I want to take some time and space on this blog to introduce you to my mentors. These are the teachers I’ve found along the way whose programs have helped me get my rear in gear. I would not be able to enjoy life like I do without applying the principles I’ve learned from them. The first is Marla Cilly, at http://www.flylady.net.
I found Flylady in late 2004, referenced in a magazine article. At the time, I was on the home stretch of my bachelor’s degree, while working full time outside of the home with two littles, 1 and 5 years old. Oh, and I was a single mom. Of course, at that point I didn’t know what she was about other than “getting organized” so my reflex at the time was to bookmark the webpage until the next April when school was over. Of course, if I knew then what I know now, I would have waded into her baby steps immediately.
The entire Flylady system is based on baby steps (which contrasts sharply with the Konmari method, which I’ll explain in a later post). The strongest message is “progress, not perfection.” As a matter of fact, the “P word” is a dirty word on the Flylady system. Trust me, you don’t realized what a disease perfectionism is until you’re consciously trying to fight it. The first baby step is to shine your sink before you go to bed. That’s it. Scrub that sink down and shine it. Bam! You’re officially a flybaby. Then you s.l.o.w.l.y add more baby steps until you have a morning and evening routine in place.
One of the baby steps is to declutter 15 minutes a day. Most flybabies hear this, look around their homes and think, “What good is 15 minutes of decluttering going to do in this place?!” If that’s your reaction, trust me, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! But also trust me, IT WORKS! Set a timer for 15 minutes, pick a room, start on the right side of the door with a garbage bag and donation box, look at each item and decide, keep, donate or toss. When the timer goes off, take out the trash bag, put the donation box in your car and you’re done for the day. The timer has two jobs: keep you focused while it’s running and give you permission to stop when it goes off. Will the room be perfect? NO! And that’s OK. Progress, not perfection. Make this room your focus for the week, 15 minutes each day. By the end of the week, you’ll see a difference.
Flybabies also practice a monthly habit each month as well. October’s habit is dealing with paper clutter so throughout the month, there have been tips for tackling the monster paper piles, lists of what papers you have to actually keep, that sort of thing. The habit for November will be menu planning. I’m hoping to incorporate her ideas as well of some recipes into this blog next month. Of course, this leads up to the biggest menu most of us in the United States prepare all year, Thanksgiving dinner. The idea is that in focusing on this habit for a month, it’ll seamlessly be ingrained in our routines. I can’t say I’m there yet with menu planning but maybe this is the year where an idea will final click.
There are other pieces to the system that you can find at Flylady.net. It’s starts with a 30 day baby step introduction which explains otherwise foreign concepts like a “control journal” and “swish and swipe.” I’ll let the master herself teach you those things. But if you’re looking for a simple, friendly system that WORKS I recommend subscribing to her emails.
Here’s where a lot of people get overwhelmed: there are a lot of emails. It’s actually gotten more digestible over the years, down to 5 a day (back in my day, I had to set up a separate email account just for Flylady emails!) Even if you don’t follow the assignments, because maybe you’re not that far into the baby steps, just read the emails. Flylady calls what magically happens “flywashing.” As you read them, you start to embrace the Flylady philosophies: baby steps, progress, not perfection, no whining, make it fun to get it done, do it now. You’ll notice yourself giving less excuses and taking the little steps to getting things done.
The end game of flying is that you develop simple routines that become second nature; you do them without thinking about them. The result is that your house essentially cleans itself. As someone who has done this for almost 13 years, I can attest to it.
Sometimes life happens and your routines just kind of fall away. We’re all human. But I’ve noticed that when I jump back in with the baby steps, it gets easier every time. Most likely because the space between my ears is already decluttered. And yes, after 13 years there are still weeks where I need to declutter a zone. Clutter is layered like as onion; something I loved or needed five years ago I’ll decide is clutter today. Again, that’s life. Life is a process.
Here’s where I should mention that FLYing stands for “finally loving yourself.” If you’re looking for a loving, patient way to get your home in order, without beating yourself up, this is the plan for you.
I will pull elements from the Flylady program into my blog because it’s such a part of my life, it’s impossible not to. I hope this introduction helps you understand why.