Pocket of Bolts and I are not the tidiest persons that ever lived. We have different tolerances and intolerances. PoB hates clutter and I hate filth. He's pretty tolerant of filth, and I generate clutter somehow everywhere I go; it's my natural habitat. We have got along on this issue with only minor friction over the course of our nearly five year relationship--mostly because PoB doesn't hate clutter THAT much, and I am willing to take action regarding filth that really bothers me. Also because PoB is a valiant dishwasher, and I don't mind doing all the toilet-cleaning.
We both always wish that the place were clean all the time, but neither of us care about it THAT much. So we live in congenial semi-squalor. Just like most people, I think.
Recently, though, we got a notice from our landlord about people being in and out to look at the apartment. If we can get the apartment rented early we can get out of our lease and save an entire month's rent. I mean--assuming the real estate thing works out. Which is looking pretty likely. SO. We are highly motivated to, as the landlord's letter delicately puts it, keep the place in a clean and tidy condition.
So I proposed a plan which has proved strikingly and incredibly effective. Every morning after breakfast, we both simultaneously spend fifteen minutes cleaning the apartment. That usually involves doing a few dishes, making the bed, picking up migratory clutter and scholarly detritus... all of which takes between five and ten minutes. The rest of the time can be spent on limited but in depth projects. Pocket of Bolts cleaned the pantry the other day. Once day I mopped the kitchen, dining room, and living room floors. Quickly, but quite effectively. Another day I did the toilet and the sink. Another day I cleaned the front closet.
Not only is the apartment now in a constant state of "ready to be viewed" and even "ready to have friends over"... but the fifteen minutes of vigorous activity (accompanied, of course, by energetic music) wakes us up and gets our blood flowing, makes us ready for the day. And we have actually succeeded in doing it every single day for ... over a week I think. It turns out that half a man hour is a lot. And now we neither have to live with a messy place nor do we have to spend any significant amount of time on cleaning the rest of the day. Hurray for good habits.
(We'll see if it lasts...)