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Letting Go of Perfection

posted Dec 14, 2010, 7:54 AM by Kristin Mastromarino Vander Wiede

Tuesday's response to a new series The Imperfect Perfectionist found on Life With Wendy where she is partnering with Kristin ( (a Professional Organizer and owner of The Organized Lifestyle Store, to find a way to manage her time and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

I commend Wendy for narrowing down her goals to take care of her family, write and find peace. In addition, it was an important exercise for her to journal how a typical day goes hour by hour, because now she can visually see how her time is really mapped out.  Like many busy moms she feels that the cycle of familial duties is endless and there is no hope of getting to her own needs.  The theme of guilt runs rampant in her list of daily duties.  Whether you are a busy mom or multi-tasking career woman, the same rules seem to apply.  Wendy, there is hope and you can find your own Zen without compromising all of your goals.  You should commend yourself for finding at least an hour to write during the day.  With all that you are juggling you are still supporting most the goals that you have set.

Let's take the example of having all of the women over from your book club and losing the pork roast to your dog's overzealous appetite.  When faced with that last minute tragedy you were probably able to pull something together quickly, laugh with your guests about it and they still had a great time at your house.  Having a back-up plan is important, but even if you don't it is not the end of the world.  It sounds like you already had a far more jam packed schedule than you anticipated that day to be entertaining at the level you wanted to.  You spent a lot of time and energy stressing over the perfect meal days before.  In the end, it was the company that mattered and your ability to enjoy the event, not whether the roast had the perfect garnish.  

Now I am not saying to lower your standards or diminish your goals, but understanding what your fundamental goals are will help you fully understand what to be spending your time on.  Having the perfect meal that night didn't support taking care of your family, writing or finding peace.  In fact, it sounds like it added more stress and pressure to your already jam packed schedule.  Being present in life is far more important than whether you got the details perfect.

Wendy is beginning to understand you can't increase the amount of time you have, you can only accept what you can actually do in a day and be at peace with that.  This is more of a mental challenge than an a physical organizational challenge and it is a key step in feeling completely organized.  It is tough to decide what activities we should strive for perfection on.   But at the end of the day, Wendy needs to come to an acceptance that she can't do everything perfectly without it all crashing down at some point.   It is better to focus on a few things to be perfect on and let the rest slide.  She should change her inner voice to congratulate her on getting some writing time in, saving the book club dinner and getting all of the kids taken care of instead of beating herself up for giving in to some mental distractions, which her peace seeking side probably desperately needs.

What things can Wendy cut out of her schedule to make her day flow a little better?  Here are some suggestions to try this coming week:

1.  Make a bunch of meals for the family on the weekend so dinner prep can be quicker and just be reheated during the week.  You will still be able to make homemade meals, but not interrupt yourself as often during the week to prep them.  You might gain an extra hour or two before the kids come home.
2.  Make more crockpot meals that can be started at the beginning of the day and served on your own time.
3.  Start teaching your kids to do their own laundry to free up time every morning and take the burden off of you.
4.  Try disciplining yourself to ignore e-mail, twitter and facebook the minute you sit down to your computer.  Write first then play later to help yourself focus right off the bat.  Don't even open the sites or log in until you have done some focused writing.
5.  When your kids do homework, sit with them and do your own work so you can ensure they are staying focused and encourage quiet time for the whole family.

While these steps may not alieviate all of the stress and guilt your are feeling each day, they will be a step in the right direction to allow to feel like you are carrying less of your family's world on your shoulders.  

Check in next Monday to see how Wendy did with this week's homework!