The successful woman’s guide to NOT doing it all

In hearing Liz Gumbinner speak at Typeacon this past Saturday, it became even more solidified in my mind that for us to be successful women, in whatever type of business or personal life we have, we have to stop trying to do it all.

As I talked about a couple of months ago in a previous post titled Good enough is the new perfect, we have been encouraged from the generation before us and our current generation that we CAN have it all. Well if we try to HAVE IT ALL, we will fall apart. Something will falter, whether it is our health, our children, our marriage or our career.

What women today need to accept and learn is that we don’t have to have it ALL to be successful. We just need to focus on achieving the things that are important to us and our families and forget trying to please everyone else in the world.

Accepting NOT doing it all

I want to challenge you to conciously think about what things you can leave undone in your life, or greatly reduce. Think of the things that just really don’t matter. Things that maybe you are doing so others “think” you are successful. Things you don because your mother says you should. Make this list and stop doing these actions.

I asked the question on twitter, “What things do you NOT do so that you have time to do the more important things?” I got some very interesting responses!

First, however, I want to share with you, some things I don’t do. Now, remember I am at the stage where I do not have children in my house anymore, just one young adult son who is never here! I do however, have 2 dogs!

  • I dust about 3 or 4 times a year.
  • And I probably mop my large kitchen floor about as often.
  • I vacuum the living room and entry way several times a week because of the dogs, but the bedrooms? A couple of times a year. (Dogs aren’t allowed in the bedrooms).
  • My bathrooms get scrubbed about once a month.
  • At any given time you come into my house, there are probably dishes in the sink AND in the dishwasher.
  • My bed will not be made. I make it at night right before we get into it and only because my husband likes to pull the covers all over the place.
  • My recycling bin will be overflowing.
  • My desk has piles of stuff on it.
  • As for me personally, at most any given time, I would be in need of a shave (legs, lol!), an eyebrow plucking, and a manicure.

Does this make me sound like a slob? Maybe to some of you it does. I hope though, that for some of you it is freeing to realize we don’t have to have it all together all the time. And chances are, most other women don’t either!

Let me share what some of my twitter friends had to say!

One of the first things that came up was DUSTING!

No more dusting 

you can touch the dust

Amy was glad to share her picture of her sign!

  There were those, who like me, don’t do any extra cleaning!

 no extra cleaning

 Some have given up or cut way back on TV… 



less TV

 Or shopping. (I don’t shop either, unless I HAVE to.)

give up shopping

Some admitted to cleaning less, although I think it’s possible I detected a tinge of guilt!

do less cleaning

Some have learned to say NO to activities that aren’t so important to them.

the other Julia Roberts

Some women admitted to giving up some things that should be important to them. All of us have to make sacrifices, but hopefully their sacrifice is for a limited time. Our bodies and minds can only handle so much for a certain time.

personal care

taking time for yourself

 So, what about you, my dear reader? What are going to give up so you can have what is most important to you?


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44 comments to The successful woman’s guide to NOT doing it all

  • Yup, in my tweet you read my guilt! That is true! I have this standard I keep thinking I should live up to. And you know what? I don’t do it. But My husband is so proud of him, his family is proud of me, my kids are loved and secure. So the sticky floor under the table? It can wait till tomorrow!
    Annie @ Mama Dweeb recently posted..Wall mounted TV – best idea ever!My Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    That’s right girl! You are learning what is important! Happy, healthy children, fed husband, successful blog. A little dirt never hurt anyone!
    Hugs to you!

  • Wow, so people still spend time dusting? Just kidding! :)
    Yes, time is at a major premium nowadays… with work, family time, dinnertime, bedtimes, and trying to have some quality time… I guess it is just a matter of tackling that day’s priorities, and letting go of the rest…
    Carolina {Always Expect Moore} recently posted..Square in a Square Quilt BlockMy Profile

  • I’ve been trying to write more this summer, so I’ve been working early in order to be done by the time my teenager gets out of bed (around 10–ha!). I have found that, sadly, I just don’t have time to exercise like I used to. I am sad about this, but I have realized that if I really want to write, I just can’t do everything. Ugh.
    Shelly W. recently posted..For the Love of BooksMy Profile

  • This is fantastic Bernice. Way to go out on a limb with this incredibly honest post!

    Cleaning is my absolute least favorite activity. But dirty spaces make me crazy too. It’s quite the quandary. :)

    I usually break down and frantically scrub the bathrooms every two-three weeks, and my husband takes care of vacuuming and mopping the downstairs every weekend. I’m pretty sure he never dusts though. Ha, ha.
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..Some Benefits of Limiting Media ExposureMy Profile

  • INteresting post. Definitely more food for thought here.

    I think I’ve given up a few things without even realizing it. I’ve taught my kids the five-minute tidy, so bathrooms, etc., only get scrubbed every couple of weeks. As long as my life isn’t filled with time-wasting clutter or unsanitary, I don’t worry about it.

    I only do laundry once every 7-10 days. I just don’t get the whole “do a load every day” thing. That just makes the laundry room a permanent mess.

    As for dusting, 10 years in New Mexico with an asthmatic ingrained a weekly dusting habit (not a choice there), but now I make my teenagers do it. I’m sure it will eventually go away now that we no longer live in the land of blowing dust.
    Marie recently posted..Ice Cold LemonadeMy Profile

  • Thank you for including my tweet! I don’t iron either; and purposely buy clothes that doesn’t need to be ironed. I do, however, clean the bathroom every week. It’s interesting to me to see the different things we give priority. It’s truly a matter of what works for us and our family – what we are comfortable with. I know that it also varies because of the age of our families. So I say, find what works for you and be happy!
    Jendi recently posted..First Visit To The LaundromatMy Profile

  • Colette

    When I remarried 14 years ago (July 4th), we had to come to an understanding that “dust” was only a noun in our home. We are still very comfortable with that idea, and still happily married.

  • I have learned that a made bed is important but reality TV is not. That is just me. Spending time with so many mothers at Type-A I learned that we ALL have guilty pleasures. Some like trashy novels or magazines, some bad TV, while others might enjoy drinks with friends. I give up some so I can enjoy others. I spend WAY too much time online, that is my guilty pleasure.

  • I know I can’t do it all. So one of my goals is to work so I can afford a housekeeper at least twice a month. There’s someone out there who loves dusting and I’d love to let her express her art of cleaning all over this house!
    Joyce Brewer recently posted..How has becoming parents changed your relationship with your wife? Webisode #4.9My Profile

  • LOVE this post! I just blogged about retiring my cape last weekend.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Winks & Smiles,
    Wifey recently posted..Peachtree Road Race: “Picturing” the FinishMy Profile

  • So very true. Couldn’t agree more. Good enough is so perfect that it is more than just good enough.

    This is true on a broader sense as well. People try to become good at so many things that fail to capitalize on their core strength. Being extremely good in one area and merely good enough in others is enough as well.
    Amanda Gordon recently posted..Bagless VacuumsMy Profile

  • chaceburg

    Thanks for sharing this. Yes, a lot of people try to become good on some areas but not focusing on their inner strength. I have learned a lot from this blog and reminds me of more important things.
    chaceburg recently posted..5 Steps To Financial SuccessMy Profile

  • Love your post :) I learned long ago that not everything that appears important actually is. No ironing here. I’m a t-shirt / jeans type of gal who is luckily enough to be the boss as well (so no dress code). Maids come once every two weeks for just the bathrooms and kitchen. I bring out the vacuum when the puppy sized fur balls from our dogs just get too much to deal with. Love love love the picture that Amy shared. I want one!
    Vickie recently posted..Night sweats anyone? The Bedfan works!My Profile

  • Hi Bernicewood,
    Great post and I think many readers will enjoy reading your post.You always share a great message in your blog and thanks for sharing screen shots of twitter response and for me dusting is only important when I think there is not way out of it and because of busy life it is my least priority activity.
    waterpearls recently posted..KASPERSKY COUPONSMy Profile

  • It is so true. The expectatiosn on women, even in this seemingly liberated era, only grow greater.

    I think you would be really interested in this podcast… this episodes concerns how the media created the ‘wonder woman/supermom’ ideal that women are expected to strive for today.
    westwood recently posted..Thus spoke… Douglas AdamsMy Profile

  • milamelendrez

    Yeah.. When I read your post, I observe my house is kinda dusty too.. I have to do it some other day.. lol
    milamelendrez recently posted..Free Online Dating SitesMy Profile

  • Great article on finding balance, so you don’t have to "do it all" – or do it all at the same time!

  • This is my year of not doing it all and only doing what makes sense to me at any given time. My priorities may change daily and that’s OK. I might dust today, but only if I want to…
    Just One Donna recently posted..How Does My Garden Grow? JulyMy Profile

  • I don’t do anything around here… i pretty much not only don’t do it all; i rarely do anything. hmmm
    Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up) recently posted..In which i introduce All Fooked Up RivalMy Profile

  • I gave up my career to be able to stay at home with my son, and I haven’t looked back once. Finances are a bit different than what we’re used to, so I stay out of nail salons and don’t get massages. I shop around a bit more for big purchases.

  • I think you’re my new best friend! I actually just mopped today and I wanted to alert the media….
    Our chore lists sound about the same…ahhh, makes me feel better about myself!

  • Stopping from Travel Time Tuesday. I try to stay on top of cleaning, but my house hates to stay clean.
    JDaniel4′s Mom recently posted..Pause Life for a Moment- Good Day, Regular PeopleMy Profile

  • Hopping over from Time Travel Tuesdays. This is a great post that I really needed to read at this moment. As a mom of 4 children under the age of 10, as well as a wife, sister (to high-maintanence siblings!), daughter, classroom volunteer, Girl Scout troop leader, part-time occupant of a cube farm, maid, chauffeur, personal chef, crisis negotiator, etc, I am always trying to do it all. It took a lot of years for me to figure out that sanity came only when I made conscious choices about what I will and will not do for others AND MYSELF. Finding balance is still a never-ending journey.

  • Hi Bernice, it’s wonderful and refreshing to read that some of us aren’t always trying to be always perfect all the time. It really can get in the way of what’s really important, and I think that means different things to different people. Personally I enjoy cleaning around the house as I consider it good exercise and offers me a way to break up the day.
    Diana recently posted..How to Do Reiki on YouselfMy Profile

  • I try to do the basic chores, dishes, laundry and light cleaning but a lot of organizing I should be doing gets put off to another day. Then that day becomes a week and then the weeks become months. But you are right. You can’t do it all.

  • I never have enough time to do it all. But I sure try. I was just commenting on that to my hubby tonight. I’m time traveling!

  • Great post! I wonder how much we’ve shortened our lives by, in trying to do everything we think is expected of us? My mom never fails to remind me of all the hoops she went thru and bending over backwards to do for us as kids, and then I look at what I’m (not) doing in comparison and sometimes feel bad, but at least I’m not stressing too much over it. Even my husband says that I work harder than he does and he wouldn’t want my job (even though he’s a great hands-on daddy). Too bad there’s no salary for moms, huh?

    Here on Time Travel Tuesdays!
    Lara at Twice Blessed Life recently posted..Want some cheese with that whine?My Profile

  • Great post! We are definitely on the same track. Accepting that we aren’t going to be perfect is such a freeing experience. My house doesn’t get top to bottom clean every week – or every month sometimes! The basics are usually all that is necessary.

  • I was just telling a friend yesterday that I’ve had to cut back on my cooking and cleaning to keep up my busy schedule! I agree that we need to focus on the most important basics and the rest just works itself out.

  • I love the screen shots of the tweets! Very fun!

  • The successful woman’s guide to NOT doing it all ~

  • I was referred to your blog from someone on SITS and I’m glad I stopped by. I love this philosophy and try to apply it to my life as much as possible.

    For me, it comes down to asking myself “how important is it?” Usually I find the things I feel compelled to do aren’t really that important in the long run. If it’s not going to affect my happiness or health adversely, then I can make a choice to do it if I want to or have time, or not do it at all!

    I’m also learning that it’s okay to not do things other people think I should. I don’t “should” myself any longer, and I don’t let others “should” me.
    Chrysta Bairre recently posted..How To Live Healthy: An Essential Guide To Self CareMy Profile

  • I couldn’t agree more! At some point you have to give up on the “perfect”. Instead I choose to focus on the happy aspect. If I was Jenny on the spot in all my chores/taskes I’d resent my family and my job for running me ragged. It also helps me that my husband does the cooking (he’s better anyway) and I do all of the cleaning so this frees me up to do other things, like blog :). I fold clothes while watching tv, use bagged steamed veggies and just focus on the basics. All else can wait until I have more energy. Great post!!
    Chic Working Mom recently posted..Comment on Mompetition: A Losers Game by CWMMy Profile

  • LOL! Uh… ahem! I blow the dust off mostly and I wipe it off occasionally. … :-)
    Petula recently posted..Why bloggers have more than one blogMy Profile

  • Bernice- I love this blog post! What I’ve given up is wasting time with negative people. They drain the happiness out of everyone around them. Now I surround myself with friends who are moving forward and getting what they can out of life. Life is much more enjoyable that way! :)
    Lisa Kanarek recently posted..To Do or Not To Do…It’s All in the ListMy Profile

  • What a fantastic post. I particularly appreciated the “crowd-sourcing.” It was a lovely way to remind us that we’re not alone in this process. I frequently give up housework in order to spend time with my kids or to write. I’ve given up the luxury of uninterrupted work time so that I can do school pick-up. And so far, I’m totally okay with those compromises.
    Ann Becker-Schutte recently posted..Mental Health & Physical Illness–Two Sides, One CoinMy Profile

  • Michele ODonnell

    In my mid 30s, I finally made the decision to not care what other people think. I let the housework go unless it really needed doing. I have said no to a lot of events.

  • You absolutely have your priorities right! Glad you ladies are finding these ‘secrets to sanity’ early in life :) Happy Holidays!
    Lulu recently posted..KRAVE Jerky – So Tender It’s Giving Jerky a Gourmet MakeoverMy Profile

  • Loved this – I am working on a talk for our MOPS group about priorities and giving up on perfect! Great insight.

    (p.s. my bathrooms are grngy.)

  • [...] Bernice Wood, at her Living the Balanced Life blog, had one of my favorite posts this week.  It was a reminder that we really don’t have to do everything.  That in fact, if we want to succeed, we have to learn not to do everything. [...]

  • [...] The successful woman’s guide to NOT doing it all - It’s nice to know we are not alone [...]