HomeRoutines Hacks

Menu Planning

Do you menu plan? I do, in a sort of ad-hoc way.  I always plan a week’s worth of dinners before I go to the supermarket. Before I write my list, I have a look at what’s left in the fridge, and check out what is going to come in our weekly fruit and vege box, and check the calendar for any upcoming events where I’m supposed to “bring a plate.”   Having a list doesn’t mean that I cook the exact things I thought of when I wrote my list, but it means that I have the general ingredients in stock to make something. I don’t plan dinners for particular days of the week because I don’t like being bossed around, even by my past self. We usually just see what we feel like on the day.

I’m not very high-tech with my list – I have a stack of little index cards that I bought years ago thinking I’d rock me a Hipster PDA, and so I write a list of 7 dinners on a card and stick it on the fridge with a magnet.  Past weeks’ lists are in a stack on top of the fridge, which I review for ideas if I’m feeling uninspired, or whenever they cascade onto the surprised head of whoever’s opened the fridge door

So that isn’t a very sophisticated way of menu planning, but it works for me.

Here are some great posts on Menu Planning from some of my favourite Housework Ninjas:

A few people have mentioned that they use the daily reminders feature of HomeRoutines to put their menu plan for the week in, then they get a reminder of what’s for dinner whenever they look at the app. That is an excellent idea!

Extra credit routines help you do the hard jobs

I was thinking about how easy it is for me to make my routines too long, with too many tasks in them. There are things that absolutely have to be done in my morning routine – like changing the nappy on Mr Small and Stinky, breakfast dishes and so on. But then there are things that can slide more easily, like sweeping the floor post-breakfast etc, especially when I get tied up chasing Mr Small and Less Stinky around the house, and you just know he’s going to run through the swept  up piles of sweepings…

Everyone has something that seems like an insurmountable obstacle, even though it doesn’t really take that long, and those are the things that you want to build up a habit of doing.

But you don’t want to leave your regular routines incomplete while you do.  So I had an idea – split those jobs off into an extra credit routine. So I did, and I’m enjoying my completed star for my morning routine, and giving myself a funny encouraging message to do those extra important jobs as well.

Choosing a Housework System: Flylady

It seems like some people always have a clean and tidy house, and don’t seem to have any trouble doing so. I am not one of those people.  For the rest of us, it sometimes helps to find some advice and guidance on the steps and processes that can help that happen.  I have come across a few in my time – let’s put it this way, I have an extensive collection of name tags and hairnets control journals and productivity apps… and a pile of unmatched socks in my armchair.

As with any topic, the internet is full of experts, self-proclaimed and not.  In the end it comes down to finding an expert whose tone,  level of detail and level of bossiness resonates with you.  Sometimes you just want to be told what to do so you can get started, somewhere, even if that is with a sink full of hot water and bleach.  Sometimes you want to be told that you are capable and to get cracking, working on the room that needs it the most.  Both are fine – it’s up to you to pick and choose.

Quick clean bathroom - new handtowels

You might want to take hold of a system with both hands and follow it to the letter of the law, or you might want to just skim through and find the bits that work for you – cobble together a system, following the “good parts version” of anything you come across.  Review and revise as you go.

But don’t fiddle around with your “system” too much: get on with what you have to do, so you can find space to get on with what you want to do instead – as Merlin Mann said better than I ever could.

Over the next week or so I will be featuring some different “Systems” you might like.  I’ve included snippets of introductory text, because sometimes the choice is more about tone of voice than anything else, some useful links, and some ideas of how these housework systems and schedules work with the HomeRoutines app on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.


FlyLady FlyLady encourages you to gradually build up positive habits and routines in “Baby Steps,” do your detailed cleaning in 15 minute chunks, and tackle your weekly cleaning in a one hour “Weekly Home Blessing

Her message is sent to members of her mailing list with numerous messages each day (on the day I’m writing this, 14 were sent out to subscribers), but a digest is available as “Flylady Lite.”   Most of the emails are selling her cleaning products these days.

FlyLady’s system is outlined in her book Sink Reflections, which is easier to read, refer back to, and get your head around than the sprawling website (and its associated  online radio showchat room and twitter feed)


This is FlyLady’s list that has grown by leaps and bounds due to her special way of weaving housecleaning tips with homespun humor and daily musings about life. She has a no-nonsense approach to getting your house and your life in order. She mixes housekeeping advice with insights about life and love and anything else that is on her mind. This list is whatever FlyLady decides it should be — it’s her list. She expects subscribers to decide if they get anything out of it or not. Those who do are invited to be part of the cyber family. Those who don’t are encouraged to unsubscribe. Only you can decide what is right for you. If you can’t figure that much out, don’t blame FlyLady!

Check out:

How it works with HomeRoutines:

Build up your routines in baby steps, and put your detailed cleaning into the Focus Zones. If you’ve got HomeRoutines set to 5 zones, switching each week of the month, it will automagically stay in sync with Flylady’s zone schedule; we’re considerate like that.

Unclutter your Life in One Week

Unclutter Your Life in One Week
I’ve just finished reading Unclutter Your Life in One Week,by Erin Rooney Doland from Unclutterer.com

The book has lots of excellent advice and exercises to help you simplify, although I wouldn’t try and do it all in one week, not with three littles underfoot! There is nothing like uncluttering an area only to have little people discover all the “New” things that you’ve just uncovered!

Erin talks about creating routines in several sections of the book (yay), so I thought I’d have a go at setting them up in HomeRoutines.


Erin’s suggested Laundry Routine for families has a focus on a particular sort of laundry for each day of the week – adult clothes, linens, children’s clothes etc.

We do something like this, except the vast number of soggy teatowels, dishcloths and flannels that are produced by three grubby children end up being added to the wash every day – included here, politely, as “kitchen,” rather than our family term of  “wet and smellys”

The Catchup on Sunday was also my addition – Erin is much more organized and has “Rest” on Sunday.

Zone Cleaning

Erin suggests that each weeknight you spend half an hour cleaning – first 10 minutes of general pickup, and then 20 minutes focusing on a specific area.  Her schedule follows a different area of the home for each day of the week (eg Kitchen and Dining on Mondays, Bathrooms on Tuesdays etc)  This schedule is one of the most frequent feature requests for HomeRoutines, and our upcoming release will include up to 7 zones so that you can have one zone per day of the week. 🙂 I’m looking forward to it myself!

For now – here is how it would look if you arranged your rooms to Erin’s schedule. It’s really easy to arrange rooms in whichever order you like on the Setup Zones and Rooms screen, just drag them around.

General cleaning schedule from Unclutter Your Life in One Week, in the Focus Zones section of HomeRoutines App

Daily Routines

Erin encourages her readers to establish regular routines throughout the day, which we already know all about:

  • Morning Routine
  • Welcome Home Routine
  • Dinner Routine
  • Before Bed Routine

The Welcome Home Routine is an excellent idea, and hopefully if I follow it I will not end up with my bag (and car) full of receipts and cookie crumbs.

Here’s my adaptation:

Unclutter your life in 1 week - Welcome Home Routine in HomeRoutines iPhone app

Unclutter Your Life in One Week has a lot more to it than just routines – there’s something in there for everyone, whether you’re just getting started at organizing and decluttering, or you’re just looking for that little bit of extra advice.

My very favourite bit in the book is the very last sentence:

Give yourself a virtual gold star, because a real gold star would be just clutter.


Focus on the basics with your Daily 7

You can make lists and lists and lists, and have the best of intentions, but some days you can only manage the basics. Having a ready-made list of the absolute priorities can help out on those days!

Stephanie from Totally Together Journal has a great list called The Daily 7 for a Highly Successful Household

This is what it looks like in HomeRoutines:

Staying on Top of Laundry Mountain

Here’s a little idea for those of us who can be *ahem* less than diligent about keeping up with their washing piles (Mt Washmore, or whatever) Make a laundry routine and you’ll really earn that home screen star – as well as being reminded to do the washing every time you lookat the app!

(Also you won’t leave other routines incomplete through not doing the laundry part of them, eh?)

PS: I did make the title of that routine “GOAL: Clean undies” but then I got all embarrassed of my screen shot and changed it to socks. They are all important.

Plan “What’s for dinner” with HomeRoutines’ Daily Reminders

Fantastic! Adrianne from Illinois told us in a comment:

I am using the Daily Reminders section to help me begin to answer that “What’s For Dinner?” question on a regular basis. I realized I could be somewhat generic and put “Crockpot meal” down for any given night or be even more specific and put down the name of a favorite recipe.

What a good idea. Thank you, Adrianne! If you have a regular pattern to how you eat throughout the week (or even if you don’t) you could plan out a week’s dinners in your HomeRoutines Daily Reminders, and you’ll see that wee note on your home screen telling you what you planned.

How do you use the HomeRoutines Daily Reminders? Leave us a comment!

Fun Family Ideas – a great use for HomeRoutines’ Daily Reminders

Screenshot of HomeRoutines showing family fun ideas

We got a nice review on the App Store the other day from Jennspire, who wrote:

I downloaded this app this evening and I’m up WAY past my bedtime because I’m still playing. I recently left my job to become a sahm (to a 6 year old) and this app is a great way to help me get a grip my new priorities. I love the daily note – I used it to remind myself of the fun things that never seem to get done (“art fun day” “silly dance afternoon” “family walk night” and “mom’s pampering night”). I can’t wait to keep evolving this app – and myself – as I learn to “fly” for my family!

What a brilliant idea, Jennspire! The Daily Reminders on your home screen are an excellent place to put all sorts of reminders. Another reviewer mentioned using them to remind her of her daily fitness goals.

PS: I added “Make cookies” to the screenshot I made up there, because … mmm, cookies.

Do you use your Daily Reminders for something interesting? Leave us a comment!