Moving Beyond Perfection Paralysis

Perfection Paralysis: Organizing Better Solutions

It is always hard for me to receive phone calls from people who feel like they have failed. They feel defeated by the piles and disorder around them and the inability to change it.  One of the most common statements I hear, “I am an organized person but I can’t seem to get organized!”

Because of a desire to find the ultimate organizing solution, or use the best organizing technique, they end up doing nothing at all. I generally call this perfection paralysis.

Perfection Paralysis: The inability to make a decision or move forward in a project due to the desire to make the perfect choice.

This inability to make a decision creates lots of difficulty: papers pile up, space becomes cluttered, items are lost, appointments are forgotten; all leading to lost time, money, and more stress.

Here are three ways I recommend moving past perfection paralysis..

{Take a Step} I’ve used the example of baking a cake to describe my theory of organization.  You can’t go from recipe to cake without some other steps involved. The same goes for organizing, you have goals and you want to complete them but you need to take some steps to see progress. Break down the project into manageable steps instead of focusing on the overwhelming task at hand.

{Forget About It} Instead of trying to remember everything, create a calendar based reminder system. Generally a lot of the paper piles form because you don’t want forget something, you plan on getting to that item later, or you need to remember to contact this person or that contractor.  Instead of using paper as your reminder, input tasks into a calendar that will allow you to set up reminders. There are so many benefits to this type of system.

{Let It Go} Have you ever tried to live in a museum display or in a magazine layout? Neither space is meant for people to live or work in, they are meant to showcase and display. Yet some many people, myself included, bend over backwards to try and achieve that level of perfection. One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is that sometimes organization doesn’t look pretty. Its about creating a functional system that helps you live. And if looking for the best organizing system is impeding your ability to live your life, then I recommend looking for a “good enough” solution. And for another organizer’s definition of perfection check out IHeart Organizing’s take on the topic.

These are three basic steps to get you moving in the right direction but the main point I hope to get across is that organizing is about purpose, not about perfection.

10 thoughts on “Moving Beyond Perfection Paralysis

  1. SimpLeigh Organized

    Thanks for these tips! I am currently suffering from perfection paralysis when it comes to my backyard. I have so many ideas and I want it to be perfect, so I do absolutely nothing. I’m working on it, though! 🙂

  2. smtgoofy

    I love how you pointed out that good organizing doesn’t have to look “pretty,” it is what functions for you! Small steps are also important, I remind myself of that often – that even small steps will eventually get me to where I am going as long as I keep moving. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  3. tchistorygal

    Great tips! I love the calendar idea. I actually keep more than one, which isn’t efficient, but I keep one on my Google Drive in a spread sheet that I use as a to do list. I like it better than my calendar to do because of the grid. I use each row as the day of the week, and I color code the tasks green as I complete them or gold if they are in progress. It worked well when I had a million balls in the air while I was an Executive Director, so I thought I’d try it in my personal life of building my own business. It’s working great! 🙂


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