Monday, October 08, 2007

The Fly Lady & Being a "Scanner"

The Fly Lady site is about organization for the genetically disorganized. She broke down the system developed by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, the "Sidetracked Home Executives" or "SHE", into baby steps. Her approach filled in some of what was missing in the original system. Pam and Peggy invented the system and the Fly Lady figured out how to implement it successfully.

I've tried using Pam and Peggy's system ever since I first found the original book. I never was able to stick with it. My current situation is not nearly as bad as it has been in the past. I don't have as much clutter to get rid of. Just about a hundred boxes to unpack and nowhere to unpack them to. That sounds like we have a lot of stuff we could get rid of, but every time we move we weed out anything we don't want badly enough to schlep it around. For this stuff, we need bookshelves and appropriate storage containers, but that will have to wait until the job hunt is over.

I have to let that aspect of things go, even though it bugs me to have all these boxes stacked up around the walls. At least I can cook a meal, do laundry, sleep, and get my work done. Most of the books I really want access to are unpacked onto the bookshelves my son gave us. (Bless him! I don't know what I would have done if every book I own had to stay packed in boxes.) And we found some really small, cheap bookshelves at a local drugstore during back-to-school that I've been able to unpack most of the cookbooks I use the most onto.

But my challenge in this new place is establishing routines that will keep it clean. I don't want to go back to the way it used to be in other places we've lived. I think my problem in the past was my usual pattern of trying to fix everything all at once. The Fly Lady's contribution to this is that you don't do that. You fix one small thing and build on it, bit by bit. Each "bit" is a baby step.

Now for the "Scanner" part. Barbara Sher has written a book called Refuse to Choose. It's directed at people like me who want to learn about everything and do tons of interesting projects, which contributes to the clutter, for one thing. For another, although she doesn't discuss housework specifically, it explains to me, at least, part of why housework is such a challenge for "scanners". We have more interesting things to do besides clean. The problem is that often the chaos around me keeps me from doing the projects I want to do. I end up trying to get control of that and neither the chaos gets fixed nor the projects get done. I end up feeling overwhelmed and depressed.

I hope that as I use the tools provided by the Fly Lady, the SHE developers, and Barbara Sher, adapting them to fit my own life, I can figure out how to balance my life so I don't keep going from one extreme to the other. I'd really like to find that elusive middle ground because when I've been in that place, which has happened on occasion, I've been so much more content with my life. Barbara Sher makes the point that Scanners can't be happy unless they do the projects they want to do. I know she's right about that and I'm finally in a place where I'm ready to get back to working on those things that matter to me.