I come from a family filled with perfectionists. We try to do things thoughtfully and presentation is EVERYTHING. We act that if what we do is not met with “oohs and ahhhs,” then we haven’t “done it right.” There are times I let big family gatherings become productions and I feel the pressure to set the table perfectly, and decorate all the rooms…even the bathrooms! Why?
Not all my family is or has been this way. My maternal grandmother, Mammy, didn’t seem to have this compulsion. She always made sure her house was clean and tidy before concentrating on her culinary gifts. Her kitchen was her studio and her yummy dishes were the art. She didn’t sweat the small stuff.
No, my perfectionism comes from my eighty year-old momma. She is the queen of entertaining and the greatest giver-of-gifts that I have ever known. Her house is cozy, tastefully decorated, and looks like a spread from Country Living magazine. When she used to host a Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, or even St. Patrick’s Day holiday and meal, you would marvel and say, “WOW!” It all comes naturally to her. She doesn’t think about if she can do it, she just does it and all turns out great…whatever it is! This has carried over to every part of her life whether it is her herb and flower gardens or deciding to build on a screened in porch with her bare hands. Even today, if she gets an idea and decides to do it, it gets done come “hell or high water”. She lives in South Carolina now, and I am writing this article while sitting at her dining room table this weekend.
I want to carry on her legacy but I let Perfectionism and it’s evil cohort, Procrastination, get in the way too often. My ideas and good intentions to have a wonderful holiday gathering or to begin a home project, start negative conversations in my head. I think, “I know I don’t have time (money, energy, talent, etc, etc,) to do that now (Perfectionism),” OR “I can do this another time or later or soon. I can’t figure this out now but I will one day (Procrastination).” So, I never do the thing or host the get-to-gether, or even worse, wait and throw everything together at the last minute. I keep forgetting the golden rule of my momma: PREVIOUSNESS is the only way to live.
What is previousness? It is doing everything ahead of time, and planning to leave early enough so you won’t be late for that appointment or meeting. It’s starting early enough so that things are done in a timely manner to prevent being rushed or doing things “slip-shod.” This does take forward planning, and even some luck to get it the timing right. If you are “previous” then the chances of your plans working out the way you want rises exponentially.
Secondly, there is the problem of not having enough time to complete a task or project. We are all so busy! There are those who say to multitask and then others that tell us to single-task because it is more efficient in the long run. I have found that a reoccurring chore, like keeping the car clean, is a good example of not doing a project at all because it seems like such a BIG task. Broken down, the smaller components are not that bad;
- Wash outside of car (by hand or through the carwash)
- Take the things out of the car and trunk that don’t belong
- Clear out the trash
- Wipe out the interior
- Clean the inside windows and shiny parts
- Put things back in place (sunglasses in console, maps in glove compartment, etc.)
- Shake out mats
- Vacuum interior
If I do one of these things each day, my car would be clean in 8 days and it wouldn’t seem like such a daunting big deal.
Have any of you run across a book written by The Slob Sisters? I found an issue in the library when my girls were small. Their cleaning system consisted of index cards for each household chore, and the chores were broken into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks. After setting up the file you worked through your cards in sequential order according to what day of the week it was. If the chore didn’t get done, it was filed to the back of the stack and forgotten about it until the next day or whenever it popped up again. No guilt! You didn’t do the task then, but you would eventually.
I am proof here is hope. The last few months I’ve been writing down my goals and projects, then breaking them into doable, measurable chunks. And…things are getting done! If I have an hour to work on the yard, I go whack the ivy growing up the trees, pull vines, and clear brush until I have to stop. If all my bathrooms are dirty and I am short on time, I choose the one that is the dirtiest and clean that. I feel so much better to have accomplished part of what I need to do and I have momentum to get more done the next time.
Are you a perfectionist? Is procrastination part of your problem? With planning and “previousness” you can make progress toward your goals and dreams. Roll up your sleeves and make your life a success. Plan, prioritize, be previous, and prevail!