Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday Works for Me: Five-minute Flash Cards

I may have mentioned once or twice that I am not organized, and that I tend to procrastinate. I have been working on these two character flaws most of my adult life, and one thing that has helped me be more organized and less procratinationized regarding keeping my house clean is Five-minute Flash cards.
I bought a bunch of index cards, different colors, and made a list of stuff that needs to be done, daily, twice a week, weekly, or monthly.
I was overwhelmed.
It suddenly dawned on me that being overwhelmed is why I never seem to get anything done. The job seems so enormous, so time-consuming, that I get paralyzed, and never really finish anything. Add to the mix my total randomnimity, and you can see why my house was always a disaster area.
So I started breaking down the jobs into five-minute "bites". Clean the bathroom? Gee, I don't have time today. But I do have time to "swish and swipe"--I pour pine oil into the toilet and let it stand while I shower. Then I give the toilet a swish. After I put on my makeup, I use one of those disposable wipes, and wipe down the sink, faucet, and countertop. I don't move stuff around, or do a total cleaning, but the bathroom looks decent, and smells clean, and I am done with that flash card.
I don't have time to clean the kitchen before I leave for work at 6:15, but I can swipe the table, sink and faucet with another disposable wipe.
The cards are in a little file box, with dividers, and as I do one, I move it to the back of that section. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, and helps keep the house presentable until the weekend, when I do a whole set of the five-minute chores to really clean.
When I first started doing this, I would set the timer for five minutes. At the end of five minutes, whether I was done or not, I quit, and moved on to something else.
Then I started resetting the timer, for another five minutes. Somehow it helps me stay focused.
As an example of my randomnimity, here is how my morning started:
I went into the bathroom to take a shower. Between the time I took off my nightgown, and the time I actually got into the shower, I
1. Swished the toilet;
2. Put away the last bit of clean laundry that I had folded the night before, but never got around to putting away;
3. Refilled Frankie's water bowl;
4. Hung up a wet towel;
5. And searched a drawer for a string of pearls I wanted to wear today.
Then, finally, I remembered I was supposed to be taking a shower. the cards work? well, yeah, if I remember to
a. read them;
and b. do what they tell me to do.
Works for me..........
sort of.


Carol said...

This sounds something like the Organizer Lady's "Super Flipper" system. I've never set my Super Flipper up, but my sister swears by it.

Maybe the card thing will work better for me?

Gizmo said...


I know if you said it it MUST be a word (since you are my foremost authority on all things to do with the English language) - but, but...

Random-mom strikes again!

p.s. Nikky made me write this - I think your words are *JUST* fine!!!!

Gabriela said...

I like your kind of cleaning! Ah, multi-tasking at it's best. There was an article with similar cleaning ideas in Real Simple last month I think.

Jan said...

Carol, I imagine there are all sorts of systems for organization out there--this just happens to be one I have used for years. In fact, we used a similar system when the kids were young--we dealt the cards every week, to see who was going to be responsible for which chores.
Gizmo, I admit it--I just made up that word!
Gabriella, I like "multi-tasking"--it makes me sound so efficient!

Praying for your Prodigal said...

GREAT idea! I may try this one!

I am so easily distracted...especially relating to jobs I hate doing! Which, of course, is most of my housework!


Mom2fur said...

If 'procrastinized' ain't a word--it oughta be! (And I'm a writer, so I know words, LOL!)
I like the index card idea. Really, most tasks aren't so overwhelming if you break them down into mini-tasks. And before you know it...the whole job is done.
Why am I thinking of Mary Poppins right now? ("In Every Job That Must Be Done, There is an Element of Fun!)