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Lower Your Standards to Free Up Time and Gain Balance

Lower Your Standards to Free Up Time and Gain Balance

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Note: This is a guest post by David B. Bohl of SlowdownFAST.

High achieving people also tend to be perfectionists. Everything must get done, and done extremely well in order to feel any sense of success or accomplishment. These are the people who will run themselves into the ground for the sake of keeping up appearances, even if only to themselves.

Trying to maintain perfection in every aspect of your life will lead to unrealistic goals, frustration, burnout, and even eventually depression and anger. Everything becomes a chore and the joy is removed from work, from friends, and from family. The high achieving person grows to resent everything and everyone in his or her life.

It can be difficult, but by dropping your standards a bit, you can ease some of the stress, accomplish more in the long run, and regain some of the life balance that had vanished.

Let the House Go

A major source of frustration and aggravation is the never-ending onslaught of housework. The need to maintain a perfectly groomed home will drive even the most sane and ambitious person to utter distraction, especially if there are small children in the house.

Save your sanity and ease up on your cleanliness standards a bit. You do not need to become a slob, but nor do you need to vacuum the rug every day either. A little dog hair on the carpet or a little dust on the furniture never killed anyone, and you can use the extra time to rest or spend with your family. After dinner, stack everything you can in the dishwasher. Your dishes will be cleaner, you will be saving water, and you will carve out a few extra moments in your evening. Better yet, make an arrangement with your family agreeing to cook if they clean up, scoring some bonus alone time.

Set a schedule for chores that must be done daily, weekly, and monthly. Stick to your schedule and resist the temptation to do things early. Enlist the help of the entire family, so you are not burdened with everything. If something comes up and you cannot pull the weeds this week, let it go. They’ll be there waiting next week. This one simple change in your outlook can greatly reduce your stress level.

If you absolutely, positively must keep a perfectly clean home, seek out the assistance of a maid service or cleaning lady. You might even be able to hire one of the neighborhood kids to help you out.

Simplify Dinner Plans

You do not need to cook a gourmet meal every night of the week. On your weekend, prepare individual meals and freeze them in Tupperware containers. By planning ahead, you can pull out a container, pop it into the microwave, and have a home-cooked meal in a matter of minutes. No muss, no fuss.

Check into the many home delivery services available and put them to use. Many times an organization of restaurants will hire a delivery service so you can receive quality meals at home. There are also companies that deliver pre-made frozen dinners, which can be easily heated in the oven. These are so simple even the kids can cook dinner. Save your hearty or elaborate meals for your weekends or for special occasions.

Effortless Grooming

Applying makeup and coiffing hair can chew up a substantial chunk of valuable time. Visit your local salon and have your hairstylist give you an easy blow-and-go hairdo. Many chic, trendy styles are also easy to maintain.

Ask the makeup artist to give you a few pointers on some quick, down and dirty makeup techniques. A little powder, blush, eyeliner, and gloss are enough, and can be donned in under five minutes. You will be dressed for success without eating up your entire morning on grooming.

Low Maintenance Wardrobe

Go with easy to wear clothes as well. Choose fabrics that do not hold wrinkles and can be laundered at home. You can buy some stylish yet practical easy care clothing that is suitable for around the office. Saving time on laundry will save you headaches.

Give yourself permission to come shy of perfection for those small details that nobody but you is going to notice anyways. The cat can have its litter box scooped every other day, the lawn can go a few extra days, and the car doesn’t need to be washed until the weekend. By changing your cleanliness standards just a little, you can enjoy less frustration, greater happiness and fulfillment, and still carry of the image of excellence.

David B. Bohl writes about living your vision at his own blog: SlowdownFAST. If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed, or read one of his most popular articles, Conflicting Desires: Knowing That We Have Enough vs. Always Wanting to Better Ourselves.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David,

    Accepting that you just can’t do everything and do it well really is tough…especially when you’re in mid-life crisis mode and hurrying to complete your bucket list (all those things you want to do before you kick the bucket)!

    Thanks for the reminder that we need to seek balance and for the concrete suggestions.


  • Lori,

    Thank YOU for weighing in.

    I love the concept of a bucket list, so long as I can complete it today. For example, my list includes things like ‘say all those nice things you’ve been meaning to say to others for so long.’ No, I cannot actually contact everybody and say all those things in one day, but I can contact a few today and make concrete progress on my list. It’s only when I add things like ‘travel the U.S. in a motor home’ that I get in trouble, because any progress I can make today towards that goal pales in comparison to the lifestyle changes and monetary limitations I’d have to overcome.


  • Great suggestions David, as always! (For those of you who haven’t been there yet, David does have an excellent blog!)

    It really is a matter of setting your priorites in order and deciding ahead of time what is really important and DOING THOSE things. Once you have those things in line and are doing the things most important to you then you will realize you really don’t have to do everything. I have found that once I focus on those things that there is time left over – much more than I thought.

    What I like about your suggestions, David is that it shows you how to do the urgent (not so important) things in even less time. So if you have your priorties in order AND follow these suggestions you will have much more extra time – and we can all use that!

    My favorite suggestion is the one about making a deal with your family about them cleaning up if you cook! (or maybe even better, you all do both the cooking and cleaning.)

  • great post. the 80/20 principle is always good to go by!

  • sbs

    I love the concept of a bucket list, so long as I can complete it today. For example, my list includes things like ’say all those nice things you’ve been meaning to say to others for so long

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