Ditch Perfectionism, That Double-Edge Sword

Perfectionism is a real double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it can drive you to achieve exceptional things, even in the face of obstacles. Michelangelo’s perfectionism, for example, gave us masterpieces that will be enjoyed for centuries. On the other hand, when run amok, it can be a huge productivity killer, leading to procrastination, workaholism, and chronic dissatisfaction. When it comes to getting yourself organized, perfectionism is usually your worst enemy. That’s why we’re such big proponents of ditching perfection when it comes to getting yourself Buttoned Up.

Sarah on “You Don’t Need to Quintuple Check Everything”

“Yes, some things are very important to get right. Others aren’t. Knowing the difference can save you lots of time and countless headaches. For example, it’s important to get your tax return right, as some of Obama’s cabinet nominees are now finding out. So getting your tax information organized and arranging for someone to double check your figures is a wise thing to do. But it’s not so important to have a ‘perfectly’ made bed, color-coordinated closets, or an impeccable kitchen pantry. What is important is having a functional household. So, rather than holding yourself to exacting standards that are impossible to keep up in the day-to-day rush, focus on functionality. In letting go, you might just be surprised at how much time you gain.”

Alicia on “The Clutter Conundrum”

“Clutter haunts us everywhere: the basement, the attic, the closet, my daughter’s room, my husband’s desk. Just when we think we have it tackled and the house looking pristine, more clutter makes its way into the house. We finally decided to take a cue from our own rulebook and stop chasing an unrealistic ideal of a clutter-free house. Instead, we decided to put some things, like a mail station and a toy bin, in place to help us wrangle the clutter more effectively on a day-to-day basis. The beauty is, as soon as we let go a little bit, we stopped feeling like failures around the house, and we’re probably more on top of the clutter than we ever have been.”

Here are some additional thoughts on how you can ditch perfection to your advantage in the year to come.

1. Ditch the One Thing Too Many
We all want the best for our families, and so it’s natural to want to want your children to participate in enriching activities. However, it’s easy to go overboard and end up in an over-scheduled nightmare. Every family probably has something on their plate that is just too much, and sends them right over the edge. Stop trying to do it all and cut one thing out this year that is hindering more than helping your positive state of mind.

2. Ditch Never
Perfectionism is holding you back if you think (or even say out loud) “I’ll never get that basement cleaned or my finances will never be in order.” Procrastination is a direct result of the anxiety created by your need to do something perfectly. It may be daunting to think about creating a reasonable family budget, but two things can help you break the procrastination logjam. First focus on the benefit of finishing the project, for example, creating a budget can help you eliminate credit card debt, and wash away that constant stress. Second, break the project down into smaller, bite-sized tasks. Once you start to make progress, any progress, you are much more likely to keep going until you finish.

3. Ditch Your Inner Control Freak
Learn to ask others for help, especially when it comes to maintaining the house. Chances are the people you are going to ask for help are not going to do things ‘perfectly’ or even your way. But by letting go of non-essential tasks, you’ll gain more time to do what you really want to do. And who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised to see how much better someone does a task around the house than you.