The less time you spend cleaning, the more time you can lavish on those you love. Why not shave minutes off every task you tackle? After all, there’s cleaning, and then there’s cleaning smart. Here are some quick ways to put time back in your pocket:

  1. Hang a magnetic knife holder above your desk, for clips, pins, scissors, and craft supplies. You’ll have less clutter to pick up when you clean your desktop, and tools will be right at your fingertips. Bonus : Sharp objects will also be out of reach for toddlers.
  2. Every time you go up or down stairs, carry something that belongs in the other place. This saves both steps and time. Bonus : It teaches kids to pitch in on a daily basis.
  3. Keep your dining table set. As you unload plates, glasses, and silverware from the dishwasher, put them directly on the table for the next meal, instead of inside a cupboard where you’ll have to retrieve them soon. Bonus : People stop using the dining table as a catch-all for mail, backpacks, junk, and papers.
  4. Alphabetize your spices and your canned goods. It may sound over-the-top, but it’s actually smart: You don’t have to hunt for anything anymore; you simply look under its letter and immediately know if you have it or not. Bonus : This makes it easer and faster to put away groceries, too.
  5. Give each child a locker (in their bedroom or in the “mud” room) for their backpack, books, and jackets. This keeps them from dropping everything in the way, and prevents hunting all over the house for school items. Bonus : If you hang a pocket on the locker door, you can corral permission slips and notes from the teacher as well.
  6. Use that “couch potato” time. Mend, iron, sort photos, wipe down window sills, or exercise while watching TV. This multi-tasking helps you accomplish more, and even burns calories. Bonus : You aren’t wasting all that commercial time anymore.
  7. Cook double batches of main dishes, and freeze one for later. This is especially smart if you cook seasoned ground meat and onions, for example, to use later in various recipes. Bonus : You only have to clean up once, and you’ll save money by purchasing items in bulk.
  8. Stop meeting face-to-face. See how many of your meetings can be accomplished over the phone. You’ll save time getting ready, and time you would have spent driving there. Paperwork and clutter is usually reduced, too. Bonus : You save on gasoline.
  9. Prevent dirt and dust from getting tracked in, by placing bristly door mats on the porch, and an area rug just inside the door. Bonus : Do this on both sides of your doggie door, and you’ll cut down on dirt tracked in by pets.
  10. Change furnace and air conditioning filters as soon as they turn gray. Dark carpet edges are an indication that it’s time to switch filters. Your home will be cleaner and your equipment will run smoother. Bonus : You’ll save money on your utility bill.
  11. Stop washing cookie sheets and baking dishes. Line them with baking parchment or foil, and you can simply throw the liner away after cooking. You’ll save tons of time scrubbing and washing. Bonus : Cookies actually turn out better when baked on parchment, anyway.
  12. Streamline your cleaning tote, or eliminate it altogether by using one cleaner that does it all. It saves money and frees up storage space under the sink, as well. Bonus : If you use one that’s biodegradable, your kids can even use it, and you can stop worrying about toddlers exploring under the sink.
  13. Use caller ID to screen calls while you’re cleaning. This prevents interruptions and lets you maintain your momentum. It’s also helpful during dinnertime, or when you’re on the go and don’t have time to stop and chat. Bonus : You can eliminate all the “spam” calls.
  14. Store unbreakable plates and cups in a low cupboard, where kids can reach them to help set the table, or to put dishes away after they’re washed. This solicits extra help and saves you minutes every day. Bonus : Kids learn life skills at a younger age, and gain self esteem from helping out.
  15. Use a dishpan when clearing the table. It’s amazing how much longer it takes to carry in one or two plates at a time, making a dozen trips back and forth. Stacking them all in a dishpan makes perfect sense; just make sure you don’t load it too heavy to carry. Bonus : The dishpan catches any falling silverware or scraps of food, too.
  16. Clear off kitchen countertops. Store every appliance possible, in a cabinet or deep drawer. Hang pots and paper towels. Keep phone books in a drawer. Think twice about every cute accessory. The more you can de-clutter your counters, the faster you’ll be able to wipe them down on a regular basis, and keep the kitchen sparkling. Bonus : Your kitchen will look larger and brighter.
  17. Make up breakfast snack-bags. These are for grabbing and going on those rushed mornings when there isn’t time to stop. They’re great for kids who are running late, too. Fill them with nutritious treats such as granola bars, raisins, veggie sticks, jerky, and dried fruit. These make a great take-along on the way to ball practice as well. Bonus : No clean-up required!
  18. When wallpapering, put the paste on the wall, instead of on the paper. You’ll save gobs of time fighting with long, sticky strips of paper, and the whole process will be simpler. Bonus : This makes cleanup easier, too.
  19. Corral like items in bins in the fridge. Keep condiments in one, sandwich fixings in one, and so on. Then you can simply lift out the bin you need, and not waste time looking for all the components. Bonus : Fridge shelves stay much cleaner.
  20. Keep a timer or clock beside your phone, and see how much time you actually spend there. Pare down if you’ve been wasting too much time talking. Bonus : Use phone time to multi-task, by keeping mending or handwork nearby.
  21. Use a dry paintbrush to dust corners, picture frames, lampshades and keyboards. The bristles will get in where your fingertips can’t. Bonus : Your hands stay clean and dry.
  22. Replace sliding bathtub doors with a tie-back curtain and shower liner. You’ll eliminate de-gunking shower soap scum from the doors, and will only have to machine wash your curtains on occasion. Bonus : Your bathroom will look larger, as the eye is carried further into the bath space.
  23. Boil water in a small bowl in the microwave, to steam food splatters and make them soft enough to wipe away. Bonus : You now have boiling water to use in a drink or recipe.
  24. Make fewer ATM trips. Use a debit card that gives you cash back, or a credit card that gives you mileage if you keep the bill paid off. Bonus : Save gas by not making all those extra trips.
  25. Store non-perishable lunch items, bags, and drinks in a large drawer. This will streamline the making of lunches (let the kids do it themselves), and prevents your criss-crossing the kitchen for each ingredient.

    Bonus: One glance in the drawer, and you know what you’re running low on, and need to purchase at the supermarket.


  1. Stockpile greeting cards and gifts. You’ll be ready for any occasion without having to run to the store for the appropriate card or present. Bonus : You’ll save money because you can buy things as you see them on sale, instead of at a desperate moment when you can’t find a bargain.

Listen to “The Joni Hilton Show”  streaming live, weeknights 6-8 pm on beginning Oct. 13. Call 1-800-950-5244 for life/relationship advice.