Cleaning my house the FlyLady way

I have a confession to make. I subscribe to the FlyLady mailing list. Here’s how it happened…

Two months ago I started reading about Getting Things Done. I hadn’t intentionally gone in search of methods of increasing my productivity – I just came across it while reading some Mac blogs. At the time I was completely disorganised. The house was a mess, the washing was lying unsorted in various laundry baskets, my “things to read for work” pile was huge and the desk was so covered in who-knows-what that I could barely find the mouse. The task of sorting it all out was so overwhelming that I continually put it off and spent most of my time on the computer instead of being productive. The whole concept of GTD and being able to get myself organised really excited me. So I started looking for more productivity hacks – I discovered 43 Folders, which indirectly led me to the FlyLady website.

Nine years ago Marla Cilley was as disorganised as I was. She decided to do something about it and devised a scheme to get her house sorted out. She gradually developed cleaning and tidying routines and over a period of nine months her house was transformed. She set up a website with how she did it and all the routines she uses. The basic idea is that you gradually build up simple routines that then become habits.

I’ll explain how it works. There is a 31 day plan that gradually builds up the daily habits. The first habit to develop is keeping your kitchen sink clean. The theory is that if your sink is always clean and shiny you’ll be more inspired to start keeping the rest of the kitchen clean. You gradually build up a before bed routine of cleaning the sink, planning your clothes for the following day (to avoid panic the next morning when you find you’ve nothing ironed!) and clearing your hotspots. Hotspots are a brilliant idea – they are areas that are prone to getting cluttered. The areas where things get dumped. If your hotspots are cleared each day the clutter doesn’t build up. My hotspots are an area of the kitchen worktop, the dining room table, the coffee table in the sitting room and the bookcase in the hall.

Once the evening habits are becoming ingrained you start a morning routine of unloading the dishwasher and wiping down the bathroom sinks and toilets. At the same time as developing these habits you spend 15 minutes each day decluttering a room. Then once the decluttering is done (which will probably take weeks) you can begin the weekly cleaning routines. Each week you concentrate on a different room (or more than one room, depending on the size of your house) and have a list of jobs which need done within the week. This is on a rolling five week rota so these cleaning jobs get done monthly. You are encouraged to write down the routines and cleaning lists in a journal to keep track of it all. This week I have to do our bedroom and ensuite bathroom. Yesterday I cleaned the windows and hoovered under the bed. I used to go months sometimes without doing that. Now I’m doing it every 5 weeks.

So you get the gist. Daily quick routines/habits and a monthly rota for the bigger jobs. The initial 31 day plan, all the cleaning routines and weekly plans are detailed on the FlyLady website. And you don’t have to pay for any of it which is a bonus.

If you’re needing a bit of encouragement you can sign up to the FlyLady Yahoo mailing list. You are then sent emails with reminders of what jobs you are meant to be doing throughout the day. Reminders such as “have you got the laundry out the washing machine yet?” and “have you cleared your hotspots?”. I actually find these quite useful. There are also testamonial emails describing how the FlyLady has changed people’s lives. These are a bit cheesy for me and I almost always delete them without reading them. (Actually the whole website is really cheesy but I ignore that to get to the useful stuff.) There can be over 10 emails sent a day. I can see for some this would be way too intrusive but you can just follow the plans from the website without subscribing to the emails if you want.

So how have I implemented it? I started on 22nd November 2007. All I did on that first day was “shine my sink”. I then followed the 31 day plan pretty rigidly. (I’m an absolute sucker for plans and rules!) I found by the end, keeping the sink clean and clearing the hotspots was pretty ingrained. I’m still gradually decluttering the house (usually only 15 minutes per day) but it is going to take a long time. I have now drawn up my cleaning lists (in a Pages document rather than a journal). My weekly plan is quite different to the sample list on the website – I’ve tailored it to fit around the days I’m at work. I’ve followed the website more closely for my detailed cleaning plans. It doesn’t take up too much of my time. Little and often is the key.

My house has been utterly transformed. The bathroom sinks are no longer covered in toothpaste, I’m on top of the ironing, the kitchen looks nice and I can actually see my bedroom carpet. It’s even beginning to wear off on my children. My 6 year old little boy’s room has been spotless for a month. (I can’t say the same about his sisters’ yet, unfortunately!) Although the style of the website may be rather offputting for some, for me it has been life changing.


17 Responses to “Cleaning my house the FlyLady way”

  1. Brian Condon Says:

    I read this after reading your review of Inbox by Midnight Beep.

    My partner told me that shge thought Inbox was “Fly Lady for Business”. Seems she was right!

    She shines her sink (catching is n’t it?).

    Nice article.

  2. Rachel Murphy Says:

    Thanks for yor comments Brian. There are a lot of similarities between GTD and FlyLady. FlyLady keeps my house tidy and GTD keeps my mind tidy!

  3. Rosemary Lynch Says:

    I signed up for a while but couldn’t cope with the amount of email mounting in my inbox (two minute tidy alert etc.).

    There were some good points that I have retained but I found it all a bit over-the-top!

  4. Rachel Murphy Says:

    @Rosemary: I must confess I only kept up with the email subscription for 3 or 4 months. By then I was getting pretty fed up with the volume of email and I had the system running smoothly enough that I felt I could go it alone.

  5. SmileGirl Says:

    Are you still flying with flylady system??

    • Rachel Murphy Says:

      In the end I found FlyLady too much. I just didn’t have the time to do all of it – I was doing nothing but cleaning with no time to myself! Over time I modified and simplified it a bit to suit me better. I have to accept my house can’t be quite as tidy as it was but at least I now have time to play on the internet and read books.

  6. Claire Says:

    I’ve been using flyLady for a while now – and think she’s wonderful!

    Just a note – FlyLady emails are managed by the BigTent system – just go in and change your preference to ‘Daily Digest’. I find one longer email a day easier to manage that many small ones.

    • Michele Says:

      Wow! I have been flying for over a year and did not know anything about how I could stop all or the emails but still keep in contact with the system. Thank you SO much for posting this!

  7. Anne Lyle Says:

    Hi Rachel! I found your blog whilst Googling for an app for my iPhone to help me implement the FlyLady system. I tried a couple of years ago, using a paper journal (Filofax) but found it too easy to ignore! Your description of how you got on has really helped to motivate me to try again.

    I discovered GTD last year and have found it very effective in managing my day-job, especially with the help of OmniFocus on my Mac and iPhone, so I’m hoping that with a little help from my electronic buddies I can conquer the housework as well. I’m going to use HomeRoutines, which is an attractive little app that implements a FlyLady-style Control Journal very clearly and simply – and the 2-Min Timer on my iPhone is likely to get a lot more use too!

  8. Sally Says:

    I found your blog by googling “FlyLady simplified.” I too am loathe to clutter my inbox so I can *un*clutter the rest of my life! Would you be willing to describe how you’ve simplified FlyLady’s plan for yourself? Thanks 🙂 Sally

  9. Gina Says:

    This is my simplified system:

    *Morning Routine:
    Get up & Make Bed
    Check the Calendar
    Brush and Floss Teeth
    Exercise – 20 min
    Shower/Clean Shower while showering using purple rag & foot
    Swish/Swipe x 2 bathrooms
    Empty Dishwasher
    Reboot the Laundry
    What’s for Dinner? (check calendar & defrost meat)
    Eat & Relax (Surf next)
    * Limit this Routine to 1.5 hours

    *Afternoon Routine
    15 minutes Kelley’s Mission or Current Zone Work
    5 minutes Declutter or clear Hotspots
    Laundry to Dryer—->Fold and Put Away (Leave empty basket in room to fill tomorrow with dirty laundry)
    *Limit this routine to 30 minutes

    *Before Bed Routine
    Start Dishwasher
    Shine the Sink
    Check Calendar
    Bed by 10pm (most important so the day can be started at a decent hour)
    Limit this Routine to 30min (start at 9:30pm)

    I do monthly shopping, meal planning and Calander. I do what I can in the time I’ve alloted above for the Current Zone. Refrigerator clean out done day before shopping.

    PS: I ALWAYS do my Weekly Home Blessing on Mondays!!! (WITH A TIMER or her PODCAST)- This is the KEY to keeping your house clean.

    Number Crunching: Get up at 8am Bed at 10pm gives you a total of 14hours for the day. The routines take 2 hours and 30min, except on Mondays when they take approx 3hrs. That leaves 11+ hours every other day of the week to do what YOU want to do. That’s A LOT of FREE time!!!

    • bountifullifellc Says:

      Except if you work 8 hours a day, then it’s not a lot of free time at all.

      • Rachel Murphy Says:

        Well said! I ended up giving up with much of the FlyLady stuff. It was just too time consuming (and I only work part time). I’ve now simplified my cleaning considerably. My house is messier but I have more time to do the things I want to be doing 🙂

      • sarah168 Says:

        Exactly! And not just the 8-hour workday, there’s also an unpaid lunch break, commuting to work, staying late if there’s a big project due, picking up the kids from school, helping with homework, etc… and if there’s also a husband who wants your time and attention, well that leaves ZERO free time to do anything you want. It just isn’t possible to do it all and keep a clean house; something’s gotta give. And who gets up at 8 AM? Anyone with kids and a job has to get up much earlier than that!

  10. Tomato Jones Says:

    I want to let you know about our new Flying Facebook group:

    It is a closed group so your activity within the group is not visible to your other friends.

    Share what you’re doing. This is a great place to post what you’re accomplishing during the day. You may even find a bit of encouragement as you go along. It’s like a to do list with a cheering section!

  11. Feather Says:

    Hi there!
    I see you are a FlyBaby, too !! Me too, Flying from Quebec, Canada.. 🙂
    don’t know me, and I feel a bit funny asking you a favor…But I
    thought maybe it could interest you as well…So here I am. I jump in!

    been working on building a brand new flybabies forum, for all of us. I
    know there is the official one, but there is so often problems with the
    blogtalk website, and a lot of people don’t feel comfortable with it.
    Plus, I find it is not very active…

    I’m dreaming of a big FlyBabies forum, where everything is possible and Flybabies from all over the world can come and talk.
    you think you can help me, by any means? Whatever you do is fine..You
    can come, visit and suscribe, maybe post the link on your blog if you
    like it? Share it with some other followers of the FlyLady’s method?

    just don’t forget, I’m creating this on my own as of now, it is still brand new, so there is no other members as of
    now…But I want to try make it work….really.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: