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First of all, welcome!

I’m not going to make any assumptions, but there’s a chance that if you are looking at this page, you struggle with keeping your home clean/clutter-free/organized/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

A small chance.

I want you to know that you are not alone.  I have been amazed to learn that many, many people struggle with the same issues that I do.

If you are feeling hopeless, and your desire for a clean home seems like an impossible dream, my recommendation would be for you to read my blog backwards.

Yes . . . backwards.

First, read my very first post ever, entitled “Here We Go.” When you’re done, scroll down the page until you see “Newer Post.”  Click on that and read the next day’s post.  Read.  Scroll.  Repeat.   (If anyone knows a better way to read the blog backwards, please let me know.)

My reason for recommending this is for you to see the process I’ve gone through.  Some successes, many failures.  I’ve been asked what helped me take that first big step.  My answer was that I didn’t take a first big step, just lots and lots of tiny ones . . . . over and over again.

If you’re interested in learning more about my daily tasks, and how I came up with them, skim these posts labeled Non-Negotiable Tasks.  In the beginning, I added a new non-negotiable task each week in an effort to turn it into a habit.  Many probably sound strange to “normal” people, but they are my attempt to adjust my slob-brain-thinking.  My goal is to do each of my non-negotiable tasks every day.  I generally fail.  However, I’ve learned that even doing most of them, or just “some” helps keep my home so much more orderly than it was pre-blog.

Most of all, I want to make it clear that I don’t have all the answers.  I have a very long way to go in this deslobification process.  I’m just a slob who got sick and tired of stuff ruling my life, and determined to make real changes.  I hope that my journey can help you to know that you are not alone, and maybe in some small way, inspire you on your own journey.

Please feel free to email me or leave a comment on any post – I love hearing from readers!

Added Feb 2012 – Check out my e-book 28 Days to Hope for Your Home for a step-by-step guide to getting started on your own deslobification journey.

Focus Check Friday – The Very First! Come Join In!

It’s Focus Check Friday!

Last week, I shared how the one thing that has made the biggest difference in cleaning up this mess has been . . . . focus. It’s easy for me to have selective vision, ignoring the mess and only seeing the fun stuff. But then the mess gets so big that I can no longer pretend it isn’t there.

Keeping my focus on my home has meant that I am much more likely (though never guaranteed) to see things like shoes covering the floor by the back door before they take over the entire room. Focusing means that it occurs to me that I should really run the dishwasher to avoid the sink pile-up, rather than wait until dishes have to be done in order to pour one of the kids a glass of milk.

My post last Friday also explained how much blogging about my efforts has helped me. It helps me to hash out what I’m doing or not doing that is or isn’t helping our house to get in better shape. It helps me stay focused by giving me an excuse to talk to myself.

So, with Focus Check Friday, my desire is to give to you what you have given to me. An excuse to stop and think about what is and isn’t working in your housekeeping efforts. How has your week been? Has it been crazy, and the last thing on your mind was the house? Has it been successful, and you’ve kept an area clean or decluttered a difficult spot?

I’m just encouraging you to check your focus. Stop for a moment to blog about it, leave a comment, or talk to yourself in the mirror, and either pat yourself on the back or decide what could be changed to help you do better next week.

I’ll go first.

How’s my focus? Ummmm . . . a little off, honestly. The only day this week when I did my designated task for the day was Monday, and I didn’t even fully complete that one. There’s a small amount of clean-and-dry-but-not-folded-and-put-away-clothes (though not a full-fledged laundry mountain) on the loveseat. Tuesday I felt I didn’t have any choice but to nix Clean the Bathrooms Day so that I could get an early start running errands. Wednesday I did do my grocery shopping, but had to rush because I enjoyed myself a little too long at lunch with friends. And Thursday? Today involved my mom’s group meeting and Field Day for my kindergartner (hot, humid, yucky Field Day). So . . . no mopping.

Have I failed? I don’t know how I want to answer that at this point. I think that if I let next week be like this one (full of good excuses), then yes. But considering that our home used to suffer from way-more-than-a-week’s-worth of neglect on a regular basis, I think it’s okay to miss a few tasks as long as I take special care to do better next week.

In some ways, I’m glad that I got to see how much of a difference one week off has made in how clean the shower feels. I mean really, I went . . . ummm . . . . quite a while longer in the past, totally ignoring how bad it was getting. Even though the change isn’t terribly visible after a week, I do notice it. Additional proof that the more I force myself to be consistent, the more my focus improves. Hmmm . . .

My goal for next week is to get back to checking off my non-negotiable tasks. I haven’t been physically checking them off of my chart in quite a while, so I know that I’m ignoring some. Since starting this blog, those tasks have kept this house in pretty good shape, even before I added the bigger weekly tasks.

As I kick into high gear to prepare for my garage sale a week from Saturday, I need that list to keep me focused.

So how’s your focus?
Please feel free to share in the comments, or if you’d like to write a post on your blog, you can submit your link below.

***If you do link up below, please put something like “I’m linking this up to A Slob Comes Clean’s Focus Check Friday” somewhere in your post. And then link to this post within your post. If you need help to know how to do that, let me know. It’s easy.

I’m so hoping at least one person links up! I can’t wait to see how your focus has been.

Accepting How I Learn – Why Flylady Didn’t Work for Me

First, let me clarify a few things. 

1. Flylady is awesome.  When people ask me for advice here, I try to make it clear that I’m no expert when it comes to cleaning, organizing, etc. and I generally send them her way.  If you want to know what it takes to get your house under control, she’s your woman.  And she’ll tell you exactly what to do.

2. When I talk about “how I learn” I automatically feel defensive.  One of the reasons that my own disorganization used to confuse and fluster me so much is that I am generally a very intelligent, competent person.  I’m a thinker, an analyzer.  I taught Theatre and literature, and absolutely loved analyzing the deep and symbolic meaning behind a poem or a play.  I even enjoyed doing proofs in geometry class.  Figuring out the whys and the logical steps was fun for me.  So why in the world, when I can think analytically, can’t I seem to notice one dirty towel on the floor until it becomes an entire bathroom covered a foot deep in dirty clothes?  This was mind-boggling and incredibly frustrating. 

Then today, I had another tap-dance inspired moment of realization. 

I pulled out my tap floor after several weeks of making excuses that I was too busy to use it.  I started going through my beloved DVD, and after the first few basic steps, I decided that I would skip that part and move on to the combinations portion.  This was big.  When I first started doing the DVD, I felt like an elephant.  Even though I knew that I used to be able to do the steps, my shuffles just weren’t happening.  But by practicing the basics, the feeling came back to me, and I got them. 

Skipping them today, I did okay.  The combinations section, which a few months ago felt completely awkward, was now simple to me.  And then . . . I moved on.  I went to the section where she teaches an actual dance.  You know, the fun part. 

And the elephant was back.  Really?  I know how to jump, and I know how to shuffle-ball-change, but trying to put them together made me feel like an idiot. 

Sooooo . . . . I stopped the DVD, and hoofed it out.  I jumped and I shuffled and I ball-changed.  Over and over and over and as ungracefully as possible.  I did it slowly and with very little rhythm.  I messed up again and again . . . but I kept going.  And after about 10 minutes, I had it.  Just that one little step, and far from perfect, but for me it was huge.  And the rhythm got a little better and started to sound like maybe, just maybe . . . I was actually tap-dancing

I turned the DVD back on, and tried it with her again.  And this time I got it!  I even went on with the next two steps, which were really easy, and felt like I had learned the first part of the routine.

See, I watch the video, and I get overwhelmed when I feel like I should have grasped that step by the time she finishes teaching it.  She teaches it, she practices it, and then she moves on.  But I’m not ready to move on.  I’m still tripping over myself, and if I do go on, it will be a complete train wreck . . . arms, legs and tap shoes everywhere. 

And this is when it hit me.  This is why Flylady didn’t work for me.  I needed the instruction on what was required to bring my home out of chaos and keep it in order, and she did that.  But I needed to build these skills at my own pace.  You could completely argue that it’s possible to do Flylady’s system at your own pace.  It definitely is possible.  But all of the emails, the sheer information overload was too much for me.  It overwhelmed me and made me feel like a failure, so I started ignoring the emails.  I set up a folder that they automatically went into (thinking I’d get to them eventually), and when I finally unsubscribed, I had over 6,000 unread emails in that folder. 

Again, let me say that Flylady is great.  She is big on saying that progress is more important than perfection.  She encourages you to just do things, and let go of your perfectionist tendencies.  But at the point when I became overwhelmed and stopped reading her emails, each one that came in (each 20-30 per day, really) made me feel like the class was moving on without me and I was falling behind.

This is why my own process, done at my own pace, is working better for me.  I’m taking it slowly, and although sometimes I marvel that even though I’ve been steadily decluttering and changing habits for almost 8 months now, I still am not done.  

I need to practice things until I get them right.  Until they no longer feel foreign.  And I need to practice them at my own pace.  That’s why, for now, re-learning tap by a DVD is working better for me.  I don’t have to feel like anyone’s watching me.  (Though, for the record, my 4yo daughter thinks I’m “doing great!”)  I don’t have to move on to the next skill before I master the last one, just because the rest of the class is ready.  I can practice until I get it right, without a teacher getting antsy that it’s taking me so long.  I have faith in myself that I CAN do this.  Some things come easily, and others take lots of practice, but I’ll take as long as I need, because that’s how I learn.  

--Nony

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