Part 2-Put first things first

Building porter checklist priority

Learn the Dirty Truth Behind Cleaning Buildings

And Make the Perfect Cheat Sheet Cleaning Checklist that Solves it, Even on a Part-Time Budget
(PART 2: Put first things first)

      In Part 1, we created a complete list of cleaning tasks for your new Part-time Building Superintendent in NYC buildings. It covered everything in the building following the WELL principle. 

      As a reminder, WELL stands for:     

cleaning nyc buildings

      We also learned a dirty truth behind cleaning: that things are left more dirty than you may realize or want to believe. Truth is, a Part-time Super is under the extreme time pressure and his schedule often besieged by emergencies and other important diversions. In order to get everything done, he must always negotiate with time and find some way to maximize it.

      Without a larger battle plan, things WILL fall to the wayside, no matter how detailed or beautifully elaborate your list is, making you look bad as the board member or building manager who brought him in. To make things worse, your Super will blame you for giving him an impossible feat to carry out.  


      BUT...... By prioritizing and working with a plan/purpose, the more things your Super can get done. Priorities gives him the guidelines to focus on the right things when time is too tight. Not only does this help to get everything that's on the list done eventually, this gives him a sense of accomplishment even when things aren't going as ideally planned.

      So, how or what do you prioritize first from what seems like an endless cleaning list? Click here to see the list from the previous article 

      Good news is that the WELL guideline serves not only to fill up the cleaning list, but it also helps to form the overall conceptual strategy for prioritizing them. For instance, garbage and recycling (a Welfare task) always need to be considered first. This can't be neglected for, say, sweeping the roof deck (a Lifestyle task), that is, unless there's something on the roof deck that threatens residents' welfare, such as broken glass strewn all over the deck (a Welfare task). 

      After Welfare, the other tasks of Equipment, Legal compliance and Lifestyle goes next, in that order. 


      Once the WELL tasks are down, the next thing you have to do is prioritize the tasks within each category. Remember, not all things hold equal weight within these categories. 

      For instance, in Welfare, you may have added the task "cleaning the HVAC ducts." While something related to resident's health, this task is not as important as keeping refuse areas clean and orderly. For sure, sooner or later, both tasks have to be addressed checked off, but not at the frequency of the latter task, which is always at the front line of vermin defense in the building.     

      In the same reasoning, sanitizing a relatively unused common area door handle is of relative low priority within the Welfare category.  

      Do the same for Equipment, Legal and Lifestyle categories. 

      You may have been breezing through this until you reached Lifestyle, where things can seem harder to prioritize with so many small details. However, don't despair. By following some simple rules, order will appear from thin air. Moreover, you'll realize that everything CAN get done. I call these:

  1. Follow the feet
  2. Get Visual
  3. Grease the Squeaky Wheels
  4. Spring it Twice Yearly

Let's go over each idea:

Follow the Feet

      Looking at foot traffic is one way to determine the pecking order in the Lifestyle list. The more frequented an area or room is by the residents and guests of the building, the higher in the list it should go.

      This means, for example, that the lobby takes precedent over the gym. Also, the stair treads to the highest landing in a walk-up building deserves less treatment than those leading to the second floor, which is traveled not only by residents on the second floor but also of every floor above two and including the highest floor.

traffic in building
building cleaning

Get Visual

      Get the areas that are easily perceptible to the eye, such as the entrance glass. This goes a long way in creating the impression in residents of being cared for, as I described above. Sadly, by letting these, often simple, tasks go unfinished, a negative impression is created instead, even if the majority of his tasks has been completed behind the scenes, out of residents' view.

Grease the Squeaky Wheels

      In my experience, almost every building has at least two main competing voices coming from residents and Board members about what gets cleaning priority, call them “squeaky wheels.” If the tasks they’re wishing to prioritize is relatively easy to accommodate, put it in. It will beat the time and energies wasted by going back and forth about the same one or two minor points. Believe me, I’ve been there and will choose the latter every time.

cleaning twice yearly

Spring it Twice Yearly

      Lastly, there are details not possible nor necessary to clean on an everyday basis. These are light fixtures, moldings, common area pipes, fire extinguishers, stair balusters, etc. Instead, these should be addressed during a deep, or Spring, cleaning of the entire building at least twice per year. Deep cleanings is like resetting your building back to a new, beginning state. Your Super will thank you for giving him a fresh start! In fact, get this done before your new Super starts in order to set a baseline for quality at the beginning.  

      So, there you have it! Your complete AND prioritized list of things to clean at your building. It should like this:

      This is our original spreadsheet from Part 1 of this blog. Much of it was already prioritized from my own notes and experiences (but if you find that I'm wrong, just let me know). There's some things that you'll have to fill in using the four ideas above. For instance, I left out which floors take precedent over the others. You'll just have to fill this in after your own walk-through and when you're finally comfortable with the unique attributes of your building.

      You may have noticed that I also left out tasks under "Grease the Squeaky Wheel." That's because these tasks can be completely arbitrary and not consistent across buildings.  

      Just remember that these tasks, no matter how arbitrary or insignificant you feel the task to be, as compared to the cleaning program, you'll need to place them on the top of your list. Whatever they are. 


      Okay, you're not done yet.

      For the final step, you'll have combine all of the categories into an actionable workflow that spans the days, weeks and months. Repeating tasks that cover everything you need on a regular basis.   

      In the next article, we’ll put it all together by determining how frequently these tasks must be performed and learning how to distribute them evenly and fairly. By doing this, we’ll finally match the right number of hours to the weekly workload, as well as settle which days.