One of the most valuable tools I use to maintain my life and sanity is a Daily Routine. I learned about Daily Routines from FlyLady years ago. FlyLady is the nickname of Marla Cilley, a southern lady who struggled with her own housekeeping issues and then created a website to provide help to others after she got her act together. Two friends recommended her to me; we all had new babies and were trying to figure out how to do things like shower and find our keys. FlyLady was a godsend because, while I craved order, I could never keep it together for long.
At one point, before FlyLady, I hired a clutter coach out of desperation. She helped me put stuff in bins and made the closets look neat and tidy. And for a while it all seemed pretty organized. But I soon fell off the wagon and back into the old messes. What I finally learned from FlyLady is that you can’t organize clutter. And you have to deal with things right away. (“Procrastination is failure to make a decision.” Kinda harsh, but true.) So laundry is washed, folded, and put away all in one day. Mostly. Junk mail and envelopes are chucked into recycling the minute they enter the door. When I buy a new pair of shoes, I get rid of an old pair.
[In fairness to the clutter coach, she set me with up with a folder system that I use to this day. I have a basket on the counter that holds folders for each child, and others for bills and taxes and the like, so I can easily slip paperwork into each one.]
I also learned that I’m one of those people for whom “if it isn’t fun it won’t get done”. Which is why whenever possible we make cleaning and organizing into a game. So we set the timer for 5 minutes and have Room Rescues and race around and pick up as much as we can. Or I do a 27-Fling Boogie and go around the house looking for 27 things to throw away or give away. I also stay on top of Hot Spots, which are places where clutter tends to accumulate, before they start to spread everywhere.
Putting Your Routines Together
So back to Daily Routines. Daily Routines are the basic things you do every day to keep life running smoothly. Everyone’s routines are going to be different, but most include making beds, doing laundry, washing dishes, and sweeping the floor. Yours might include dropping your kids at school, feeding pets, exercising, checking e-mail, picking up/sorting mail, emptying the garbage, checking the next day’s calendar (that’s a huge one for me!), and taking food out of the freezer for dinner the next day.
To get started, I typed up a sheet in Word that included three sections: Morning Routine, Afternoon Routine, and Evening Routine. I filled in all the jobs we need to do every day in each category and then slipped the sheet in a plastic sleeve. For weeks, I checked off the box beside each item with a dry-erase marker. After a while the routines became automatic and I didn’t use the sheet again until our schedule changed significantly with the start of school.
Like I said before, everyone’s Daily Routines will be different, but you can go here to see what FlyLady’s look like. I really can’t say enough about FlyLady. She does what she does for free—I think she sees it as a personal mission to help free people from CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). And while I don’t follow her program to the letter, the strategies I have adopted have made life around here much more orderly and peaceful.