We try to do it all, and we try to do it all perfectly. We want to be totally on top of everything at work, at home, in our relationships and in our personal activities. While being excellent at everything we do is admirable, it isn’t feasible for most of us, not if we’re going to stay sane with our dual lives. I used to travel five days a week. Then on my two days at homeI’d try to spend quality time with my kids, clean the house, get to the grocery store to stock up the food for the next week, pay the bills, unpack, do the laundry, repack again. It was a whirlwind couple of days each week. At work, I’d want every task done on time and perfect, and I wanted to be focused on my career growth at the same time. As I worked on my Master’s degree (yes, I should’ve had my head examined!), I wanted every paper and every test to be ‘A’ work. I was driving myself ‘round in circles trying to do everything perfectly.
Then one day a few years ago, my friend and co-worker Laura said to me “there’s a point where good is good enough, and there are diminishing returns in trying to get it perfect.” In other words, a report for work is going to deliver its message without me trying to wordsmith it over and over (and over and over!); the house is going to be clean enough without me dusting every corner every week; my client won’t rebel if I wear the same outfit within a couple of weeks; and delegating a task to someone else, even though I can do the task better, makes practical sense.
These words of advice have stuck with me and they may help you also. Keep questioning yourself with “is it good enough?” Try this first with your emails: Type up an email, give it a once-over to ensure that all is spelled correctly, has a good tone and gets to the point, and press SEND! Just by me hitting Send quicker on each email, I’m saving oodles of time! Next try it with your bill paying: Set up your credit cards and other bills for automatic payment each month. I scan each credit card statement online to ensure it’s correct, and then the credit card is paid from my checking account on the day it’s due. I only spend 15-30 minutes a month on all of my bills. And don’t ask me the last year that I balanced my checkbook! I scan my bank statement, which (knock on wood!) has been correct for years and years, and if I’m off a few dollars, oh well! It’s not worth my time…
Packing your suitcase: Select one pants and/or skirt color for the week (black, gray, blue) so you can mix-and-match easier. Instead of staring at your clothes forever trying to decide what to pack, just grab a few items that will work together (different shoes or scarves or jewelry also) and don’t worry about being a fashion model every week!
Here are some tasks you can streamline just by knowing good is good enough:
- Hit Send on emails after one review: 20 minutes a day/ 100 minutes a week/ almost 7 hours a month!
- Grab-and-go packing: 30 minutes each week/ 2 hours a month!
- Automatic bill paying: 2 hours each month / 24 hours each year
- Skip the checkbook balancing (heresy!): 1 hour each month / 12 hours each year.
- Hire a maid: 4 hours each week / 16 hours a month /8 full days a year!
And more ideas:
- Update your nail polish every other week instead of weekly (just do a quick touch-up if needed)
- Hire a virtual assistant (whether it be a neighbor kid or an online assistant) to do whatever chores you don’t have time for (walking the dog, doing your online shopping for family gifts). Virtual Assistances can be found at such places as IVAA and Elance. Yes it costs, but your time is worth much more!
- Let others make your meals for at-home dining, such as Super Suppers. They even have gift cards which are nice to give and receive!
- Have a dry-cleaning service pick up at your house
- Let the family fold and put away the clean clothes, even if they don’t fold as good as you do.
Now if only I could get someone to exercise for me, and yet I lose the weight…