Mary Ann – Cleaning – For the List Makers

Mary Ann’s Daily worksheet

This is the last article in the series on cleaning systems. This is the system I use today. Let me give you the back story.

I have tried many cleaning systems, but I always returned to ‘THE LIST.’ I am a list maker. It seemed the most useful and satisfying way to manage my daily work. However, I am also a finisher. This and list-making can be a combination for failure. It isn’t that you fail, but you always feel like a failure because you can never finish the list.

In real life, you never finish the list. Part of the reason for this is, that not everything you have to do in a day is on the list – dishes, meals, laundry, running kids to friends, that extra trip to school when someone is ill, and so forth. This list/finisher combination caused me grief for most of my life. If I am not careful and follow my current system, it still can be. Just being honest. : )

When I found myself in a four-generation home, just as busy as when I was raising seven children, I began praying about the issue. God knows me well, and he likes me how I am. But He also knows there are ways that I can manage my natural way of being/energy better. So that seemed like the best place to go for help.


The sheet I posted in this article is the result of seven years of experimenting and revamping. Yes, it took that long. I would come up with a plan, use it, and then have thoughts on how to change it for the better. I would make the change and begin again.

Here is what that looked like. At first, all the things I did to get my day going well, i.e., prayer, scriptures, gratitude book, etc. were on the to-do list. More things to get done!

Then they were labeled separately as – Morning Routine and Evening Routine. Still, a bunch of stuff to get done. It felt heavy.

One day, as I was looking over my Daily Worksheet, I had the thought to relabel both the night and morning routine items to AM for ME and PM for ME. I am big on paying attention to the story I tell myself. Suddenly, they weren’t just more things that any well-developed and in-charge person would do. With the new label, they went from being more stuff I needed to take care of, to how I nurtured myself. A HUGE change in how they felt. I wanted to do them first and last because I love me, really, I do. I like who I am, and although I have lots of work to do on my way of being, I care about myself as a person and as a daughter of God. AM and PM went from stuff a wise person should do, to what I do to love and care for myself.

The AFTERNOON FOR ME section was added a few years later. I can’t always get to many of these items, but I try because they require me to sit, think, rest, and care for myself for a few minutes. In truth, many of these items get done throughout the day, but having them on the list helps me remember that I need breaks and rest.

Not everything gets done every day in these three sections, but what I do manage is helpful, and I feel satisfied when I can cross one of them off.


I separated appointments and special events from my daily list. At times, this section can override the whole list.

Take yesterday for example. June 11 was my husband’s birthday. We had a temple appointment at 12:30. That would take 2 hours. Then a stop at Costco for his weekly watermelon purchase and gas. Then a trip to his favorite store, Backyard Birds, to spend his birthday money. Then eating out at a Mexican restaurant he was dying to try.

Can you see how this special event would trump whatever else was on my list? I got my AM and PM for ME done. : ) I got a couple of things off the list before we left at noon, and I got a couple done after we got home at six.

Separating appointments and special events from my daily list has helped a ton. If I don’t get much done on the list, I can look at the Appointments/Special Events section and know why. No failure, just a busy family day, lots of outside appointments, or a serving others day.


Next is the to-do list. There weren’t numbers at first. Then there were 12 items. It changed to 10, and now it is 8. What 8 things are the must-dos today, above and beyond the appointments and special events? I must force myself not to add more! It is a challenge, and on some days, I break the rule and write down 10-12 things. I always regret it because I have many people to care for in my 4-generation home, a job in my church, my writing, and neighbors I help. Each time I break the rule I remind myself why it is the way it is. Then I smile, give myself grace, and know I did well today despite not getting everything crossed off.


Of course, every day I have more than eight things I need to do! So do you. This is where they go. It satisfies my need to write down too many things. If I do get the main eight finished, I can see what is in this section. For example, a few days ago, 4 things out of my main eight were calls to doctors and the insurance company. These calls can take up lots of time but needed to be done that day. Fortunately, they went smoothly and didn’t take all day. : ) I was able to look at my IF TIME section and get other important items completed.

Honestly, items in this section, rarely get done that day. But that is ok because it is an ‘if I have time’ item. I can move it to the next day or the next week.


I love the section. I got the idea from my friend and business guru Janine Bolon.

This little section is a lifesaver. I have big jobs I want to do such as, clean the whole kitchen, sort all the drawers in the bedroom, you know the dumb stuff that finishers love to do. LOL I can write one or two floating goals here. If they get done in a week, awesome. If not, they move to the next week and sometimes I decide it doesn’t matter and they drop off completely.

For example, I began deep cleaning in March. I got the living room done in one week. But the kitchen has floated for a couple of months. I have cleaned cupboards and drawers. I only have the oven and two cupboards left but I haven’t been able to get to them. It doesn’t matter because it is a floating goal and helps me keep track of the ‘extra’ things I am working on. I LOVE this section.


Last year I added the EVENING SECTION. I know I am going to cook dinner, but by this time of day, I am tired! I want to cross it off because it is a small energy lift. LOL The other things are what I want to be reminded to do with my family and for myself at this more tired time of day. This is the little push I need. This section has been very useful, or I would frequently forget my vitamins, hormones, and other health regimes I have. Even if we don’t read until 9 pm I feel happy crossing it off.


A few years into working on my daily worksheet I added two more sections. One is the To Journal section. I don’t journal consistently. I should be better, but it is what it is. That being said, in the last fifty-plus years I have written 17 notebooks of memories and feelings. Nevertheless, I tended to lose memories I wanted to remember and share with those who come after me because I wouldn’t get the writing done, and days would pass, and so would the memory. Now, if something noteworthy happens, I jot it down. It might take me a week or two to get it written but eventually, I do. I need this section to remember the miracles in my everyday life.


I used to carry too much stuff in my brain. So, I created a place to dump before bed or as I moved through my day. I used to use sticky notes, but they got lost or made a mess on the desk! This section helps me remember what is on my mind without carrying it around and ruminating on it.

Here is what is currently in my Miscellaneous section:
•get a date for activity girls to help them with family history
•have Seth show me how to use the food-saver
•go to a class at the family history library
•learn to use the LDS app

These items have been here for many weeks. I don’t see them moving to the IF TIME or TO DO sections anytime soon. However, there were ten other items in this section a couple of weeks ago, and they all moved up and are finished.

This place is useful because it helps me remember what I don’t want to forget but can’t do or think about now.

Although I love writing on paper, sometimes my Miscellaneous list is long. When that happens, I snip it off and tape it to the next day. There have been times that I have moved this taped piece for over a week. LOL It is what it is.


This system is NOT for everyone. You must like writing things down. You need to enjoy crossing things off. You have to find value in tracking yourself. And you must be ok with moving items from today’s list to tomorrow’s list for as many days as it takes.

If these are things you feel good about or that speak to your way of being, then give my system a try. Over time adjust it. As I said, I have made adjustments for over seven years. In fact, I just made a mini-adjustment last week. I added several health items to my AM FOR ME section because I kept forgetting them. : ) It is an ongoing process that changes with me and my circumstances.


This system has forced me to learn a few things. One is to take smaller bites. Instead of putting CLEAN KITCHEN as one of the 8 items, I put clean out one drawer or one cupboard. Instead of clean off desk, I put take care of one or two papers on the desk. This is a challenge for a finisher. I just want to do the whole thing now! But being put into a position to have to learn how to break things down into manageable bites and then consistently move forward has been valuable. I have lived my belief that small steps, done consistently, get big projects accomplished. The operative word is consistency.

Also, the slash marks at the top of the worksheet help me track how much water I have consumed during the day. My goal is 6-16 oz. glasses. I have never made six yet, but I have reached five. : )

You can download a copy of the worksheet at HERE.

I hope this series on Cleaning Systems has been of value to you. My goal was to give you a place to begin and for you to experiment until you find what works for you. : )

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