Perfectionism is a Problem

I’m sort of an anxious perfectionistic sort of person.  Okay, “sort of” is an understatement. But one of the worst consequences of my ailment is that I put off organization and other home projects, because the idea that I may not do it perfectly or exactly right overwhelms me.  So instead of just doing a “good enough” job, I put it off.
But then can never really relax, because while I’m “relaxing” I’m thinking about that home project I should be working on.  So my down time isn’t enjoyable or relaxing,
because I spend it feeling guilty about what I’m not doing.

So why am I sharing this?  I’m not really. I’m writing this entry as more of a note to my future self to remind myself that the projects are never as bad as they seem once I
just start them.  And the feeling of satisfaction for getting a “checkmark” for doing the project is so worth getting off my rear and starting.

I have two daughters, ages 3 and 7. The are super.  They have a lot of stuff.  We have a wonderfully supportive and giving family, which means they have probably have even slightly more stuff than the average 3 or 7 year old.  That includes lots of big toys, and lots of toys with a million tiny little component parts.  We have a small house.  The stuff overwhelms me.  So, I tend to just put it in our upstairs dormer, aka the playroom/spare bedroom connected to the office-athroom (that’s a desk and a filing cabinet where a tub would otherwise be in a half bathroom – I told you it’s a small house).     When the stuff out of sight, I don’t have to think about the disorganization, feel the guilt about the excess, the shame about the mess.  That is, until the rare occasion when I have
to go up there for something, which I did several weeks ago.  You might have heard me screaming.  The chaos and mess that I found sent me into a total avoidance induced funk, not wanting to see it, deal with it, or clean it.

For at least three weeks, every time I sat down, got on Facebook, watched Oprah’s Lifeclass, or read a book, I was tormented.

“I HAVE to clean that upstairs,” I told myself.

“But I don’t want to.  It’s such a mess, I just can’t deal with it.” I replied.

“Christmas is coming. There is no room up there for any of the inundation of  more stuff they are sure to get, then it will be worse,” I said sternly, feeling guilty about even
the thought of complaining about gifts.

“But if I start that, then I’ll also have to clean out the office-athroom, which is even worse, then the kids bedroom closet, then my kitchen cabinets, and dear God the basement is a disaster zone, it’s just too much,” I whined, in a really annoying whiny inner voice.

But today, I just did it.  I involved both of the kids.  My seven year old was a champ.  She was hesitant at first, but by the end she was enthusiastically taking things to the
trash, goodwill, and resell piles. My three year old basically just ran around and compounded the mess.  But she’s cute.  It took a long time. It wasn’t really that fun.  But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had been anticipating, and it feels SO GOOD to have it organized and to have cleared so much clutter out of the house.  And I felt it was accomplishment enough that I was able to restrain myself from moving on to one of the many other projects I listed during my conversation with myself.  That was sarcasm. I’m already starting to sort of dread those projects.  But I think the momentum I gained today from cleaning the upstairs will motivate me not to worry about and put off the next
project for very long.  The upstairs is so peaceful and organized now, I might just head up there the next time I want to check Facebook or read!

Any good tips for handling overwhelming home projects, controlling clutter, or just getting off the couch to get something done?

-Beth FS

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One Response to Perfectionism is a Problem

  1. the2beths says:

    I have to break almost all jobs into small mentally manageable tasks. For instance, emptying dishwasher and loading it…my first thought is, “I will put away five items.” Then sometimes I just put the 5 away, and other times I go back 2 or 3 times and just do the 5. But, normally, the momentume from the first 5 gets me to finish the chore. And sometimes it doesn’t. : )
    -Beth WA

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