Shelves, Stress and Lessons

This weekend I was doing my wife a favour and putting together a set of shelves that she got for her daycare.  I had previously put together another set like it that drove my stress level through the roof, so I was wary to start this project.  Yet this time the shelves were fairly easy to put together.  So what changed?  My approach to the problem.

The holiday, money and stress are a similar issue.  Together than can be toxic brew that will leave some people utter stressed out, broke and unhappy.  Which is completely against the point of a holiday in my mind, so how do you change your approach?

Well this is what worked for me this weekend to change my approach:

  1. Take longer to do it.  Even if you can complete something in a day doesn’t mean you have to do it that way.  Taking your time often means you are not in a rush and less likely to make mistakes.  Also you can often plan better and spend less.
  2. Ignore convention.  The instructions said to put together the shelves standing up.  I ignored that and did them on their back which made things much easier.  The same goes with presents you don’t have to buy for everyone you know.  Also consider using gift exchanges,  making a gift (perhaps baking or a craft) or even buying nothing.
  3. Get help.  It’s completely ok to realize when you just can’t do something by yourself.  So ask for help and save yourself the stress of trying to do the impossible.  Get ideas from others, do a baking exchange,  or go potluck for your Christmas party.
  4. Do the project in many short periods.  Just about anything gets much easier if you do it in smaller parts.  I put together the shelves  in three sessions.  We also do our Christmas baking, shopping, decorating and present wrapping in many short sessions to avoid getting too stressed over things.
  5. Lower your standard from perfection.  I mess up something on the shelves on the very back.  I could have fixed it given another hour.  I said “screw it” and left the flaw which no one will ever see.  Not everything has to be perfect.  Actually lowering your standard slightly can greatly reduce your stress associated with many different things in life.

So have you ever changed your approach to a problem?  If so, what worked for you?