Cleaning your home can be time-consuming. You can make it easier by cleaning in five- to 15-minute bursts of time. It’s easy to get carried away watching television or surfing online. Set a timer to limit your time so you don’t get sucked into wasting it.s Idle time isn’t the same as leisure time. Timers are great motivators for doing chores quickly and staying focused.

Don’t overwhelm yourself. Take care of yourself so you can be useful and supportive of others. Stop being a martyr and ask for the help you need. People will take whatever you’re willing to give. Assign mini tasks to each family member to accomplish more, too. Set the timer to several small increments so kids don’t feel overwhelmed. Put some music on and create some friendly competition by playing beat the clock. Chances are that once you get started, you’ll all have the motivation to tackle more than one chore.

What chores do you delegate or do yourself that take only a few minutes?

Here are a few ways to approach family chores.

SAME TASKS: You can assign everyone to do a similar task but in a different room. For example, everyone cleans a floor, puts away their clean clothes or picks up toys. Or assign two people to clean different sinks or dust furniture.

SIMULTANEOUS TASKS: Many chores can be done while you’re doing something else. For example, fold a load of laundry while watching television or run the dishwasher while you vacuum. Also, assemble a cleaning caddy so everything you need is readily available and portable.

INDIVIDUAL TASKS: Each person in the family can be assigned a task. Sure, you can assign specific chores to each person or use a chore chart, but changing it up and rotating responsibilities makes it easier and causes less resistance. No one likes to be the sole person responsible for a chore all of the time. Even if one person does a chore the most often, it’s nice when sometimes someone else does it. It’s also easier to have chores at a set time and when everyone is doing them. It’s much less overwhelming with help.

Easy chores that can be done in a flash and rotated among most family members include sweeping or vacuuming the floor, emptying the dishwasher, making a bed, taking out the trash, cleaning cat litter, feeding a pet, cleaning a toilet, cleaning counters, clearing or setting a table, helping put away groceries or weeding a garden. Rather than give an allowance, you can reward kids with experiences.

Another reader, Missy from Colorado, shares: “Doing the chores without being told gets my kids a bean in the jar. Being told to do chores gets no beans. Not doing it at all removes a bean from the jar. Once the jar is full they can choose an activity from the list I created.”

Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., fourth floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail