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How do I get started?

Posted by lindy_444_2009 (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 2, 10 at 10:41

My house is a mess. I have always been a disorganized person. But I am tired of looking at the clutter in my house and not being able to find things. I want to start setting a better example for my young children and make our home more pleasant.

My house is not dirty; I do keep things clean, I dust & vacuum, mop, wipe counters, clean bathrooms, keep up with laundry, etc. So the *cleaning* is not my problem, my problem really is the organizing & storage of stuff.

I was looking around the house this morning for inspiration, looking for that one place I could see that was well-organized and I could feel good about ... but there wasn't one! Not one room in the house is uncluttered!

So ... if the whole house is a disorganized mess ... how would you suggest I get started? With a certain room or closet? A small task I can complete and feel good about that will keep me motivated?

Thanks for your help ...

Lindy


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How do I get started?

I always work better if I can see the results of my efforts quickly. Why not choose one thing that is really bothering you and fix that. For instance, if your junk drawer in the kitchen is just screaming at you, work on organizing that ONE drawer. Once it's in order, you will have something accomplished and it will spur you to do more.

One thing I found really helpful was to read Fly Lady. If you've never heard of her, google and you'll see that she is a major motivator. A word of warning, she will bury you in email, which made me feel even more behind, but her message is sound. She advocates doing baby steps and gives you guidance on exactly how to do those steps.

Her big things are that you must be up and fully dressed by a certain time every day, that you must always clean your kitchen before you go to bed and that you should use a timer when you are cleaning things out. Her 27 fling boogies have gotten me through TONS of clutter over the years.

Remember this, though, you are raising three little ones. Your house is NOT going to look like something from House Beutiful on a daily basis. Children play with toys, eat, and create messes. It's their job. Relax and enjoy the kids being little. You'll have plenty of years where everything stays exactly where you put it and you'll miss the day to day fun of watching your kids grow up if you constantly worry about the house being a little messy. :)

Give yourself kudos for keeping up with the basics and enjoy the kids now. :)


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RE: How do I get started?

Sigh ... I could of written this exact same post, wondering the exact same thing. My problem is not cleaning the house, it is getting organized after a move into our new home 2 years ago. To some that might seem like a long time to sort and put everything away, but with 2 kids and a basement that is not yet finished things just haven't gotten done. It is so frustrating!

I like things, all sorts of things and have a lot of everything, but after reading alot of threads on this site I am realizing that I have just accumulated to much stuff for myself, the house, the kids, the garden and so on. Instead of having 1 pair of good scissors I continue to buy 5 or 6 junkie ones. I don't replace one, but keep them all. Instead of my kids having one of something I think they need 10. They have enough clothes to wear for a full month without worrying what they'll wear. I bought a set of pots but kept the old ones too! I could go on and on but you get the point. ERRRRRR.....

For the last 3 hours I have procrastinated about going to the basement. The hole, the dungeon, the thorn in my side. There is one bedroom that is ready to be primed and painted down there, but needs to be emptied first. As soon as the painting is done I can stage the bedroom with the stuff in some of the boxes designated for that room. From there I will do another room and take baby steps doing the rest.

When my daughter is at school again, starting monday, I am going to go through her closet and take out all the games and puzzles she hasn't touched. I bought a tall tower today to house all her craft things. Little by little I hope to see an improvement. She sees me getting frustrated when I can't find something and has shown the same when she can't find something in her room. It is so easy to pass on this undesirable habit, but one that I have now recognized and want to stop.

I have hope that this is the year that it will get done and I can enjoy life again with my family. it really is a disruption in my life.

Good luck, take baby steps and do read Fly Lady. She has a great book that I have read several times, but fell off the wagon more than I wish to admit.


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RE: How do I get started?

"the whole house is a disorganized mess"

Overwhelming, isn't it, when you think of the whole house. Break it up into manageable smaller bits, and it will come together. Start with something small, like one kitchen drawer, one cupboard, one dresser drawer, etc. Set up three boxes/bags/bins for trash, donate, keep. Bring your large garbage can into the room you are working in and save lots of steps.

If you feel like doing more than the daily goal, feel free to press on, but be sure to have a reward in mind to be enjoyed after you have completed your task.

Barbara


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RE: How do I get started?

Great advise above, but may I also suggest a book? Though I always had neat orderly closets and drawers the rest of my room as a teen and later my first apartment then married and our home was always a disaster. I saw these two funny sisters on the Home Show, that I think was the start of HGTV, on ABC. They were characters, but boy did they know their stuff when it came to getting organized. Our children were still young so they soon became involved by having their own file cards (I color coded ours... Alex-green, Katie-pink, me-peach) from the system in the book linked to below. You might even find it in your library, but it's well worth buying a copy. I need to get mine out and read again just as a refresher.

Here is a link that might be useful: Get Your Act Together


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RE: How do I get started?

I read the above mentioned book over 10 years ago, and it is inspirational! I, too, could benefit from re-reading it!

Remember, raising a family and running a household is always a "work in progress".

Strive for progress, not perfection.


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RE: How do I get started?

Thank you all!

After I posted this morning, I folded a couple of loads of laundry ... then I watched some TV with my husband, played some games with the kids, baked some more cookies! LOL. Before I had read your posts, I guess I had the realization that I should spend my Saturday enjoying my family and the house could wait.

I'll make a plan tomorrow and start to work on the organizing Monday when they're back at work & school.

I'll be looking for that book and will appreciate any more suggestions on getting started, too.

Lindy


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RE: How do I get started?

Enjoying your children is always a good thing to do too....

Here is a link that might be useful: One of my favorite poems.


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RE: How do I get started?

This may sound a bit random, but what about starting with either the bathroom or the kitchen?

I think it's easiest to start with rooms that have a very specific purpose or a few specific purposes and then nip away at what's not working.

Also, I think you'll get your biggest "utility" and pleasure from a really well put together kitchen or bath.


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RE: How do I get started?

What happened to Talley Sue? I haven't seen any posts from her lately? I believe she has always been big on infrastructure.

I know having a system and a place for things has helped cut down on clutter at my house. I made one of my biggest changes during a move about three years ago. I made some yes/no decisions about what actually belonged in my new house. I had several loads of things that were either donated or thrown away. I was fortunate to have a friend willing to give me an honest opinion. She helped me part with things I would have kept. When I got to my new house, I had a fresh start and less clutter. I could have people show up at the door and not be embarrassed by what they were going to find in the main living areas.

Like someone else said, it's an ongoing process. I started going room by room and closet by closet to make a change. For instance, my shelves were always a jumble where you open the door and things start falling out. Finally, I pulled out the tape measure and measured the shelves. Then I headed down to Target and measured until I found plastic bins to fit those shelves. I used this opportunity to throw out old medicines, spices, etc. Then I grouped like items in the various bins. If we needed bar soap, it was in that bin. Fever reducers were in another. When the kids get in the mood to bake, I had all the sprinkles together too. This worked great until we sold our house and got piled into this apartment last fall. Fortunately, we'll be moving into our new house this month.

Like you, I have kids. Mine are 6, 7, and 9. One of our best decisions was to have a designated playroom for them. They didn't have to pick up that complex set of GeoTrax or dismantle the puzzle they were working on, but the rule is the toys stay in that room. As a mom, I get tired of my kids getting excessive amounts of toys every time they turn around. I've explained that we are overwhelmed and the kids don't know how to pick up after themselves. I've asked my family and dh's family to limit the amount of useless junk they give the kids. When the kids get something that I'd rather not have, they don't play with, or it becomes clutter, I put it away for a while. If the kids don't miss it, it goes bye bye. My kids have more toys than dh or I ever had. They aren't deprived. I think sometimes people give 'things' because they don't know what else to do. It really isn't healthy for the kids.

Another thing I've done is to pick my least favorite chores and have attempted to make them easier. For instance, my worst chore is washing dishes. I finally decided that if a dish doesn't fit in the dishwasher, I don't need it. I have a couple of exceptions like the frying pan and the pizza tray. It has made my life easier since I wake up to a clean kitchen because i didn't procrastinate.


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RE: How do I get started?

adella, I like your attitude about dishes. I'm getting ready to move into a new home and may just incorporate your suggestion into the move. If something won't fit (or can't be washed) in the dishwasher, it needs to go away.


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RE: How do I get started?

Two ways to get started. 1. Pick one room, the smallest and easiest, probably your main bathroom. Pick up the towels and laundry, clean the toilet, scrub out the tub and sink, wipe the counter, wash the floor and you're done! 2. Grab a big plastic bag and go through your house. Empty all waste baskets and any other obvious garbage-those orange peels from your afternoon snack, wasted paper from the computer,etc. Your house will look much better with all the trash gone!


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RE: How do I get started?

It is always best to start in one area that isn't that big. If you have a pile of clothes on the chair start there. Do something with them. If they need to be mended and they have been sitting there think about if you are really going to do it. If not let them go.

Instead of ripping a closet apart just do one section at a time. It will usually take less time that you really think. If you have a hard time letting go of things perhaps a friend can help you.

You will be amazed even if you only do 30 minutes a day but the trick is to maintain that space and then move to the next.


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RE: How do I get started?

A few years ago and in another house, I did a major reorganizing. I made a huge list in Word and called it Quadrants. I figured that each small task could be broken up into 4 smaller tasks. I like lists and loved being able to get more things done quicker. For instance, each kitchen drawer would be its own task or even more than 1 task instead of writing "Clean out all kitchen drawers".

Since I moved 2 years ago into an old rental house with much less storage space, I basically unpacked but didn't organize...until the past couple of weeks.

I finally went through all the papers in the house, either filing them or throwing them out. I cleaned out my office and my closet. For the first time in a long time, I threw out clothes that I won't wear out because of stains, etc.

I went through the 2 bathroom drawers and cabinets and got rid of a lot of stuff there as well. I knew that if I hadn't used it in 2 years, I didn't need it anymore.

I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets and drawers and again, threw out things "I hadn't used although I planned to one day".

I still have the hall closet to do and some living room drawers to go through as well as my night table and dresser in my bedroom. Then there's the linen closet. I figure this is the first go-round and I'll try to weed out more stuff in the future.

The one thing I've learned is that the best time to do this is when you're in the mode to just get it done. When you start thinking "Maybe I still need it", it's time to stop for the day.


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RE: How do I get started?

There are so many ways to get started.

FlyLady can be very helpful. The most useful pieces of advice I got from her was "you can do anything in 15 minutes". In other words, grab a box or a bag, pick an area that bothers you the most, set a timer and start picking out things to get rid of.

There is a website called Zen Habits which I find very inspirational. There are suggestions and links to some of the better websites on the subject.

Happy decluttering.

Here is a link that might be useful: Zen Habits


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RE: How do I get started?

trilobite, jannie, dd50, thanks for your specifics. that was kind of what I was looking for, someone to say "Start with THIS." Thanks for the link to Zen Habits, janetpetiole; I'll study that site too. And I like the 15-minute advice and Fly Lady reminders several of you gave.
adella, marie26, thanks for sharing your personal experiences too.

justgotabme, I have the complete 3 verses of that poem taped to my refrigerator, and have had it there for 6 1/2 years ... I put it up when my eldest was a baby and I really did rock her to sleep ... thanks for reminding me to READ it!

--Lindy


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RE: How do I get started?

The biggest thing other than staying on top of things is, I think, is owning no more than you have space for.


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RE: How do I get started?

Hi Lindy!
Like some others, I really recommend Flylady. Remember, that's Flylady.net , not .com.
She says - start with the KITCHEN SINK. Her book is called Sink Reflections. I like her, too, because she has a radio internet show that is fun to listen to. She is very kind and inspirational. She doesn't make you feel like a loser for not being unorganized. I'm still not as organized as I'd like to be, but if it weren't for her, I think I would be much less organized as I am.
Best of luck to you!


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RE: How do I get started?

Marie26, can you post an example of your Quadrants list???

I'm in process of doing a major wall to wall, foundation to attic decluttering that is about 10 years overdue.

Lindy, you might want to concentrate ONLY on throwing away/donating stuff first and organizing later. This is something you can start and stop as your time and children permit. Just have a trash bag & donation bag with you and start on the right side of any room and work clockwise around the room till you are down. Go from ceiling to floor. Just pick through whatever is in the drawer, closet, on the shelf, under the bed, on the surface, etc and get rid of as much as possible. When you have to stop, just tuck your bags out of sight and mark where to begin again when you have time. You can do this in tiny amounts of time.

Aim for a 50% reduction in stuff even if you don't make it, keep it as a goal. If, for example, you find a lot of rubber bands in one spot, throw out all the ones you find in other spots. Don't try moving the keepers to their proper place, just leave them where they are. The idea is that you can't organize stuff until you really know what you have & how much you have. You also can't organize or put away stuff if all of your drawers, shelves & cabinets are full. First, you need to "recreate" empty space!

Little by little the clutter will disappear! You will at least know where everything is and you will come up with good ideas about how to organize your keepers.

Good luck to both of us!


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RE: How do I get started?

Everyone has given such great suggestions! I, too, have trouble with clutter and two LOs to look after. I've found that if I can get a closet organized it frees up additional storage space, then I can put away things that didn't have a home before.

I get motivated by reading books on organization/decoration etc, so I appreciate the book suggestion "Get Your Act Together". Our library had it so I put it on reserve. I love the library, definitely reduces book clutter! Now, if I could just find a home for the library books :-)


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RE: How do I get started?

I have a craft room full of supplies but I cant get in it


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RE: How do I get started?

Rena girl, that sounds familiar.

Lov2Garden, I'm with you to an extent except that with some things, I can't decide what to get rid of until I know what I have. So I begin by assembling every - rubber band, shall we say - in one place until I have corralled them all, and then I can see which ones I can dispense with.

My best gift to myself over Christmas was some plastic organizer boxes from Rona (Black and Decker) - Home Depot carries similar ones from another company. I think they're meant for organizing screws and such, they're in the tool box section. I finally organized the miscellaneous screws, safety pins, and so on; I even have a bin for odd plastic bits and odd metal bits that I never quite know what to do with, finally throw away, and then suddenly need.

This taps into some thoughts I've been having about clutter vs. organization, and maybe there's a message here for the OP, Lyndy. Being cluttered does not preclude being organized, and being organized does not require having much less stuff. I don't like it that I'm told to throw away my stuff, some of which is good and important to me for some reason, as a precursor to being organized. It is possible to just organize what you have, and throwing away a bunch of stuff does not automatically organize you. In fact, it can leave you even more scattered.

What I have discovered is that I have to invest some time, and money when I can, and space, in the task of being organized. So I bought my sorting bins. I designated a place for them, at least temporarily. And I spent a day sorting into them. Now, when I find an odd screw or something, it does not escalate clutter in some random spot and doesn't call for some soothsaying or heartseeking as to whether I'll ever need it or not or whether it's important to me - I just put it in its place. But first I have to designate spots. That takes us back to how to decide what to put in a drawer, or in any place for that matter. Designate a space, and sort into it. I've identified the things I never quite know what to do with, and am designating spots for them - one of the latest is a jar for the polished rocks my kids have collected for years, and another is a box for the little superballs that seem to proliferate but rarely get played with (but are a lot of fun when they do). I don't need to torment myself with existential questions about whether I should be keeping these things or not - they are things I have, and I have them in order.

One of my best spots is, mind you, the one for stuff I'm taking for donation. But my basic message is that some effort has to go into organizing stuff you're keeping too and that there's nothing wrong with that!

KarinL


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RE: How do I get started?

Hey, KarinL, I too have the organizer bins. Got mine at Lowe's, they had more configuration selections. I used mine to organize my four kitchen junk drawers. I have had them for 2 years now, and consider them one of my best orgainizer purchases.

I pondered where to put them so that they were close enough to make it convenient to use, but not out in plain sight. The garage was winning, with them to be hung on the wall just next to the door into the kitchen. Then I thought about the stairway wall to the basement, and that is where they are. It is the perfect place for me, close enough to just open that door from the kitchen, and there they are. It has also made it so much easier to not have a kitchen junk drawer, and devote that space to something else.

I have all the usual nuts, bolts, screws, nails, rubber bands, matches, lighters, keys, tape, glue, labels,picture hanging stuff, parts, bits, pieces, etc. I labeled each drawer, so it is very convenient.

Barbara


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RE: How do I get started?

honestly i would start in bites..small bites..thinking about the use of each place.

say in your kitchen..try to figure out use zones..such as by your range a "cooking zone" where you organize your pots and pans, spices, utensils, etc..

a snack zone where you put snack items, etc.

a storage zone, for plastics, bags, etc..near where you put your food away after a meal.

a coffee area if you drink it with all the fixins and the pot..

a microwave area with things you use in the microwave..

in your bedroom organize things in easiest to get most often used areas..like underwear in easy to access drawers, and bathing suits, towels, etc in more difficult to access drawers (unless you live on the beach).

zone your work areas too, car tools, woodworking tools, repair house tools, camping gear, sports gear, etc.

zones work really well for me, even in crafts i have crochet zone, sewing zone, paint zone..etc.


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RE: How do I get started?

Lindy, my Mom noticed that poem at a Target store more than twenty years ago. It was an embroidery kit. We both fell in love with it right away. I've never forgotten it. I didn't buy the kit, but the poem has forever been in my head.


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RE: How do I get started?

bspofford, please post a link to the organizer bins. Thank you.


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RE: How do I get started?

I agree start with the bathroom. Get a basket and throw everything into it that does not belong in there. Clean it, then step back and see how good it feels!
then put the stuff away in the basket. Each time you go into a room take that basket, clean it and then put away. Takes a while but soo worth it. Good luck!


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RE: How do I get started?

Here are my organizer bins. The the yellow one is by Stanley tools (got this at HD), the orange one by Black and Decker (got this at Rona). The bins are removable, as shown. Both are sold in the toolbox section.

KarinL

Photobucket

Photobucket


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RE: How do I get started?

I say, let's go for some fast success.

And I will also say that having less stuff is crucial for *almost* everybody. Decluttering isn't everything. But it's silly to spend a lot of energy organizing things that you then never use. (best thing I ever did was to weed out my screws--but that doesn't mean they *all* went. However, since there are fewer of them, it's easier TO organize them.)

Here are some suggestions:

IDEA ONE:
The bathroom is often easy to tackle. It's one room; most of the stuff in there is expired or frayed, and throwing things out can be really easy. No guilt.

It's also a highly specialized room--so "positive organizing" is easier. If you decide you need or want infrastructure (bins, cabinets, hooks, ease of access), it's far less expensive to get it.

And then you have one room--that you go into often--that looks good and makes you feel good.

IDEA TWO:
Almost everyone who has organization problems really has mostly clutter problems. (Me, me, me!) So, let's tackle throwing things out. (by "throwing out," I *MEAN* recycling, donating, composting, whatever. Out of your house is what I mean.)
Pick the low-hanging fruit. In every closet, cabinet, etc., are things that you know you are willing to part with, you just haven't bothered to do so bcs other stuff seemed more important (or more fun).
The other stumbling block is often that taking unneeded utensils out of the kitchen leaves them messy in other places until you can take them to the GoodWill. So, arrange the trip to the GoodWill FIRST--put it on your calendar, get a box to accumulate it in, and set that box somewhere unobtrusive. (Get a BIG box, so that stuff can't easily overflow, bcs that will make you feel messier and delay the reward.)
The just go through every surface, every cabinet, every storage space, every closet, every shelf, every everything, and say, "what can I get rid of?" Throw it in the garbage, toss it in the box. That's a huge start, and it's fast, successful, and low-stress.
If you are dithering, put it back; THIS round is only for the stuff that's easy. The hard stuff, you can get to later. That's more efficient, isn't it? Dont you go through and pull all the towels out and fold them first, so you can *see* the rest of the laundry to fold? (I do--it makes things v. easy)

IDEA TWO
What part of your life creates the most chaos? Fix that, and only that, and maintain it for a week, then branch out. (this can take you into "positive organizing" instead of "negative organizing" or decluttering.)
Do you always look for your keys? Figure out what will help you keep them in one spot (I like a hook by the door, since I use my keys to do the equivalent of going out to the shed, down to the laundry room, up to the attic, or out to the garage. So, I can't keep them in my purse or coat pocket, bcs I need them in the house. If I hang them by the door on the way in, they're there on the way out, and I know this works.)
Is making lunches the thing that makes you trip over all the junk? Set that up, and move everything else out of the way.

IDEA FOUR: inoculate
Pick one surface, clear it off, so that it has what you WANT on it (and ONLY that), and promise yourself that you will NOT mess it up. You will get BACK out of bed in your PJs if you realize that you've left the tiniest bit of it out of order.

IDEA FIVE: haunting, or "get a buddy"
Back when I started on this site, another member and I were talking about our dining-room tables, and how they had so much stuff on them. The next day she posted, "you are haunting me!" She had started to go to bed, remembered our online convo, and went BACK to clear it off, bcs she didn't want to come to the site with it undone. And I revealed that I'd had the same reaction.
Sometimes we will do for others' sakes the things we won't do for our own sake. Well, instead of fighting that, USE it.
Get someone here to be your buddy, and promise that you'll check in each day for 3 weeks and report what you've done.

IDEA SIX: pick a crutch ("do a dozen" or "toss ten" or "15 minutes and ticking")
When you feel overwhelmed a crutch like this can help you get something going.
Pick one, and use it consistently. I like "do a dozen"--I started it w/ piles of laundry. "Just fold 12 things--socks don't count," I said. So I would. Sometimes I'd finish; sometimes I'd round up to 18, sometimes I'd stop at 12, but SOMETHING got done.
I do "do a dozen" w/ my son, when he needs to clean his room and feels overwhelmed. I rapidly scoop of 12 toys into a basket and say, "do a dozen in 5 minutes; then we'll try again." He can do it in 2 minutes. And it cuts the job down to size.

I like "toss ten" too--sometimes, I define "a single item" as "all the unnecessary papers in this stack"; other days, a single paperclip counts as one thing. It depends how much energy I have, and how much time. But SOMETHING happens.

"15 minutes and ticking" is a speed tool--especially good when your "clutter' is *really* UNDONE CHORES. Get a ticking timer, set it for 15 minutes, and RUSH through some chore you need to do. You have to finish before the bomb--er, bell--goes off.

LAST OVERWHELMING THOUGHTS
--*some* progress is better than no progress.
--focus on the small achievements. They are REAL. And big buildings are built from small bricks.

Good luck!


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some other concepts

Adellebedella says I've always been big on infrastructure--and that's true.

But THIS is "infrastructure" taken to an amazing and inspiring level:

"For instance, my worst chore is washing dishes. I finally decided that if a dish doesn't fit in the dishwasher, I don't need it. I have a couple of exceptions like the frying pan and the pizza tray. It has made my life easier since I wake up to a clean kitchen because i didn't procrastinate."

This is a phenomenal concept.

(I'm in the process of ditching my Calphalon, bcs it can't go in the dishwasher.)

And as Karin1 points out, you have to designate a spot.

It is not an accident that the FIRST part of the clich is, "a PLACE for everything."


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RE: How do I get started?

First, I am so with you on the clutter issue. That's why I stumbled upon this forum! I am also a former FlyLady follower, having fallen off the wagon and desiring to get back on. But it does take work.

I agree with everyone's suggestions to start with something you can see an immediate result from. For me, this is always my kitchen. If I have all the dishes out of the sink and everything off the counters and table, I feel like a new person. All of a sudden I feel like the whole house is clean. I would start there. If this seems like too big of a task, break it down into: clear off the counters, clear off the island, clear off the table, etc. As you are moving things, start thinking about the logical place for that stuff to be stored. If you are anything like me when I first started, you won't have any room in that "logical" place because it's filled with other stuff. That's OK. That's something for another time.

Next, you can do anything for 15 minutes, as FlyLady says. If you feel overwhelmed, put on some upbeat music and "just do it" for 15 minutes. Odds are that if you haven't finished in 15 minutes, you will be motivated to work a little longer just to get it done. But as others have said, you will be surprised how much you can get done in a small amount of time.

My kids are young, too (3 and 6). You are absolutely right to spend your time with your family when you can. Never feel like it is more important to clean the house instead. But I tell you, once I got my FlyLady system settled in and had an orderly house, it was a relief not to have a pile of chores waiting for me everyday and a bunch of junk staring me in the face. I no longer had the fear that someone would "drop by" and see my messy house. It was freeing to me. I am working to get back there, and it is taking less time this time, but the doorbell still strikes fear into me!


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