Are you suffering from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? Has your kitchen table disappeared under a mountain of clutter? Did you spend most of the morning searching for an overdue phone bill that simply must be paid today? If so, you're certainly not alone. As Marla Cilley has discovered, there are tens of thousands possibly millions of us who simply can't keep our houses neat and tidy. Cilley decided to come to the rescue by stepping into a phone booth and emerging as The FlyLady, a superwoman of household organization who rescues the messiest from their dusty, dirty, clutter-laden homes.

Cilley is the chief housekeeper-in-residence at a popular Web site, www.flylady.net, and earlier this year she self-published a book for the overwhelmed, overextended and overdrawn: Sink Reflections: FlyLady's BabyStep Guide to Overcoming CHAOS. The first printing of the book sold out so quickly that it was snapped up by Bantam Books, which is publishing a trade paperback edition this month ($14.95, 223 pages, ISBN 0553382179).

Cilley's approach is light-hearted, supportive and sometimes even fun, as the 130,000 subscribers to her Web site have learned. Her commandments range from the 27-Fling Boogie (in which you run through your house at a dizzying pace and grab 27 items to throw away) to the Hot Spot Fire Drill (a twice-a-day cleanup of an area that attracts clutter). After reforming her own disorganized ways a few years ago ( my home was full of clutter, my sink was overrun with dirty dishes and I looked like a truck had just run over me ) Cilley set up a small e-mail group to counsel others. The group evolved into her popular Web site, which she runs with a crew of five from her home in the North Carolina mountains. BookPage recently asked the FlyLady for some help in crawling out from under our own mountain of stuff.

BookPage: Help! My house/life is in total CHAOS. How do I take that daunting first step toward fixing it? Marla Cilley: Go shine your kitchen sink! Quit looking at the big picture and just take the first babystep and shine that sink! You write that the FlyLady program really isn't about cleaning. What is the heart of your message to the messy? If you take care of yourself first and I mean FLY(Finally Loving Yourself), your home and life will fall right into place. BabySteps, BabySteps, BabySteps. Establish the foundations of small routines and before you know it, you will find the peace you are looking for.

Who are the typical subscribers to your Web site? They are from all walks of life: FLY Guys, homeschooling parents, retired people. You name it and we have them in our cyber-family. FLYing works for anyone who has a home and is tired of living in CHAOS! Does your own house ever lapse into CHAOS? NO! Occasionally I have a hot spot get out of control, but it only takes five minutes to put out that fire! My routines allow us the freedom to open our door to guests at a moment's notice.

What's the hardest thing you've ever parted with in a 27-Fling Boogie? Flinging becomes fun after a little while. I have never parted with anything that made me smile. If it doesn't, it is out of here. It is so easy if you can ask yourself a simple question. Do I love you? Do I use you? Do I have a place for you? If you can honestly answer these questions, then the item is worth keeping. If not, look out the flinging has begun! What's the household chore you dread the most, and how do you convince yourself to do it anyway? I don't dread any of them, because none of them take more than 15 minutes to do and I can do anything for 15 minutes! When my timer goes off, I get to stop! The holidays are approaching, and I can't find my dining room table under all the clutter. How can I uncover it in time for Thanksgiving? Find your garbage can first and use it! The trashcan is my favorite filing system! Toss it out!

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