Are you living in what Marla Scilly, aka The Fly Lady, calls CHAOS? (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Well then, join the club there are thousands, perhaps even millions of us!

I have struggled with organization in almost every area of my life for, well, my entire life. By starting this blog I hope to encourage others that they too can get and stay organized!

While it will probably embarrass my children for me to air the dirty laundry here, in full color photos, if it helps just one person along their own journey to getting organized and staying that way, it will have been worth it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Routine, Everyday, Boring Stuff

Years ago, when I first discovered Pam Jones and Peggy Young's book, Side Tracked Home Executives, From Pigpen to Paradise, I didn't have a clue as to how to keep a neat and tidy home. I had never learned growing up what it entailed, the necessary daily tasks, the planning ahead. In other words, I didn't have a road map.

Their process was simple, a single job was written on a 3x5 inch card. The cards were color coded according to how often they were to be done, daily or every other day, weekly or ever other week, monthly or every other month and seasonal. In your little card file were 31 numbered dividers. You put all the job cards you were going to do that day in front of that days date. Then as each job was complete, you filed it in front of the day of the month when it should be done again.

I discovered when I got off track that the best way for me to get back on was in the first week to have nothing but the daily task cards, then the second week I started adding in the weekly things and in the third week to begin adding in the monthly items. This gave me a whole week to dig myself out from under the dirty dishes and the laundry mountain, before I added more to the list.

Marla Cilly, aka The Fly Lady has a little different system. She gives you 31 baby steps to start out with, then as you get a handle on these she has you add in special missions and later down the road, after you have gotten your whole house decluttered you start on the detail cleaning.

Really it doesn't matter which system you follow or if you come up with something that works for you. But I think the biggest things that get in the way of our having a clean and tidy home is we never learned to pick up after ourselves!

Somebody was always doing things for us, like our mom's, so we never learned to do for ourselves. And now our husbands and children think that it must be mom's job to clean up after everyone.

Look around your home and what do you see? What's in that pile on the coffee table? Whose junk is cluttering up the dining table so you never sit down to eat together? Chances are very good that a great deal of it belongs to you! I used to think the house was messy because I had kids. And yes, that was partly true. However, I have learned that the house was messy because I wasn't picking up after myself! How could I set a good example and expect my kids to clean their rooms and take care of their own things when I wasn't doing it myself?!

If we want a clean and tidy home there are just certain things that have to be done every day. These are those boring, mundane tasks that we all seem to hate doing and procrastinate so much over. Yet, if we would just get up and get going and get them done as fast as possible, we would have a lot more time for fun in our lives!

What at these things?
  • cooking meals
  • cleaning up afterwards
  • laundry
  • putting things back where they belong
Most of us are pretty good about making meals, even if it's take out. After all whining hungry children pretty much demand  we do something. But so often we procrastinate about washing up the dishes afterwards. I have discovered of late that it takes me less than 15 minutes most nights to put away the clean dishes, put away the leftovers and wash all the dirty dishes, pots and pans, wipe the stove, sink and counters. (I will add that I live by myself and don't generally make elaborate meals. However I don't have a dish washer and do it all by hand. Your mileage may vary.) This means that I start the next morning with a clean slate.

Now I don't mind doing the washing and hanging out of the laundry, it's always been the folding up and putting away part that gets me down. Here again Fly Lady to the rescue. If it's not easy it doesn't get done. Why is folding and putting away the clean clothes so difficult? Because we have waaaay too many clothes! The dresser drawers are bursting at the joints and the closet is overflowing. Really, you don't need that many clothes! Enough socks and underwear for a week. Enough work clothes for a week. (choose outfits that can mix and match so you don't actually wear the exact same outfit all the time) A couple of party dresses, something suitable for weddings and funerals. Some 'groddy' clothes to wear in the garden. I'll bet you haven't worn half of what's in your closet in the past six months. (and don't even let me get started on your shoe collection!)

A suggestion I read recently was to turn all your clothes hangers around backwards to the way you normally hang them. Then as you wash and put things way put them in the way you normally do. At the end of a month look at how many are still backwards~you could probably toss all of those and never miss them.

There are 5 parts to laundry, sort, wash, dry, fold, put away. I don't have a dryer, so I hang my things on a clothesline. Now that there's just me I can get away with about 3 loads a week. When I had kids I had to do at least a load a day just to keep up. So in the afternoon I ran a load and hung it out. The next afternoon I took down the dry clothes and put them away while that day's load was washing. But a load a day will keep the laundry moving smoothly without piling up.

 So much of the time we aren't even thinking when we set things down. And since our homes are so full of stuff, it just becomes part of the landscape and we don't even see it when we are looking right at it. As you declutter and have some free, open space, the things you toss down absentmindedly will become more obvious. But it will take some time. You will have to work at it and then it will take a while to train your spouse and children not to leave their stuff all over too.

If you can establish a home for each thing and consciously work at putting it back in it's home spot when you are done with it, then your home will always be tidy looking. Have a place for your purse, coat, keys. A place for the kids to keep their coats and backpacks. When you sit down at your computer or to watch TV, don't unconsciously kick off your shoes and leave them there. Take them off and put them in the closet before you sit down. There are many other little things you can do that will help make your life flow smoothly.

Try it out, every day make a commitment to do a load of laundry, all the way to putting it away; wash up all the dishes and pots and pans and wipe out your sink. Pick up everything you have gotten out and haven't put away yet. In a week it will make such a huge difference in your house you won't believe it.

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