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453 of 462 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2002
Pam and Peggy certainly know what it feels like to be living in total chaos, and they use that understanding to good effect in this book, showing step by step how they got organized. They don't take any knowledge or organizational ability for granted, and they have great senses of humor. Their card-file system will probably work for most people who are SHE's (Sidetracked Home Executives) because of their creativity, or just general distractedness.
If, however, you are a SHE because you're a frozen perfectionist, someone who never cleans because you don't have time to do it RIGHT, this is not the book for you. The card-file is wonderful - except that I'm entirely capable of spending the next 6 months making sure I've got the file system perfect without ever actually doing any of the stuff on it. There's also nothing to prevent you from overloading yourself with nit-picking chores and burning out. If these sound like things you would be prone to, then I would recommend "Sink Reflections" by Marla Cilley instead. She uses much of the same material as Pam and Peggy (she credits them as her inspiration), but her program is specifically designed for those of us who try so hard for perfection we get nowhere.
If perfectionism isn't your problem, then by all means go with Pam and Peggy. They're great fun to read, and however bad your house is, they will understand.
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234 of 241 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2001
This book was my last resort in trying to put some order in my life. Now that I'm not working, there's no personal assistant to follow me around, reminding me of appointments, locating lost papers and plane tickets, or just generally tidying up around me. Trying to get organized, I'd tried a Palm Pilot, a Franklin Planner, promises, prayers, New Year's Resolutions and was seriously considering electroshock therapy.
When I recently gave up my busy work life to come a work-at-home mom, I thought one of the results would be a neat and organized home. My excuse for a more than slightly disorganized home was that, as a full-time traveling working single parent, two dogs, two cats and a tank full of fish, I was just too busy. My fantasy was that more time at home would cure that.
It didn't -- if anything, my disorganization seemed to expand to fit the free time. Worse, even with all the free time, without spending much time on housework, I never seemed to be able to find the time to do a lot of things I wanted to do. My shelves were filled with home craft materials, but even if I had the time to spend on a project, I couldn't seem to locate what I needed.
But when my fourth grader's teacher told me he was the most disorganized child she'd taught in 7 years, and then showed me his desk overflowing with papers, books and homework assignments completed but never turned in, I realized something had to be done. I was training him to live in CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Visions of my son in the future, opening his high school locker only to be buried alive, prompted me to find a solution for him -- which meant I needed to lead by example.
And so -- since nothing else had worked -- I ordered the book, and dubiously started to read it. Skeptically I forced myself to buy some index cards and filled them out (a rather simplistic and foolish notion, I thought). Feeling silly, I began following the instructions (I skipped over the somewhat goofy stories the sisters tell). Slowly my life began to get more organized.
At this point, my house is consistently tidy. My Christmas presents -- some home made -- are finished, wrapped and sent. Instead of taking up all my precious free time, being organized has given me more free time, and some peace of mind. Best of all, my son (whose homework still gets left behind sometimes) is helping with chores (without being ordered to do so) and working on being better organized.
Despite being so simple -- or perhaps because it is so simple -- this system really works for me. If you're lost in chaos and think nothing will work, try this book. It could change your life!
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125 of 131 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 17, 2003
I just love this book! I have been using this system for 2 weeks now, and already I notice a change in my life. I am more relaxed, more organized and can focus on the things I WANT to do. Much of the book is funny accounts of the author's battles with clutter and disorganization. This is entertaining, but I wanted to get right to the heart of things. I am using their 3 x 5 index card plan. Basically, they want you to put all the chores that need to be done on index cards, filed with different colors according to how often they need to be done (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally). You file the cards behind the appropriate date in an index card box. Each day, you just need to look at the cards to see what you need to do. I find it very helpful in that I get busy right away on what needs to be done and don't worry about other chores, because I have them scheduled for another day. The book has a chart at the back suggesting various household chores that need to be done, and places for you to add your own. Before using this system, I often felt overwhelmed just thinking about all the things that needed to be done, and ended up not doing anything at all! It really helps me to focus on what needs to be done and avoid wasting time. Now I have more time to do the things that I want, and I am happier and better organized. It is an easy system to apply and can be adapted to the areas where you are more or less organized. I highly recommend this book!
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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
When I gave birth to my last child, I was going home with the little bundle of joy in my arms with 23 month old twins waiting on me. Also a nine year old and two step children who were at my house a lot...ages five and ten. (I am talking six children in all under the age of ll). As my husband drove me up the lane to our house I cried. He said, "Are you glad to be home dear". I couldn't talk, but if I could have I would have said..."I don't know how I am going to do this".

I have a real problem with distraction. My house was a mess. Three children under the age of 2. Three in diapers. I didn't have my own washer or dryer nor a dishwasher. Couldn't get all the food hot at once because of interruptions. Kept running out of staples..

Then my sister heard about this book on the today show. I took it very seriously. It took me two weeks to read and compile all the cards. I sat in each room of my house and listed slowly and methodically every single chore I wanted to "ideally" do.

Finally after much mental fatigue and work, my card file system was ready. Drum roll please.............

From that day on my house ran like a well oiled machine. Christmas cards and gifts on time, physicals for school scheduled early, grocery shopping done according to menus and everything in order. People often asked me how I did it. I showed up for things on time when parents with only one child couldn't make it.

Since that day I have probably given six of these books away to interested parties. Many people don't actually do the book, they just read it....doesn't help. But if you want a real solution to chaos...you can't beat this book. To this day I use this system. I am no longer as disorganized as I was when my children were little, but I still find it keeps me on track. I have also used it in several jobs I have had, setting offices up on the rotating memory tickler system.

If you have a real need for organization, use this book step by step and you will marvel at the results.

Also, in reading one reviewer, I noticed someone saying that you could get caught up in overload by trying to be to perfect. I did not find that a problem at all. I instead found that I had more time and could actually schedule time off with time to go to the park etc. with my children. It is so much nicer to take time off when you understand that you have a plan that allows for down time and still keeps you in control.

The secret to this book is actually doing it!! If you invest the time and do the upfront work of setting the system up, you will be amazed.

Rhonda Beaman
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73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2002
Since I discovered the Sidetracked Sisters in 1988 I've graduated 3 daughters from highschool, 2 from college and one from medical school. I've given 4 weddings, three of them in cities in which I did not live. I've moved seven times, attended 3 graduate schools, completed a Master's degree and started a Ph.D. I've managed to stay married to the same neatnic for 36 years and now have four beautiful grandchildren. If it were not for Pam and Peggy, I couldn't have survived (literally) one day beyond the day I first picked up this book. The card file grounded me and kept me going on days I feared either flying of the face of the earth or gettly buried in the clutter. By sharing the book with my own sister, we have kept reminding each other to "get back to the box" during times we were less than diligent. The principles shared by the authors are excellent management skills which I employed in my private practice as a counselor and have taught to clients suffering from conditions such as ADHD as well as to parents overwhelmed by what life's pressures are handing them. I've also used the "Happiness File" for years, I reread it every year in January, setting new priorities for the year and reviewing my accomplishments from the previous year. The book is an easy read and funny. Perhaps the greatest testimony to the efficacy of the system is that my pediatrician daughter and busy mother of one of my beautiful granddaughters has asked for a copy recently stating, "I didn't think I'd ever say this but I've got to find a better way to manage all I've got to do and it's worked pretty well for you."
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2000
This book has given me the skills to get my act together. Anyone can come to our house now and the bathrooms are clean enough for visitors ... we also have clean cups, fresh food, cutlery, towels ... If you are completely disorganised and feeling that you are waiting to get things sorted out before your life really starts then this is the book for you. I never need to wear my swimsuit because I have no clean underwear any more! (And I am thirty-three, a computer programmer, and considered quite clever). This is for anyone who has trouble getting around to things. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Our home is a joy since I have used this system. It really works - for even the worst of housekeepers - and I was the WORST. I can do so much more now because I am not always looking for something to wear/eat/write with/write on/post/sit on... It is the ultimate de-stressing tool.
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2002
To put it simply, this book will change your life! I first implemented this system 8 years ago after the birth of our 1st child (we now have three). I had quit my job to stay home with our son and I knew that I needed help when I would lay my son down for his nap and before I would know it he would be back up (it was actually two hours later, but it seemed like 15 minutes to me). I would not have even showered much less complete my long list of "Things to Do". My husband would walk in the door late in the afternoon and all I could say is
"Is it 4:30 already". There was no dinner, no clean laundry, and the house would look like a tornado had hit it. So I went on a mission and I thank the Lord I found this book because it did change my life. I have more free time now, I am actually on time for my appointments, and my house is finally clean. Just read it and you will be hooked too! I am buying two more copies, one for a friend and one for me. I loaned my original to this friend and she can't find it. She is so sidetracked and unorganized she lost it before she could read it and could start the system. My only hope of getting my original copy back is her doing this system. Wish me luck!
P.S.
If you have done this to someone you need this book too!
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2006
This book changed my life.

I had tried FlyLady and loved the concept but just couldn't seem to stick with it. I decided to get Sidetracked Home Executives since that is what FlyLady based her system on.

For me, S.H.E. worked much better. I realized that FlyLady is for those who are disorganized because they're paralyzed by perfection; S.H.E. is for those who are disorganized because they're too easily sidetracked and/or just plain lazy (like me).

I have been using the cardfile system they recommend consistently for six months now -- and I didn't even fall behind when I had my second baby recently, which is the ultimate test of how well an organization system works.

If, like me, you're chronically disorganized because you always have a million things going on at once but never manage to finish anything, this book could change your life!
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138 of 155 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2001
Years ago, I purchased the "Sidetracked Home Executives" book which I found to be entertaining and inspiring, and I was THRILLED to find out that Pam Young & Peggy Jones had just released a new book on the topic. However, I was very dismayed to find that the only thing different in this book is ONE chapter (about 8 pages) pertaining to using a database program on your home computer instead of the 3x5 card system. They only say that they like Lotus Notes but that other database programs are available....in other words, it's not an instructional chapter on HOW to use the database, just that it's an option. So, if you have the original "Sidetracked Home Executives" book, don't waste your money on this revised edition. All the other chapters, pictures and drawings are IDENTICAL to the original.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Why I read this book: I got this book largely because of the title, because I work out of my home (and I fancy myself to be an executive!). However, in this book "home executive" refers to housewife... running a household. As a bachelor I could certainly use the help with that, so I read it anyway.

The strength of this book is it's home-spun style. Pam and Peggy are sisters, each of them tell their tales of woe... what it was like being disorganized slobs, and then tell how wonderful their lives are now that they have "the system." The way they unfold their story is very personal and funny. Kind of like Erma Bombeck. If you've had to run a household, particularly with kids involved, you will relate to them. They add to the personal nature of the book by including several pages of photos of them, them as kids, their kids, spouses, etc.

The Book's Weakness: The book is 165 pages, and only one chapter of 25 pages is devoted to the actual "system." Although it may work great for them, for most of us disorganized types we read it and say, "What?" I need a lot more hand-holding, step-by-step instructions. It seemed that this was a book of their experience and then they did a drive-by when it came to helping us put into practice what they did.

The guts of the book: Their system revolves around the use of 3x5 cards. I do like that part, because I have grown so weary of "lists," and have recently changed to index cards exclusively. Lists always need changed or rewritten. Cards can be "recycled" for future reminders, or thrown away if the task is done. And I'm just a more tangible, visible, feel-it type of person. Also, with lists, all I need to do is look at it once and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. I need to "see" one task at a time. In any case, the last thing I wanted to do after reading this book was to try and figure out and implement their particualar 3x5 system. Way too complicated with way too little instruction in how to really get it up and running, even though I've read several books on organizing, and have experimented with many "systems." I did pick up a few tips here and there that were helpful in my continuing quest for creating my own personal efficient and effective task, time, and information management system.

The flavor of the book: As well as home-spun stories with glaringly real anecdotes of their daily life, the book is interspersed with poems, cartoons, and their philosophy on life and happiness.

Evangelical Alert: The book is interspersed with occasional god-talk and spirituality, but loosely defined. On one page they quote Oral Roberts and Paramahansa Yogananda right after each other. In one chapter they discuss the effect that "getting their act together" had on their marriage. Peggy's went through some changes, but came out better. Pam ended up divorcing her "critical" husband.

Quote from book: A disorganized person's Christmas prayer (p. 96) "O Lord, bless my desperate search for the twenty-five gifts I need to find in two hours. Let ther be cash somewhere I havent' looked, and let my bank card work one more time without an authorization call. Let there be just one more Polly Puberty Doll somewhere and let there be batteries included. Guide me to just the right store, and lead me to the correct sizes and colors. Let each selection be exactly what my loved ones had hoped and dreamed for. Keep me calm as I grope through crowds, scrounge through sale items, and dash up and down escalators. O Lord, forgive me for leaving this to the last minute again. If you'll get me through this one more time, I promise I'll get organized."
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