Be the Queen of Organized and Clean with this to-do list method

Jan 14, 2015 by Angela Orecchio

As yacht stews, we are the queens of clean, domestic divas, ultimate party throwers, organizers extraordinaire, and creators of holiday dreams. Mostly though, we are incredibly organized and determined to create a six-star experience for our guests, all while keeping a perfectly clean and maintained boat.

Here are a few tips on how to do it.

Tip No. 1: Become a master at organizing

Every stew needs to be organized; chief stews need to be beyond organized. There are far too many things going on in one day to be whimsical about to-do lists. There is nothing successful about being harried and not prepared, so it’s better to do some planning and preparation work beforehand.

This method of planning I learned from motivational coach Anthony Robbins. It is simple and effective, and once you master it, it will change your day.

  1. Write down everything you need to get done for today. This list is called a capture list. It’s a brain dump of everything that’s on your mind.
  • Create shopping lists
  • Meet with captain, first mate and engineer for weekly meeting
  • Update inventory
  • Finish accounts
  • Mail accounts
  • Scan receipts
  • Organize salsa lessons for crew in Old Town San Juan
  • Organize bioluminescent kayaking tour for crew
  • Inform crew about crew events
  • Decor ideas for guest tables
  • Training outlines for medical drill and stew training
  • Work list for the week (stews)

Now, on a separate piece of paper, write what is the most important outcome or result for the day that you want to achieve. Follow this with your purpose or why you want it.
Then take any items off your to-do list that relate to each outcome and create a Massive Action Plan (MAP) by writing them down underneath your outcomes and purposes.
Next, block out a time you will focus on these items.
For example:
Outcome/Result: Be completely ready for the week and to go shopping Tuesday morning
Purpose: To be fully prepared in advance to have a smooth and organized week

  • Update inventory (8-9 a.m.)
    Research table decor ideas (9-9:30)
    Create shopping lists (9:30-10)
    Create training outlines (10-11)
  • Create work list for stews (11-11:30)

Outcome/Result: Be fully up to date with admin work
Purpose: So that I may focus on preparing for guest arrival next week

  • Finish accounts (11:30-12:30)
  • Lunch (12:30-13)
  • Mail accounts at Fed Ex (13:15-14:15)
  • Scan receipts for next month’s accounts (14:30-15)

Outcome/Result: Create a positive environment on board and good crew relations
Purpose: So that we have a happy, effective crew and boat

  • Organize salsa lessons (15-15:15)
  • Organize kayaking (15:15-15:30)
  • Write up a flyer to inform crew about events, post in Crew Mess (15:30-16)

Finally put a box around each group so that you have three distinct boxes. Congratulations. You have just created an RPM (Rapid Planning Method) work list for the day.

The point of all this is that instead of having a massive to-do list, you have a few clear outcomes for the day. This helps your brain stay focused and feel less overwhelmed and distracted.

In addition to being incredibly organized, you will feel more fulfilled about your day. Think about it.  Is it more fulfilling and inspiring to update inventory and create a work list? To be completely ready so that you have a smooth and organized week?

Plus, when you chunk like items together, you feel less overwhelmed and more likely to work in sequence.

Blocking out time is useful, even if it does not always work out exactly as planned. If you get interrupted, however, you can look at your list and remember exactly what you were supposed to be doing at that time and get back to it easier.

Being organized is a learning process and it takes time to master so don’t get discouraged if you fall into old patterns. Just pick up where you left off and try again. It gets quicker and easier every time you do this, and eventually you will master it.

If you are a chief stew, I recommend teaching this to your stews and even encourage them to make their own lists.

Tip No. 1: Create a healthy cleaning cupboard

Interior crew spend a lot of time cleaning so we have the potential to come into contact with chemicals on a daily basis. Unless you absolutely need a chemical for a specific job, there is no need to have a cupboard full of chemicals for day-to-day cleaning.
This list will get you started on the right track.
First though, buy good quality spray bottles and label them with label maker tape or a strong sticker that will not peel off when wet. And create a reference sheet on how to mix and use healthy cleaners properly.

White vinegar and water

  • Windows: Fill a bucket with 1/3 vinegar, 2/3 water. Soak a soft sponge in the mixture and wash the windows. Take a squeegee and move side to side, wiping windows dry. Dry the squeegee with a towel each time you take it off the window.
  • For smaller jobs, just use a spray bottle filled with the same solution and a non-debris-leaving towel such as a cloth diaper.
  • Wood: For daily cleaning, removing Murphy’s oil build-up or for glossy wood, use the same mixture of vinegar and water as you would for windows. It’s gentle enough on wood and removes fingerprints and oils.

Baking soda and vinegar

  • Toilet Bowls: Mix 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar directly into the toilet bowl. As it foams, scrub bowl with the toilet brush. Allow the mixture to stay in the toilet for as long as possible and watch it clean and whiten bowls. (I have been told that this mixture will not disrupt the good bacteria in delicate onboard boat toilet systems.)

Alcohol and water

  • All non-porous surfaces: Mix 1/2 rubbing alcohol with 1/2 water in a spray bottle to disinfect surfaces, door handles, toilet seats, light switches, phones and anywhere crew put their hands on a regular basis. (This mix can also be used on windows.)

Dish soap and water

  • Marble and greasy stains: For marble, mix a drop of the least toxic dish soap you can find with water in a spray bottle and clean. The soap should be rinsed off using another bottle with just water and buffed dry with a soft cloth. For greasy stains on clothes or fabrics that can be washed, use a clear dish soap and let sit on stain. Wash as usual.

Tea tree spray

  • Air freshener: Instead of filling a room with the scent of a bad smell mixed with a chemical smell, get rid of the smell with tea tree oil. The best air freshener I have ever purchased is Kanberra Gel spray. There is no trace of the bad smell once the Kanberra Gel spray has been used. If you want to make your own, mix 1-2 cups vodka with 1-2 cups water and 10 drops tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Mix and spray.

Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from entries in her blog, The Yachtie Glow (, which offers tips for crew on how to be healthy, fit and happy on board. Comments are welcome at


About Angela Orecchio

Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from blog, Savvy Stewardess, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Yachting. Contact her through

View all posts by Angela Orecchio →

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