There's a pretty powerful free online resource over at flylady.net that I hear recommended fairly often on forums and group coaching calls and the like. I wanted to check it out again because I'm always curious about solutions that work really well for some. In my last post I talked about my general take on pre-fab systems. Now I'll get into this particular system.
Flylady is a website dedicated to helping people take care of their chores and their housekeeping. It does this by breaking down household tasks into small, often quick steps, and asking its users to tackle certain things daily (like wiping a counter-top or swishing the toilet brush in the toilet), or more often (like moving the laundry from one step to the next), and by working on different areas of the house on different weeks and days. There are some core strategies, like "shining your sink", where the idea is that if you get the sink not just cleared, but sparkly clean, it will motivate you. For good measure some self-care is thrown in, like reminders to get fully dressed in the morning, to drink enough water, and to exercise even if it is a small amount.
The site includes background information about this system, as well as various supports, including free e-mails you can sign up for, as well as Twitter reminders. I had signed up for the e-mails several years ago to check it out, and did so again recently. The e-mails are one thing that could be overwhelming; it is 3pm as I write this and it looks like I've received 13 Flylady e-mails just today. I filter them into a folder to bypass my inbox so it doesn't clutter it up- though if you want to get reminders this might defeat the purpose. It also seems like a bunch of the simple reminders that I remember getting as e-mails a few years back now arrive as tweets, which might be better suited, if you have some way of receiving them throughout the day, just depending on the person. Those are the quick reminders like "drink some water," or "What's for dinner?" (sometime mid-morning), or "Where's your laundry? In the washer getting smelly?" or "Where ever you are do a Hot Spot Fire Drill! 2 minutes!," i.e., get up and clean up the crap for 2 minutes, with instructions on the website. The current incarnation of the e-mails seem to be focused on bigger stuff, like areas to focus on each week, as well as testimonials, and advertising products sold on the site (some of which look pretty good, to be fair.)
For me, certain things about this system work, and certain things don't. The "shine your sink" idea actually does work for me, though I don't apply it as a ritual each morning / night as much as I use it if I am doing chores. Versions of it work, as well; when I am picking up around the whole house, it always helps me to make my bed first, even if I'm getting ready for company that won't be upstairs at all. It gives me the sense of a clear slate, I think, plus the fact that I actually can put, say, clean laundry on the bed and find it later.
The way chores are broken in down into quick steps can be really helpful, though I think there are some caveats. Here's where I'd say that for me personally, the way of thinking is useful if I apply it this way: WHEN I CAN, try a quick attack, a small step. If I try to keep up with the whole approach and do everything every day, well, that would be crazy for me. I think it would work really well for someone who doesn't have kids, or someone who is a stay-at-home mom or dad whose kids aren't the age of my toddler, say. For me, a quick toilet touch-up sounds so simple, other than my son will either be flushing the toilet every 2 seconds as I go, throwing things in, doing something death-defying elsewhere, or throwing a tantrum that he can't play with the toilet. Similarly, unloading the dishwasher each morning would involve a toddler impaling himself with a knife, sitting in the dishwasher, etc. And I just don't use tv several times a day to allow me to do stuff like that. If I tried to do this stuff on his daycare days, when I work from home, I'd never get any work done. Finally, the end-of-the day kinds of steps, cleaning up before bed, that sort of thing, don't suit my wiring. Here's why: if I start doing dishes or picking up the floor too close to bedtime, I am too awake to fall asleep on time. I'd rather leave it a mess than be sleep-deprived. But especially for some people, the ideas about laying out clothes for the next day could work really well.
And I do apply some of those baby-size steps (I believe the site calls them "babysteps" in fact.) I always keep an eye on where the laundry is. Instead of trying to do at least a load every day, as the site recommends, I try to only start it when I know it will make it to the dryer soon after. I do my best to get it all the way to put back away as soon as possible, but again, I have to keep an eye on distraction from my actual work. I can strike a balance, say getting a couple loads done on days that I work from home, but not doing any other chores. So again, this is a matter of cherry-picking from the system those things that are useful to me. There are things I like and agree with, things I like and can't do at this point in my life, and things I disagree with. (A minor example: I like the strategy of getting fully dressed each morning, so you feel put together. I disagree with the idea of putting my shoes on in the house.) For my readers I would suggest that Flylady could be a great resource, if, and only if, you are able to check it out without a burden of perfectionism; without feeling like you have to do all of it, and without feeling like you have to agree with all of it. There are some great ideas if you can find (as always) the parts that work for you.