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Faking Martha » Featured, Housework, Organization » Why Flylady doesn’t work for me.. and what does.

Why Flylady doesn’t work for me.. and what does.

I love Flylady.. she really has helped me keep my house neater and tidier… but it still doesn’t look company-ready much of the time and I have no routines whatsoever.  Over the last few days I’ve been wondering why I can’t seem to get into the flylady jive.. why her system doesn’t seem to be a good fit for me, after around 7 good tries.

I think it comes down to this.  I don’t like somebody telling me what to do.  With Flylady, you get an email and then you do what is in the email.  You have set routines and you do what is in the routines at specific times of the day.  Seriously?  This is way too structured for me.  The problem isn’t that I can’t provide myself with structure.  As a list-lover Virgo type, I can out structure almost anybody.  No… my problem is actually that too much structure bores me so quickly that I turn my back on it like a rebellious teenager in a huff.

One thing I did learn from Flylady was to break tasks down and only tackle them for 15 minutes at a time.  To put on a timer and zoom around as quick as you can for 15 minutes.  I can do that, and I do.

The other issue for me is that much of Flylady is email based.  That means getting on the computer and the computer is kryptonite for me, especially if the house is messy and I’m looking for a something to procrastinate with.  If I get on the computer first thing in the morning, I may not be able to tear myself away until mid-day.. not good.

What I have found works for me better is to have a big list of 5 – 15 minute tasks that sit on my microwave.  During the day I pick the task I feel like doing (or maybe one that I didn’t do yesterday) and do that.. in pretty much a totally random order.  It makes me feel like I can do whatever I want whenever I want.   I don’t get bored with doing the same thing every day, although because I do, I don’t do it long enough for it to feel like a chore.  It’s more like a smorgasbord.

The tasks are actually listed in order of “impact”.  The things that come first make the most impact on the functionality of the house.  So if things get totally trashed and I don’t know where to start, or I’m feeling overwhelmed, I do start at the top and work my way down.  (Though most days I just flit about doing this and that and marking it off the list.)

The nice thing about my list is that unlike many other “to-do” lists, I don’t have to print it out each day, and I can easily see what I did yesterday.. so that anything that got missed can be done first the next day.  The list also handles weekly and monthly tasks too.  If I get bored with the daily tasks, I can pick something off the weekly or monthly list and tackle that instead.

Anyway, here is what my “smorgasbord list” looks like:

Smorgasbord cleaning list

As I complete each task, I tick it off in the relevant box.

The daily tasks I do every day (or try to, anyway) and sometime during the week I do the weekly tasks as listed in the bottom section, and the monthly tasks for the week, also listed in the bottom section, different ones for each week.

This is working really well for me.. it’s not specific enough to make me want to “buck the tyranny” of some woman telling me what to do over emails, it keeps track of what I’ve done, and it doesn’t lure me onto the computer.

I think it’s important to work out why systems don’t work for you, and to develop something that does work.  Most systems are not one-size-fits-all.. we all have our own baggage when it comes to our homes, and as women especially, a lot of our self concept and self-esteem can be tied up in the work we do here.  Often we have our own old “tapes” in our heads left over from the way our Mothers and Grandmothers used to do things to battle with, too.  I think it’s worth taking the time and space to do some introspection.. and don’t be too hard on yourself!  I used to think I *should* do something a certain way.. I should have lists, routines etc.  I should try Flylady harder or whatever.

I also used to think that my reaction to not wanting to establish routines was childish, and I really just needed to grow up and do things the “adult” way, rather than trying to buck the “system” like a defiant teenager.  In the end, I decided that I needed to work *with* myself rather than trying to work *on* myself by trying to be something I was never going to be.

And that made all the difference.

So what has worked for you?  I’d love to hear your ideas on staying on track with your housework!


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27 Responses to "Why Flylady doesn’t work for me.. and what does."

  1. Karla
    Twitter: frugalskills

    I was never able to make Flylady work for me either. What works for me is keeping a To-Do list next to my computer monitor in a place where I can’t easily ignore it. It’s difficult to slack off when I’m constantly reminded of all the stuff that needs to be done.
    Karla recently posted..Stop Procrastinating: 7 Tools that Limit Your Internet UseMy Profile

  2. admin says:

    hey Karla – great idea! I’ll have to rig something up so I can get my list up near my laptop. Keeping it “in view” could definitely help!

  3. Sara says:

    Hi there,
    Love, love that chart, b/c it breaks down weekly and monthly in one glance.

    Is there a way you might be able to send me the template?


  4. Shannon says:

    Huge enthusiast from this blog, a bundle of your blogposts have really helped me out. Looking forward to updates!

  5. Cassidy says:

    I would love the template for this.

  6. Lycadia says:

    This is amazing and completely clever! What an elegant solution, with so much of the information embedded in the layout itself to keep it sleek and easy to read at a glance. I’ve just bookmarked your site because I too am struggling with Flylady but really wanting to get more organized and motivated. Thank you so much for sharing this. And to second the earlier commenter, I too would be deeply grateful for either a template or a copy of the actual spreadsheet or whatever to edit!

  7. Kristi Robbins says:

    This looks like a much more doable idea, after failing Flylady 101 a few times now. Thanks! And thank you Karla, that’s a great idea about keeping the list by the computer!

  8. Nancy says:

    Flylady hasn’t worked for me either. As soon as I cleaned the sink, my adult son would bring all his dishes out of his bedroom and fill the sink up after I left the house. lol My chiropractor told me to stop setting my timer for 15min and rushing around cleaning because it kept throwing my spine out of alignment, especially when I did laundry too fast. I work 8-4 or 5pm, M-F, so I can’t get up, throw my clothes on and start cleaning. I have to take a morning shower and I can’t take my shower until I have my morning “constitution”. The amount of daily emails freaked me out-I felt so overwhelmed I could barely function at all. There are a couple of parts that worked for me-the increasing water drinking and the 15min. of exercise. Unfortunately I had to give up walking in my neighborhood because it started to get dangerous, so I exercise inside. I think Flylady’s system is great for stay-at-home moms and I wish I was one, so I could follow it.

  9. Leroy says:

    Hello im also a virgo and i too suffer from boredom and also internet overuse syndrome. Can i have an editable copy of your spreadsheet please ? I think its a good place to start. I have been shining my sink everyday and im on day seven so early days yet . Thanks for sharing

  10. Amanda says:

    I came to flylady before she became email-based – and I still love her book.

  11. Claudia says:

    Love the chart idea. Flylady concept is a good one if you can make it work for yourself.
    I have taken some of the ideas, (ie; swish 7 swipe, shine your sink…) tried to implement them
    but cannot seem to stick with it. I’ve thought of making a chart so I don’t have to think about it.
    Just look at the chart and choose something! But I have not been able to figure out a chart that
    would be space saving, conveinent and easy to use. Love yours. Would you be willinng to share
    your template? Did you use excel? thank you

  12. Bonnie says:

    This is awesome and I am so glad I’m not the only one struggling with Flylady, I really love some of her things but like you I don’t like to be told what to do, lol. I will say that my house really looks better after trying it and hardly takes any time to get it back in shape but I hate to do it. Now I’m looking for some new ideas and motivation, this may be the key, thank you so much!

  13. Melissa says:

    I know this is from last year, but what did you use to make this chart? I tried using Excel but can’t seem to get it to do a template like that. Curious what you used to do yours.

  14. Heather says:

    This is a perfect complement to and personalization of Flylady. I love flylady but it does make me feel like a cuckoo in a nest of Type A birds! Please would you email
    Me your template? Thanks!

  15. Musical me says:

    … and I thought I was the only Flylady dropout. Way to go many cheerful emails and I never felt like doing them at the right time. I too would love the template for your system.

  16. Tam says:

    I am a stay at home mom of 4 kids who I take to school and fetch from school and make lunches to take to school and make lunches for those still at home. Being a stay at home mom doesn’t always mean you have free time to keep a routine. Mostly the routine you follow is a toddlers routine. I have other commitments outside the home and nothing is ever routine around here. I just couldn’t get Flylady to work for me. I would get so grumpy and would always burn out or get upset with my family for making a mess or upsetting my routine I was meant to be having.
    I am starting to teach my children to help me around the house with chores they can do. Such as pick laundry up off the floor and put it into the washing machine and once done put it in the dryer. Wash and dry dishes and tidy their own rooms. We are all a part of the family and when you are part of the family you serve each other and you help each other. I love your chart and will be using it as I think I am a creative type who bores easily.

  17. Elinor says:

    Do you sell the smorgasbord template? How can I get this? Wonderful article. Thank you!

  18. Elinor says:

    Or, equally valuable would be knowing what program you used to make the template. Much thanks for anything you can pass along.

  19. Dawn says:

    So you have been secretly spying on me? (Is there a non-secret way to spy?) I am a Virgo, list maker, perfectionist. At work I was so organized it was a little over the top. My highlighters were in the same order as the rainbow, ROYGBIV. Everything on my desk was at 90 degree angles. People would move something just to see how long it took me to notice. Yes, I can say OCD. But I have never kept my home the way I kept my office. And I wanted to! So when I saw Flylady it seemed genius. I followed it… kind of. When I became a stay-at-home mom I started back with it, and failed miserably. Multiple times. I felt like a failure. Tonight I googled “fly lady didn’t work for me” and here I am. Your system looks like exactly my kind of solution. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  20. Steph W says:

    I was so happy to stumble across fakingmarthas brilliant chart. I thought I was a failure not being able to follow flylady. Tried several times. Nearest I got to lists are the weekly/ monthly etc lists in How Clean is yr House, but this is way better. Find it harder in our house as grandson lives here and has so many toys!!!!

  21. Debbie says:

    I used the FlyLady system as a base to set up my own, with certain tasks getting done on certain days, etc. I took a bunch of dry erase markers and wrote the whole thing on one of those giant mirrors around the ‘garden tub’ in my house. It is IMPOSSIBLE to ignore.

  22. Brandy says:

    This is such a great template! I was just googling alternatives to Flylady and came across your blog. Like you, I also got tired of Flylady trying to micromanage my time. I like the idea of being organized, but not THAT organized, where I feel like my entire life is planned out for me.
    I just recreated your template in excel using my own tasks and changing it up a bit to suit my family. Thanks for posting this!

  23. Brandy says:

    I can’t believe how seamlessly you put together daily, weekly, and monthly. Really clever!

  24. Dillon says:

    Thank you so much! This feels like something that’ll work for me. I also failed fly lady 101 several times. I had a hard time when she said I shouldn’t expect my husband to help and I should take complete responsibility to “bless” my home. I felt my feminist middle finger grow. This is great because it’s something he can do too. I’m much better at project based work than routines.

  25. mirjam says:

    I would love the template for this!
    Do you have it for me? This would really work for me.

  26. mirjam says:

    Do you have the template for me?

  27. Emma says:

    Great post! I struggle with fly lady as I work part time so it can be hit and miss which days I can do it. As it is her structure and not my own, means I could miss some areas and double up on others.
    I would also love a copy of your template!

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