Org porn addiction: do you suffer?

by Whitney Moss on May 13, 2011

in Books,How to,Momoirs of a Rookie Mom

Do you see images like this perfectly presented toy shelf and get excited?

How about this one?

Imagine yourself lying in bed at night, touching your hand to your collarbone, knowing that no necklace in your collection had been left tangled, sliding your fingers toward your lobes, breathing deeply as you fantasize that no earring is unmatched.

This is not healthy, my friends. Looking at images of perfectly labeled bins, color coded closets, and uncluttered shelves may be taking a toll on your self esteem. And I see you, paging through the Pottery Barn catalog, or maybe it’s West Elm, thinking, I’m not good enough. If only my home resembled these spaces, life would be worth living.

A mom at preschool says to me, “You are so on top of everything!” and I cringe inwardly, knowing that Julian needs to have his hearing tested and months have passed since I last saw the slip of paper reminding me who to call to schedule an appointment. My home office does not look like this.

Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore, the authors of Pretty Neat, have helped me identify the problem (the first step toward recovery, isn’t it?): We have internalized a definition of organization that resembles perfection. Letting go of that, and embracing imperfection, will allow us to solve organizational challenges in a way that is tailor made to our own individual thinking styles and personal challenges.

Some of us are motivated by deadlines, some by accountability to others, and some simply can’t think with clutter around them. But most of us, when we think about getting organized, feel like it has to be done all at once. And then we are paralyzed.

What I really like about Alicia and Sarah’s book is that it is packed with exercises and anecdotes from both the authors and other folks who seem outwardly so successful, but are able to reveal their “good enough” approaches to different areas of their lives.  The advice can all be put into action as baby steps.

An example of shifting one’s goal from perfection to imperfection is to abandon the notion that a desk should have nothing on it’s surface and instead embrace the task of going through everything on the desk once per month. Action? Put a recurring event in your calendar to tackle your desk every third Thursday.

After reading this, I immediately thought that I should do a monthly purge for my car as well.  I couldn’t find a single lightweight sweater or sweatshirt in my house the other day, so I decided to leave the house without one, and risk being chilly. Guess what, when I got in the car, there were four poorly treated cardigans lying about. Whoops!

So while I will probably continue to look longingly at every catalog from the Container Store that lands in my mailbox, I know that the real solutions lie in my behavior.

Do you have organizational-related fantasies? Impossibly high standards? An obsession with overpriced but very cute storage containers? Have you changed any behaviors recently that have helped you get more organized?

P.S. Check out Pretty Neat: the buttoned-up way to get organized and let go of perfection (which was given to me by the authors) and read their daily tips at ButtonedUp.com

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

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