During her session on time management for freelancers at the 2013 Annual Conference of the Colorado Translators Association in Boulder, Corinne McKay pointed out that one of her secrets is to stop being a “150%er” about everything. “Pick something to be mediocre at,” she said, adding that for her, having a perfect house is no longer a priority.

Having a type A personality, I don’t like to be mediocre at anything. I work out at the gym every morning for 1.5 to 2 hours. I make home-cooked-from-scratch meals for me and the kids almost every day. I pick up the kids’ toys several times throughout the day because I don’t like clutter, even though I realize that I’m doing Sisyphus work. I always keep the sink empty and the kitchen counters clean. My afternoons are dominated by taking care of my girls while keeping them away from the TV or computer, whether it’s driving them to swim lessons, helping them with craft projects or supervising play dates. When the kids are in bed, I go through the house making sure everything is in its proper place, because I simply cannot stand being greeted by a messy house in the morning. Until now, I’ve been fitting my work around all my other commitments, which means that quite often, I found myself working until 10 or 11 p.m. to catch up.

Listening to Corinne’s presentation made me realize that by trying to do everything perfectly, I was actually shortchanging my translation business. Constant interruptions and irregular work hours did nothing for my productivity. I needed more structure in my work day.

Since I work from home and clutter drives me insane, cutting down on the cleaning wasn’t an option. I just couldn’t work in an area where I feel the need to wash a dirty cup or pick up a stray doll every time I turn my head away from my monitor. The easiest way to arrive at a more structured work day was to cut down on my gym time. My youngest is in preschool three mornings a week and the oldest is in full-day Kindergarten, which gives me three mornings a week of uninterrupted work time. Add to that an hour or two while the little one naps on most days and maybe another hour for marketing and social media efforts in the evenings, and I’ll easily have enough hours to devote to growing my part-time business.

So I decided (not without a sigh) that hitting the gym four mornings a week – and fitting in shorter afternoon workouts on other days as time permits – will still be enough for a healthy lifestyle. Yes, my mommy tummy may not shrink as quickly as I would like, but that is going to be my area of mediocrity. I may not be the skinniest mom on the block, but hopefully, I will have a good balance between work, family and exercise.

About the author - Marion Rhodes

1 Comment

  • Corinne McKay

    May 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks Marion for this insightful post! And for the record, I think you are in great shape 🙂 But seriously, I do think that this tip, which I stole from Michelle Obama, is right on, especially for working moms. The reality is that if you try to be perfect at everything all of the time, you’ll either have a nervous breakdown or just be unhappy all of the time, and really who needs that? I also try to remind myself that what my family and friends really need is not a stressed-out wife/mom/daughter/aunt/friend who screams about fingerprints on the fridge door, but attention and humor and unconditional support, which is what I need from them too. And I also agree that saying “I’m just not going to care about x issue anymore” doesn’t work either. I’m not going to totally let my house devolve into filth, and you’re not going to stop going to the gym completely. But you can adjust your expectation to the reality of how much time and energy you have. Great post!!

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