I am terrible at prioritizing. I used to think I was good at it, but here’s what my perfectionistic self would do. I would spend time up front on the non-essentials first thereby forcing myself to still accomplish the essentials.
So if I was giving my students a test the next day in one class, I would save editing the test for last (because I had to get it done) and instead focus on putting extra touches on my PowerPoint for another class. Or if guests were coming to stay, I would first finish something non-essential– deep cleaning, for example. Then I would still be forced to still pick up the clutter and clean the bathroom. But the problem was, I was constantly tired and stressed and tearfully completing the essential items with hardly any time left (if any at all).
But I have begun to practice some advice I heard when planning my wedding: choose what matters to you.
In the throes of finding vendors, a dress, and planning for life afterwards, I read a wedding article said to choose one to three things to spend the most time and your budget on. So, for example, if the dress is super important to you but you don’t care as much to have dancing at the reception, focus your time and money on finding the perfect dress and skip the DJ. Or if you want beautiful pictures but don’t care about flowers as much, splurge on a great photographer and keep the flowers simple.
This seemed hard at first–after all, there’s pressure to have a certain type of wedding. I was scared to focus on certain parts and keep other parts simple. But it turned out to be an excellent decision. I spent money on the flowers, my dress, and reception food. Everything else was still wonderful and fell into place nicely.
Choosing and focusing has curbed by perfectionism–my idea that if it is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing perfectly. I want to have a particular picture in my head pan out, but I’m learning to keep the picture simple and to make it look the way I want it to look rather than the way it could look at best.
Recently I pinned a beautiful holiday banner and hoped to make one for our upcoming Thanksgiving celebration with my husband’s family. But there have been so many other things to do in preparation for holiday travel. The banner was not a priority. Instead, being well-rested, having stress-free packing, and taking care of food has been more important to me.
There’s nothing wrong with beautiful banners, eye-catching wreaths, and a house the sparkles even in the hidden corners. But I have to learn to separate essentials from non-essentials. I have to do the best with the time I am given. Sometimes, I do have to take a break from all the cleaning and cooking t make that banner. Sometimes creating a beautiful centerpiece is higher on my list than folding laundry (after all, I can shut the laundry in the bedroom).
But I’m learning that if I am going to have any sanity at all, I have to decide up front what is a priority–what absolutely has to be done and just as important what should be done to add to my own mental sanity.
So as we gear up for our first holiday celebration this season, I am banner-less. But I think we have the essentials–food, clothes, cloth diapers. Our house isn’t as clean as I would like it to be, but we’re rested and happy, and I even had time to finish this post! Maybe a banner isn’t too far in the future.