Thursday, July 09, 2009

Organization Friday~ Progress Not Perfection

Employee Lunchroom Remodel

It can be pretty exciting to see a dramatic makeover. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a great before and after. Many times, as soon as people are done admiring the makeover, there comes a point where they want that same thing for themselves. It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a magazine, watching a decorating show or seeing a before and after picture of someone who has lost a lot of weight. At that point, it’s not uncommon to start hearing the objections or reasons they couldn’t do that in “real life”. How often have you heard someone say after seeing a contestant on “The Biggest Loser”, “Well, I could lose weight too if I didn’t have to work and all I did was stay at the ranch all day.” Or when Oprah lost weight, people would say, “Well, I could do that too if I had a personal chef…” People like to make excuses as to why they couldn’t achieve the same result.

It’s great to be inspired by makeover shows. They are exciting and they usually promise what they deliver…a fantastic result! In real life, it takes a lot of changes for them to get to the end result. The end result is the culmination of a lot of little victories or little goals along the way. It’s not just one thing but a lot of things. But looking over the show, we like to project of what life would be like if things were “perfect”. We’d like to think that if we stayed at the ranch, we’d lose all of that weight or if we had a personal chef, we could achieve great things. The problem is perfection. We think that to achieve great results, we have to be perfect.

I was at a client’s house last week when she pulled out her a canvas bin with plastic baggies inside. On the outside of the canvas bin was a handwritten label that said, “Baggies”. Inside the bin, contained multiple gallon zip loc bags each with different size baggies inside. She had one for the snack size baggies, one for the sandwich, one for the quart size, etc. One the outside of each bag she wrote the size in a magic marker. She did it to make it easier for her young daughter to fix her lunch.

I noticed the bin and told her I really liked it. She said she got the bin and put the label on it the other day. I told her that it looked really nice and that I was proud of her. I have worked with her for a while now and she has always been the client that likes “being” organized (meaning hiring an organizer to organize her stuff) versus doing it with the organizer. But this time, she took the initiative, on her own, got a bin, labeled the baggies and labeled the bin. This was a huge step. I was really excited for her. We talked some more and she said that in the past, she wasn’t bothered when the house wasn’t organized or if it was messy, but now she likes it when it’s clean (she has a cleaning service) and organized and she wants to keep it that way. This was a huge step for her. I like to think of it as a light bulb moment for her.
Labels on bins in Employee Kitchen Remodel

As I looked at the label, I thought about it for a minute. If I were doing the label, I would have used the label maker and/or created a pretty label. She could have done the same thing. After all, she did have a label maker. (I ask that all clients purchase one for their own home so that they can label things when they need it.) But that wasn’t the point. The point was that she took the initiative and did this herself. She recognized a problem and fixed it.

How often that many women would have got caught up in the perfectionism of the label. They might have searched for the perfect bin or worse yet, purchased a bin without measuring hoping it would fit! Or they might have put off the project since they didn’t have the bin or put off the project because they didn’t have time to make a label. The list could go on and on. When you get caught up in perfectionism, you miss making any progress at all! Far better to take baby steps than no steps! More importantly, making this bin wasn’t a baby step, but it was real progress. In the past, she would have done nothing and it would have been just fine. But now, she wants more for herself. She is taking actions to support living the lifestyle she wants to live. She is getting herself organized so she can live this way. This is huge!

And how easy would it be when she has another minute on another day to create a label or better yet, a pretty label for the bin.

Sometimes, when we are trying to make a change, we need to remind ourselves that it’s o.k. if everything isn’t perfect. It’s progress over perfection. In terms of organizing, I like to think of this as function over beauty. Get the function down first, then make it beautiful; in this case, using a bin she already had and creating the label is making baggie storage functional first. She can always come back and make it beautiful by getting a prettier bin or attaching a pretty label.

As we finished up our talk, I reminded her of the motto for my business: “Keep it simple. Get organized. Make it beautiful.” I told her that when we make things nice, we want to keep them that way and that was the reason for the motto.

Notice that the motto has keeping it simple and getting organized before making it beautiful. It’s o.k. to make baby steps. Just make sure to pat yourself on the back once in a while.

Note: I am a Professional Organizer and Home Stager and own my own business, Dream Organizers. My motto is: "Keep it simple. Get organized. Make it beautiful."
Reminder: All posts on the blog are Copyright 2009.


Mary said...

Sue, your blog is wonderful! You sure speak the truth. What insight you have about our procrastinations and excuses for not doing what we really need to do, and deep down, we really want to do it! that dratted old perfectionism rears it's ugly head all over the place, doesn't it? If only we could recognize it! Love the make-over, too!

Kathryn said...

Please come to Boston!

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