Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Do What You Have to Do

It's that time of the year again. I'm an avid gardener. With the warm winter we've had here, the weeds are way ahead of schedule. And so... it begins.

I got out into the garden this weekend to begin the annual chores. Very soon, I'll be out of town for quite a while. If I don't get certain things taken care of in the garden, it will be a real mess by the time I return from my trip. I've experienced this before. If certain weeds get out of control, I spend the entire spring and summer playing catch up. It's not a lot of fun when that happens.

I have three tasks in the garden that I need to complete before I leave home.

1) I have to pull all the exploding 'popper' weeds. These weeds have seed pods that ripen and explode - thus propagating themselves far and wide.

2) Pull any dandelions (since everyone knows how those spread)

3) Prune back all my perennials. By the time I get back from my trip, the new growth will be well under way. It's easier to cut out all the dead wood now, rather than when it is mixed with new growth.

At a moment like this, my perfectionism becomes a problem. When I weed, I like to work area by area and pull ALL the weeds. I like for an area to be complete when I finish a 'weeding pass.' The truth is, however, I don't have time before I leave town to weed the entire garden. My garden is too large, and there are too many weeds.

Now is the time to focus on the things I HAVE to do. I must pull the weeds that will get out of hand if I leave them for too long and do the pruning. That is really all I can reasonably hope to accomplish by my deadline.

That means I have to pull poppers and dandelions and leave everything else. All of it needs to come out - I have a lot of different types of weeds. Of course they will all grow and get larger while I'm away. Most of these weeds, however, won't be that much more difficult to deal with after I'm home. The poppers and dandelions, however, will be 10 times worse if I wait.

Setting priorities and ONLY working on those priorities is not easy. All the undone work staring me in the face just begs to be dealt with.

Yet, this is an important life skill. We need to be able to set our priorities, focus on those things, and leave the rest of our responsibilities until later.

Focusing on what gives us the biggest bang for the buck can really pay off in the long run.

This requires relaxing perfectionistic tendencies. It requires good prioritization skills, and the ability to focus. It also requires that we relax about things we can't deal with in the moment. Some things will have to wait. We do not help ourselves if we constantly feel pressured and guilty about what we are NOT doing.

We need to set priorities. It's important to make sure the things we consider priorities are what's actually most important, and not what feeds our addictive need to be in control, or look good to others. For example, I could fully weed all the 'public' areas of my garden that passers-by see, and leave the rest a total mess, but in the long run, this makes a lot more work for me, and makes the work less pleasant. Sometimes we concern ourselves with a lot of stuff that just doesn't matter.

Do what you need to do, and let the rest go. That's all any of us can ask of ourselves!