Week 1 – Planning and Getting Started

It’s the first of the Spring Cleaning Chapter of the 2017 Clever Girl Organizing Challenge!



Each week, we’ll focus on activities that are going to help us get our homes in order, and to address those spaces that we know benefit from deep cleaning and proper maintenance. Our real estate, whether we rent or own, is typically the biggest investment we have. This chapter is all about making sure we’re taking care of our investment so that it can take care of us! 

I also know that we all have different styles and approaches when it comes to projects like these, so I’ve set it up that we will have options. Each week, I will outline:

  1. A SPACE to focus on (Kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room, master bedroom, other bedrooms, home office/command center, outdoor spaces and miscellaneous)
  2. An ACTIVITY that you can do throughout the house (dusting, floor cleaning, windows, etc.) if you decided you’re going to want to do one activity all week. 

And, if you WANT to look at a master list of all the items, so you can manage your own efforts as the 8 weeks go forward, that was emailed to you in this week’s email (reach out to me if you need it again). 


First, a few points to keep in mind: 

  • We’re going to have to work to find the time to focus on these challenges. Sometimes, we can make progress in 15 minutes, sometimes, it’s hard to do without really finding an hour or two. Pace yourself, but do what you can to look at your week and block time to focus.
  • The list I’ll share each week (plus the master) is meant to be a guideline. You should consider your own situation and your own goals so that you are getting the most out of your time and energy. You likely can’t do everything, so prioritization will be important.
  • Sometimes, we need help getting this stuff done. Figure out where you can get help, you can delegate, you can hire resources. 
  • Even if you did the first chapter of The Challenge, The Resolutions Chapter, you still may be facing a need to consider decluttering and organizing. This is an opportunity to continue the work you already started, but also to focus on some of the spaces you skipped. 
  • The Facebook Group is there to support you — bring your challenges, your photos, your need for motivation and accountability, and your support to others to the group! We’re all going to do this together!


This week, we’re going to start with a bit of an assessment and structure. I’m a planner, and putting together the strong pieces of a plan will go far to help you move through this challenge. 

A great plan has 4 steps before you kick into “launch” mode.

  1. Make a List of What Needs To Be Done (“Getting-it-Done” list)
  2. Create a Schedule For When It Will Happen
  3. Assign Tasks and Responsibilities
  4. Gather the Right Tools and Resources

 Today, I want to focus on how to make the Getting-It-Done list that’s right for YOUR place. (You can also use the Master List as a guide to help you brainstorm.)

First, we’re going to build the “Should Do” list.  We’re just going to capture everything that could possibly be addressed if you had all the time, energy and resources in the world to take care of it. (Don’t worry… just because you put it on a list doesn’t mean you’re committing to doing it.  Right now, we just want to CAPTURE the items. )

Take a walk around every space, inside and outside your house.  Bring a pad (yellow pad, I-pad, it doesn’t matter 🙂 ) and start taking notes.  Look up. Look down. Look under and behind things.  The goal is to capture a complete list of everything that could possibly get done in the space. 


  • Look for:
    • Places that you need to dust, vacuum, wash, wipe, polish and shine
    • Hard to reach, but should still take care of them, places (lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, vents, corners, sliding door tracks, etc.)
    • Items that need regular service or maintenance (draining radiators, air conditioners, grout lines, granite surfaces, fridge or freezer defrosting, oven cleaning, mattress flipping,  vent/filter cleaning or changing, etc.)
    • Repairs (window screens, furniture, appliances, anything that needs mending)
    • Think about those projects that aren’t quite “cleaning” but are seasonal, or on your “should-do” list:
      • Changing out the clothes for the new season (and purging through the old ones to make sure you are only storing items worth keeping)
      • Reviewing your photos and organizing them
      • Checking out all your linens to make sure they’re in good shape
      • If you didn’t do it already, where do batteries need to be changed (clocks, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, battery-backup items for your computer, etc.)
      • Changing light bulbs to more efficient ones



  • Do a walk around your property and give the structure and your grounds a good look. Any projects you need to take on?  Painting? Repair work? Power washing? Clearing out brush?    Not only should you identify the work that needs to be done, but figure out what YOU can do, and what really needs a professional, either because of skill level or your available time.  If you need to bring in someone, get started on scheduling that person soon!
  • Check out your outdoor entertaining items (furniture, grill, pool accessories, etc.). Plastics can fade and break over time.  Metals can rust, fabrics can rip.  Make sure it is all safe and in good shape for your entertaining season!
  • Think about your lawn, bushes, flowers, planting beds.  Determine a clean-out plan and what you need to start doing early to encourage new growth and any changes you want to make this spring.


Once you capture everything, you’ll get to sit on the list a bit and prioritize, as you may not be able to do it all. But here’s a list of things to consider to help determine if it is an item that moves from the “should do” to the ‘Getting-It-Done” list this spring.   Ask yourself these questions…  “Yes” answers get an item on the “Getting-It-Done” list. 

  • Is it a SAFETY issue?  This can be anything from repairing items with rough edges, open wires, etc., to cleaning things that can contribute to allergies if left undusted or unclean, or items that need to be updated, batteries changed, etc.
  • Is it an ENERGY or EFFICIENCY issue?  Am I wasting money because my systems and appliances, windows, etc. aren’t working as hard as they can for me, and taking care of this item will help?
  • Does taking care of it prolong the life of the item or space, allowing me to get my money’s worth out of it even longer?
  • Does leaving it as-is cause me stress, embarrassment or anxiety?
  • Will it interfere with my ability to enjoy this space to its fullest if I leave that task undone?
  • Is it so easy and simple to do, it’s stupid NOT to?


As I mentioned earlier, you also want to make sure you determine WHO will focus on tasks. There may be many on the list that you feel you need to hire someone to do, either because it requires specialization of skill or tools, or quite frankly, just isn’t something you’re going to have the time to do. This is totally okay! What YOUR task is going to be, then, is to find the right resources, get them lined up, and get the work done. This is not an elbow grease contest! The goal is to get the issues in your home addressed and to make the best of this important investment. 


Now, off to this week’s assignment! Remember, there are always going to be 2 options — a SPACE challenge and an ACTIVITY challenge


SPACE CHALLENGE: No surprise, we’re starting in the kitchen! (And if you did the Resolutions Chapter, it’s been about 2 months since you did all your initial organizing work and have been living with it a while, so it is a great opportunity to revisit what you’ve done, pick up where you left off, or tweak something that still just isn’t quite right.) 

What do we do in the kitchen? Here’s a list of some of the tasks for you to take on: 

  • Clean base boards
  • Dust molding and ceiling corners
  • Wash windows and sills
  • Clean window treatments
  • Dust ceiling fans
  • Clean lampshades and lighting fixtures
  • Wipe light bulbs
  • Wipe all the light switches
  • Wipe all the door knobs
  • Clean scuff marks and fingerprints from walls, doors and door frames
  • Sweep, vacuum, and mop hard floors
  • Wipe down cabinets and drawers (including the top of cabinets)
  • Wipe down backsplashes and cabinets
  • Clean out the refrigerator and the freezer (and outside/magnets) Defrost if applicable.
  • Clean the microwave
  • Clean the oven
  • Clean / descale coffee maker or tea kettle
  • Clean / de-crumb toaster
  • Sanitize the dishwasher
  • Clean and disinfect the disposal
  • Go through the junk drawer
  • Check out the silverware drawer (sometimes, crumbs get in here!)
  • Clean stove burners and drip pans (replace if necessary)
  • Check for replacing water filter for fridge
  • Clean and disinfect the garbage can
  • Clean out under the sink
  • Clean oven hood – front and underneath/screens, including wiping down the light bulbs
  • Wash placemats, tablecloths, etc.
  • Declutter unwanted items in cabinets – kitchen goods and food



Let’s start with DUSTING this week. In all the rooms in your home: 

  • Dust shelves
  • Dust top surfaces of furniture (dressers, desks, tables, etc.)
  • Dust items on shelving like knick-knacks or books
  • Dust electronic items (cable boxes, TVs, stereos)
  • Dust mirrors and framed artwork
  • Dust light fixtures and lampshades
  • Dust the ceiling fan blades


And we’re off! Let the Dusting and/or Kitchen cleaning begin!