1. The toilet. At some point, somebody's going to need to pee. The toilet needs to be spotless if company is coming (There's only so much you can blame on your three year old). Keep disinfecting wipes in your kitchen and baths. They're great. Like baby wipes, all you do is rip them out of the tub and wipe--instant shiny and clean. Run one over your sink and vanity, and then hit the seat of the toilet. Don't forget the bottom of the seat. Check for any hair on the floor. Run a wipe over the worst parts-who's got time to mop?
By the way, all of the eco-companies are coming out with their own versions of recycled or recyclable wipes, so load up and don't feel so guilty.
2.Clutter. I try and keep some sort of basket with a lid in every room. IKEA makes a big basket "trunk" that can serve as a coffee table and a stash spot for toys and blankets. Scan all the horizontal surfaces in your home. Are any of the surfaces cluttered with old mail, remote controls, dishes, and homework? Loads of clutter makes you look like a total slob, so this is a priority. If you're in a real pinch, grab a trash bag or laundry hamper. Load bag with clutter and hide the bag in a closet. Don't forget the dishwasher or even the oven as a temporary stash for dirty dishes.
3. Mirrors. Slightly dusty or filmy is fine, but if you have fingerprints, smudges or splatters, grab a glass cleaner and a micro fiber cleaning cloth. Micro fiber doesn't leave streaks, and can be washed and used over and over again.
4.Floors. This is the area where you can probably cut some corners, literally. I find that running a quick vacuum over the carpet and floors is just fine. If you've got any sticky spills, hit them with some spray cleaner and a swifter-type mop. If you're in a real pinch, throw two wet towels on the floor and skate around on them instead of using the mop. Concentrate on the high-traffic areas only. If you're lifting furniture or on your knees at any time, you're missing the point.
5. Excessive Dust. A little dust is fine; no one sees it but you. However, if it's come to the point where the dust is thick, (perhaps your children have written "WASH ME" on the dining table), it's time to grab a duster. It's always a good idea to polish your finer wood pieces with quality wood oil when you can, but for those in-between times, I find a feather duster works just fine. For the half-assed housekeeper, it's the perfect tool. The beauty of the old school duster is that it's much more a redistributor of dust than a true cleaner. It gets rid of enough dust, you won't notice the spots where you missed, and you save valuable time because you can just dust around those pesky knick-knacks, frames and vases.
6. The Fridge. If you are having a dinner party, someone is bound to ask if they can help and reach for the refrigerator. Cluttered and disorganized is fine, but clean any puddles or drips with a swipe of disinfecting wipe.
7 . Cobwebs. Check ceilings and light fixtures. Chandeliers can be the worst offenders, so double-check that dining room fixture before the dinner party.
8. Make your bed. If you don't have time, shut the bedroom door.
9.YOU. Save primping till the end. All that speed-demon housework is bound to wreck your look. Better to freshen up afterwards. However, feel free to move this step up if you're running out of time
10. The final touch. Spray a fine mist of spray cleaner in the air right by the front door. You didn't really clean anything, but it smells like you did. Remember: Perception is Reality.