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Flyladies and Flybabies
How do you use FlyLady? 
14th-Jan-2011 05:25 pm
Last time I was trying to really do FlyLady the way she lays it out (this was last year), I told my mother about the ways I was slowly tweaking the system to work for me, and she said, "FlyLady probably would say you weren't doing it right."

The thing is, the system as it is doesn't work for me for much more than... oh... a week, at best. It didn't work when I was single and working full-time (partly because I worked with children and had weird shifts), it didn't work when I was living with my now-husband and working full-time (partly because I just didn't have the energy to do anything when I got home from work and couldn't manage more than getting out the door on time in the morning), and it doesn't work now that I work part-time from home, either. Given all of that, I seriously doubt it will work when I have babies, and it definitely won't work once I'm homeschooling them!

I have ADHD, which means that my executive functioning (the ability to make a plan, follow a plan, stay on task, and change tasks when necessary) is basically borked. If I've done a task before, I'm able to do it again; if I have the steps for a new task written out for me, I can follow them; if I am left to my own devices, I am likely to get overwhelmed, overcomplicate things, and/or find new and wonderful ways to procrastinate (e.g., I am really good at organizing things to the point where my kitchen cupboards will be perfectly lined up and organized inside but all of the dishes will be dirty). External structure is much easier to deal with than internal structure. I have no sense of time, so I have no idea how long things actually take me to accomplish. My life can be really frustrating!

I do really well with routines and with chaining tasks. For example, a long time ago I taught myself that when I brush my teeth, I follow that up with washing my face. That works really well - the only problem is making sure I brush my teeth!

Things that don't work for me:

The e-mails. I am really good at procrastinating already; I don't need more e-mails to read or skim and delete!

The missions. Half the time the missions are for things that don't pertain to my home or my circumstances; the other half of the time, I just don't get to them.

The 15 minutes at a time thing. Yes, short bursts are good, but I don't do well with such things. Usually, once I get started on something specific, I stick with it until it's done. I know that the 15 minutes at a time is supposed to keep you from getting overwhelmed, but the timer going off just interrupts me and I may not go back to the task later.

So, what do I actually use from FlyLady?

Routines are wonderful things. Every morning during the week, I get up when my husband starts his shower. I don't get dressed, but I do get the kettle going, pack his lunch, eat breakfast, take my medication, and check my e-mail. I am currently working on making us breakfast every morning, as well. So far, that's my only routine, but I am sure I will add more as time goes on!

Zones make it easier to keep track of my cleaning. I don't follow FlyLady's zones; instead, I've divided the month up into groups of five days and given each group of days a different room. For the most part, they are the same as FlyLady's set-up, but I have the office as its own zone, separate from the bathroom. This was important because our office is a disaster, and the thought of working on it was paralyzing me to the point that I wasn't even cleaning in the bathroom during that zone! It's going to be important because we're moving to a larger place (just bought an acreage with a larger house than the one we currently rent), and there will be two bathrooms and two offices, as well as both a living room and a TV room. When we have kids, there will be more than one bedroom to look after, too (though I will do my best to teach the kids how to keep their own rooms clean).

Particular tasks each day. Right now I only do laundry once a week, since there are only two of us. That day is Monday, which is also the day that I scoop the litter box and clean the guinea pig cage. I try to get all of the garbages in the house emptied into the main kitchen bin on Wednesday so it can go out, and recycling is on Thursday. Friday I plan the next week's meals and make my grocery list, because I prefer to do the majority of my grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon.

Hot Spots! Yup, I have them. They are mostly any horizontal surface ;) but there are a couple of places that get really bad really quickly, like the coffee table, the book case nearest the front door, and the dining table.

Weekly Home Blessing. Well, that's not what I call it, and it's not really what I do, either, but on Fridays I try to do some basic overall cleaning (dusting, mirrors, doors, walls) and I do what I call "specific cleaning," which is my version of deep cleaning in whatever zones I'm in that week. I consider a week to last from Monday through to Sunday, so sometimes three different zones will be hit in a week. This is okay; I just pick whatever really needs doing in the one that's just coming up, I do everything for the one that was completely enveloped in the current week, and I do whatever's left from the one that started the week.

So... what do you guys use? Do you follow FlyLady as she sets it out, or have you tweaked it to work for you and your circumstances? What changes have you made, and why?
14th-Jan-2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
I don't think there's any "doing it wrong". She tells you to use what she teaches and make it work for you.
15th-Jan-2011 12:03 am (UTC)
It sounds as though you're using it exactly right. FLYLady herself says, over and over, that you *should* adapt it. You're using her system as much as I am when I make sure I tidy my bedroom before I go to bed but don't read the emails more than once in a blue moon, and I bet neither of us shines our sink.

I take the 'shining sink' principle as having a focus I can look at and feel good because it's tidy. My 'sink' is my bed, which I make as soon as I get out of it.

I take routines on board and mine have grown - like you, I find it easiest to fasten one task to another task, so routines aren't triggered by time-of-day, they're triggered by what I am doing. For example, if I am making a cuppa, then I use that as a 'timer' to do something in the kitchen, and the 'doing something in the kitchen' as a focus to stay near enough to the kettle to realise when it's done. I get more cuppas and the kitchen stays clean. It's still FLYing.

(Regarding the teeth thing, perhaps make it what you do after you wash your hands after you take your last wee of the day? Use loo --> wash hands --> brush teeth --> wash face seems to me like a routine that would be easy to keep track of.)

FLYing is basically simple principles: little and often, regular routines, plan things in advance, keep only what you use and love, and the First Love Yourself is pretty important too. The details of *how* you do this don't matter. The important thing is a cleaner home with less angst.
15th-Jan-2011 04:37 pm (UTC) - I agree wholeheartedly
You are so right on.
15th-Jan-2011 03:03 am (UTC)
You have to do it the way that works FOR YOU.
It is people telling us we were "doing it wrong" that caused us to NEED flylady in the first place!
17th-Jan-2011 10:25 pm (UTC)
:: THIS! ::

I'd say your Mom's got some Stinkin' Thinkin' going there -- just smile and say "Thank you for listening" and let it go. If your tweaks are making a routine that works for you, then you're doing it right!

About remembering to start routines:
I wonder, would a reminder gizmo work for you? I'm recently started to carry a smooth glass rock in my pocket, and I take it out and turn it over every time I realize I'm biting my fingernails again. Sounds like a great excuse for a pretty piece of jewelry to me. ;)

About teaching the kids:
My daughter (4yo) seems to be responding well when I say "I never really learned how to do this, so you & I will learn together!" She *really* likes it when I say "You're right, I forgot. I'll go do it now!"
15th-Jan-2011 03:03 am (UTC)
I think everybody adapts the routines. The set missions don't really apply to me - I live alone in a bachelor apartment. I don't have a dining room, living room, master bedroom, mudroom, or whatever.

I do however really dig the 15 minute timer. I generally set it twice a day - one 15 minute timer usually gets used up by washing the dishes (no dishwasher) and then the other 15 minute timer... well it's evolved. I had a lot of clutter and disorganization and unfolded laundry, but now I don't and I've started to wonder what I should do with a fifteen minute block.

I would like daily missions, but I need them to apply to my home. perhaps I could figure out something to do with zones, now that I am living in genuinely neat surroundings, and come up with a 15 minute task on each of my days.

Another thing I'm enjoying is the Cozi Calendar. I have the widget up on my desktop and it really helps me keep track of appointments. I would like to have mission stuff listed there so I have an idea what i'm going to do with my second 15 minute session.
15th-Jan-2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
I had followed the baby steps calendar twice and burned myself out within a couple months. I still have more to improve upon, but a couple routines are working for me. For one, I clean the bathroom after the shower. For another, I use the 15-minute timer. There are certain hobbies which I enjoy too much (cross-stitching, reading, and walking) and I made it a rule with myself to not start a hobby until 15 minutes in one room is done. Sometimes, four rooms get cleaned and sometimes on a lazy day, it is one room. I do consider myself accomplished if at least one room got done (though it may not be obvious to house guests. lol). I don't read the emails, and I'm just going to go with what feels right in my gut. It's hard to want to wash dishes at night, but it gets done every morning or afternoon. As long as I'm still flying my way and don't plan overwhelming goals, I'm happy.
15th-Jan-2011 03:04 pm (UTC)
(though I will do my best to teach the kids how to keep their own rooms clean).

I once read that disorganized parents make for better teachers than natural born cleaners when it comes to cleaning. For one, disorganized parents can empathize with how much of a struggle it can be to clean and keep clean. For another, they are also more likely to be tolerant of there being more than one cleaning method and letting the child do what works for him (some natural born cleaners are prone to insisting that everything be done their way).
15th-Jan-2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
I'm agreeing with everything that was said above, and I wanted to add something else. My son has Asperger's and has a great deal of difficulty with executive functioning as well. We are currently working our way through a book called "Smart but Scattered" that his school psychologist recommended (we're trying to incorporate learning these things into his IEP). Anyway, I would recommend it. It was interesting to do the assessments at the front of the book and find out that everyone in the house has defecits in organization and task initiation. No wonder we need Flylady! lol
15th-Jan-2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
I second the recommendation. I checked it out of the library and plan to purchase it, because its advice proves to be ongoing for my family.
16th-Jan-2011 02:42 am (UTC)
It honestly sounds like you are doing a great job! FlyLady talks about overcoming our perfectionism, and I find that feeling like I'm "not doing it right" because I'm not doing it exactly like she tells me is personally my worst form of perfectionism.

I'm like you on the timer thing. If I'm interrupted in a task, I likely won't come back to it. Because of this, leaving it half done often makes the room look like an even bigger mess. One example of how I overcome this in decluttering is to tell myself that I will go through one box and call it done for the day. It takes me a bit longer to get through stuff, but I don't get overwhelmed and progress is progress.

Keep up the great work!
16th-Jan-2011 09:17 am (UTC)
I think FlyLady would say you're doing it right to tweak the system to suit you. It's not a rigid set of rules, it's helpful guidance.
16th-Jan-2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
I've changed chunks, my house is divided into zones based on layout and I clean 1 zone a day...Ie Monday is the east zone and is my bedroom, master bath and study. Wednesday is the western zone, dining room, kitchen, breakfast room and laundry/entry room. Friday is the central zone, the stairs, front hall, half bath and living room. Saturday is upstairs and I make my kids do it.

I use Toodledo and the google home page+google calendar for my CJ. and can access what I'm doing wherever I am via my iPhone. I won't loose that much in a 'puter crash because the CJ stuff is cloud based.
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