Why I’m a “do more at less than 100%” person

posted by Andrea | 06/18/2014

100 percent

About a month ago, a blog reader emailed me asking for time management tips as she felt like she never had enough time to give 100% to everything she was doing. After a few emails back and forth, it was quite clear that this lady worked VERY hard around the home, with her children, volunteering, and in a part time job — she definitely was not lazy!

She admitted she had a lot on her plate, but like so many of us, she loved everything she did and didn’t want to give up any of it — boy can I relate to that! 

After thinking a little bit more about her email and her request for “more time”, I realized that over the past few years, I’ve struggled with the same feelings of guilt for not giving 100% to everything I do.

I often wonder if it would be better to do less, but give more effort to each thing on my plate — or to continue doing everything I love doing (and have gifts for) but at a less-intense, less-than-100% pace.

Obviously, at this point in my life, I’ve chosen the “do more at less than 100%” option and I think part of that is because I’m still somewhat young and still trying to discover what my real gifts and passions are.

While I have said “no” to many requests for my time, I’ve also taken on many new and exciting challenges these past few years (both in my business and personal life). I’m glad I didn’t miss out on these different opportunities; but at the same time, the extra items on my to-do list have forced me to cut corners and regularly give less than 100% to many things throughout the day.

Is that bad?

Honestly, I’m not sure.

I posed this question (and much of what I said above) in my response to the concerned reader, and she admitted that she had never thought about it that way before.

We both decided that at this point in our lives, we were happier to have more activities and obligations on our plate (even knowing that we were giving a less than 100% effort) than to completely drop many of the tasks, jobs, duties, and relationships that we enjoy just so we can give 100% to the remaining few.

So what does that mean for me?

It means I would rather speed-clean my house and end up with a relatively clean house than spend exorbitant amounts of time cleaning with less time left over for so many other activities.

It means I would rather use some processed and convenience foods to get meals on the table ASAP than to spend all day in the kitchen and miss out on many of the other jobs, people, and activities I enjoy.

It means I would rather write only 5 blog posts a week, do less with social media, and turn down a few virtual assistant opportunities than to give up so many other things I love doing to spend more time on my work.

It means I would rather cut a few corners on landscaping or house projects (within reason!) to finish faster versus meticulously agonizing over every single detail while I miss out on a bunch of other opportunities in the mean time.

It means I would rather throw everything in the laundry together and finish faster than worry about sorting and pre-treating everything first.

It means I would rather plant a tiny, ugly vegetable garden to give Nora that experience than stress about having a perfectly planned, perfectly groomed garden that I won’t have time to maintain.

veggie garden

As I look back on my own life, I think giving 100% to anything is pretty difficult to do — if you think about it, there’s almost ALWAYS more we could be doing.

We can always spend more hours at work, take on one more volunteer opportunity, read one more book, save more money, clean more often, be more organized, make more of our food from scratch, plan more creative activities for our kids, spend more time with our spouse, etc. etc. etc.

I think we’ve all gotten so used to hearing “give it your all” and “you need to give 100%” that we start to feel bad if we’re not giving 100% of our effort 100% of the time.

I know that in my own life (especially after having kids) I’ve had to realize that “good enough” really IS good enough and not to beat myself up if I can’t give a 100% effort to everything all the time.

My mission has always been to do as much as I can possibly do in as little time as I can possibly do it — not because I’m lazy, but because I’m efficient. 

So I do everything I love doing, give as much effort to each individual activity as I can, and say “good enough” to the rest.

At the end of the day, I usually feel pretty good about everything I was able to accomplish — and if I doubt myself for a minute, I just take out my pen and paper and scribble out a “done list”. Then I look back at everything I’ve accomplished for the day and realize that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself!

What about you?

Are you a “do less and give 100% effort all the time” person? Or a “do more at less than 100%” person?

There’s not a “right” or “wrong” answer. One option is not necessarily better then the other, I think it’s all how we’re wired and how we best function.

If you have any perfectionist tendencies at all, you’ll definitely fall under the “do less and give 100% effort” category. Or if you’re like me and love productivity and efficiency, you’ll most likely find yourself in the “do more at less than 100%” camp.

And sometimes, I think it can depend on the activity. Maybe you give 100% effort to your job or your family but then less than 100% effort to cleaning, cooking, or other daily tasks. Maybe you give 100% effort to a volunteer position or maintaining your garden but less than 100% effort to exercising and various other hobbies.

In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter WHERE you fall on this spectrum. I think it’s most important to simply realize WHY you fall where you do in terms of what you are and are not willing to spend time on. That way, you won’t feel guilty cutting a few corners because you know you’re just making more time for the activities you want to give 100% of your efforts too.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: Daily LifeLifeMisc.

 
 

29 comments

  1. Tracey

    06/18/2014

    Such a great post, Andrea!

    My quest for 100% (perfectionism!) has gotten in my way many times, and still does.

    Back when we first got married and bought our house fifteen years ago, my husband and I tended to stress over perfection, but eventually learned that “done is better than perfect”!

    Still, it happens.

    The vegetable garden is a PERFECT example. Because I haven’t had the time or resources to do it “right”, I haven’t done it, and my kids have missed out. They’re 13 and 11, and I cringe when I think back on how they might have enjoyed it, had I just done what I could with what I had.

    Thank you for the heads up!

    [Reply]

    Siobhan Reply:

    Thank you ladies…I have a pot on the side of my house that would be great for planting tomatoes but I’ve held off on doing it. My 5& 3 year old would love it! Now, I’m going to make some time to do it this weekend. Perfectionist tendencies also hold me back & I’m realizing it more as I get older. It’s hard for me to do but I agree that doing things at less than 100% is good enough. Thank you for brining it to my attention again :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Depending on where you live, you might still have time to get a few tomatoes in the ground this year. Nora is especially looking forward to our cherry tomato plant because that’s what they grow on Daniel Tiger :)

    [Reply]

  2. Deb

    06/18/2014

    LOVE this post. We spend so much time on “Pinterest’ that we think every part of our lives needs to be color coordinated, labeled and perfect when in reality, if we keep up on laundry, basic housework and meals, we are doing pretty good! Thanks for your post!

    [Reply]

  3. Rae Hodgetts

    06/18/2014

    I’d always been a trying to give 100%+ to everything so never getting round to doing many things. I was really hard on myself, critical I wasn’t getting enough done, or doing things well enough. My colleagues and managers said otherwise! Since developing multiple sclerosis 18 months into my dream job, I found that I could no longer do my job, so had to resign. Gradually I have changed my outlook, being kinder to myself. When I organised a fundraising cake sale, I didn’t flap because I hadn’t baked everything I had hoped to, as I would have done two years earlier. So now I’m going to remind myself that if I want to get through everything on my list, I shan’t expect it all to be perfect. :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like you have a pretty good outlook on life — and in general, I think you’ll be SOOO much happier not aiming for perfect!

    [Reply]

  4. Katie

    06/18/2014

    One thing I do in my garden every year is to weave one of my rows so it is not straight. I do this on purpose to represent (to me) that life is not perfect, but the water will still reach the end of the row and my vegetables will grow.

    I am a single mom raising my kids by myself. I do struggle with finding enough time in the day to get it ALL done, and enjoy my time with my kids. Last night my son made cookies while I was cooking dinner and even though he left all the ingredients out and spilled baking soda on the floor I thought WOW that was awesome to see him making the cookies that I’ve always made for him and to spend that time together in the kitchen. He’s only 8.

    Thank you for your blog!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh my word — I LOVE this idea! I’m definitely one of those “super straight rows” people, but not this year. Nora and I just plopped the seeds in the ground in a relatively organized fashion, but nothing like how I would have wanted it to be if it was just me doing the garden. However, she had so much fun, I didn’t spend all day in the garden, and in a few more weeks, we’ll have a very crazy row of delicious beans!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that your son sounds amazing! I don’t know too many 8 year old boys who could bake cookies all by themselves. I also don’t know too many kids in general who would bake cookies and put everything away (so I think he’s doing OK). You must be one proud mama!

    [Reply]

  5. Jen

    06/18/2014

    I think the error here is believing that the things you listed above are NOT 100 percent! One hundred percent can mean different things to different people! Just because you do them differently-or use a shortcut-doesn’t mean you aren’t giving 100 percent!

    [Reply]

    ROSE Reply:

    RO

    [Reply]

    Janice Reply:

    Jen, you are so right! The old saying, “Different strokes for different folks” applies. I’ve never had the energy to keep up with my best friend so I just learned to be satisfied with my 80%. :)

    [Reply]

  6. Janice

    06/18/2014

    And, Andrea, since you mentioned being young. My husband and I are retired now and we love to say how glad we are that we did a lot of things when we were young and had more stamina and energy than we have on this end of life. We didn’t give 100% to all those activities by any means, but we sure had a blast. Sweet, fun memories are now a great blast from the past!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Janice — I’m really glad you mentioned this! I’m often told that I should slow down and enjoy my kids when they are younger (and I do enjoy them) but part of me is thinking, shouldn’t I be doing all this stuff now so that when I am retired I don’t have to? Like all our home projects and renovations — I want to do them NOW so we can enjoy living with the renovations for many years to come — and then not have to worry about so many house projects when we’re chasing kids around at sporting events and looking towards retirement.

    [Reply]

    Tracey Reply:

    I’m with you on getting the projects done so they can add to your enjoyment of your home with your kids while they grow up! School and activity schedules will probably pull your attention away from home projects in the years to come.

    I’m glad we did the things we did when we did them, (though most were smallish projects woven into the day) while they kids were little. My brother did a major renovation when his boys were 3 and 1, which was a challenge, but in the end it was so worth it for them. They’ve all (boys are 9 and 7 now) enjoyed the bigger space together and with friends and family…all part of happy memory-making.

    Balance is key. Time for projects and time to play together. It’s all good.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Tracey — and yes, house projects have definitely gotten harder and SLOWER since the little ones came along. But we enjoy doing the projects (even during the messy times) and we really REALLY enjoy living in our house now that we’ve got it the way we want it to be with more open spaces and much more room for the things we want to do.

    [Reply]

  7. Kristine

    06/18/2014

    I love it. I have to say that when you add up EVERYTHING you do at the end of the day, week, year you are giving it more than 100%!!! It is about your attitude. You have the right attitude and you do your best. Great thoughts. Thanks again for sharing.

    [Reply]

  8. Evie

    06/18/2014

    I love when you say “choose to spend my time.” That is so important. As soon as I start thinking that I HAVE TO do something, I totally resist doing it, but when I choose, I’m happy. And I’m with you on doing more at less than 100%, but it took me quite a few years to get to that way of thinking. With my old way of thinking, I was always kicking myself! Now I’m content!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Evie — I’m VERY conscious about saying “choose” instead of “have to”. We all have 24 hours a day, we are all busy, and (whether we admit it or not) we all CHOOSE how we will spend those 24 hours. Some people CHOOSE to sleep more or watch TV or go on Facebook all day. Some people CHOOSE to have 3 or 4 different jobs. Some people CHOOSE to keep up on cleaning, organizing, cooking, gardening and others CHOOSE to spend more time exercising or on other various hobbies.

    None of these choices are necessarily right or wrong, but it really bothers me when people complain about not having enough time when really they are just CHOOSING not to make the time.

    [Reply]

  9. Debby

    06/18/2014

    I am a perfectionist that lets the quest to do it perfectly get in the way sometimes. Like cleaning. I won’t “clean” something because I dont have the time to deep clean it. Uuuggghh drives me crazy. I am getting better about it though with the 15 minute timer. Making myself set a timer and then being ok to walk away from it when it goes off. The timer going off gives me “permission” to walk away and come back later for 15 more minutes. Thanks again for a wonderful post.

    [Reply]

  10. Arlene

    06/18/2014

    It seems like it’s all about stewardship…the time we have, the priorities of our particular season, physical capabilities, etc, and each person’s definition of 100% will vary!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Arlene — I love that you mentioned stewardship. That’s such a great point of view!

    [Reply]

  11. Rhonda

    06/18/2014

    Andrea, I SO needed to read this post this week. I have been struggling for weeks with not being able to get everything done in my household the way I want it to be done (yes, I am a perfectionist) between a new job with more hours, my college course, kids, cleaning, cooking, etc etc etc. I just realized a few weeks ago when I took a day off from work to go on a school fieldtrip with my daughter that it was the first day I had taken off from work since last July. I finally decided to take the summer term off from school because I just plain need a break. I have also given the gardening over to my 14-year-old son who loves having the responsibility of weeding and watering. I have also implemented a new chore/allowance “program” with my kids which serves several purposes – one, it forces me to stop doing everything myself and to accept help with the housework, and two, it will hopefully teach them financial responsibility. I still have no idea how I will balance it all in fall when school for myself and my kids starts again, along with all of their activities. How do you justify giving less than 100% when one of those tasks that gets less than 100% is your own, very expensive, education?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    WOW Rhonda — you sound extremely busy. However, I’m also super impressed with how you are delegating and dropping so many of your to-dos. That’s the exact advice I would give you if you came to me with this “problem”. My advice for now is just to take it one day at a time. See how the next couple months of summer go with your kids helping out more. Then see if they might be able to still help out some even after school starts up again. You might be surprised how well they can handle that responsibility.

    As far as not giving 100% to your school work, I don’t have an awesome answer for you. I would suggest sitting back and evaluating whether school is something you really REALLY want to do (although it sounds like your answer would be yes). I think it’s awesome that you took the summer off (good for you!) and I realize that there are many times in life when we need to struggle through a difficult period for the end results — that might be where you are right now. However, there are also times when we’re just spreading ourselves too thin and something has to give. It sounds like something might have to give for you this fall — so if it’s not going to be your education, you might want to start thinking about other things you can drop to make more time for family and school.

    You sound like a very hard working, determined, and efficient mama — I’m sure you’ll manage just fine!

    [Reply]

  12. Leigh

    06/18/2014

    I am very much a done is better than perfect, 80/20 person for most things. I have a few sticking points, like car seats, but for most things, I am happier getting it to perfectly good.

    I particularly find this in creating. If I make 10 whatevers, one or two may be duds, lots good, and a few really good. If I scrapped everything that was not working, I would never get anything. After all a mistake made twice is a design element as my mother says.

    [Reply]

    Evie Reply:

    A mistake made twice is a design element.

    That’s hysterical! My new motto!

    [Reply]

  13. Natalia

    06/18/2014

    What a great post!
    I could not believe how well timed it was, after I just read this other one yesterday:
    http://www.whowillyouempower.com/craigsblog/2014/6/13/why-good-enough-is-the-new-great

    I think God is trying to tell me something…
    Thank you!

    [Reply]

  14. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    06/18/2014

    I’m definitely a “do more and give less than 100%” person. It’s not that we don’t have the desire to give 100%, but that we simply cannot choose many different activities/jobs, etc. if the goal is 100%. It’s sort of the “jack of all trades, master of none” mentality. This is what works for me, but like you said, we are all different. Thanks for the grace in this post that we don’t have to strive so hard to be perfect! I’ve been thinking and writing about the same thing lately. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    [Reply]

  15. Raquel

    06/19/2014

    I have always been a do less and do it 100% person, but I am becoming more of a do more and give less than 100% person. To be fair there are plenty of things where 50% might be 100%.

    [Reply]

Leave a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.