A Clean Slate, or Why Is This Woman Walking Around Mumbling?
by CEO (Cynthia Ewer, Organized)
Editor, Organized Home
As I look around my big new home, now that 80% of the moving boxes are
squashed flat and in the attic, I've realized that my cardfile, too, will have to make the
move from small apartment to four-bedroom house. If you're new to S.H.E.--or your
copy of Sidetracked Home Executives is creased and stained but you still;; haven't
assembled your cardfile--you may want to join me as I start from scratch in a new house.
We begin, as recommended by P&P, at the beginning: with Activity
Lists. You'll find them in the back of "Sidetracked Home Executives", while
"I'm OK, But You Have A Lot Of Work To Do" contains an appendix listing copies
of P&P's revised "routine" cards. Iconoclast that I am, I'm going to use
neither, just pages in my S.H.E. notebook. [Find a printable
Activity List here.]
We will now make a grand progress through the house (the "walking
around mumbling" part). Starting at the front door, and moving room by room
throughout the house, we will list each and every task that needs to be done to keep our
house clean. I know I'll have lots of new and dirty jobs ahead (one of which being
"Polish Cleopatra's Barge"--the nickname given my mother-in-law's rosewood
Victorian sofa aka boat, complete with seasick green velvet upholstery), but, to
appropriate a Southernism, "I'll think about that tomorrow at Tara!" Just walk
through the house, scribbling as you go.
After an hour or so, you'll have assembled a place to start. Put the lists
away, because you want to attack the next phase with renewed energy, and because you're
probably depressed at the number of things it takes to keep a house clean.
Next day (or however long you've managed to procrastinate) you'll assess
your activity lists. For each task, decide on a frequency. On my lists, "Vacuum"
will take on new depth and meaning, now that we no longer live in a city apartment
building (where any street dirt has been walked off in the halls), but live surrounded by
Georgia sand, pine needles and mud.
I'll assign a "daily" or "every other day" to my
vacuuming chores. Other jobs will be weekly tasks: wind the clock (a wedding present now
out of purdah), polish Cleo's Barge, mop out the mud room.
Seasonal tasks will pop up, too: put all light-diffusing bowls in the
dishwasher, vacuum the drapes, flip the mattresses (required because, in the course of
moving, I found that 15-year-old rocket scientist had worn a hollow into his one-year-old
Last, you'll try to estimate the time needed to complete each task. Use
your timer, because an accurate grasp of time is essential to the reformation of a
S.H.E.. It takes 7 minutes to thoroughly vacuum the family room (the chief
beneficiary of said Georgia sand, pine needles and mud)--so note that on your activity
list next to the task.
Now you're ready to make out your cards, the next step as we travel 21
Essays to S.H.E.. A clean slate, a new broom, and Activity Lists! Get off to
a good start . . . and get organized!