Sidetracked Home Executives


(Took this pic this weekend while on a walk in downtown Birmingham with Shaun's folks. Why are there more flowers in downtown than here in our little country town?)

I've been promising Cyndi a post on this for ages and ages, so I'm finally getting around to it.

Ages and ages ago, I heard about Flylady. In case you're unfamiliar with it, Flylady (the nickname of the lady that started it- she likes to fly-fish, or whatever it's called), set up an internet based reminder system for keeping up with your household and managing it.

I loved the idea of Flylady- rotating chores and decluttering based on the week and the day, but the sheer number of daily emails started to, well, kind of hack me off a bit. I was supposed to be managing my house, but instead, I started having to manage my inbox! She's changed up the way she does the system a little bit, I think, but I discovered that it wasn't fitting me- it was stressing me out more. I don't need extra pressure in my life right now.

I did a little research and checked out the book, Sidetracked Home Executives from the library. This is the book and the system that Flylady based her system on... but she incorporated the internet and email and all that fancy schmancy stuff.

(By the way, the book is pretty cute, albeit cheesy sometimes, describing the different ways we get out of control of our homes sometimes... they call it C.H.A.O.S.- can't have anyone over syndrome. I would check it out from the library or buy it cheap on Amazon - or click on my recommended thing over on the left and you can buy it through there.)

Now, before I get into specifics, I have to tell you a little about me.

I like structure.
I tend to be a perfectionist.
I love lists.
I love lists to the point of making up extra stuff on a list that I've already done just so I can cross it off.

Because of those things, a lot of times I would tend to get so caught up in the planning stages of running my home that I wouldn't get to the "running the home" part. And, since it wouldn't all happen perfectly, I would just give up.

S.H.E works by, instead of having lists, having an individual index card for each task you have to do around your home: daily, weekly, montly, and even seasonally/yearly.

I know, I know- some of you are thinking- uh, I don't even KNOW what I do every day or even need to do!

I felt the same way- but the S.H.E. book has this huge section with all the tasks anyone could ever want to do in their life with their home, so you don't have to think it up all on your own.

This is how my card file looks:


The designer in me is cringing because this is old and not as cute as I want it to look, but as Katie says- that's a "B item." ;)

The inside has a little divider for each day of the month, like so:


As each day ends, I move the dated divider into the back of the numbers (so that they are constantly rotated into the correct order for the rest of the month).

Inside "today's" divider, I have my white daily tasks.


These are broken down to as basic as you can get. This is what works for me. I imagine some of you don't need cards to remind you to "get dressed, brush teeth, and put makeup on," but for me, it's nice to have a reminder of what's next in my day... otherwise noon will roll around and I might have *forgotten* that small detail of my day. Hehe

As I complete each task, I pull it out


and then move it to the correct spot for tomorrow, so it'll be ready to go for me when I wake up tomorrow.


I go through all, or as many, of my daily tasks in this fashion. Typically, this is a good portion of my morning (including a 30 minute internet break, hehe) and a little of my evening time. It seems a little micromanaged, but I need this to get on track during certain periods of my life. It kind of "thinks" for me, so I don't have to think of what I need to do next.

Each day of my week has different things alloted for it. Some days are for more cleaning (I have moderate and heavy cleaning days, because there is no way I'm going to end up cleaning all day long!) and some are for doing other stuff.

No matter what, the white cards have to be done every day- they are the absolute necessities I have for running my household.

These orange cards are for the "extra" things that need to be done on a weekly basis.


On Mondays, or sometimes the weekend, I look at my plans for the week and go ahead and slip these orange cards in on the days that I think they will work best (in the moderate or heavy cleaning days). I try to keep tasks in the same room together on the same days (like, dust master bedroom, sweep & mop master bedroom). I used to work by task (doing all the dusting on the same day), but I like that I can completely clean at least one room and feel like I've accomplished some small miracle.

I've got other cards that are for monthly tasks and seasonal tasks (like: monthly- clean out magazine rack; seasonal- wash windows & dush ceiling fans) that I try to fit in too.

To sum that all up: it works for me. You have to find a system that works for you. I discovered over the past few years that I get overwhelmed by seeing all the stuff I have to do and I pretty much just give up, so seeing one small task at a time really helps.

If I don't get through all of it- I know that I at least accomplish a few things each day, and that's better than nothing.

(Caveat: do I do this all the time? Heck no. I go through phases where I'm really gung-ho and then phases where I feel like I've got things under control and then phases where I am sick and pregnant and it all goes to h-e-double hockey sticks in a handbasket. Just fyi.) :)

------Edited to add 9.2010: Here's a link to my current version. It's much less micromanaged and a little more flexible! And you can click HERE to see my current list of cards.)

Here are a few helpful links to other peoples' versions of it:

Housewife Ink

This is kind of cool- but I have a feeling I would waste a lot of time fiddling around with it

Here's a yahoo group based on it- lots of great resources in the files

If you google "sidetracked home executives," it comes up with many results and different peoples' thoughts and plans with this.


  1. Now that is a neat concept. Flylady really worked for me. Now I have my own system.

  2. I love this! I have tried FlyLady several times over the past 5+ years, but it's never really stuck. I think something like this would really help me. I'm off to figure out how to tweak your system into something that fits with my home and work lives. Thank you Virginia!!

  3. YAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now to get myself together and actually do this (lol). Thanks VA.

  4. Thanks for this! I love anything that has to do with organization! Very interesting!

  5. Thanks for sharing your system! It's interesting to see how other people do it. I am still figuring out how I want to keep up... :P

  6. OK, you are WAY too organized, girl!!!! Now I know how you do all that you do. LOL

  7. V - sometimes I wonder if you and I are actually the same person. I mean, I am crazy anal down to the list. I used to have my time blocked out in like 8 to 15 minute increments. I even scheduled stuff IN COLLEGE when no one cares about that kind of stuff. I am not sure if the cards are for me, but I may have to try that.

  8. You are BRILLIANT, V! I soooo could use a card system like that! I get majorly "sidetracked" each day (mostly in my scraproom *blush*). I totally need to make one of these! Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. I have done fly lady to a degree and have struggled with staying on top of all of my monthly and seasonal tasks. Do you still do this system?



  10. I have been a follower(not a doer) of the S.H.E system for years, since the 80's I guess. I find I am a lot like you said, if I can't do it all perfect I tend to back up. Do you think we could have a forum for want to be SHE's? BTW I live in Jemison, AL. and I know some Tillerys, Jeffrey and Brook and their two children. Thank you for your post.
    Diane Robuck

  11. I need a new system or better yet I need some motivation. I'm so far behind! I will have to look into this.

  12. Thanks so much for the great information. I'm new to S.H.E. and I appreciate all you have shared.

  13. I used a file similar to this many years ago. It works! Our house was always nice and clean, ready for anyone to drop in to visit. But then we moved overseas, and half my cards disappeared. I never took the time to get another file set up, and our house showed it. But it is a new year, I have new cards ready to set up a new file!

    Now it is just me and my husband, but when the kids were home I made sure to delegate simple chores to them. And now that my daughter has a son, she is wanting my S.H.E. book so they can get a file set up.

  14. Ladies, remember, you don't play catch-up. You start where you are. I get so overwhelmed by how much I've let go that I lose sight of what I can do NOW. I used S.H.E for ages. Now I use the Flylady system.

  15. Great thoughts! Just an added FYI on Fly Lady, she isn't called fly lady because of fly fishing its because FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself.

    1. She was fly fishing instructor and that’s how it originated; the acronym came later.

  16. Nice! I really like the updated tin, it reflects our evolving as well

    @Chocolate Annie, she is Flylady, because of Flyfishing, the Finally Loving Yourself came afterwards


  17. I think i am gonna use this card system for my kids and their chores each day!

  18. Found this post via Organizedhome.com..CEO is one of the *original* followers of S*H*E, well before FlyLady. :) I know this because I was around the old S*H*E website boards many years ago, when FlyLady was just a regular poster. Back then, she did indeed choose her name due to her love of fly fishing; it was only later that she adopted the "Finally Loving Yourself" acronym. I personally love CEO's version of S*H*E because it stays true to the original way Pam & Peggy set it up, integrating several of their books into one lovely card file. If you want to know more, you can check her out here: http://organizedhome.com/shes-organized/get-organized-with-SHE

    Your box and cards are so pretty, by the way!

  19. Today, I went to the beach front with my children.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said
    "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.

    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had
    to tell someone!

    Here is my homepage: hemorrhoids treatment at home


I'm so glad you decided to leave me a comment today! Thanks for taking the time to stop by my little corner of the world. :)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin