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Cleaning House and the 80-20 Rule

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Cleaning house is one of those things that needs doing again… and again… and again! How can you make it less of a burden?

When I taught time management classes, one of the things I loved to teach was the 80-20 rule. It’s best explained by examples. Eighty percent of the time, you wear twenty percent of your wardrobe. Eighty percent of the phone calls you get come from twenty percent of your friends. Eighty percent of the dirt is on twenty percent of the floor. Twenty percent of salespeople make eighty percent of sales. Okay, sometimes it’s 90-10 and sometimes it’s 70-30 but you get the idea.

Eighty percent of the dirt is on twenty percent of the floor? Hmm, what does that suggest about cleaning your house? Often a quick pass through the parts of your house that really need it will make cleaning house much easier. If you are in a hurry, let the dust behind the sofa and under the table alone and just clean a swath through the heavy traffic areas. Sooner or later, you’ll get to them as well — or hire someone else to do a thorough cleaning occasionally.

You can probably make up lots of examples of the 80-20 rule that apply to your own ways of cleaning house and of keeping things picked up. Perhaps eighty percent of the dirty dishes left lying around come from one person. Perhaps eighty percent of your frustration with how your house looks could be solved by doing twenty percent of what you think you should.

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