Organizing: It Ain’t About Being Perfect

IMG_1578Yup, that’s me, enjoying a heavenly IPA last night at Coalhouse Pizza. That’s about as close as this 7-day-a-week business owner gets to happy hour. The laptop comes with me, so I can write posts like this one. So what’s the point I’m making here? I consider myself very organized and I, literally, make it my business to empower others with organizing, but organizing has got nothing to do with being perfect.

From the posts I’ve written, I have been accused of being a “Martha Stewart type,” as if I am encouraging others to live up to an unattainable ideal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My goal as an organizer has never been about getting stuff put into perfect little decorative baskets. My goal has always been about taking the least important stuff out of the way, SO THAT YOU CAN GET TO THE MOST IMPORTANT STUFF. Furthermore, I believe that all the best organizers will agree with me on this.

I mean, just look at this specimen in this photo. The hairstyle is NO style. He wears the same hoody almost every day. He’s imbibing when he should be focused on writing. AND there’s a good argument to be made that if he managed his time better, he wouldn’t have to focus on his business 7 days a week. This is not the face of perfectionism, but because he’s organized, he’s on top of his priorities. His clients are taken care of, and his bills and employees are paid on time.

Don’t get me wrong. I may have an OCD streak, but I am not proud of it and I never impose it on the people we are helping.

Why? First, I don’t want to be a jerk. No one’ s going to listen to a judgmental perfectionist. I always tell clients, “It’s our job to make space, not judgements” and I mean that. My team is on your side and we want to bring you closer to your goals. You don’t need a smarmy schoolmarm in the process.

Second, perfectionism is actually a barrier, not a virtue. Perfect is the enemy of done. (I can’t take credit for that one.) A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. (I can’t take credit for that either. Might have been General Patton.)

There is a natural tendency to think that if we are perfect about something, we are safer. The reason this doesn’t follow, is because perfectionism doesn’t take priorities into account. It doesn’t matter if your bed is perfectly made, when your taxes haven’t been paid.

For those struggling with perfectionism, prioritizing isn’t easy. The really tough challenge is to recognize what is LESS important and actively DE-prioritize it, to open up time, space, and energy for what is MOST important.

It means saying things like:

“No, I won’t finish washing the dishes,” so I won’t be late for work.

“No, I won’t wait to find the perfect desk,” so I can get my home office organized today.

“No, I won’t wait until I come up with the perfect conclusion,” so I can get my weekly blog post out today.

What breaks with perfectionism have YOU made, to reach your top priorities?