It’s a funny thing with disorganized people; some of them, ironically, are nervous perfectionists who never get traction on their housework, projects and life, in general, because they want to accomplish each item on the agenda perfectly.
Other disorganized sorts just don’t care — they are the hang loose, surfer types or the dreamy poet types who are fine with leaving dirty dishes on the counter and late fees on their credit cards as long as they can get to the surf on time.
The perfectionists usually call for help when their stress level gets to a point that something has got to give and they realize that A) as much as they struggle, nothing seems to be perfect and B) things aren’t getting done period, perfectly or otherwise. The free spirits tend to call when something in life blows up and forces them to get things together — a tax audit, a death in the family, a career opportunity, or moving to a new house.
One of my artist clients told me, “I never let perfect get in the way of good.” This dancer is married to a playwright, has two children, and lives on a fabulous little farm with an ocean view. She has waltzed through life and accomplished amazing things using that simple philosophy. Her house is gorgeous but lived in. She is chic but approachable. Her closet was a mess (before she called me) but her priorities are in order.
So why bother organizing the closet? Sometimes, to be able to get to another level in creativity, some mundane chores need to be handled first.
Did I say mundane? It’s all a matter of perspective; to me reorganizing a closet is totally creative and exciting. Giving yourself access to all the wonderful colors and textures of your clothing can make getting dressed an artistic endeavor. The time saved looking for things can get tacked on to time spent in the art studio or playing with the kids.
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Conversely, there are some chores I urge my perfectionist clients to let go in order to “get to good.” One of the things that shows up ad infinitum are scrapbook projects. The plan is to take the boxes and bags of photographs, organize them chronologically, then mount them in scrapbooks, complete with handwritten notes.
I had a reader call me after the 2017 wildfires to tell me that she lost all of her family photographs that had been stored under the bed awaiting organization. She said she felt a very surprising sense of relief; she was never going to have to feel guilty about not completing that project again.
It’s extremely difficult to get some people to let go of their dream of a perfect record of their history — maybe even back several generations — even if it is crowding out necessary life/organizational tasks like bill paying and family meals. If documenting your lifetime is taking place of living your life, it’s time to rethink this task.
Another thing I suggest dropping is the perceived need to spend an enormous amount of time researching every item you purchase, from a vitamins to a dishwasher to a vehicle. Many of my perfectionist clients do copious amounts of research before purchases in hopes of buying the ultimate whatever at the best price, but I can’t tell you how often they are also disappointed when the item — from Mieles to Mercedes — breaks down just like any other model on the market. Except that it is more expensive to repair.
Think about your personal style and whether or not you need to tighten up or loosen up to “get to good.” Are there some areas that need more discipline and focus? Or should you simplify and let yourself off the hook in some ways? Checking in regularly with yourself will help you stay balanced and will greatly enhance your organization and productivity.