How to clean an apartment without it taking days.
Make It Easy by Making It Paper
Start by grabbing a pad of paper and a pen. Where you would have taken action in prior cleaning sessions, this time, you’ll take notes. Taking notes can be much faster than taking action. Who knew? (Actually, I think Congress knew. So if this tip doesn’t work for you, blame them.)
Grab an item. If its home is in this room, put it away. Voila! It’s cleaned up for real. But if you’re in the bedroom and you just grabbed that plate of half-eaten chocolate cake that lives on the floor by your bed, its home is in your sink or dishwasher. At least, I hope so. For now, set it neatly by the door. You’ve just started your pile of “things that belong in other rooms.”
Next time you leave the room, for any reason, grab the items from that pile that belong where you’re going. Take the items with you, and as soon as you arrive, put them where they belong. Once again, you’ve done real cleaning up.
Turn Actionable Items into To-Do Items
What about that invitation to a New Year’s Masquerade? You know you want to go, but you needn’t keep the brochure. On your handy piece of paper, write the heading “possible to-do items.” Jot down the information about the Masquerade and throw away the invite. Do this for any object that generates a future to-do item. Write down the to-dos whether or not you know if you’ll do them. Capture the action, throw away the item. Just keep moving.
Sometimes you find immediate to-dos, like filling up your trash bag and discovering you have no more spares. You can’t delay new trash bags. If you do, the current one grows legs and develops opinions of its own. You really don't want that to happen, so jot down the heading “immediate to-dos” and write, "grab new trash bags." Run out at your next break and do just those to-do items. Nothing goes in that category except buying new trash bags, taking out the existing trash, and bribing the neighborhood kids to walk off with that poster your roommate insists looks great in the living room.