totally true – seriously the dry time and capacity is amazing!  ‘The Samsung 9100 Series 9.5 cu. ft. capacity front load dryer lets you do 3x the laundry in 1/3 the time. It has 15 cycles and allows you to dry 4 laundry baskets in a single load.’

Drying Rack - Clean Mama

Dryer Rack – Place items like gym shoes, hats, sweaters, stuffed animals on the dryer rack to protect them from high impact tumbling.

Lint Trap - Clean Mama

Enclosed lint trap – This is so great – the lint stays IN the trap!

Open Lint Trap - Clean Mama

Vent Sensor – I love that this feature exists – we have a 2nd floor laundry room and the lint trap on our previous machine was consistently getting filled with lint.  The Vent Sensor detects problems and lets you when you need to clean your vent.

Smart Care App  / Smart Home Adapter

SmartHome Adaptor - Clean Mama

The Smart Care App is so neat – you need to simply insert the Smart Home Adapter stick, download the SmartHome app, hook it up to your WiFi and you’re all set to control your washer and/or dryer from your phone.

App3 - Clean Mama

This may sound like a lazy feature, but it also offers a lot of flexibility in your washing and drying – extend the dry cycle so you don’t end up with wrinkled laundry or know how much time you have left in your washing cycle.

Add Wash Alarm - Clean MamaMy favorite feature is that you can choose the exact temperature of the water and even more specific wash settings as well.

App2 - Clean Mama

Another great feature of the app is that you can troubleshoot issues straight from select smartphones. Smart Care interacts with your washer and dryer to perform an immediate diagnosis and offer quick solutions.

Are you in the market for a new washer or dryer or both?  What’s important to you when appliance shopping?

You might like this post:

LAUNDRY ROOM TOUR - Clean Mama

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Clean Mama Home Stickers | Cleaning Routine + Homekeeping

I’m so excited to share the latest update to Clean Mama Home – STICKERS!  If you follow me on Instagram you saw the sneak peek last week (follow me there for more updates and sneak peeks – trust me, you’ll want to follow along ;)).

New Cleaning Stickers in the Shop - Clean Mama

I have 2 different sticker sheets – CLEANING ROUTINE and HOMEKEEPING (each sheet is only $3.99).  Use them on your spray bottles, calendar, planner, notepads, or cleaning planner – they’re clear around the edges with a white background and charcoal drawings so they’ll match any color scheme and motif.   Come see…..

Cleaning Routine Stickers

Cleaning Routine Stickers - Clean Mama

Add a little routine to your planner and/or homekeeping binder pages.  This sticker page includes the Clean Mama Routine icons + a few more.  Each sticker page is printed on clear vinyl – the icons are printed in white with a clear background.  These darling stickers will be the perfect complement to your organized cleaning and planning!
Cleaning Routine Sticker - Clean Mama
  • each page has 4 of each of the 10 cleaning routine icons (mop bucket, bathroom cleaning tools, spray bottle, duster, squeegee, catch-all symbol, vacuum cleaner, folded towels, waste bin, gloves)
  • 40 stickers per page
  • 8.5″ x 4.4” sticker sheet
  • each sticker is approximately 1/2″
  • clear and white kiss-cut stickers
  • made in the USA

Homekeeping Stickers

Homekeeping Stickers - Clean Mama

Add a little routine to your planner and/or homekeeping binder pages.  This sticker page includes common homekeeping symbols perfect for keeping track of those tasks and to dos.  Each sticker page is printed on clear vinyl – the icons are printed in white with a clear background.  These darling stickers will be the perfect complement to your organized cleaning and planning!
homekeeping stickers - close-up - Clean Mama
  • each page has 4 of each homekeeping icons (clipboard, washing machine, home, calculator, refrigerator, broom, shopping basket, meal, folded towel, bubbles)
  • 40 stickers per page
  • 8.5″ x 4.4” sticker sheet
  • each sticker is approximately 1/2″
  • clear and white kiss-cut stickers
  • made in the USA

Shop Clean Mama Home here and the stickers here and use the coupon code CLEANMAMA for 10% off your entire order – hooray!

2x2 full cmh

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Clean + Organize with Homekeeping Society | August Essentials

If you’re looking for a simple way to stay on top daily, weekly and monthly tasks in just minutes a day, Homekeeping Society is perfect!

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Do you need some gentle homekeeping help as schedules shift this summer?  August’s Homekeeping Society subscription is up – I hope it’s just what you need to feel successful in your homekeeping.    Make sure you read all the way through the post – there’s a great coupon code if you’d like to try it out!

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If you don’t know where to start or are feeling a little defeated, I think you’ll find encouragement in the support Homekeeping Society provides!  Homekeeping Society is intended to be just the gentle nudge you need making your tasks and to dos more enjoyable with a sweet and simple format.  August’s Homekeeping Society is fresh and simple.  My favorite thing about Homekeeping Society is that each month is different, yet it all looks good together, and it’s complete with seasonal touches you’ll love!

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Not sure if Homekeeping Society is for you? Try it out this month and use the coupon code 30OFFAUGUST for 30% off your FIRST month. Hurry!  Offer ends July 31st, 2016.

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Homekeeping Society is simple to use:

  • 2  EASY PRINT packets are included – simply open and print the pages in ONE step. One version features one of each and the other is set up exactly how the printed version is packaged with 4 pages of the weekly planners, etc. You’ll love how easy this is to use!  Of course, the individual pages are also included, but if you want to print everything in one easy step, you’ll love this. If you want to print back to back, just select that upon printing and print away – easy, peasy!
  • I have a Facebook Group to help you with your homekeeping – HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY – join if you’re a member of the subscription or not, it’s a special place to discuss homekeeping struggles, tips, tricks and ask questions to other members or myself.  It’s a closed group, just ask to join and I’ll add you.
  • I have Homekeeping Society available in my Etsy shop – you can only purchase one month at a time and you will NOT have access to the previous months.  Feeling non-committal? Don’t want to subscribe?  Want to use PayPal?  This is a great option but you’ll need to repurchase each month instead of it being an automatic payment and download.
  • Another great feature with Homekeeping Society is that you can also access/save/download ALL the previous month’s of HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY!  That’s almost 300 printables that you can use!

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How to login:

If you’re a member (log in here) and if you’d like to sign up today, it’s an instant download. The Homekeeping Society MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION is designed to create order out of your household chaos and help you keep your home tidy with ease and your mind less cluttered.  You can cancel ANYTIME right on your membership screen.  Take a peek at what I’ve created for the month of August – I think you’ll LOVE it!

Keeping a home clean can be both rewarding and frustrating. Sure, it’s possible to get your home clean, but to keep it that way can be the biggest challenge. Throw in the additions of busy schedules, jobs, kids, chaos, and lack of time and energy and it can feel downright defeating. You’ll love the Clean Mama Cleaning Routine included in every month of Homekeeping Society – it truly takes the guesswork out of cleaning and sets it on auto-pilot. If you struggle with routine and more or less free time, Homekeeping Society will help you keep on top of the tasks and provide a little structure.

Go here to sign up for a digital subscription or go here to sign up for the printed for you subscription.

I love to provide a ‘virtual’ hand to hold and guide you through the process of cleaning, homekeeping, and creating a home you feel proud of and want to welcome family, neighbors, and friends without thinking twice about the mess behind that front door. The intent of Homekeeping Society is to give you that perfect monthly intervention that is purposefully designed to get your life and home in order with ease. Each month I add different and adorable seasonal touches to keep you motivated to do the daily tasks that get boring and monotonous.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT EVERY MONTH (15+ printable documents):

  1. INSTRUCTIONS – tells you how many pages to print out of each page and suggestions for implementing and making the pages work for you – an EASY PRINT option is also included to make printing just one step!
  2. COVER PAGE – with the month – great for putting in your binder or homekeeping notebook to keep each month separated if you choose to keep the pages from month to month.
  3. HOMEKEEPING FOCUS page – every month will focus on a room or area in the home (August is CLOSETS) – this page lays out simple steps and gives you room for making your own adjustments and goals.
  4. TO DO LIST – every month features a new, and highly functional to do list. This month is a MUST and MAYBE list, just right for keeping tabs on your to dos.
  5. DAILY PLANNER PAGE – great for those busy days (or every day!) includes schedule, to dos, notes, and a space for meals
  6. WEEKLY DOCKET– Use the weekly docket to see your whole week and schedule on a page (Sunday start and Monday start are both included)
  7. MENU PLAN FOR THE WEEK WITH A SHOPPING LIST- (Sunday and Monday starts) make a menu plan and take it with you to the grocery store to keep your shopping and planning in check.
  8. MENU PLAN FOR THE MONTH – always includes a list for recipe ideas or ingredients to pick up so you won’t forget to add it to your weekly shopping list.
  9. 2 MONTHLY CALENDARS (1 blank, 1 pre-filled) – suggested daily cleaning tasks, weekly cleaning tasks, rotating cleaning tasks, cleaning and organizing suggestions.
  10. SEASONAL PREPARATION PRINTABLE – a helpful seasonal prep printable is always included in the monthly subscription – perfect for placing in a binder – this month includes a CLOSET ORGANIZER.
  11. KITCHEN SINK QUOTE– the quote for the month – 5×7 – frame and put at your kitchen sink or tape to your fridge to give you a little motivation and inspiration for the month
  12. INFORMATION PAGE – this month is a LARGE FORMAT BILL TRACKER. Fill these pages out and save in a family info section of your homekeeping binder or notebook and you’ll have a complete information section (insurance, 401K, etc.).
  13. PLUS – access to all previous months’ HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY – almost 300 documents!

 

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This month’s Quote for the Kitchen Sink is motivational – just start!  The quote for the kitchen sink can go on your refrigerator, a bulletin board, or even your binder. Put it somewhere that you’ll see it and be inspired by it.

Want to see more and get on the list? I can’t wait for you to join me! Go here to learn more and sign up for a digital subscription or go here for the printed for you subscription. Want to see some ideas and more information on how to implement Homekeeping Society? Go here to see all the posts and past months of Homekeeping Society!

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Not sure if Homekeeping Society is for you? Try it out this month and use the coupon code 30OFFAUGUST for 30% off your FIRST month.  Hurry!  Offer ends July 31st, 2016.

 

PLEASE NOTE: As a member, you will be able to download your digital subscription every month by going to your account page, click on the link for AUGUST and it will allow you to download the monthly essentials zip file. If you are a member, your essentials are already in your account – yay!

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Mud Room Tour

Easy to Clean Mud Room - Clean Mama

I’m slowly making it through my home tour this year and today I’m sharing the mud room with you.  It’s a simple space but it definitely gets a daily workout.  In the original home plans it’s supposed to have a closet laundry room but the original owners moved the laundry room upstairs (thank you to them!).  The mudroom is the first room you enter if you are coming in from the garage and while I would love custom built-ins and cubbies for the kids, it’s completely functional and easy to keep clean and neat.  Here’s a little peek:

Mud Room Entry - Clean Mama

We removed the original linoleum and had tile put in a couple years ago.  I love the look and how easy it is to clean.  I vacuum it weekly on Wednesdays and wash it on Thursdays.  (See my cleaning routine here.)

The paint color is what’s in the majority of the house – Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter – it’s my favorite neutral.

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I love the cast-iron rack for coats and such – we only keep one or two coats per person here and store the extras in our entryway coat closet.

Mud Room Bench + Hooks - Clean Mama

The bench is from Pottery Barn too – it’s done really well for 7 years – I just replaced the cushion this month for the first time.  The baskets are from Target.  Each kiddo has their own basket for shoes and they are in charge of putting their own shoes away.  They just toss the shoes in the baskets and tuck the basket back in the slot.

Mud Room Bench - Clean Mama

The closet is my cleaning closet and holds all those goodies – you can see that part of the home tour here.

Mud Room Closet - Clean Mama

I love having a big basket for backpacks – the kids just put them in here at the end of the school day and they’re ready to grab on the way out the door – simple and decorative.

Back Wall - Mud Room - Clean Mama

There’s an utility sink in the mud room that definitely comes in handy and I keep our cordless vacuum at the ready as well – it’s great for grabbing to quickly vacuum up crumbs, dirt, grass, whatever gets tracked in.

A couple musts for an easy to clean mud room?

  • shoe storage
  • coat rack
  • rug for wiping feet
  • easy to clean floor
  • storage for backpacks if you have kids

Here are some posts in this series that you might like – just click on the pictures to head to the post:

CLEANING CLOSET

LAUNDRY ROOM TOUR - Clean Mama

A Whole House Color Scheme - Clean Mama

How to Decorate So Cleaning Is Easy - Tips, Tricks, and Methods that Work - Clean Mama

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4 Steps to Organized Photos

4 Steps to Organized Photos - Clean Mama

While the majority of picture taking these days is done digitally, if you are anything like many, you have a stash of photos tucked away somewhere in your home. It may be intended for your child’s baby book or precious family photographs from years past that you have been meaning to put in a photo album. Regardless of how old or random they may be, sorting and organizing photos can be an overwhelming tasks. Rather than continuing to ignore those boxes or envelopes of photos, let break organizing those photographs in to five easy steps. Ready?

Step 1 – Collect:

Dig out all the bins, boxes, envelopes and stashes of photos and relocate them to one central sorting place. If you have a large amount and know you won’t be able to complete this task in one session, find a place or table in your home where you can spread out without having to relocate come mealtime or when you need the spot again.

Step 2 – Edit:

Set aside pictures that are doubles, blurry, redundant or don’t share a meaningful memory. While that picture of your child’s first tooth may be really cute, you probably don’t need ten variations of the same picture.

Step 3 – Categorize:

As best as you can, sort the photos by chronological year. You can begin by making piles of each year to rapidly sort and then organize them by month or event after. After you have gone through a year, label with a sticky note and put them in to an envelope or container to keep them separate for later.

Step Four – Store and Label:

There are many different systems and organizing tools that you can purchase or use for storing photographs. No matter what you choose, keep it uniform by using the same container. The Container Store has a tidy and logical photo storage system that I have used and love. It has 12 separate photo boxes that each hold about 100 photos that all fit in to one box.  Amazon also has a similar option here and here.

You can also use cardboard photo boxes that you can find at your local craft or photo store. For long term storage, just be sure to look for an acid free container to protect your photos from yellowing and discoloring over time.

Be sure to label your newly organized system either by year or event. You can use a sticker on the box to keep it cohesive. If you prefer to write details on the back of photos, use a photo safe pen or pencil so that it doesn’t bleed through or destroy the photo over time.

Once you have sorted your photos, you can put them in photo albums to enjoy or keep them stored or maybe a little bit of each.

Your family photographs and memories don’t have to be contained in a disorganized jumble any more. With a little time and organization method, you can cross this task off your list once and for all.

 

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Working From Home : Flexibility is Essential

Working From Home - Flexibility is Essential - Clean Mama

I thought it would be fun to start a little series about working from home.  I love working from home but I’m also realistic in what is and isn’t possible for me in different seasons of life while working from home.

How about a little backstory first: I have been blogging and running a business since 2009.  I started doing all of this with 2 kids under 4 and now I have three kids 10 and under.  During this time I spent part of it working for a large company from  home.  I also wrote a book and maintained a clean home.  This isn’t because I am superwoman, it’s because I have figured out a couple systems that truly simplify working from home.  Through intentionality I was able to refine my work practices, streamline how I work, and simplify life in our home.

If you work from home, want to work from home, or are balancing working outside of the home, you can benefit from a couple systems that will help you get more done in less time.

Here’s what I know to be true:

  • change is inevitable – don’t get too comfortable and be willing to change when needed
  • your job won’t be the same the day you started a year from now – don’t expect things to remain the same in your business
  • you cannot and should not try to do ‘it all’

Set your priorities first:

  • keep the main things the main things – God, family, friends…whatever your most importants are, don’t sacrifice them.
  • work hours are important but, not that important.  There will be times when you need to work more and less – it’s a constant balancing act if you work from home.

Flexibility is essential:

Now that you know a little bit about where I’m coming from when it comes to working from home, let’s talk about FLEXIBILITY.  I’ve found that much like life, being flexible is the best way for me to get the most done.  I have priorities set for my days, weeks, and months AND I have things scheduled out for at least a month in advance.  Planning ahead, I also operate with flexibility in mind.  For instance – when I was launching Clean Mama Home, I wanted everything to be in the shop for it to be ready October 1st, 2015.  I had the site completed, and it was ready to go but the color swatch for my cloths wasn’t right.  So I had to have the fibers re-dipped and send back and forth for approval until it was perfect.  There wasn’t anything that I could do to speed this process up so instead of forcing something couldn’t be forced I tried to patiently wait for the process to play out.  Looking back, everything worked out better than I anticipated and it was a great lesson for me in being flexible.

schedule time to catch up on uncompleted tasks - clean mama

My top Flexibility tips:

  1. Use a catch-all day when working at home.  Much like my homekeeping catch-all day (Friday), I approach working from home similarly and use Fridays as a catch-up day for work tasks as well.  Choose a day or week or a day a month to catch up on any tasks that you weren’t able to complete.  I use Fridays because it forces me to get as caught up as possible when going into the weekend and as someone that used to spend too much time working on weekends, it works for me.
  2. It’s okay to change course – if something isn’t working, don’t force it.  If you sell products, write a blog, or make your own products, don’t be afraid to change direction if you notice that something has fallen flat.  My first business venture back in 2004 was selling vintage postcards with hand-painted frames.  I sold them in small gift shops around town but they were so time consuming to make.  Instead of trying to paint more or paint faster, I decided to stop selling them.  The time it took wasn’t work the income that I brought in.
  3. Work with your kids’ schedules not against them.  One of the best things for me about working from home is that I’m always available for my kids.  If someone is home sick, I don’t have to call in sick to work.  I am able to put them on the bus and get them off the bus at the end of the day.  I love that flexibility and I know that it’s a gift.  If you are choosing to work from home and you have kids, don’t try to force your schedule into theirs.  Every year it seems that I need to reevaluate when I can actually work from home and it revolves around their schedules.  I used to do the most work during nap and rest times.  Now that I don’t have nappers at home, I have to get up earlier and do the bulk of my work before daybreak.  I work some evenings but if something comes up in an evening I don’t worry about what I didn’t get done.
  4. Don’t do it all and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Do what you can with what you have where you are.  Ask for help when you are able to – if you need a babysitter, a virtual assistant, a house cleaner, a meal service…..  I think of working at home as a seasonal job – things change quickly and my needs as a business owner change as well.  By refusing to over-schedule and take on more than I can handle I am able to remain in control of my business and the way that it is run.
  5. There will always be more on your to do list than you can manage and that’s okay.  It’s okay to cross things off and decide to table things for later or just delete them entirely.  Some of my best ideas have come from things that I wanted to do, didn’t do, and later they morphed into something else entirely.  If that first idea had come to fruition, that better idea wouldn’t have come to me.

What do you think?  Do you work from home?  Share your top flexibility tip in the comments or if you have a topic you’d like me to cover in this series, let me know!

Psst…my Everyday Work @ Home Kit is perfect for working at home!

everyday work @ home kit - clean mama

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One Ingredient Odor Absorbers : Simple Solutions for Life’s Stinky Problems

One Ingredient Odor Absorbers - Clean Mama

Have you ever had an odor that lingered, kept coming back, or just wouldn’t go away?  Today I’m sharing 3 simple odor absorbers that only require ONE ingredient.  Chances are you have these ingredients on hand – file the idea away and next time you have a lingering odor, open your pantry and eliminate that odor.  Better yet, you’ll be getting rid of the odor naturally, without artificial fragrances.

Baking Soda

Carpet Freshener - Clean Mama

  • sprinkle in smelly garbage cans
  • sprinkle on stinky carpet, let sit, vacuum up
  • keep a box in your refrigerator or freezer to absorb odors

White Vinegar

Vinegar in a Bowl - Clean Mama

  • smelly kitchen odors (like a dinner smell that won’t go away).  Pour 1/4 – 1/2 cup in a small bowl and let it sit uncovered on a counter for 24 hours.

Essential Oil

Essential Oil in a Cotton Ball - Clean Mama

  • put a drop or two of your favorite essential oils (lemon, lavender, and cedar are great for freshening a drawer) on a cotton ball or cotton pad and tuck in a musty dresser drawer, a stuffy closet, stinky shoes, gym bag, vacuum cleaner bag or canister, etc.

Have a one ingredient odor eliminator to share?  Share in the comments!

More posts in this series – just click on the image to go to the post:

Nightly Sink Scrub - Clean Mama

Marble + Granite Cleaning Spray - Clean Mama

Soft Cleaning Paste - the perfect scrub - Clean Mama

All-Purpose Spray - Clean Just About Anywhere Spary - Clean Mama

The Perfect DIY Glass Cleaner - Clean Mama

DIY Cleaners Ingredient Storage - Clean Mama

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Clean Mama Home : Microfiber Cloths – sale + giveaway

Since launching Clean Mama Home at the end of 2015, I have been overwhelmed by the excitement and sales of this little dream shop of mine.  I thought it would be fun to highlight my #1 selling product today and tell you a little bit more about them.

All microfiber cloths are on sale this week (ends July 1st at 10pm cst) – no coupon code needed!

Follow along on Instagram for a chance to win a 4 pack of microfiber for yourself!

clean mama home 3

Not sure how or what to clean with microfiber? Just about everything!  I use microfiber to clean bathrooms, windows + mirrors, stainless steel appliances, and just about any surface you can think of.  Use them dry, with your favorite cleaner, or just dampen with water.  Wash them up in your washing machine and dry on low – one microfiber cloth can last up to 300 washings!

Washing microfiber is easy – simply launder all your microfiber cloths together, don’t add any fabric softener and dry on low to medium heat.  I keep a small bucket on top of my washing machine for dirty microfiber cloths; when it’s full, I run a load of the towels.  My microfiber cloths are plush, soft, super absorbent, and lint-free – the perfect cleaning tool!

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Utility Microfiber Cloth | all-purpose

Clean Mama Home Microfiber Cloths

4 pack | 3 Utility + 1 Polishing cloth

gray polishing microfiber - cmh

Polishing Microfiber Cloth | glass, microfiber, stainless steel

clean mama 2

Go here to shop Clean Mama Home!

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Come Clean – Free Cleaning Calendar for July 2016

It’s almost July and that means that it’s time for July’s FREE cleaning calendar!

Free Cleaning Calendar - July 2016 - Clean Mama

Every year I choose a new theme for the cleaning calendar and blog and this year it’s COME CLEAN.  2016 is the year to get your cleaning routine in order, find some new and workable solutions for organizing, hold yourself accountable, and get your home in a routine that works for you and your family.

Don’t miss the FREE Summer Calendar here (June-August) – it’s a great way to see the whole summer at a glance!  I use it to sketch out classes and activities to ensure we aren’t over-scheduled.  If you’re looking for a little more in-depth cleaning this summer I also have a FREE Summer Cleaning Checklist here.

If you’re feeling like you need some help with your cleaning and homekeeping and don’t know where to start, you’re going to love my cleaning routine and calendar. I keep daily homekeeping tasks to 15-30 minutes a day and this simple plan is how I do it! This is a solution for busy households – give it a go, I think you’ll be surprised how a little bit every day can make a huge difference in your home.

Come Clean 2016 - Clean Mama

If you’ve been following Clean Mama for even a week, you know that every day is a chance to start over and so is every week, month, etc. I hope that you find that my cleaning routine is SIMPLE, EASY TO IMPLEMENT, and full of GRACE.

Read on, grab the FREE calendar for JULY 2016 and get ready to see how doing a little bit everyday really is the secret to a clean house.

Here’s an infographic that explains my cleaning routine:

Weekly and daily tasks are detailed at the top, rotating cleaning tasks are on the bottom of the calendar with a little checklist.  How you use the calendar is up to you – put it on a clipboard, in your planner, on your refrigerator.  Use checkmarks, draw lines through tasks or simply keep it up as a reminder.

Come Clean Infographic - Clean Mama

Want to join in on the fun? Grab a FREE cleaning and organizing calendar for July and join me!  Follow along (subscribe in the sidebar) for motivational posts and tips to keep up with the daily and weekly tasks. I also post daily reminders on Instagram and Facebook and have a private Facebook group too called Homekeeping Society (just ask to join and I’ll add you) – it’s great for support and to meet others that are following along with my cleaning routine.

July 2016 Come Clean Calendar - Clean Mama

Go here to grab your FREE calendar for July 2016!

(Please note: You’ll need to put the calendar in your cart and checkout – it’s still FREE – once you create an account it will save any free printables and you can come back and access them anytime. Upon checkout you’ll see the link for the free calendar AND it will also be emailed to you automatically!)

Find Out More Homekeeping Society

If you like this FREE printable you’ll love my HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY and the organizing printables in my shop!

Want to up the cute factor in your cleaning?  Check out Clean Mama HOME! I’ve put together the BEST homekeeping tools just for you (and me).

Clean Mama Home Bar Mop Towels

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How to De-Stink Active Wear

How to De-Stink Active Wear - Clean Mama

Between my husband and me and our active kids, we have gathered quite a collection of active wear. We love it for working out in, playing golf and sports and general running around. What I don’t love, however, is the tendency for activewear to hold on to the general sweat and body odor smells from its wearer. If you are frustrated by the stinky smell even after laundering, I have some tips, tricks and product suggestions to help leave your active wear smelling fresh and feeling clean.

  1. Keep your activewear separate from your everyday clothes. I like to keep an extra laundry basket in our closet solely for this purpose. One errant shirt can stink up an entire load of your everyday clothes.
  2. If you are not going to wash your workout clothes immediately after wearing, be sure to let them dry thoroughly before putting in the laundry basket. We drape freshly worn, sweaty clothes over the edge of the laundry basket until they are dry. At that point, they can be put in the laundry basket to eventually be washed.
  3. Wash your workout and activewear on hot with a cool rinse if you have that option on your washer. Line or hang to dry or dry on low heat to avoid shrinking.
  4. Please note that this is my unsponsored opinion – My absolute favorite detergent for washing our workout wear is The Laundress Sports Detergent.  I use this exclusively on our workout gear and am always amazed by just how well it works to remove those stubborn smells. I have tried numerous commercial options you may see on your laundry product shelves and in my opinion, nothing compares in effectiveness to The Laundress product.The Laundress Sport Detergent - Clean Mama
  5. Try washing your activewear with just vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. Start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain white vinegar. Vinegar serves to neutralize odors and is gentle on fabric. Wash on hot with detergent after the initial load.
  6. Have some sports gear that can’t be washed? Put it in a big ziptop bag and put it in the freezer for 24 hours. While this method may not remove all the odor, it sure helps to cut the stink.

How to De-Stink ActiveWear - Clean Mama

 

If you are frustrated by the residual odors left in your workout and activewear, try out these tips and tricks to neutralize them in no time.

You might like these laundry posts – just click on the image to go to the post:

Keeping Your Whites White - Tips + Tricks that Work - Clean Mama

Laundry Day vs. Laundry Every Day - Two Methods that Really Work via Clean Mama

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3 Ways to Clean Baseboards

3 Ways To Clean Baseboards - Simple + Natural - Clean Mama

If the thought of cleaning the baseboards in your home sounds daunting and more than overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. I am always amazed by what a difference having clean baseboards makes. It is an easy task to tackle in a couple of hours if you are up to doing your whole home, or in smaller increments if you prefer going room by room. I have three great cleaning options to choose from today. Pick the one that matches what simple ingredients you have on hand or who in your home is doing the cleaning. Ready for some options?

3 Ways to Clean Baseboards - detail - Clean Mama

Baby Wipes:

 

Clean Baseboards with Baby Wipes - Clean Mama copy

Yes, this option is the least eco-friendly of the three, but it is perfect for kids and their nimble knees. I love that the amount of liquid is controlled so you won’t have an overturned bucket of water or puddles everywhere. It’s perfect for adults too as it is the quickest of three and requires no prep. This is a task that can be included on kid’s weekly chores so that dirt and dust doesn’t have as much of a chance to accumulate.

Castile Cleaner:

Wash Baseboards with Castile Soap - Clean Mama

Castile soap is the ultimate gentle detergent that is free of dyes, artificial scents and chemicals. It is available in the natural beauty aisle at many retailers or on Amazon. If you don’t happen to have any on hand, you can also substitute your favorite dish soap that you would use for hand washing dishes. This cleaner can be used on both painted and wood baseboards.

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon castile or dish soap

Optional: 2 drops lemon or your favorite essential oil for a little extra scent boost

Mix ingredients together in a bucket. Using a barely damp microfiber cloth (my favorite!) or a well wrung out sponge, wipe as you go, rinsing the cloth or sponge frequently.

Borax Based Cleaner:

Clean Baseboards with Borax - Clean Mama

Borax is an effective, inexpensive natural mineral that works well in a number of cleaning situations, including cleaning baseboards. It can be found in the laundry or cleaning aisle of many stores. You can half the proportions of the Borax to water if you want a smaller batch.

  • 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon Borax
  • 2-4 cups warm water

Stir to dissolve. You can use this with the traditional bucket cleaning method or decant into a spray bottle (if you put it in a spray bottle make sure you mix with warm water to fully dissolve the Borax). I like to use microfiber cloths to clean as they do a great job of getting in all those nooks and crannies and they don’t spread the dirt around, but you can also use a sponge.  Just be sure to wring until damp and not dripping. No rinsing required.

There is no need to dread or fear cleaning baseboards when armed with these simple methods and DIY cleaner options. Choose one today and look forward to sparkling trim in no time.

If you haven’t tried microfiber for cleaning?  You should!  You’ll love my Clean Mama Home Microfiber Cleaning Cloths – check them out!

Clean Mama Home Microfiber Cloths

 

More posts in this series – just click on the image to go to the post:

Nightly Sink Scrub - Clean Mama

Marble + Granite Cleaning Spray - Clean Mama

Soft Cleaning Paste - the perfect scrub - Clean Mama

All-Purpose Spray - Clean Just About Anywhere Spary - Clean Mama

The Perfect DIY Glass Cleaner - Clean Mama

DIY Cleaners Ingredient Storage - Clean Mama

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