Cleaning non-negotiables – the three tasks I do every day to prevent overwhelm

I never start my day without doing these three household chores – and it helps to prevent overwhelm down the line

Master bedroom with a double bed and matching side tables, padded headboard and floral wallpaper.
(Image credit: Future)

Cleaning a house daily is certainly an ideal we should be striving for, but even I can't achieve it – and I’m a clean freak! Instead, I settled on three cleaning non-negotiables. These are the three things I always do to start my day – and never go to bed without completing.

Although it may not seem like a lot, tackling these three things a day is a great cleaning trick to help prevent overwhelm by maintaining a tidy home and preventing the most basic of chores from piling up on my to-do list. 

These are the three tasks I set myself each day, and how you can adjust this goal for your own home. 

Cleaning non-negotiables 

By setting myself the very realistic goal of only achieving three things each morning (or at least before lunch on a lazy day) I always achieve them and set myself up for a good day ahead. 

1. Make my bed

bedroom with double bed, window and storage bench

(Image credit: Alice Lane Interiors)

I agree, making a bed is not difficult – even when dressing a bed like a 5-star hotel, but making a bed the right way instantly soothes that itch I have to have a Pinterest-perfect home. 

There are plenty of reasons to make your bed every day, and I find that knocking that one task off of my to-do list each morning before I even get dressed for the day helps establish order in my home, and when things are tidy, my brain is tidy too. It is the perfect way to avoid being overwhelmed for the rest of the day.

When I feel like everything is falling into chaos, at least I can retreat to my tidy, well-organized bedroom. 

2. Tackle the bedroom ‘chair of doom’

White dresser, armchair, black vase

(Image credit: Cotswold Company)

Staying in the bedroom, the other way I restore order is to tackle my 'chair of doom’. We probably all have one of these in our spaces, and it is the one spot where worn-but-not-dirty clothes go to fester. 

For me, this is a chair designed to be used to help us get ready in the morning but ends up covered in clothes from me and my partner, or even the laundry basket that I promised myself I would empty last night. 

To help clean the bedroom and make getting dressed easier each day, I make a habit of clearing this off and putting each item of clothing away before getting dressed and heading downstairs. This might mean re-wearing an item that was thrown there last night, putting clean clothes away, or moving things to the washing machine that I know aren't going to be worn again within the next five days.

While this spot always ends up building up again, making it a daily morning non-negotiable means that it never becomes overwhelming, nothing gets lost, and the bedroom is clean at least most of the time, instead of some of the time. 

Foldable bamboo hamper | $25.99 at Wayfair

Foldable bamboo hamper | $25.99 at Wayfair
I use these sleek laundry baskets to help declutter my home and sort my laundry. Their foldable design means they are easy to hide out of sight when not in use, too. 

3. Do the dishes

Gold sink and taps, marble sink

(Image credit: Hub House/Meghan Bob)

We are not lucky enough to have a dishwasher in our house, so all the dishes need to be done by hand (which can be a pain given that we cook everything from scratch daily). This usually results in dishes piling up in and next to the sink throughout the day – or even overnight when we are being lazy or end up eating dinner late. 

In the morning, should there be dishes on the counter, I make a habit of washing them all up before I make my breakfast. Usually, I am spurred on by hunger to get the chore done quickly, and it ensures I have everything I need to cook first thing ready to go, preventing me from having to stop and start. 

This is a great cleaning non-negotiable if you want to cut kitchen cleaning times in half, too, and it can help implement habit stacking into your routine to increase your productivity. I find, for instance, that once the dishes are cleared away, I can more easily clean the kitchen countertops while I wait for my breakfast to cook, or blend up. 

How non-negotiables prevent overwhelm

Cleaning when you feel overwhelmed is one of the hardest uphill battles we have to face when it comes to maintaining our properties, but I have found that by tackling at least three repetitive things a day, I can stay on top of the mundane and prevent them adding to a (let’s face it) never ending to-do list. 

Once I have completed my non-negotiables for the day, it is often easier to complete other tasks, as I instantly give my brain a dose of satisfaction seeing my bedroom and kitchen fall into order. It is simpler to get the vacuum cleaner out and quickly run around my home when I have a spare moment and want to get away from my desk and move around, or even lightly organize the living room when I am catching up on TV to help declutter without making a mess further down the road.

One of the best tips professionals always repeat is that starting small often has the biggest impact, and these non-negotiables prove it.  

All-in-One Declutter Planner | $3.92 at Etsy

All-in-One Declutter Planner | $3.92 at Etsy
This printable decluttering planner is all you need to help tackle your home's mess without missing a step. It is perfect for both keeping on top of your belongings and starting off on your first big clearout.


How often should you really clean your house?

Besides tidying up hotspots daily to stay on top of clutter and mess, it helps to clean your home once a week to get rid of dust, vacuum carpets, disinfect surfaces, and freshen up bathrooms. This will help to prevent bad odors and also keep your home hygienic.  

What is the 6/10 cleaning list?

The 6/10 cleaning list is a cleaning schedule that breaks down your cleaning tasks into six daily tasks, and 10 monthly tasks to help you stay on top of your home cleaning. Daily tasks include things such as making beds, wiping counters, and washing dishes, while weekly tasks include vacuuming, mopping, laundry, and dusting. You then build monthly tasks such as deep cleaning your home, too, for a truly hygienic home.  

When picking three cleaning non-negotiable tasks for your home, consider areas that are always untidy every day, and are simple enough that you don't have to go out of your way to put them back in order. This could be making beds, tidying away toys, and wiping down your bathroom vanity if you have children, for instance. Or, you might want to vacuum, straighten out your living room furniture, and organize supplies if you have pets.

Any everyday win, no matter how small, is a win.  

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.