I’m reading another book about organization and productivity. This time, I have been reading it aloud to my family so that we can all benefit from the wisdom that is guaranteed to result in more effective lives. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until my husband almost had a nervous breakdown.
We were in bed and I noticed that he hadn’t immediately fallen into a deep slumber like he usually does within 90 seconds of putting head to pillow. More than being awake, he seemed to be tossing and turning, a habit usually reserved my side of the bed. I could practically feel the anxiety emanating from his restless body.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“I just… it seems… I’m never going to get it all!”
A few more probing questions revealed that my husband was having his first run-in with a phenomenon that self-help junkies like myself are all too familiar with: the overwhelming despair that comes from facing the distance between where we are and where we think we should be.
“There’s so many things I need to be doing better,” Jared admitted.
“Does it seem like there’s never enough time to implement it all?” I asked. “Like normal life gets in the way and if you don’t get time to stop and put this new awesome system into place, your life is doomed to be less than successful?”
“Yeah, kind of.” That’s Jared speak for, “yes.”
I got it. I get it. And I realized that I have spent a lot of my life trying to get to some imaginary destination of having it all figured out. I’m going to get organized, I’m going to be efficient and productive, as if those are static goals to be reached and then enjoyed. I see people (myself included) fall into the same mental trap with the hopes of getting healthy.
As I comforted my husband in the dark, assuring him that no one overhauled their entire life at once, that it was about always making small changes and hopefully seeing progress, I comforted myself, too. I decided to give up the goal of getting organized and embrace the process of continual refinement. I will, I think, always be tweaking my systems and improving my productivity. I’ll be trying new ideas and letting go of old ones that are no longer working. As my friend (and long-time WIM reader) Megan always says, it’s about progress, not perfection.
What are you continually tweaking?