The SHE System for Sidetracked Home Executives

Messy desk


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On June 16, 1977, Pam Young and Peggy Jones, otherwise known as the Slob Sisters, hit rock bottom in their housekeeping and organizational endeavors. Looking around at the clutter and chaos left them feeling hopeless. After digging out and confronting all the truthful details of their failed attempts at organization, they decided to forgive themselves and start anew by creating a system that worked for slobs just like them. Their commitment to change their own lives has now changed the lives of countless other women who are now devoted to the system the Jones sisters created because it works.

Sidetracked Home Executives' Excuses

The Slob Sisters discovered that sidetracked home executives (SHEs) are masters of excuses when it comes to why they are unable to succeed in their organizing efforts. When they analyzed the excuses they'd been making, Pam and Peggy ultimately decided that no justifications could condone the failed results they were faced with daily. They set up new habits and followed them to the letter, realizing that it would take at least three weeks to effectively cement the new way of housekeeping.

3x5 Cards to Organize the World

Using a jumbo card box, 25 each of yellow, blue, and pink 3x5 cards, 100 white cards, 73 dividers and a small calendar, the sisters developed a system of organizing tasks that need to be completed on a daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal basis. They organized cleaning, decluttering, correspondences and more with their 3x5 system all without overwhelming themselves. You may also want to read their book Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise, an updated handbook that explains how to reduce chaos and clutter and achieve organization in the home.

Implementing the System With a Family

Children learn what they see, and Pam and Peggy show not only how to model a well-organized system to children, but also how to teach even the youngest child to use it. Using pictures on 3x5 cards for younger children and individual card boxes for older kids, the sisters were able to teach organizing and cleaning principles to the primary mess makers in their home.

How They Accomplish so Much

Here's a quick overview of how and why the system works:

  1. Set up your cards for the next day, the night before.
  2. Get up a half hour earlier than anyone else to get dressed down to your shoes, moisturize or put on makeup.
  3. Go through your daily cards and still have time for things other than cleaning.
  4. Feel a satisfying feeling of accomplishment.

A System for the Disorganized

The testimonials from devoted users demonstrate that Pam Young and Peggy Jones have developed a system to help SHEs succeed with a pathway to the organization. Their ideas can easily be adapted to a system that works for all types of families so Sidetracked Home Executives can find their own way.