The pain of Perfectionism

Anyone who knows me would never believe that I am a perfectionist!  I can barely believe it myself.  If you took a quick peek in my car at the moment, you would be certain that I wasn’t!  Unfortunately its true.  I always pictured a perfectionist as a “Martha Stewart” type — super organized, everything in its place, doing everything under the sun in the most perfectly planned way.  That is totally not me!  Martha Stewart is what we call a Born Organized (B.O.) person.  I was born to organize, but I don’t stay that way very well.  I am the other type of perfectionist.  And there is a large group of us.  I am a member of the All or Nothing Perfectionists Club (and not so proud of it).  I want things to be done just right, and if I can’t do it that way, I become frozen or I put things off I until I can’t take it anymore.  Growing up, my bedroom was either in a state of total chaos with very little carpet to be seen, or it was in a state of utter perfection with not a thing on the floor and everything shined up like a magazine ad.  The latter was seen far less due to my perfectionism.  If my mom tossed some of my things in there while doing her cleaning, my dream of perfection was shattered, and I would allow it to disolve rapidly back into chaos.  If it wasn’t going to look great, then oh well, who needs a clean bedroom!!  Before we were married, my husband saw my bedroom when I needed him to repair a broken door knob.  Luckily, it was an utter perfection day.  He actually commented, “Your room looks like a hotel room!”  I was so proud of my achievement.  I was certain he thought I was fabulous.  Unfortunately, I think I offered him some false advertising of what my future home might look like.  Luckily, over the years I have been learning how to tame the perfectionism beast and my days between chaos and sheer glorious organization are more evenly divided.  But its still a daily battle.  For weeks I have been working on my 1st blog entry, but because I was wanting it just right, it just wasn’t happening.  So, I finally decided to battle my Perfectionism Monster head on, and I promptly changed today’s topic to perfectionism!  I’m FREE!!

You may be wondering what has been helping me to deal with this little annoying character trait.  10 years ago, I found the Flylady!  Marla Cilley (aka the Flylady) is the author of the fabulous book “Sink Reflections”.  It is a guide for the cleaning and organizing challenged to create balance in their homes.  If you haven’t read it, and your home life is in need of a little love and balance, go get it NOW!!  Her guidance has helped me to get things together, and has inspired me to help others create happier homes for their families.  Here are a few tools I am using to get over the dreaded “P” word:

1. Make a List  On days where I feel overwhelmed with things to do, and I just want to say “to heck with it”, I grab a sheet of paper and starting making a mile long list of all I have to do.  The panic begins to subside as the pen hits the paper.  Next, I grab a highlighter and I pick the 3 most urgent or necessary task to highlight.  Then I set my timer for 15 min.  and I get going on task #1 from my highlighted priorities.  If I get nothing else done for the day, my top 3 are taken care of, and I am no longer frozen on the couch till my husband gets home.

2. Home Rescue Bingo  This is one of my favorite “games” when my house is a wreck and needs some loving.  You play alone or with a buddy (over the phone or online).  You choose 6 rooms of your home and list them out on paper.  (You may have more than 6 rooms, but pick 6 for now).  You are going to spend 10 speedy minutes in each of these rooms putting it in order.  Grab your timer and race the clock.  You are not going to finish the room in 10 min. but you can make a nice dent in there.  Fight the urge to stay in there and work and head to the next room.  In 60 min., you will have made progress in every room of your home.  If you play this with a friend, one person is the “Bingo caller”.  The caller will announce out of order which rooms on your list need to go next.  Its a fun way to make housecleaning a little bit more bearable.

3. Break it into babysteps There are just some jobs that beg to be done right.  And there is nothing so satisfying as a job well done.  But I don’t have time to spend 3 days clearing out my scrapbooking area!!  So, what do you do?  You break the task into chunks.  For decluttering your house, you can plan 15 min. a day to get rid of things you no longer love.  Or set aside 10 min. each week to begin and tweak a Household notebook.  You can apply this principle to any big project that doesn’t have a close due date.  A friend recently gave me a 1-Minute a Day Challenge.  The challenge was to build up to an hour a day on a chosen activity by adding 1 min. (yes, only 1 min.) each day.  You start with 5 min. on your task and add 1 minute each day for 8 weeks.  It is amazing how much you can do in a short focused burst of time.  And because I break it up, I can be as P***** as I want, or let’s just say “a job done well”.  I’ve already sorted through my vast supply of scrapbooking gear (which fills an entire 8 ft. wide buffet table) in a week’s time because of this challenge.  Try breaking your tasks up and see how it works.

So how about you?  Are you a closet Perfectionist too?  Join the club.  We can fight this monster together.  Don’t let it get you stuck.  Make a plan and get up and do something.  We want to see progress, not perfection!  Who was I kidding, my bedroom wasn’t going to stay perfect — I’m also “pick up after yourself” challenged.  But that’s a whole other topic!