Skip to Content

When you don’t have time to clean…

When you don’t have time to clean…

How To Clean And Organize When You Are Short On Time And Energy

Do you find yourself in a season of life when you really don’t have a lot of spare time in your day? You leave early in the morning and don’t get home until late. You don’t have the time and energy to have a clean and organized home. What do you do?

This was the situation one reader’s shared with me recently. They were out of the house from 6.45 am in the morning until 7 pm at night. By then they were feeling exhausted and so not motivated to do things like clean the house.

It’s not too dissimilar to my work situation right now! My work day starts around 5.30 am in the morning and yes, it is still dark then. I get home from work about 4.30 pm. So how do you and I have motivation to do anything worthwhile for the short amount of time we have outside of those hours? Well here are a few thoughts…

Priortize Sleep and Exercise

It may sound counter-intuitive when you have things to do and less time available but your health matters! Getting 7 to 9 hours sleep a night (it will vary from person to person) will give you more energy, and it will naturally increase your motivation.

Bonus, good quality sleep regularly will improve your mood, protect your mental health, improve your ability to problem solve and help you feel friendlier to those around you. Read on to find out why getting along with the people you live with matters so much.

But I just don’t have time to exercise?

Similar to sleep, exercise is a proven way to naturally increase your motivation and give you energy for the things you need to do. But making exercise something you do regularly can be really hard!

Here’s a few tips:

  • Plan to exercise in the morning when you are not feeling as tired.
  • Organize for your exercise time the night before. For example; have your exercise clothes/ shoes out and ready to go.
  • Exercise with a friend or family member for accountability and conversation.
  • Consider walking for a free and easy fitness activity.
  • See if you can fit exercise into your work day. For example; ride your bike to work, go for a walk during your lunch break.
  • Choose an exercise activity you enjoy. You are more likely to stick with it.

Just 10 Minutes A Day

After reading OFF THE CLOCK: How To Feel Less Busy and Get More Done by Laura Vanderkam recently, I was inspired to start a daily exercise habit.

I have committed to a daily habit of 10 minutes of exercise. So far I have stuck to it!! Some days it might extend to a 20 – 30 minute jog/walk. Other days when I am feeling really tired and sore (thanks- chronic pain!), it’s 10 minutes of gentle stretching. My go-to is 10 minute YouTube yoga videos.

So far I have been able to keep it up because I really don’t have any good excuses to not do 10 minutes of activity. Even though it doesn’t seem like much, happy days, my fitness is improving!

Update: Several years later I still keep this habit up and do some kind of movement most days. Usually, it is a 15 minute walk along the river near our home.


The reader I mentioned earlier, happens to live with a spouse, and has 2 adult children. These are key people in her life who can take responsibility with preparing meals, food shopping, getting a load of washing done etc.

Most of us live with other people, and it really is important that everyone contributes to getting jobs done at home. Ok, it’s easy to say that but how that works in practice is often a lot trickier!

The challenge of getting everyone to help out won’t be addressed in great detail here. But…

Here Are A Few Tips:

  • Be specific about what tasks you want family members to take responsibility for.
  • Communicate without blaming, yelling or getting completely frustrated. No sly remarks about how you have being doing everything and the rest of the family are slobs. (I know, sometimes that’s hard!)
  • Stop doing everything!
  • Let go of jobs being done perfectly.
  • Break down tasks and teach your kids how to do a job. Don’t expect them to know the first time or even the second time.
  • Ask your spouse to help with a task. Truly sometimes people don’t see the things we see need doing. Keep a running list of jobs on the fridge, if that helps.
  • Express appreciation for what other’s do. (Just because we can and because we love them.)
  • Be persistent, and more and more your family will learn to work as a team!

Be Intentional

Planning is such a consistent part of my life that I don’t think twice about it now. In fact, I probably take for granted how much regular planning makes life run smoothly when I am busy.

Things I Am Intentional About Planning:

  • Meals – Right now I write out 5 to 6 main meals for the week. One or two of those meals will be double quantity to make enough for a second night. When I don’t have a rough plan for meals, evenings are more chaotic and rushed as as result.
  • Weekly To Do List – Really just an on-going brain dump so I don’t have to try and remember anything.
  • Top 3 Things – A really helpful strategy when you start to feel overwhelmed by what’s on your to do list. Choose the 3 most important tasks to focus on first. That’s it!
  • Finances – Read more about how I have set up automatic bill payments.

A Clean and Organized Home

These three strategies, prioritizing sleep and exercise, getting help and planning unfortunately don’t necessarily result in a clean and organized home. But they will give you more energy and pockets of time to focus on things you want to get done in your home in the midst of a busy life.

My biggest challenge is my weekends, which seem to get crammed full with errands, and food shopping, and catching up on housework and more online work hours. By the end of the weekend I feel exhausted! Not like I have had a break at all. I will share some strategies I am working on in a coming post…

More Helpful Organizing Ideas