How to Tame the CHAOS

Dearest FlyLady,

Greetings from Phoenix, Arizona. I became a FlyBaby back in August. While I feel I am learning to tame the Chaos Monster, he has come back with a vengeance. I have read your book, Sink Reflections, made my control journal, and look back towards my highlights in the book, and I am struggling.

I have rearranged the suggested schedule in your book to suit my own, and I am finding that I have NO time for myself and I am not getting my zone cleaning done. My weekly home blessing is taking me 4-6 hours on Saturday, which is supposed to be my family day. On Sundays, which I have tried to make my day of rest, I am feeling guilty about what I have not accomplished. Here it is, Sunday, my day of rest, and my house is trashed. I am doing laundry, picking up, and I still have not done my weekly home blessing.

I’m pretty sure that I’m doing too much during that “hour.” I polish my furniture on all sides, and vacuum under everything. My decluttering sessions and 5 minute hot spot fire drills have all but stopped. I feel like I’m back to square one. I work on Tuesday and Wednesday as a nurse, and my 12 hour shifts end up keeping me away from home for 14 hours. Thus, I’m substituting Saturday and Sunday, my fun and rest day, for cleaning days. I want so badly to make Saturday a family fun day and Sunday a day of worship and rest.

Monday is my errand day, and Friday I babysit for my sister’s 5 months old, who doesn’t let me put her down, which leaves Thursday. Thursday, I’m usually so exhausted from working in the intensive care unit. My job physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausts me. Please help! Only you can.

Frustrated and Failing in Phoenix.

Dear Anna,

You are putting too much pressure on yourself! You have to learn to say NO and let go of our perfectionism. You were right! You are trying to do too much for Weekly Home Blessing hour.

It seems to me that you are working two days a week. Many Flybabies would love to have your schedule. I want you to look at how much sleep you are getting. If you are not resting well; it could be aggravating your fatigue.

You may need to tell your sister that you need to take care of yourself on Friday. I know this may seem harsh but if you don’t take care of you; WHO WILL?

Here is a testimonial about adapting shift work around FlyLady. Her calendar plays a big part of making FLYing work in her life. Finally Loving Yourself is really what it is all about.

Here is my testimonial about how to adapt FlyLady to a shift worker’s

1) Read the emails, read the emails, read the emails! Nobody needs reminders more than us shift workers – we have no routine in our lives so the reminders will keep us on track. Even though you may get the emails at a time when you can’t really do them due to work schedules, keep reading them – they will gradually invade your mind and give you the mindset you need to start adapting the system to your schedule.

(I read emails for months before I decided I could do this)

2) While you are reading those emails – pay particular attention to all the comments about taking care of yourself. Shiftwork is extremely hard on your body – we never go to sleep at the same time, get up at the same time, eat meals regularly, etc. and from time to  time, we all have ‘Mac Truck Syndrome’ (you rotating shiftworkers know what this is – it is when you have worked night shift and have to go through a day of sleep deprivation in order to force your body to start sleeping at night again so you can go back to working dayshift – feels like you’ve been run over by a Mac Truck!) You probably won’t be able to go to bed when you received the ‘time for bed’ email but if you keep reading it, the message will register upstairs – “I need my rest”. I had become so drained and exhausted that it showed every time I looked in the mirror. I was neglecting something far more important than my house – ME! So long before I shined my sink, I started realizing I needed to listen

3) Now, look at your schedule – really analyze it. It is so easy for us shiftworkers to just let the schedule control our daily lives. You have to really work at his part. Take a calendar page (might wanna copy a calendar page to use for this worksheet instead of marking up your actual calendar) Now, using this page, mark one whole rotation of your schedule – I started with my first Monday dayshift and continued marking it off until I got back to the next time I worked dayshift on Monday. If you are on dayshift, put a ‘d’; if you are on nightshift, put an ‘n’; if you are scheduled to be off, use a highlighter to highlight that day. (my shift schedule is a 28 day rotation so I had 4 weeks marked out when I got finished) This rough schedule can help you find ways to keep on track.

4) First if you have a significant other, consider their work schedule – if their day off coincides with yours, you will want to reserve this day for the ‘do something special with your family’ emails. Look at the rough calendar & see if you have these special days – mark them with a different color so you will know that they are reserved.

5) Next, look at Sunday & Monday on your rough calendar – you are looking for a time to use the “Plan Next Week” email – this is one of the most helpful emails you receive. I try to make this happen on Mondays but there are some Mondays when I am working so then I try to review the week on Sunday. This email tells you to compare your calendar with the family’s – when are all of you going to be home for supper (if you are on nightshift this week & sleeping during the day – this is a crockpot day if the family is going to be home for supper -you’ll be glad you started it before you went to bed)

6) Next, look at your rough calendar and see what day within all of the weeks would work best for anything that needs done weekly – consistency is so hard to find when your world revolves around a shift schedule. I have a windup clock that I couldn’t seem to get wound each week – I was winding it on Sundays – after analyzing this schedule – I found that Thursdays are the most consistent day to accomplish things like this – I have 2 of the Thursdays off, and finish dayshift on one of them so I come home in a better mindframe to fly – there is 1 week in 4 when I am on nightshift so that week I use Friday since I finish the nightshifts Friday morning. (This day is not when I do the weekly home blessing – I work that in on other days – this is just for the little things that need a routine time schedule)

7) Now look for a good time each week for the Routine Home Blessing Hour – some weeks I do it on a day off – some weeks I break it into smaller portions to do on work days. Based on the weekly schedule, when I plan the week ahead – I know when I want to do the home blessing.

8) Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t fly everyday! With our schedules – there are days when you won’t be able to fly. My dayshift work is sometimes so stressful that my coworkers coined the phrase “I’m gonna take my 12 hour whoopin’ and go home” If I’ve had a 12 hour whoopin’ kind of workday – believe me, I’m not gonna Fly when I get home – I’m just gonna unwind & take this FlyBaby to bed. Not gonna feel guilty about missing days – cause I’m never behind – I can jump in whenever I can. (gee, where did I hear that?) I know I won’t be flying all the time but I keep getting those “frequent flyer smiles” (the smiles as I see my house taking shape)

I hope these comments help other shiftworkers find the way that FlyLady can help them – it isn’t easy to adapt – my wings are still growing and I have a long way to go! Daily routines are still difficult since my days are so different based on which shift I am working but my sink is shining and my house is looking better most of the time and I have my priorities in order so I take better care of myself. I’m developing a ‘FlyLady frame of mind’!

Thank you for an inspiring site!


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