← Back to All Columns


Good Enough is Perfect

It’s a funny thing with disorganized people; some of them, ironically, are 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 mellow, beachy types or the creative artist types that don’t give a hoot about the dishes in the sink and the unpaid bills as long as they can find a clean shirt to wear to the dance club. 

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 artists 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 a house.

One of my artist clients (who happens to live near the beach) told me, “I never let perfect get in the way of good.” This writer/actress is married to a novelist, has two children, and lives on a fabulous little farm with an ocean view. She has ploughed (actually, leapt like a gazelle is a better image for her) 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 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; 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.

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. 

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 to 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.