I have a cleaning schedule that I really like. It covers all the day to day cleaning and also has one day per week set aside to tackle bigger jobs that are done less frequently. The only problem with my schedule is, well… me. If I get off the schedule, then I’m stuck with a dilemma – What do I do today? Yesterday’s work? Today’s work? Both?

It is particularly hard for me to stick to the schedule around this time of year. There are so many other things I’d rather be doing – baking, gift-making, or just basking in the glow of the fireplace reading a good Christmas story with the kids. It is times like this, when I don’t get around to my scheduled work for a week day or two, when I need a power hour.

I find one hour where I can clean uninterrupted. I usually start when the little one starts his nap. I begin with 20 minutes of vacuuming. (If I start the vacuum before he is asleep, then he falls asleep to the noise and I don’t have to worry about waking him). Now when I say vacuum, I don’t just mean the floors. Get creative. Get out the hose and cover every nook and cranny you can get to in twenty minutes. Take the vacuum to places it has never gone before – particularly the kitchen and bathroom. Kim told me once that she vacuums  the crumbs out of her silverware drawer (or was it her oven? or maybe she told me both). Either way, great ideas!  This is the hardest one for me to keep to just 20 minutes. But once the twenty minutes is up, stop. Pick up where you left off next time.

Next, wet a cloth with warm water and spend twenty minutes wiping fingerprints on light switches, smudges on walls, sticky doorknobs, drips on floors and cabinets. You’ll have to rinse your cloth and start fresh several times. There is no cleaner on the cloth so that you can go from walls to wood without damaging any surfaces along the way. This is a great time to do a quick dust, but don’t get bogged down with the knicknacks on the shelves or you’ll lose your whole 20 minutes right there.

For the last part of the  power hour, you need a roll of paper towels and a bottle of  glass cleaner. Clean anything you can find that shines, or that should shine. Clean only the windows that are frequently smudged. In my house it is the back door and the sidelights next to the front door. Wipe the TV screen, the toaster, the coffee pot. When you are nearing the end of the twenty minutes, head to the bathrooms. Wipe sinks, faucets, counters, and mirrors only if you have time. Finally, do a quick wipe of the toilet.

Now take a deep breath and go back to enjoying your family!