December 29, 2004

Half-Stepping or Perfectionism

I've struggled with the difference for awhile. Serona is very big into the concept of half-stepping and never allowing it. I've even had Rhiannon memorize the poem

Work by Anonymous

Work while you work
Play while you play
This is the way to stay happy each day

All that you do
Do with your might
Things done in halves are never done right

After 7 years of marriage I have adopted the philosophy. However, recently I have come to realize that I need to be careful in the way I apply it. You see I suffer from a paralyzing perfectionism. I am so afraid of not being able To do something right that I never do it until I feel I will have the time to dedicate to it. This is especially true for me and housework.

Yesterday I came to the realization with clarity when I was walking past my entry way with a wet rag. I decided to just wipe up what I could with that rag - that floor has not been mopped in weeks which is terrible since it is our entryway. I thought about getting out the mop and bucket and realized I would not have the time to do it so I just wiped up the big stain, puppy pawprints and what wiped up. While I was doing it I felt guilty about "halfstepping" but then when I was finished I looked at how much better it looked and it took me all of two minutes while walking down the stairs. Now if I had not put aside my drive to not halfstep and be perfect in the way I did it the entryway would still be muddy. Don't get me wrong it is not done as well as needed but far better than before.

It is the same concept with 15 minutes of cleaning. We can do anything for 15 minutes and truthfully a lot more gets accomplished in that time than you think. It is when we look at ALL that needs to be done that it seems overwhelming, but broken up in little bits atleast we can start and get things better than they were before. It is the same way I approach schooling with my young ones, one task or one 15 minute activity at a time this makes it seem feasible and easier to plow through.

Don't get me wrong I do not disagree with the concept of half-stepping I think it is very valuable and I believe that when we are working on something we need to give it our everything and do our very best. However, we need to not let our drive to get things done perfect every time prevent us from starting at all. There is a balance there and I encourage you to find it.



  1. I read this yesterday and thought about what a wonderful way it would be to begin teaching about a work ethic. I have trouble getting my son "work while you work". Today when I found him playing, instead of picking up his toys so we could have a piece of promised pie and start school, I brought him to your site and began teaching him the poem. I think as part of school today he's going to copy it and illustrate it so it can be put up on his door as a reminder.

    I agree with what you said. I'm a terrible perfectionist, and hate things done in halves. When I was younger, it became my excuse to not try anything at all. It's definitely very important to find a balance. And I think anything done for your family with love will be accepted as a blessing, even if it's only 15 minutes worth.

  2. You sound like you have been reading the flylady web site!