13 Life lessons from Flylady (or how to get your home clean without neglecting your family)

Want to get on top of the cleaning and spend more time on the people and projects that matter most? These 13 life lessons from Flylady can help ๐Ÿ™‚

With most of us spending much more time at home than weโ€™re used to, it can get kinda messy. Working from home, unexpectedly homeschooling, staying home. Thereโ€™s nowhere to hide from the mess.

And while some have used this time to get uber-organised, spring-clean and declutter, for many of us the practical and emotional effort of living life in a pandemic hasnโ€™t given us any more time, or inclination to clean.

Wrestling with the age-old cleaning conundrums. The constant never-ending nature of the task, feelings of resentment, inadequacy and despair – okay that might sound a tad dramatic but I’ve been there, and maybe you have too? The simple truth that there are a million more important things we could be doing. And on top of all that, the emotional strain of current timesโ€ฆ it’s tough to get started, and tough to keep going.

Or maybe itโ€™s the perfect distraction? Getting lost in the physical exertion, stress melting away amidst the routine and comforting familiarity of dealing with everyday tasks. Once the sink is clean, it’s clean… for now ๐Ÿ™‚ Undeniable proof of our efforts, so compelling.

But whether it’s avoidance or immersion, when we’ve got so much else competing for our attention, neither serves us well in the long run.

And that’s where Flylady can help. Her website, book, podcast and YouTube channel are all designed to help get our homes clean and comfortable so we can spend more time on the people and projects that matter most. And the principles she shares are mighty powerful, both for cleaning our homes and living our lives ๐Ÿ™‚

You can do anything for 15 minutes

Spending a short focussed time on a project can yield amazing results. One look at the washing up and we’re sure it’ll take hours. Unable to face that level of commitment we walk away. And it just keeps piling up.

But spending 15 minutes, or even just 5 or 2 if we really can’t spare any more, at least we’ll have made a start. And we might just get it done far faster than we ever imagined. Maybe within the time or maybe we’ll carry on a little longer until it’s done.

And sometimes that’s just great, we all want the job finished after all. But for those of us who find it hard to transition from one task to another…

The timer is your best friend

It can be so tempting to just wing it, surely we know what 15 minutes feels like. But this wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff’s a slippery customer. Setting a timer’s a much safer bet. Limiting ourselves to a short, fixed amount of time harnesses the power of speed cleaning and lends us a laser focus. Getting the job done in super quick time.

The alarm tone serves as a powerful reminder and our own personal permission slip. We’ve done what we set out to do. And now we can move on, shift our attention to more important aspects of our lives.

Ever wondered how long it takes to make your bed or wash the floor? Maybe not. But perhaps you’ve stood staring at a messy space filled with dread, unable to get going, it’s just too daunting. Try timing those everyday tasks. It was a huge wake up call when I realised I could easily spend way more time dreading a task than it might take to complete, how crazy’s that?

Housework done imperfectly still blesses your family.

The notion that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well can spur us on to do our best work. But when it comes to cleaning our homes, a perfectionist mentality holds us back.

We wait for the perfect time, the perfect products or the perfect mood. Meanwhile the mess keeps on growing. Maybe we could do with a whole weekend to tackle that big project but clear weekends are few and far between. We could keep on waiting and one day the window of opportunity might magically appear. Or we can make a start. Starting small is better than never starting at all ๐Ÿ™‚

And when it comes to products, soap is soap is soap. For most surfaces we don’t need fancy single-use potions. Whatever soap we have to hand will likely do the job. Tackling soap scum in the bathroom? The very soap that caused it often gets it clean off a treat, who knew?

Your home didn’t get messy in a day and it won’t get clean overnight

Flylady’s all about babysteps. Taking small deliberate steps in the direction we want to go. Accepting that we can’t do everything all at once but recognising the power of taking it slow and steady to build habits that last.

And carrying out those daily habits consistently, that’s what enables us to get a handle on our homes and our lives.

The power of a shiny sink

Flylady’s 31 beginner babysteps start with shining your sink. Creating a mini-oasis in the kitchen sets the tone for the rest of our home, energising and motivating us to do a little bit more every day.

The danger is we can’t wait for more, we want it all done and dusted ๐Ÿ™‚ right now. And so we revert back to the crash and burn days of our past – going all out on a cleaning marathon then neglecting the daily maintenance til we can bear it no more.

Shining our sink might seem too small a step to matter. But resisting the temptation to steam too far ahead, having patience and trust in the power of habits, we soon see results.

There’s a shiny sink in every room

Once our sink is clean and clutter-free, tackling the rest of the kitchen becomes so much easier. And the room instantly feels better. Most rooms in our home have an area that works just like the shiny sink in our kitchen. In our bedroom it’s usually the bed, in the office it’s probably your desk and in the lounge it might be your sofa, you get the idea.

The 80/20 Pareto principle suggests 20% of our activity accounts for 80% of our results. Sure there’s likely so much else we could be tackling but front-loading our efforts on the 20%, the shiny sink, can transform a room.

Not only is this the most efficient use of our time, making the biggest impact on a space early on. But it’s also a powerful motivator, giving us energy and enthusiasm to plough on with the rest of the room. Or we can leave it at that, knowing the space is already brighter, calmer and cleaner than before ๐Ÿ™‚

There is no behind, jump in where you are

Don’t spend precious time lamenting how you should’ve done this years ago, or that you’ve fallen off the wagon, again. We’ve been there and done that before and it didn’t help.

Quiet those negative voices. Do it now and be glad you’ve remembered or noticed. Be thankful for the energy, the time or the soon-to-arrive company that’s finally got you going.

This isn’t a race. We’re all on our own journey, at the pace that’s right for us, babystepping our way onwards and upwards ๐Ÿ™‚ Though if you are short on time and need to get the house company-ready quick smart, Flylady can help with that.

Checklists keep us on track

We’ve all rushed out the door without our purse, our keys or brushing our teeth, sometime or other. Even the simplest and most obvious tasks can get lost in the busyness of our lives.

Checklists offer security and confidence, reminding us what we want to achieve and releasing precious storage space in our minds so we can get on with the tasks at hand.

Routines free us from chaos

And not just the dreaded ‘can’t have anyone over syndrome’. Routines liberate us from decision fatigue and free up more of that precious brain power.

Organising our daily tasks into regular routines and practising these routines until they’re automatic allows us to spend more of our mental and physical energy on what matters most.

The routine of zone cleaning breaks down the massive task of house cleaning into manageable steps. We’re free to focus on what needs to be done now, reassured that whatever we miss this time will come round again soon enough ๐Ÿ™‚

Make it fun, it will get done

When we’re enjoying ourselves, hard work seems effortless. Time flies and we get so much more done than we ever imagined. So why not make cleaning and tidying as fun as we can.

Flylady loves a jazzy name and I’m all in with that. Daily missions, five minute room rescues, launch pads, flight plans and fling boogies all make cleaning seem so much more of an adventure than a chore.

Blessing our home offers a powerful reframe to the negative image of housework as drudgery and without merit. And who doesn’t love to beat the timer?

A little menu planning goes a long way

Menu planning makes life easier. No more of that dreaded four o’clock stare into the fridge with no clue what to make. With a plan we can get straight on with the meal, and even prep in advance and batch cook to make the most of our time and money.

And when we start with a sink full of hot water and harness the power of five to quickly rescue the space round our sink, the whole process goes even more smoothly.

Our day begins the night before

Setting ourselves up for success the night before, gives us the best start to our day. Knowing what we’ll eat for lunch and dinner, what we’ll wear and what we need to get done allows us to plan our day with purpose.

And getting enough sleep is crucial for our mental and physical health. Setting a bedtime and working backwards can give us a good idea of when we should be starting those all-important bedtime routines. Hint : Don’t wait until bedtime, the earlier the better ๐Ÿ™‚

Treat your loved ones like company

We all love the feeling of getting straight and tidy before visitors arrive. The house feels comfortable and inviting. And we deserve that feeling every day.

We don’t want our children to grow up thinking the hoover only comes out when someone’s coming round. If the good stuff gets saved for guests, what kind of message are we sending our children and ourselves – aren’t we important enough?

Make every day a special day and treat your family like honoured guests in your life, surely that’s how we all want to feel?

Now, maybe you’re thinking Flylady goes against everything in my nature, I totally get that, have you read my dog poo post? ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s taken me some time to get here. And these two have helped enormously… The Secret Slob and Diane in Denmark, both do a wonderful job of explaining everything Flylady and making it seem so much fun.

Flylady has made a massive difference to our lives. Okay, we might still have too much clutter and areas of our ‘lived-in’ home crying out for a bit more loving care. But Flylady has helped me find peace with that, to get more done in less time and find joy in the process.

Our house is cleaner, tidier and more organised than it’s ever been. And the lessons we learn from Flylady are about much more than just cleaning. Our relationships are what matter and this system helps create space in our homes and our minds to put these first.

So if you’re finding it hard to make time for those you love, are plain sick of living in chaos and want to F.L.Y, ‘finally love yourself’, Flylady might be just what you’re looking for x


  1. sueelvis says:

    Hayley, I love the idea of using a timer to do 15 minutes of work. I bet we could do a lot in that short amount of time. And I especially like this sentence:

    โ€˜Make every day a special day and treat your family like honoured guests in your life, surely thatโ€™s how we all want to feel?โ€™

    Iโ€™ve never visited the Flylady site. After reading your post, Iโ€™m going to check it out!

    1. Hayley says:

      Thanks Sue. We use timers so much round here, they really help me focus and move on.

      Iโ€™m so glad you picked out the part about our family as honoured guests. That idea really stuck out to me in Sandra Dodd and John Holtโ€™s writing as well. Love it ๐Ÿ™‚

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