Cleaning your place isn’t fun. In fact, depending on how long it’s been since you tackled the mountain of laundry and dishes that awaits you, it might be an anxiety-inducing nightmare. But studies have shown that people actually feel happier when they clean their houses regularly. So how do you build a house cleaning routine that works for you? Read on and find out!

Use a Schedule

Yes, this sounds a lot like work—or like your mom is assigning you chores. But a house cleaning routine needs a clear, easy schedule to follow. Instead of tackling issues as you notice them, a schedule takes a lot of the stress out of cleaning. If you have roommates or a partner, it’s also a good way to get them on board. It’s a good idea to use a calendar for this.

Survey Your Space

Before you start planning your house cleaning routine, you need to look around your home and figure out what needs to be done. Most places are pretty much the same—dishes need to be washed, beds made, clothes put away, and toilets scrubbed. But there are messes that are unique to your home, too. Maybe you have art supplies that migrate around your home, or you leave stacks of junk mail on the dining table. Write it all down!

Break It Down

At this point, you have two choices. Many people try to complete one type of task on a particular day—Wednesdays are for vacuuming, or Mondays are for laundry. The trouble with that mindset is that you’ll have to constantly sweep through every room without ever having a space that’s truly clean.

Instead, break your home down into zones. Kitchen and bathrooms are easy. Maybe you can combine the living room and entryway into one zone. You might do your bedroom as a single zone, or you could tackle your room and any guest spaces at the same time. You get the idea. Figure out what works for you so that each day has roughly the same amount of housework.

Think Tasks

Each zone will have a set of tasks that need to be done. Dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping (in that order) are pretty standard. Kitchens need the surfaces sanitized and cabinets wiped down, plus the fridge and microwave need some love. Bathrooms also need to be sanitized and scrubbed. Make a list for each zone so that you know what needs to be done.

Figure Out Frequency

Here’s the tricky bit. Some tasks need to be done more frequently than others. It’s a good goal to wipe down your counters and sinks every night, and make your bed every morning. But wiping down your fridge might be a biweekly or monthly task, while sweeping might need to be done twice a week. Air filters might get changed four times a year, and you probably won’t remember to do it unless you write it down. That’s why you need to use a calendar to keep everything straight.

Don’t Get Burned Out

A marathon is tougher than walking for a few minutes a day. Don’t try to clean all the things at once! Even if you’re desperately behind on cleaning, you’re better off doing a little bit at a time. Keep making incremental progress and you will get there.