Ask Yourself: Is This the Best You Can Do?

A woman climbing a ladder — reaching up to her best

Do you ever ask yourself, Is that the best you can do? I do. If I’m 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, I’m talking about organizing projects.

Doing your best with an organizing project means that you have spent the amount of time you have allocated to a specific organizing project and that you have 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 the best you can do it becomes easier and easier.

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

Be intentional when you tackle your organizing project. Decide where you are going to focus your energy. Decide how much time you want to give to the project today. Then follow through on your intentions. You remove what you no longer use or love from the space and either trash, recycle, or donate the items. Then, you 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.

Sometimes you will have high expectations for the outcome of an organizing project. Maybe you have decided to make your office resemble the one featured in a picture in Better Home & Gardens or House Beautiful. Then, there are 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 that the best you can do, the answer was YES! She managed her expectations.

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.

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 photo shoots you will 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. Afterall, as I said, you live in your home.

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 that this is the best you can do in this moment in time. You can return and work on it some more another time.

Avoid perfectionism and be satisfied knowing that you have 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 this is the best you can do 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.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane specializes in residential and home-office organizing and working with people affected by ADD, hoarding challenges, and chronic disorganization. Follow Diane on Facebook for more organizing tips and strategies.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer & owner of DNQ Solutions