Monday, July 17, 2006

Putting your house in order

By Heather Justesen

Life can be insanely busy and squeezing in time for things we want to do can be difficult. It can be hard enough to deal with our regular daily activities, caring for our families and our homes without trying to squeeze in some time to write as well.

And once we start to clean, how do we stay focused long enough to accomplish the job without getting sidetracked onto a dozen other things that need doing? Sometimes picking up the living room can turn into an all-day event—especially if you have young ones who are dirtying the room again as soon as you turn your back.

When balancing every-day life with my job began to seem impossible I ran across a web site on the internet.

There are many cleaning experts who recommend similar techniques, but this is the first one that worked well for me. Though I have gone through long periods where I don’t follow the routines, the techniques I learned on the site have helped me get life back under control when things seemed a little too wild.

Flylady splits up household chores into daily, weekly and monthly sections. She helps organize which things get done each day and which regions of the house you work on each week, and splits those chores into five-, ten- or fifteen-minute jobs. And best of all, she lays out how you can customize your cleaning and household needs to fit your life.

Mondays I have home blessing hour—in one hour I can clean up my home—dust, sweep, vacuum, change the sheets, etc—and make it presentable for the week. Part of the reason for the name is to help you think of the work as blessing your home, rather than drudging through the cleaning. Some women split each chore up so they do one a day, or maybe do two blessing hours a week if they have messy children.

Have too many things in the house? Take five minutes and get rid of some things you don’t love. If you don’t use it and it doesn’t bring a smile to your face when you see it, get rid of it. It’s all about simplicity. And you can do anything for fifteen minutes if you know when the timer goes off you’ve given yourself permission to walk away from what is still left undone.

I had a huge pile of things that I didn’t know what to do with when we cleared out a room to put one of our kids in. I was certain it would take me hours to get through everything and let it sit for two or three months, taunting me every time I walked past it. When I finally decided to tackle the job it only took two fifteen-minute cleaning session—a much more reasonable chore than I had anticipated.

Five minute room rescues every morning and night give you enough time to clear up a space without feeling duty bound to vacuum and dust. And with the use of an ostrich feather duster—which actually attracts dust instead of just pushing it around—I was able to cover my whole house in under five minutes. This prevented me from feeling guilty for letting the dust pile up because I don’t want to spend twenty minutes with a cloth.

One woman online said she used the pattern to keep her desk and office clear at work as well. You even pick a day to do weekly menus and prepare a shopping list—cutting back on multiple trips to the store each week and cutting back on the question of what you are going to make for dinner.

And best off all, this didn’t take up my whole life—the idea is simplicity, not making things more complicated. And it left more time for my family and my husband as well as other things I wanted to pursue—like my writing—without all the guilt about what I was leaving undone.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is an ingenious way to get housework (or for the guys among us, 'honey do' work) done and have time to write as well.

Thanks so much for the info.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I love Flylady, Heather. Just something as simple as having a plan can make all the difference.