Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Franklin Meets Flylady

So, like most working mothers, my house is a mess. A big mess. And I don't have a good system for keeping it clean. Sure, I can go into hyper-cleaning mode for a weekend, if I know visitors are coming. But I'll probably end up neglecting everything else, and the house will just gravitate back to choas pretty quickly.

So, on the advice of some friends, I'm trying out Flylady. Initially, I didn't have a favorable reaction to the site. I feel snobby saying it, but it felt a bit too "midwest stay at home mom" to me. Not that there's really anything wrong with that (in fact my daydreams right now sometimes involve being a midwestern stay at home mom), but I couldn't imagine that the same rules could apply to me.

But hey, it worked for my friends, and they didn't fit my mental mold either. And, after reading a little bit about the actual process, I realized something: Franklin would approve. After all, how different is it from his system of virtues? You decide what you need to improve, and make a way to work towards perfection (realizing, of course, that no human could ever reach perfection, so it's ok if you fail) by improving one thing at a time over days, weeks, and month. It's not a quick fix, it's a lifestyle. So I decided to listen to my inner Benjamin and go for it.

At first I just read. And obsessed. And tried to make a control journal, but of course I had to have a really useful one. A web-based one, so I could check it any time. But there wasn't a pre-made tool out there I could just use. So I was determined to make my own. Well, months passed, I didn't make my tool, and my house was a mess. That didn't work.

So I realized (like she tells everyone else) that I just had to do it an easy way, and not spend all my time trying to make a perfect control journal. I tried a few other things, and they didn't work. Finally I have all my tasks in Outlook's Task pane. I have to use Outlook anyway, may as well use it! This way I could have all my own daily, weekly, and monthly reminders, and track how well I do on them, for metrics. I'm highly motivated by metrics. Flylady encourages putting stickers on a calandar as a metric, but I just can't get away from who I am. I have daydreams of converting my completed task log into bar charts. Yes, I'm sick. I know it. But I'm a very good scientist and a very good programmer, and these insane personality quirks are why.

I debated about whether I wanted to post about this. After all, I think I'm not the only one who reacts to Flylady with instant snobbitude. I wondered if anyone could seriously read a hardhitting political blog interspersed with Flylady posts. Of course, I am not a hardhitting political blog, I have no readers, and Lileks seems to manage to thrive on posting about what his daughter eats for lunch, so maybe this would be something worthwhile to post about.

Finally, my inner Franklin told me I should. After all, he wrote a book about his virtues. He approves.

I hope you look forward to reading about my journey to a cleaner, more streamlined house.

2 comments:

Rimu said...

If you find Flylady useful, you will also find http://www.chorebuster.net/ useful! It's a free site for automatically organizing chores, and sharing them among all members of the household.

:)

lagatta à montréal said...

I found your blog by googling "flylady reactionary" . I have to clean my dwelling/workplace more efficiently too, but I can't abide her internalised sexism, her contempt for the environment "just throw it out" - which is far from "clean" and to be snobbish, her insistence on running shoes. Why on earth do we have to wear shoes with laces to clean the house. I don't even own a pair of running shoes now as I can't run (do other exercise).

Will look at chorebuster, hoping it is less sexist and just as efficient. I don't live with my companion, and he is far more orderly than I am, so this is ideological, not practical, but I can't stand her outlook any more than I'd abide a racist housework site saying people of colour should do all the chores.