How “good enough” can get you GREAT
As you know, we have been busy on the Artstead. What is the Artstead, you may ask? Well, through some very clever wordsmithing, we’ve blended together “art park” and “homestead”- Artstead it is. The Artstead is currently 10 acres of land, which we’re planting full of dreams and possibilities and hoping they will grow. In short, we want an art park, a living community in beautiful cabins and some small businesses.
We currently have land, an RV and running water (I just wrote about the water last week, but it’s still wicked exciting!). While this might not seem like a lot, this time last year we had only mere dreams of land- and look at us now. Progress!
To make even more progress- enter THE SHED. We need a permanent structure in order to get power on the land, and therefore we are building our shed- the new project that has taken over our lives. Now, I have A LOT to say about building a shed with you and your loved one in the middle of the academic year in the hottest September on record… but that post is best saved for when the shed has been completed (yes, we’re now really far into October. This has clearly been a looming hiatus. Shed is junction!).
In the meantime, I want to focus on the key strategy that helps you survive a project based life- takeover: The theory of good enough.
The application of the “good-enough” theory doesn’t have to do with the project at hand, which if it’s consuming all of your energy, it should be kept to your ideal standard, whatever that may be. Rather this has to do with the peripheral stuff that you can ease up on for the time being. For us the biggest area to explore was FOOD. We cook 99.99 % of our meals at home, from scratch and this takes up a decent chunk of our time (lucky for us, we both enjoy cooking and Mr. S has achieved master chef levels- in my humble opinion).
Vegan Food Cooked by Mr. Ss, Eaten by Mr. Ss:
While the above meals are fancy & awesome, here is how we’re making it GOOD ENOUGH.
- Cook once, eat twice
This one is a great rule to follow regardless of other life circumstances- cook at least 2 meals worth at a time. Typically it doesn’t take that much effort to double up your recipe, but suddenly you’ve created free time every other afternoon. If you happen to make delicious food and lack the self-discipline for this method, the coping strategy is to put the half of the food away RIGHT AFTER you make it, so it doesn’t tempt you. This works particularly well if your method of preservation is cling wrap (a project to steal another bite), rather than a container with a lid (practically begging to eat another bite).
- The crock pot is your friend
In our case it’s a rice cooker which we use as a crock pot for rice based dishes. Back in our spendy days, when we were feeling lazy or overwhelmed with a project we would order take-out. And then we’d wait. And wait. And wait- you get the picture. Not only would this cost upwards of $30, it wasn’t particularly fast, or frankly that great. We came up with a strategy- whenever we identified our “take-out mood”, we would throw rice, beans and seasonings in the rice cooker. This takes maybe 5 minutes of active time. 30-40 minutes later, which is about the same time it takes to get take-out, dinner is ready. Hot food with minimal effort! And obviously, we make than one serving 😉
- Batch cook when the mood hits
For us, this is vegan meats. Mr. S makes a giant portion when the mood strikes him, and then we eat it until it’s gone. We used to have a few different kinds on hand, but now we’ve cut it down to typically just one, and it turns out to be good enough. Prepping things ahead, whatever they may be, simplifies further meal making efforts.
- Have a secret weapon
That’s right- you’ll need a secret weapon. Something easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy, which ironically should involve squeezing exactly zero lemons. I’m talking about the ready-to-eat options like frozen pizza or pierogis in a box. These are not super healthy or super cheap. I recommend limiting this option to once a week. But we all know there are days when you can’t do anything other than inactively apply heat to something. If you know you’ll be busy, accept that you’ll need this and add it to your shopping rotation.
- This is what you ordered
Remember, you chose this for yourself and picked this category as the “good enough” standard. You won’t be eating rice and beans forever and eventually “the project” will be completed and things will return to normal. Recognize if another “good enough” meal will make you throw in the towel, and remind yourself that you have the power to change your priorities. Taking breaks is helpful to resetting ones focus.
Of course, the more you can throw in the “good enough” category, the more time you open up for the big task at hand. Our home has certainly looked cleaner, but “How to keep your micro-home clean when your bulldog drenches the whole floor in water every time she drinks” seems like too niche of a topic (but if this feels like useful information to you, please comment).
The sweet spot to the “good enough” theory is knowing which areas of your life can not be sacrificed to this category. For me, these are sleep and fitness. I understand that when we are low on time, sleep is one of the first things to go. This is not a great option for me. I can get one night of 6 hours, and be ok if I get my full 8 the next day. Otherwise, I’m a foggy Zombie without a productive fiber in my body. Same thing with fitness- I love my routine and it helps me stay balanced. Nothing horrible happens if I skip a day, but I rarely skip 2. I’m very aware of how hard I have worked to get to this place with my fitness level and body image and I’m not willing to jeopardize that.
The hope of course is, that the payout for the “good-enough” sacrifice will be something great. In our case, continued work on the shed and wiring and communicating with National Grid (seriously the hardest part of the process) will result in power on our land. Taking us one step closer to the Artstead.
What about you? What was your “good-enough” category when working on a big project?