• Car love, gas spills, perfectionism, and delegating.

    Posted on January 15, 2015 by in ADHD, Delegation, Procrastination, Task Initiation


    vw-bug-cookies-1I own a beautiful VW Beetle. The official name of its paint color is “Harvest Moon” – a sumptuous cream color reminiscent of warm summer nights and eating ice cream in the park.

    My daughter, who was four years old at the time, saw it at the used car lot. She had wandered off and her tiny voice reached my ears, “Mama. You should get this car.” I asked, “Why?” as I walked over. She was standing in front of it and she said, “I like it because it’s smiling at me.”

    I was sold.

    Meet Trixie

    VW Beetle.jpg

    One of my best friend’s mom named my car. Reasonable and down-to-earth me balked at the idea. I secretly love that name because it fits her to a “T”.

    Trixie is a very happy car that spreads joy wherever she goes. Strangers wave at her when we are stopped at an intersection. The VW dealer calls me every once in a while to see if I want to sell her because people are requesting the older model (because, frankly, the new model sucks).

    Rainbows come out of her tailpipe. I kid you not!

    And, I am not a good mother to her.

    How I failed Trixie

    You see, I have been procrastinating on getting my car washed for a loooong time! My thought was Trixie needed not just a wash, but deserved a hand wash. I had imagined in my mind being in the driveway with her on a hot summer day. The softest sponge in hand and the best car shampoo I could find. After all, isn’t this what people who are struck by car love should do?

    Well, now, it’s the dead of winter. And, yup, she was filthy!

    I say “was” because I took her through the car wash this morning after gasoline poured out of my tank at the gas station down the side of Trixie’s posterior. The wonderful people at the car wash washed her, vacuumed the carpets, washed the mats, and removed the remnants of the Damn Magnet (referred to as DM from this point forward) that caused me to wince every time I saw it. They did this all under a half hour and did a much better job than I ever could. I got into my car after it was all said and done and heaved a sigh of relief.

    You see, I was finally relieved of the burden of the guilt of knowing what I needed to do and not doing it. A part of it was procrastination (or task initiation in executive function language) due to my ADHD. A bigger part of it is a perfectionism that demanded I do it myself.

    And, I’ll let you in on my twisted thinking. I didn’t get my car washed because of the DM. Why bother if Trixie was going to be clean, but was marred by the DM? What was the point?! She was scarred for life. It was my fault and to deal with the guilt, I ignored her silent screams for a good cleaning.

    Procrastination and perfectionism.

    Deadly combination, right?

    To say that perfectionism is a trap is an understatement. Here are some of the rules by which perfectionism demands we function:

    1. You must do it yourself.
    2. You must do it perfectly for it to be considered complete and a successful endeavor.
    3. The only way to prove that whatever you do matters to you, is to do it perfectly.
    4. Less than perfect means you, as a person, are flawed. (i.e. “I am not good enough.”)

    It all just gives me a headache! (Or is that the lingering gas fumes…?)

    At first, I didn’t notice the gas spilling out of my tank because I was thinking about a blog post I wanted to write. I allowed my mind to wander because I assumed the gas pump would click as it should to signal the tank was full. (Stupid pump!)

    Guess what I wanted to blog about?

    Delegating….

    There are so many small things in our lives which we can delegate. Those small things that need to get done and, when they don’t get done, create stress in our lives because they stare us in the face at all times. They remind us of all the things we want and need to do but, despite all our struggling, thinking and planning, we can’t. All those niggling things we feel guilty for not doing, but would make our lives oh so much easier if they could get done.

    I decided getting my car washed and internally vacuumed for $20 a pop was a very small price to pay for not feeling guilty, stressed, and like a failure whenever I saw the DM – every day!

    Should you delegate? And how…!

    How do you decide what to delegate? Some things to consider….

    1. Figure out what your time is worth.

    This is going to sound silly, but it works. Literally, figure out in a dollar amount what your time is worth. For me, this is simple. My time is worth my hourly rate in my practice. You can base this number on your hourly rate at work or what it’s worth to you to spend time doing things that have a meaningful return to you – relationships, sleep, relaxation, fun….

    2. If you were to pay someone to do it, would it be cheaper than what your time is worth?

    This is a simple calculation:

    ((What my time is worth) X (hours it will take me to do it)) – (what it will cost me to pay someone else to do it) = Y

    3. If “Y” is a positive number, it’s a wholehearted “yes”!

    The only thing standing in your way is your budget.

    4. If “Y” is a negative number, consider paying for only a part of it.

    For example, instead of having someone clean your house weekly, have someone come in to:

    • Fold your freshly cleaned laundry (this is after all the most tedious part of doing laundry, right?)
    • Deep clean your bathrooms twice a month
    • Change the bedding on all the beds on a weekly basis
    • Put Christmas decorations away

    The trick here is to list what needs to be done and seeing if there are pieces that can be given to someone else to do for a nominal fee.

    5. Can someone else do a good enough job for free?

    Can your child(ren), partner, friends, or relatives help in any way?

    I am all for child labor – in a responsible and appropriate way, of course. Seriously, chores are healthy for children. It helps them learn that they are contributing members of the family. Chores help to teach solid real world skills, time management skills, organization and prioritization, and how to break tasks down into smaller chunks.

    6. Is there someone who can do it better than you?

    This could be a bitter pill to swallow if your ego is at stake. The reality is, with a few exceptions, there is always someone who is better at this thing than you are. And, if you hate doing it and procrastinate, how well are you doing the job anyways at the last minute? Being better can include whether they can do it faster. More time equals more money.

    7. How much do you hate doing it?

    Just because you are good at doing it doesn’t mean you enjoy it. Procrastination is often about avoiding boredom, tediousness, repetition, and just plain indifference. When you hate doing something, it is monumentally draining. Torture really. Do you have other things you would rather be doing that will be productive, move your life forward and closer to the goals that will make you feel out of this world?

    Delegate the soul-sucking stuff.

    Enough said.

    8. Is it something only you can do?

    There are a few things you cannot and must not delegate:

    • Love and attention to loved ones or friends
    • Negative feedback to another person
    • Delivering bad news
    • Important conversations involving relationships
    • Activities requiring the strictest of confidentiality

    How are you going to fill the space created by delegating?

    When you get rid of or stop doing something, the vacuum it creates demands that something fill it.

    Delegation clears space in our lives. However, a vacuum demands something to replace what was released. So, be careful about what you replace your delegated activity with. You want to fill your time with what nourishes your soul, has meaning, simplifies your life, removes obstacles, and expands who you are.

    Meaning.
    Simplification.
    Freedom.
    Expansion.
    Nourishment of soul.

    It’s all good.