When I was a child, I learned a rhyme that went like this:
“Good, better, best.
Never let it rest
Until your good is better
And your better best.”
I always liked that sentiment, because I am a bit of a perfectionist. My feeling is that if you are going to do something, you might as well do the best job possible.
Needless to say, that attitude has sometimes resulted in me spending too much time getting something from “really good” to “excellent”, when I could have simply stopped at “really good” and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference to anyone.
Since I’ve become an organizer, I’ve learned a new saying: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. In other words, don’t put off doing something because you can’t do it perfectly — just get it done.
I’ve seen this with clients who are ready to part with items they are not using anymore, but want to exert too much control over how to dispose of them. They might want certain items to go to very specific charities, rather than to the local thrift shop with everything else — even if that means these items hang around much longer than they really need to. Or they might want to hold on to an item and give it to a friend they are not seeing until months from now, rather than simply donating it.
When you are trying to get clutter out of your life, the important thing is to keep it moving. You don’t want to lose momentum and have the clutter stagnate. For many people, making the decision to release some of their possessions is difficult, and trying to find the perfect home for these possessions can stand in the way of progress.
I’ve also seen this with clients who have a pile of items to be repaired. These are usually items that haven’t been used in years and would never be missed, but the client is convinced that once these items are repaired, they will be of great use. However, getting them repaired is such a low priority that it doesn’t get done, and they simply continue to be clutter.
While it’s true that in the “perfect world”, these items would never have broken, don’t let your desire for perfection distort the reality that possessions aren’t meant to last forever, and letting them go is often more appropriate than making them whole. If getting them repaired is important to you, then get it done. If not, then throw them away or recycle them.
What are some of the instances in your life where perfectionism is getting in the way of progress?