What Does It Really Mean To Do Your Best When Getting Organized?

Don't let "perfect" be the enemy of progress...

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Do you ever wonder what it really means to do your best? Or ask yourself, "Is that the best I can do?"

It's easy to wonder about this, especially if you've gotten stuck or failed in a recent attempt to accomplish something.

If I’m ever stuck and feeling frustrated with a project, I sometimes throw my hands up in disgust and ask myself, "Is that the best you can do?"

If the answer is no, I give myself a little talking to, think about my purpose, and keep on working. If the answer is yes, I give myself permission to stop, reward myself, and walk away.


Since I am a professional organizer, let's focus on organizing projects.

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What does it really mean to do your best?

Doing your best with an organizing project means you've spent the amount of time you have allocated to a specific organizing project, and that you've done everything you decided to do to the best of your ability.


It may take you a few days of working in small chunks of time. It may also mean that you have made some difficult decisions about what to keep and what to release.

Organizing projects can be difficult, but if you continually do your best, the tasks become easier and easier.

Sometimes, doing your best means getting help from a professional organizer or joining a clutter support group for suggestions and accountability.

Here are 5 ways you can make sure to do your best every time, no matter the project you're tacking.

1. Be intentional.

Decide where you're going to focus your energy. Decide how much time you want to give to the project today. Then, follow through on your intentions.


Remove what you no longer use or love from the space, and either trash, recycle, or donate the items. Organize that which remains in a way that works for you.

If you follow these steps, then you will be doing the best you can do. You can always revisit the space and the project again if you want to continue making progress.

2. Manage your expectations.

Sometimes you'll have high expectations for the outcome of an organizing project. Maybe you've decided to make your office resemble the one featured in Better Home & Gardens or House Beautiful.

Then, there are other times when your expectations will not be so lofty.

My friend and colleague, Jonda Beattie, divides her home into "zones." Every month, she tackles a different zone and gives that part of her home a thorough cleaning.


She also evaluates the organization in that space, tweaking it as needed. She has done this for years.

Recently, she had her hip replaced. Amazingly, she still followed through on her plan to clean and organize the zone of the month.

She did the best she could do and allowed herself to lower her expectations, because she physically couldn’t do as good or thorough a job as she does when she’s in good shape.

When she asked herself, "Is this the best you can do?" the answer was: Yes! She managed her expectations.

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3. Be satisfied with "good enough."

Jonda allowed herself to be satisfied with good enough. She worked on the area as planned. She spent a little time each week working on the zone of the month, and had completed the project by the end of the month.


Your best isn't always going to be 100 percent. Sometimes, you'll have to settle for good enough, and learning how to manage this will make it easier for you when it comes to feeling satisfied with your efforts.

4. Avoid perfectionism.

When you allow yourself to be satisfied with "good enough," you will be able to say that is the best you can do. You’re not making excuses for yourself, because you have completed the task and done your best in that moment.

Can you return to the project and make it better? Of course you can, if you want to.

Understand that if you constantly compare your organizing projects to magazine photoshoots, you'll almost always come away being dissatisfied.


You live in your home. Even if you create the perfect look, using the space will naturally cause it to be messy from time to time. After all, as I said, you live in your home.

5. Compare your organizing project to your before and after pictures.

Is the space better? If the answer is yes, then you have done the best you can do. Reward yourself.

If the answer is no, then consider if this is the best you can do at this moment in time. You can return and work on it more another time.


Avoid perfectionism and be satisfied knowing that you've done the best you can do.

Everyone has their own definition of "perfect." What is perfect for me in my home will not be perfect for you in your home.

Avoid seeking perfect based on someone else’s definition or someone else’s vision for a space. Always think about what will work for you in your home, according to the way you live your life and do your best to achieve it.

The most important reason to ask yourself if you're really trying to do your best is so that you can appreciate and celebrate the effort you make to improve your space and that you can enjoy living in it more.

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Diane N. Quintana is a certified professional organizer who focuses on chronic disorganization. She’s also a master trainer and the owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives.