Don’t judge me for this, but last week I signed up for the FlyLady mailing list.*

Her thing is that if you do a little bit of cleaning here and there, you never end up with a giant mess that takes hours to deal with. For example, for bathroom cleaning (stick with me, here!) her gimmick is, You never have to clean your bathroom again! The fine print reads, Do a little something every time you are in there. Clean the mirror, wipe down the edge of the bathtub, wipe out the bathtub while you’re in the shower. And then it never gets to the point where bathroom cleaning is an event, it’s just clean all the time.

To me it starts to sound like you are always cleaning the bathroom, then, but I guess it works. And it’s got me thinking about things that can be done a tiny bit at a time.

These days, free time comes in small packages, but if I look at it right, I can see that there’s still plenty of it. I find myself looking for projects that help me grasp that time, harness it for something I can be proud of later.

At the beginning of 2006 I bought a pocket-sized (maybe three inches by four?) journal with the dates marked on the pages, and every day I write something about what M has been up to, how she’s changing, what we’re doing together. It’s a way to grab not only the fragments of free time that come my way (at the end of the year I’ll have a book about M), but also the changes in her that are so breathtaking. It’s a way to try to freeze on paper the moments make a drooling, crawling, barely signing baby into what we’ll have next winter, which is, I guess, a girl who runs and who says new things every day.

It’s so promising. If I sew together four pieces of cloth every morning, someday I’ll have a queen-sized quilt. If I write two paragraphs every evening, eventually I’ll have a novel. Maybe a bad one. But a novel.

What are you doing with your piecemeal time, I wonder, besides reading this?

* My self-love is unrelated to the shininess of the kitchen sink, but I need a little kick in the pants about the household cleanliness. So I delete eight annoying emails a day and open one that tells me to go scrub the countertops, and fifty percent of the time (maybe) I follow instructions. So far, so good.


  1. Piecemeal time? Why I WASTE it of course!

  2. Ironically enough, cleaning the bathroom (in my watered-down flylady way).

  3. I'm with cat - I'm a world class time waster.

    As for flylady, I started with her, too and eventually developed my own system. I think that's her genius. You start with her and eventually think, "Wait, wouldn't it make more sense if I..." and you get into something that suits the way your brain is wired but in getting there you've learned and absorbed all those good habits. I do love, love, love her idea of a "portable office" but haven't quite gotten there yet.