If you have to walk for 10 seconds to a room, and 10 seconds back, that is 20 seconds of necessary non-value added time. Do this 5 times a day and in 50 years, you’ve spend 500 hours walking back and forth!
Here are some ways to either half that time, or nearly eliminate it.
This is where you clean wherever your body is currently located. If you had to take a cup from the living room to the kitchen, instead of returning to the living room, you’d begin cleaning the kitchen.
If you had to bring a rag from the kitchen to the laundry room, take the opportunity to either clean the laundry room, or whatever room is closest. (As a note, we have a laundry basket located between our kitchen and living room, it makes it so we can make a single trip when the basket fills up.)
Opportunistic Cleaning is the best for when you generally need to clean your home. If you need to clean only a kitchen or living room because company is only going in those areas, opportunistic cleaning that takes you to your bedroom would be ‘overprocessing waste’. It may be best to drop bedroom items at a central location and do that round in bulk. This gets into the next suggestion, using carts to move objects.
I don’t see too many carts in people’s homes, but they are all over workplaces, factories, and schools. While the distances traveled are not as extreme, they will save you time walking back and forth with individual objects as you can load up a cart with objects for different rooms, and move them all at once.
For an example, suppose I start in the living room with a cart. I can put cups, trash/trash bags, and outgoing paperwork/mail on a cart and move it to the kitchen. As I pass by the dinner table, I can pick up dirty dishes. I can unload the cups and dirty dishes into the dishwasher and put trash/trashbags into our larger kitchen trash. Now that I’m in the kitchen, I can add the random kids toys that somehow made it across the house to the cart. I can continue cleaning the kitchen, adding anything else that might need to be moved around, mail to go into a filing cabinet, dirty kids clothes from daycare, dirty rags, etc… I can stop by the garage door and leave the outgoing mail. I return to the living room, dropping off toys, putting the dirty clothes and rags into our laundry basket. Finally taking the cart to my office where paperwork is filed.
This would have been numerous trips back and forth, but with a cart, it was only a single loop.
The downside of a cart, is that it requires touching things twice. You must pick up and item, set it in the cart, and later transport it later.
For a single item, a cart isnt worth it, but as the number of items grows to exceed the number of items you can carry, it begins to save time.
Here is an affiliate link to a cart that I think is ‘just okay’. Its small, has 3 shelves, and a somewhat tall railing to prevent items from falling off. I think I’d rather have a cart that primarily has a top shelf, a shorter railing, and is larger. This way I am not spending time bending over to pick up objects from a lower shelf. With a smaller railing, you don’t need to lift as far vertically before moving horizontally, hypotenuse is a shorter distance! As an alternative idea, each of the three shelves can be designated as a room (top shelf is things to be put in the laundry room, middle shelf for kitchen, etc). That way you don’t have to spend time remembering where each thing belongs in your cleaning journey and eliminate second trips for drop-offs.
The previous two methods will reduce your cleaning time significantly. This article would be incomplete if I didn’t mention ‘making triangles’. Instead of walking back and forth, do things in-between (or close to in-between). For instance, if you need to walk from the kitchen to the living room, and your bathroom is mostly in-between, maybe a few steps away, you can save on transportation by going to the bathroom before making it to the living room. It requires a bit of thinking, so its more ideal than reality. I highly suggest the other two methods, but you should know this tool as well.
Remember: No pointless actions!