As someone who for many years resisted routine (boring, I thought) not only have I come to love my routines but I even have a garden routine now..
I came to realise that having systems for dealing with basic stuff is actually very freeing. I don't have to re-invent the wheel each Monday, I can think about other things while getting the essentials done, and these regular habits do in fact save me both time and stress.
You may remember my Onceover (post 26 Oct 2012) based on the need to do the minimum housework required to not feel embarassed by my home.
I now have a Onceover for the garden since that is where I spend much of my time in the summer.
1 Wipe bird droppings from all seats and tables
2 Put away any tools etc left lying around because I was tired out
3 Rescue jobs (there always seems to be a plant needing rescued!)
4 Deadheading and watering pots and hanging baskets
All this might only take 15 minutes or so and leaves me ready to do whatever real gardening I want to do that day, knowing I can sit down with coffee and friends who call, find what I need, not feel guilty about a plant that is dying, and keep the annuals looking great for as long as possible.
There are more posts under Simply Routine - scroll down sidebar on right for a browse....
Leo Babatua of Zen Habits recently acknowledged his debt to Fly Lady as being an influence on his minimalist journey. Both are brilliant in their own way.
I'd never heard of Fly Lady and when I looked at the website I could see that many of Babatua's ideas were really straight from there. Fly Lady presents them as plain old common sense (and they are) and is clearly aimed at women, and perhaps particularly at women who are struggling to keep their heads above water. (CHAOS for example stands for Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome.) It has 500,000 followers.
What Babatua has cleverly done I think, is to make common sense cool, not boring. (The Fly Lady site is decidedly uncool.) He makes it look like a sophisticated modern philosophy (Minimalism), with a touch of eastern allure (Zen). He has also made his site attractive to and relevant for men, and the trendy young. He has 250,000 'crazy, sexy, cool' followers....
Though I don't subscribe to either, preferring to dip in when I want to, I like them both and have found helpful and occasionally inspiring stuff on both sites.
Thoughts turn to home as winter seems to have come early, and I want the experience of being indoors to be a lovely one.
I'm still flying with Fly Lady - housework has never been easier! The site is like a modern day Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.
Why has it been so successful? Why do I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and confident that everything will get done? And what is more I feel totally relaxed about it.
I think it's because the system is long term and ongoing, so if a household task doesn't get done this time round it will get done next time round (next day, week, month). Because there is a next time round. Routine is the key. (To think I've resisted routine all my life! I thought it was boring....)
The weight of decision making is what has been taken off my shoulders - I go to the website, click on Today, and do what it says. How easy is that?
Barack Obama recently acknowledged the importance of 'routinizing' - he says he only wears grey suits or blue suits because that cuts down on the number of decisions he has to make, and he has a lot of decisions to make!
Decision making fatigue is the term - it's probably a syndrome - do you suffer from it too?
I just re-read my own posts under Simply Routine. I still love my 'Onceover' described 26 Oct 2010 but plan to add a few more ideas from Fly Lady.
Here are some of the things she says that make sense to me and will make me check out her site every day for a while (I'll pass on signing up/joining/forums/chats/TV/journalmaking etc - I'm aiming for simpler.)
Take baby steps.
Don't obsess - set your timer then quit.
It didn't get junked up in a day and it won't get cleaned up in a day either.
You are not behind! Don't try to catch up, just start a new habit.
Don't be a perfectionist.
The routine helps you from having to think what to do next.
Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family. (Now isn't that a comforting thought?)
Focussing on the housework, I realise it's not the organised home I want per se, but the clear mind - and one seems to lead to the other in a very simple way.
So Fly Lady to my aid again - and How Two Minutes Can Make a Difference:
I did feel pretty silly taking the kitchen timer around the house and setting it for two minutes.
I did think 'How can two minutes make a difference to anything, never mind the worst bits (the hotspots)? Well, it did.
The difference was that I now know what I'm dealing with. The indiscriminate heap of clothes is now a folded pile, ready to have decisions made about it in the next two minute session....and my mind is clearer.
You get the idea? You can't be overwhelmed in two minutes.....
Who'd have thought it?
Not me. If you're someone who is not so easily whelmed over as I am when it comes to housework, indulge me. Smile kindly, and come back when I change the subject (have you heard of the Stendhal Syndrome? Coming soon!)
But if you are like me you'll get over to Fly Lady by clicking here....
Do you read Zen Habits?
I am always struck by the clarity of it, and of Leo Babatua's writing. It seems to exude peace and calm and simplicity, and I'm intrigued that, to me anyway, he never sounds 'preachy'. I haven't figured out quite how he does that!
After reading his post yesterday - see here - I checked out Fly Lady - a site he said influenced him a lot on his minimalism journey.
The Fly Lady website is about as different to look at from Zen Habits as could be. I became interested and to my surprise (I was feeling stressed and a bit down) I found myself sailing CALMLY and effortlessly through several hours cleaning my kitchen sink, my bathroom sink, the kitchen floor, the cooker, pulling it out from the wall to clean the sides and back ....I spent two minutes on each of the four hotspots I identified, five minutes on the room that needs most doing, and could hardly wait for tomorrow to clean out the car and my bags!
The calm effect lasted all day....how strange is that?
Fly Lady has just moved to the top of my favourites list! See it here.
As the children got older The Onceover (see 26 Oct) became a shared task, at least on weekends and in the holidays. The secret to getting them to help I found, was in letting them choose . I've actually seen them race downstairs to see who could get to the list first! It was understood they had no choice about actually helping - they had chores to do before they went out with their friends, but they could choose which ones, from the list I made the night before. Six items - three small tasks each - a tick box beside each one. First down got to choose.
Another strategy was to see of we could beat the buzzer - as in 'Let's see if we can tidy this whole room in 8 minutes, then we'll have a drink/snack/walk'. It worked most of the time, and carrots are better than sticks, don't you think?
Looking again at www.dailyroutines.typepad.com I see that those featured are all, but one - Simone de Beauvoir - men, and that not one of them mentions housework. No surprise there then...
Except for Gary Painter, punk rock cartoonist/artist. Here is part of his daily routine -
'Do chores and tasks and try to get time to make art. Make art. Take naps...Go to sleep at 3.00 in the morning.
Author and journalist Michael Lewis's comment resonates with me (as I write this in the early hours) -
'Late nights are wonderfully tranquil. I like the feeling of knowing that nobody is trying to reach me.'
When my older daughter went to school, she wrote in her school diary 'I helped Mum with the onceover' (see 26 Oct) and the teacher underlined the word onceover in red. The bold child went to the teacher (whose name was Mrs Dippy - truly!) and asked why the word was underlined. Because it's not a word, said Mrs Dippy. Yes it is, it's housework! replied my daughter bravely - I was so proud of her (she was very shy).
She also once wrote in her school diary - Yesterday I took Mum to the dentist.
What a sweetheart...