Do you suffer from perfectionism?

If you’ve ever been for a job interview, you’ve probably been asked the most awful interview question, “what is your biggest weakness?”

At that point you probably want to position yourself in the best possible light so you frantically scramble and try to think of a weakness that’s not too bad.

I’ll confess that years ago when I used to go for job interviews I used to answer that biggest weakness was that I was a perfectionist.

It is a weakness and yet it’s a weakness that is seen as a strength by a lot of people because it shows great attention to detail and quality orientation.

Nowadays though, I would bite my tongue before admitting that trait.

These days, I could safely say I’m a recovering perfectionist but it’s definitely not something I’m in the least bit proud of. It’s something I worked very hard on for a few years and when I see it rearing its head, I reign it back and tell myself the truth.

Perfectionism robs me of living a full and happy life.

Do you think of yourself as a perfectionist?

I love this quote by Julia Cameron: “perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”

How do you know if you’re a perfectionist?

You may be a perfectionist if…

  1. you think you’re the only person who can do something exactly right
  2. you don’t even bother to do something unless you can do it 100% perfectly
  3. you never ask for help because that’s a sign of weakness
  4. you’d rather not try than do something badly or failing at it
  5. you tend to notice others’ mistakes before noticing their strengths
  6. other people have called you a control freak

If you’re constantly striving for the elusive perfection, you’re never going to be happy to just be.

Your relationships will suffer and so will your productivity.

Perfectionism has also been related to illnesses such as eating disorders, anxiety, depression and a host of relationship and emotional problems.

As I said, I used to be a fully-fledged perfectionist until I wised up.

I had to learn to let go a little, lower my impossible standards and change my language.

When my twins were born, I realised very quickly that I could either have everything done to my exacting standards and never sleep, or I could relax those standards a bit so that things could still get done, even if not exactly how I would have liked, and actually have a bit of a life.

I also started telling myself, “80% is good enough” and it is. Most things in life are not a matter of life and death and we all need to realize it. I knew this from my years of delegating work to staff but it escaped my home life a bit.

That realization was freedom to me.

Are you aware that if it takes you double the time to “perfect” something when the first half was good enough already? I’ve just spent about 40 minutes writing this article. If I wanted to get it “perfect”, it would take another 40 minutes and nobody would even notice the minor differences.

That trend applies to most things in life and it’s just not worth it.

Are you a perfectionist? Is it something you’re proud of or have you already started seeing the limitations in your life?

PS Gretchen Rubin did a podcast recently on perfectionism which I LOVED. You can listen to it here (it’s episode 126 if you don’t use itunes)

How I get it “all” done

When people hear that I work full-time, am married, have twins and coach time management part-time, they often ask me how I get it all done.

First I laugh and then I realise that it’s a serious question.

The short answer is that I don’t.

Yes, I do a lot but the bigger question is what I don’t get done.

Let me explain and also help you to get it “all” done:

  1. Get very clear on your life’s purpose

I have a life mission typed out and I know my definition of success in life.

I also know my values. A quick secret – one of those values is not to have the laundry perfectly done (I don’t ever do ironing!), but it is to take action and just get the clothes clean.

Are you clear on your life purpose?

  1. Make friends with “good enough”

It’s better to have something done than to have it perfect.

If you’re cringing at that sentence, know that I used to be you. That was until I realized that trying to get the last 20% of any project perfect usually takes more time than the previous 80%.

E.g. If we were to make a picture collage, it would take just a few minutes to select photos and group them in a collage. The playing around to get the best configuration with the best background and font, and so on takes 3 – 5 times longer than just creating the initial collage.  If you organize a space, decluttering and arranging the zones takes less time than all the faffing afterwards to make it “Pinterest-perfect”.

There is a time and place for prettying something up – maybe for your children’s birthday party but for general sending out of occasional photos to family or just tidying your desk, that level of extreme detail is not necessary.

Do you know when 80% is enough in your life, or are you still stuck on being perfect?

  1. Make a To Not Do list

We all know there are 24 hours in a day and there is not enough time to do everything.

It’s far more important these days to know which things to leave on the To Not Do list.

  • In my business, I do only things that need my “essence” and delegate the rest to my virtual assistant.
  • In my personal life, it’s important for me to cook from scratch but it’s not important for me to peel and chop all the vegetables myself.

Can you see the difference?

  1. Decide where you want to use your time and don’t feel guilty about it

Be intentional about your time usage. If reading is your thing like it is with me, then don’t feel guilty about cuddling up with a book and a mug of tea every day for an hour after supper.

If you scroll Instagram to unwind, then be conscious that you’re doing that and own it. Admit that you want to scroll Instagram for an hour every evening, and enjoy it.

Don’t feel guilty about the time but know why you’re doing it.

Of course I do procrastinate sometimes by too much time on blogs or Instagram but since I generally get things done, occasionally if I slip up, I don’t beat myself up about it.

How about you?

Where do you want to be spending your time and why? Are you intentional about it?

  1. Take consistent action

Unfortunately getting things done is not going to just happen unless you take consistent action.

Whether it’s moving forward with a big leap or lots of little leaps, I try to take some action every day.

I’m fairly good at constantly reviewing where I am in relation to my goals weekly and monthly.

Do you take enough regular action?

To end off, let me leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

-Lin Yutang 

 

I’m curious.

What’s on your to not do list? (we all have one)

Where in your life have you let go of perfectionism?

{Organising} Don’t wait for perfect

Before I get to today’s post, I’m very pleased to announce that the new e-course Help! I need more time is now open for registration.

I haven’t hosted this new format in my e-courses before but I’ve had very good success in using it.

Help! I need more time

There’s just enough teaching, just enough action, and if you do have a busy week, 3 days to catch up on the weekends.

The ideal format for busy working women, whether you work inside or outside the home without overwhelming you.

Please pop on over and join me on your journey to less stress, less overwhelm and more time to breathe.

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A freezer inventory is the only way I can keep control of the food within my chest freezer.

I started making this inventory the other day and I realised that this is cobbled together and not nearly as pretty or pinnable for Pinterest, and I love it like that.

If you look closely, it’s a cleanmama printable I had around. So I stuck a white label on it, called it Freezer Inventory and got to it.

IMG_5015

So often I feel that we want things to be perfect before we just do them.

I love Pinterest and blogs (probably too much) but the downside to all the pretty is that a lot of us think this is the way things need to be to be “right”.

We spend hours finding the right list or productivity app, time we could have spent actually doing something on a to-do list written in a notebook with a pen.

No.

Aim for 70 – 80% and you’ll be just fine. This is not brain surgery where 100% is necessary.

We are simply creating a reasonably organised life so we can have some peace.

Don’t overcomplicate things.

I don’t. I really just use whatever I have at my disposal and my home is well organised.

If you need a box, grab a shoebox or cut down a cereal box. You don’t have to go to the shops and buy the prettiest box for R130. It’s not necessary.

Where are you overcomplicating things?

Do you over-organise in an effort to procrastinate on just getting it done?

How I eventually got the baby book project done

  • 350 photos
  • 6 albums,
  • about 50 post-it notes

I’m so glad it’s finally done.

Here are a few pics of what the final result looked like.

Honestly, the only way I eventually got over the analysis paralysis was to let go of my perfectionism.

Initially I thought that I would choose exactly 4 pics from each month per child and end up with 48 plus a birth pic and a first birthday pic = 50 as the photo journals take exactly 50 photos.

That didn’t work – it just frustrated me to no end.

So I used both sides of the pages since I’m not a journaller – the occasional caption is as good as it gets – and I just included every photo that I liked.

That means I was able to get 9 months of Kendra into her journal and only 7 months of Connor (he went through a really cute stage at 7 months plus he had a little hospital incident and I needed pics of the cutest little patient ever; she went through a really cute stage at 9 months)

Once I let go of my self-imposed rules, I worked through all the months’ photos quite easily.

And now that that’s done, I think I need to do 12 – 24 months 🙂 This time though, I’m only doing photos that are REALLY good. It’s going to get even more difficult once I get to Dec 2011 because that’s when I bought the big camera and got LOTS of lovely pics every month.

Have you done a baby book for your kids?

Some must-read links

beach

I suspect many people fall prey to perfectionism. That’s why I loved this post.

A no for a yes

You are enough. With or without goals

Which was your favourite one?

{31 days of easy organising solutions} – done is better than perfect

 

Today’s post is going to hit hard with some of you.

Because a lot of us have messages from our childhood that if you can’t do something properly, to not bother doing it at all.

Right?

That very message is one that’s paralysing to us when we get to “real life” (adulthood).

If you wait for perfect you might never do anything at all.

I remember after my twins were born, I was happy to have 5 minutes to myself to read at least one blog post or a few pages of my book.

Success was drinking a mug of tea and having it be hot all the way through (my babies were born in the heart of winter).

I had to organise in the same way – 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there.

And most importantly, I had to leave perfect at the door once and for all.

Done was definitely better than perfect.

Where do you need to just get things done instead of waiting for perfect?

My book, Live Organised, will help you set up the systems you need to make your life flow smoothly. Available on Kindle and as a physical book.

 

How to avoid Pinterest overwhelm

I’ve always seen Pinterest as the easiest way for me to organise and store all the website links I’d previously bookmarked, and by category too.

And when I look at one of my boards, it’s a whole lot of inspiration in one place.

I also browse a little to get some tips, tricks and ideas for specific purposes, like now as I’m planning my babies’ 3rd birthday party, or even if I want to do a craft with, let’s say washi tape.

I see 3 problems with Pinterest.

1. Pinning can get complicated

There’s been quite a bit of internet drama about ethical pinning and first checking if the original blogger allows pinning, etc.

I get some of it but mostly I think if your work is out there and it’s cute, it’s going to get pinned. I certainly do the best I can but I’m not the internet police.

(feel free to disagree with me in the comments)

I do think that most people feel flattered when their creations are pinned. I know I do! *hint, hint*

Solution – when you pin, make sure that it points to a specific page on a blog and not the general blog address

2. Perfectionism

 

We start thinking that these beautiful snippets of people’s homes mean that their lives are perfect and ours are not. We think that other mothers are perfect because they’re crafting with their kids all the time and we’re not. We think that other people are more creative (okay, this part may be true, especially in my case) and we’re less than because we have other strengths.

Solution – Realise that you may have different gifts. Also, if a blogger shows a pic of a perfect room, you can be 100% sure that room doesn’t look like that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They’ve staged the room to take a pretty pic for the blog.

3. Overwhelm

I see from the blogs I read and from my own Pinterest status updates that people are on there a LOT.

I don’t go on and “get lost” because I pin with a purpose. Remember I primarily use Pinterest to store links.

In my view, the point of a site like Pinterest is to inspire you to (sometimes) take action.

I love that there are blogs out there who regularly host parties so you can link up the things you did that were inspired by Pinterest. Just google and you’ll see.

If you’re getting overwhelmed and you’ve stopped taking action, it may be that you have too many pins so you don’t know where to start.

 

From my coaching work with many creative people, creativity actually increases if there are some boundaries and order.

E.g. if I provide a canvas and only one or two other supplies, you’d probably be more creative than if I left you in a room FULL of supplies as you wouldn’t know where to start.

Solution – go through one of your boards, be honest with yourself and delete the pins you know you’ll never do. Then pick the easiest thing to do (maybe something you have all the supplies for) and just do it.

Once you get your motivation up, you can pick another and start taking action again.

To avoid Pinterest overwhelm, set a fun goal to do something, no matter how imperfectly, at least once a month. It’s even better if you invite a friend and make a date of it.

My word of the year is CREATE and I choose at least two, but sometimes even more crafts, especially if they’re easy to do (my favourites).

 This week’s coaching challenge 

1. Take action on anything (or two) on your to-do list, whether on a Pinterest board or not. Your to-do list will do 🙂

2. If you need help or support, contact me for a once-off coaching session to get unstuck or book a get-acquainted chat with me to see if we’re a good fit for a monthly coaching relationship.

Do you suffer with Pinterest overwhelm?

Please share what’s working for you.

 

Let go of your perfectionism

I had a lovely lazy Easter weekend – lots of reading, some napping, lots of creating, lots of decluttering and organising, family time and socials.

The only thing I didn’t do enough of was cooking – and that was just fine with me 🙂

My little boy, Connor, even announced that we had to go back to the zoo because we took them on Monday.

squeezing the life out of his sister and strangely, she doesn't mind 🙂

 Autumn is in full swing in Joburg and I took tons of pictures of the leaves on Monday.

 

I’ve signed up for an online photography class (similar to my organising classes – where you get an email a day for x number of weeks) and do you know what the first lesson was about? Perfectionism!

Well… not quite but that was my aha. She said to let go of how all your settings need to be technically perfect on your camera and just look for the beauty.

Oooh, that I can do.

look for the beauty

So this week I took a very technically incorrect picture of apple slices just because the shape looked like a heart.

Where can you look for the beauty in your life?

Or where do you need to let go of your perfectionism?

What’s on your organising reality list?

I’ve recently got into crafting.

I use the word “crafting” very loosely, by the way, but I do love playing around and getting creative.

As many of you know, I do love lists and so I’ve made two lists – “things to make” and “things to make this year with supplies I already have“.

See, there’s a distinction.

One is more “pie in the sky” and very much on the nice to have list whereas the other list is more grounded in reality. I already have the supplies at home so all I have to do is take them out and CREATE.

When I was making the second list last week, I thought about how it’s the same with organising.

We have these tv/ blog/ Pinterest-like visions of what our organised homes should look like, complete with state-of-the-art organising systems, the most beautiful containers and worthy to appear on a tv show.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming, and dreaming big, but when we become paralysed and not motivated by the dream, there’s something wrong.

The thing is that those visions of perfection often leave us demotivated and uninspired to even start because you think, “what’s the point? I could never have it look like that”.

Why not rather look at your home realistically?

See what you can and are able to do and take it from there. Use what you have in the time you have available and just do the best you can do.

Read that paragraph again…

Here are some action steps for your organising REALITY list:

1. Take a piece of paper and a pen (I like a clipboard) and write down the rooms in your home that need some work. Leave space under each room heading.

2. Now walk around your house and make a list under each heading of what you want to do. For example, in the study/ home office

* tidy desk

* do filing

*put photos in photo albums/ frames, etc.

3. Choose a room to start and pick your first project.

4. Here’s the important part – use things you DO have to help you organise. The most important thing is simply a bin/ wastepaper basket.

5. Don’t let the idea of pretty stop you from having things function well. Remember a shoebox works just as well to store things as a fancy box from The Container Store.

 

Tell me honestly, do you get paralysed and overwhelmed by all the perfect organising solutions out there?

(I do when I let myself dwell on them!)

 

PS  Contact me if you need any help coming up with an organising strategy for your space. The wonders of Skype mean we can very easily consult virtually.

 

Writing a book while being a perfectionist

I’m learning a lot about myself through this book-writing process.

I’ve said often that I’m a recovering perfectionist and now I’m learning that when I’m under pressure, Perfectionism wants to rear her head.

An example…

When I thought about what I wanted to include in this book, I thought about who my reader might be. Someone who is likely overwhelmed due to disorganisation.

Such a person is not going to want to pore through every single thing I know about organising.

Bear in mind, I could quite easily write a short book about paper, another about email, etc.

So I purposed to keep it short and to the point.

I wrote the book and all was well.

Now in the reviewing process, I find myself wanting to add reams and reams more and I’ve had to reel in that perfectionistic streak and keep to my original purpose.

Just thought you’d like to know that I go through the same things you do.

Living an intentional life takes work. Hard work.

I’ve got some good momentum going now and I think it’ll only take another 4 – 6 hours before I am print-ready 🙂

I could be wrong but I’m not going to put myself under pressure as it’s all self-induced 🙂

 

Although it would be really nice to have this whole thing off my to-do list before the end of the year, right?!

Are you a perfectionist?

Do you still think it’s a good thing to be one?

Which of your goals do you want to cross off your 2011 to-do list?

PS Do you need help?

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