Friday, December 03, 2010

"Top Five" System

Over the years, I have tried to spice up the ordinariness of my homemaking and daily life by using a variety of systems. Among them:

1) The Mount Vernon method of cleaning: start at the entrance to a room and work clockwise around, decluttering as you go, and then cleaning that room with another clockwise sweep. That way you can see where you've been and aren't running hither and yon. The name comes from the way housekeepers of George Washington's home clean his estate. I wouldn't mind having them come in and giving me a free demo to see what it looks like in every room.

2) The "Do the Worst First" method. For me, grocery shopping is worse than scrubbing toilets. Mopping the floor is worse than dusting furniture. Putting away laundry is worse than sorting, washing, drying, and folding it, combined! On a really good day, I adhere to this method. Most of the time, though, I hear, "We never have anything to eat in this house!" instead of "Wow! This toilet is absolutely gleaming! Thanks, Mom!" Or I hear, "Do I have any clean underwear around here?" and I say, "Yeah. In a basket somewhere. Check the basement. I know I folded some."

3) The Timer Method. This one is probably the one I stick to most often. I make a long list and put the number of minutes I think it'll take and then set a timer as I go from thing to thing. It keeps me on track. What I've discovered is that doing dishes usually takes longer than I think, but putting away laundry doesn't take nearly as long as I think.

4) The 27-thing fling, something I borrowed from flylady. (Get rid of 27 things at once--trash, Goodwill stuff, store returns to the car, etc). When you get to 27, stop, or keep going if you have the motivation.

And just recently, I have adopted the Top Five method. Instead of writing down everything I "need" to do in a day, I make a list of the five most important things. I don't include devotions because that is a pretty much of a discipline I enjoy, but when I fall into apathy toward God's Word (a shame I hate to admit to, for He has the words of eternal life!) I put that as #1. Lately I've been convicted to truly respect my husband, and I'm asking God to help me do whatever simple tasks or errands Paul asks of me. Simple, but not always easy. Exercise is one of those simple-but-not-easy tasks. I wish I was a gal who just loved the gym, loved to sweat, loved the whole fitness thing. But I'm not. So I have to put it on my list right now because it's been a long time since I had the motivation or stamina to work out. Now that my vitamins have kicked and I'm not in constant physical pain (except for my upper right back, which may be due to weak muscles, not just degenerative arthritis), I am feeling 5% ready to get my rear in gear again. (Not to mention I'd love to lose the double chin by Christmas.)

Also not to mention I am heading to Texas soon for a mini-family reunion/spiritual retreat/New Year's fireworks display at my cousin Craig's house. Craig is a bariatric surgeon, and if that doesn't intimidate a fat woman, I don't know what does. So, rather than eating Christmas cookies in December and dieting in January, I'm gonna try the opposite!

My Top Five today:

1) Exercise (combining "do the worst first" with the timer method-- 15 minutes. Remember, I'm way out of shape and have low iron, so 15 minutes sounds like a lot to me.)

2) Clean my room (using the 27-thing fling).

3) Clean my bathroom (timer method).

4) Return Paul's library magazines and pick up the newest copy of Guitar Player.

5) Wash AND PUT AWAY all clean laundry. (Do the Worst First..and Second...and Last if it Kills Me. Which it probably won't; I just think it will.)

Have you got a system that works for you? If so, do let me know. I get inspired by other people's methods. And if you want to demonstrate your method on my home, the door is open.
Or rather, it WILL be open after I run through it with yet another method of mine: the Shove It All in a Big Laundry Basket and Hide It.


Rachelle said...

Ha- I often use method #1, although it came naturally, I didn't know there was a name to my tendancy for ODC. :) I just like cleaning clockwise in a space, seems to keep me from running crazy and as I go there appears to be some order, which inspires me to continue.
I will pray for you as you begin these new challenges! I am proud of you wanting to be motivated while struggling with health issues.
Where in Texas? You can em me if you don't want it broadcast. You're going to be so close to me (compared to MD).

Joywriter said...

What a fun post! I'm currently procrastinating on a magazine feature about procrastination, so you may have just saved my life, or at least my credibility! ;)

Zoanna said...

Rachelle, I'll be in the New Braunfels/San Antonio area.

Cindy Swanson said...

I always do the timer method! It kind of puts me in competition with myself, and as you said, keeps me on track. I read years ago about a lady who was overwhelmed with a messy house, so she just decided to see how much she could get done in 20-minute increments. Soon her whole house was cleaned as she competed with the clock. I find myself unable to focus if I don't use the timer!

Interesting about the Mount Vernon method...I never heard of that one!

Lea @ CiCis Corner said...

I'm so glad to know of someone else who uses the whole "timer thing." I LOVE my timer and my family teases me about it all the time.

I'm pretty impressed with your methods and the only suggestion I have it to always stand near a trash can when going through the mail. Rather than stacking it up, I just throw anything away that is not a bill or something that I need.

Happy Christmas season to you!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I have one's different on different days. =p I never leave a room without taking something out of it that doesn't belong there though. And everything has to be off the floor by the end of the night. And dishes have to be washed before going to bed. Other than that I have a crazy calendar of minimum maintenance items to do each day, except Sunday.

One More Equals Four said...

I have used many of these methods...loved the Fly Lady for a time...these days, it is just do what you can and pray you do the right things...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't! :) Have a great weekend!

Laurie said...

Yea! Little by little, step by step...
It may sound weird, but I have a Visualization Method which inspires me to get it done. It is often one pile, cabinet, corner, drawer etc. at a time, but "visualizing" the desired outcome helps me to push through to the goal... and often it is PUSHING through that gets the outcome!! I've found the Timer Method helpful to spur me on as I push! Confession: I hate laundry and messing with clothes. UGH! I struggle here, but I'm so THANKFUL to have Mike's help with laundry!