Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
I used to wake up every day with the idea that I will get through my entire to-do list. I imagined I would walk 10,000 steps (thank you, treadmill because with the below zero temps here in NY, walking outside isn’t happening), cook dinner for the family, make sure all of the cats get some exercise, write for my own blog, work on the content for my new blog project, work on client tasks, snuggle Henrietta, read a chapter in a book and work on a crochet project. That is my waking thought… almost every day. I’m exhausted even writing it. Honestly, I sometimes used to get exhausted before my feet even hit the floor.
Why did I do all that to myself every day? A perfectionist complex, I think. I felt I might “win a prize” if I finished everything on my list and lived to tell about it. Actually, what happened is my health suffered. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and was forced to slow down. I wish I knew then what I know now. You don’t have to have a to-do list that even a robot couldn’t complete. You don’t need to do everything all in one day. Yes, it is a great idea to get in the recommended 10,000 steps a day, but honestly sometimes no matter how long I spend on the treadmill I just can’t get 10,000; some days I am happy to get 7,500 and honestly 7,500 is better than 500, right?
What I decided to do, in the midst of oncologist visits and surgeries and treatments was to accept that I am “imperfectly perfect” and that became a mantra. I can only do so much… if I wanted to have a life. Believe me, when I took on that list of tasks I wrote in that first paragraph I didn’t spend much time with my family. Even when I was in the same room with them I was on the computer, talking on the phone, plotting out my next day’s to-do list. Being diagnosed made me realize I’d rather have my family remember me as someone who burned the dinner rather than someone who never even attempted to cook the dinner. I understood that even if I live to be 150 years-old I will never get through all of the books, cover to cover, on my shelves so I cut myself some slack and will pick up a book, thumb through to a chapter that intrigues me and read that while I eat lunch. I can’t do it all, but I can do enough to make a living, keep me content and still have a work life balance and, what I consider, a great quality of life.
Here is my imperfectly imperfect blogging advice for you whether you’re a newbie blogger or a long timer:
- Set yourself doable amounts of to-dos. You may really want to get all of your blog posts written in one day, but is that truly feasible? Will you be pulling your hair out by the time you get through half of them? Even if you blog three times a week, it can be a daunting task especially if life throws you a curveball. If you can’t get to three in a week, cut yourself some slack. If you know your readers will be at your site wondering where the post is, write a brief, “Life got crazy busy this week. Check back Monday for a new post. Hey, why not share with me what you do when your life gets crazy busy!”
- Take a break. It’s true your to-do list will not complete itself, but if you don’t take a break, give both your mind and body a breather you will burn out and honestly, you will not perform at your peak. I used to believe that I did so much better under pressure and when I was multitasking but the fact of the matter is — you don’t perform at your peak either under pressure or when you’re multitasking. Work on one project at a time. Set realistic deadlines.
- Make time to laugh. Life is too short to be so purposefully driven that you don’t take time to enjoy the now. Taking time to smell the roses used to be a cliche in my mind, but after dealing with the past two years of treatment and recovery I make certain that no matter what I am doing I am in the moment… just doing that. This also goes along with multitasking. In the past I would be on the phone, writing a blog post, and perhaps even surfing Facebook. When I did that no one and nothing got my undivided attention. In the past I could be at a family event but I’d still be on my phone working or planning and I would miss the conversations, I didn’t get involved in the card games, I didn’t participate and now I realize all of the good times I missed — I am making up for them now because I am present in every activity I participate in. I no longer am at one event wondering, “what will I do when this is over.”
What can you do to embrace being imperfectly perfect? How can you give yourself a break so you can enjoy life and who knows… your productivity just might soar!