Perfectionism Creates Clutter

Posted by on Mar 7, 2015 in Special, Why we Keep Stuff | 0 comments

Perfectionism Creates Clutter

Clutter can build because of perfectionistic tendencies. When I say this to people, they don’t believe me. They imagine a perfectionist would have an immaculate house with no clutter in sight. Quite often the opposite is true.
Perfectionism makes it hard to make a decision. National Association of Professional Organizers former president, Barbara Hemphill, states that “clutter is a postponed decision.” If you must make the perfect decision about what to do with an object, you are likely to avoid making a decision for fear of making an imperfect one.
Many people hold onto things they really want to donate because they must find the absolutely best person or charity to give it to. Of course, perfection doesn’t exist, so the items sit around waiting to be taken out of the house. Items that can’t currently be recycled are kept until there is a new technology to “save” the item.
Paper is one of the biggest problems for perfectionists. The fear of making a mistake and throwing away an important piece of paper keeps them frozen in their tracks, and no paper gets thrown away. Since all the paper that comes into the house must be carefully examined, it’s set aside to be dealt with, “later when I have more time.” Since more time never magically appears, the piles continue to grow.
When I am working with a perfectionist, I suggest several phrases they can repeat to themselves when making decisions. The first is “good enough is good enough.” Nothing on earth will ever be perfect. Accept that fact and go on, because “perfection is the enemy of progress.” Another is “better done than perfect.” Perfectionists have trouble finishing projects because they can’t stop tweaking trying to produce perfection.
Perfectionists often catastrophize the possible result of making a bad decision. I often ask a series of if-then questions. Then I ask them to test their hypothesis about what they think will happen and discover whether what they feared actually came true. This exercise allows the person to determine if their fears are realistic or overblown.
Getting organized doesn’t require perfection, it requires action.

Copyright© 2015 Elizabeth Tawney Gross, Organizing For Everyday, LLC

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