One of the things that has really been working for me is making a weekly cleaning checklist. I looked at a lot of different blog posts and noticed they tend to divide up either by chore (i.e. Monday - dust all the things!) or by zone (i.e. Monday - clean all the kitchen!). I tried each for a few days and figured out that my ADD self (literally ADD, diagnosed and everything, I promise I'm not just throwing that around like "teehehe so distracted today must be my ADD") prefers the zone cleaning because I can switch from task to task, and I can continually look around the room and remind myself of what still needs to be done. I found a website with an editable PDF weekly cleaning checklist that I customized. Because of my tendencies to get distracted and/or discouraged, I have set a few rules for myself:
1) Only spend 1 hour a day cleaning the designated zone. Any longer and I start feeling like Cinderella AND the step-mother all at once. If I get tired/annoyed/restless at the 45 minute mark, it's fine to stop. All cleaning and decluttering is progress!
2) This means I have to prioritize which tasks I do, because until I get each room into stellar shape (minus all current piles of clutter, essentially), I split my time between actual cleaning and decluttering. This division is based entirely on what I'm feeling that particular day - again, I'm trying not to get discouraged.
3) If I'm in a room that is not in today's zone and I'm bothered by the mess, unless I can fix it in under 5 minutes, I have to walk away and remind myself that I will take care of it on (insert day for that particular zone).
4) Any cleaning left undone is TOTALLY FINE and will keep until the next week when I hit that zone again. No beating myself up over clearing an end table, but not the TV stand. As I get more done each week, it becomes easier to clean that room next week. (For example, last Tuesday I spent the entire hour cleaning up assorted clutter, dusting, and vacuuming the living room. This Tuesday I got the whole living room done, quick-cleaned the 1/2-bath, cleared the top of the cube organizer, and vacuumed the living room and office. There is still a huge pile of clutter in the craft area of the office. THAT. IS. FINE.)
4) I have morning and evening chores. They are all things that make my life easier, and should be daily habits. (Evening is load/run dishwasher, wipe down kitchen counters/sink, pick up living room clutter and place in a basket, and check to be sure the boys' backpacks are ready to go in the morning. Morning is make the bed, unload the dishwasher, put away last night's basket o' clutter, and start a load of laundry on Mon/Wed/Fri.)
This is my system, and works for my current life as a stay-at-home-mom. My future goals are getting all the piles of clutter sorted, and doing the KonMari process to reduce the amount of stuff we have so new piles don't accumulate. I also want to start delegating some of the evening & laundry chores to my kids (8 & 6, plenty old enough to help!) because I refuse to raise boys that don't know how to fold clothing or wash a dish.
Apologies for the incredibly long post, but this has been a breakthrough few weeks for me with implementing this process. I'd like to thank my planner for getting me started on the process of writing cleaning stuff down and then doing it! Also a big yay me for being kind and gentle with myself in this process. I'd love to hear about any of your processes and what works for you with cleaning habits! Teach me your ways!