Saturday, November 9, 2013

Control Freak

I have a tendency toward perfectionism.  I am a borderline control freak.  Okay, more than borderline.  And the irony -- or is it the paradox -- is that the more I try to control everything, the more half-assed a job I do on more things.

In 2006, I started keeping a list of the books I read, broken down by quarters (Spring 2006 to Fall 2013).  It started innocently enough, because I would see a book and think, when did I read that?  Did I finish it?  The list was helpful, especially since it showed me a historical record of where some of my ideas might have come from, as when I read two books simultaneous (one in print and one audio, say) or close together.  Then, this year, I got the bright idea to include movies and podcasts in the list, and it immediately went from a nice, helpful, easy to maintain list to a nightmare.

I cut everything but books out of the list, saved the file to overwrite the old one, and resisted the temptation to keep the more complete file.  If I kept it, I might go back and start updating it, and that kind of think I can't go on doing.  I need to do less, expect less, demand less, and maybe that way I can do those fewer things, the really important things, better.  Better in the sense of more mindfully, without feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, without having my concentration divided.

As I look at the piles of papers and files and books on my desk, I know there are other things I need to stop trying to do, things that aren't vital and that distract me from things that are vital.  But I don't have to stop trying to do them all at once.  Trying to do that would be perfectionism in pursuit of ending perfectionism.  Instead, I will try to reduce my perfectionism:  gradually, manageably, imperfectly.

No comments:

Post a Comment