Organizing Wisdom

It's Good to Cheat!

OK, you know that I am working on losing 10 pounds before summer vacation and every weekend I cheat on my diet. I felt a little guilty about that and invariably yelled at myself every Sunday night. I found out that this is not unusual and may actually help us wannabe skinnies stay on our program in the long run. 

Two trusted authorities told me that it’s actually GOOD to cheat! A mechanism that help us relieve the pressure on a regular basis when we are working toward a goal actually helps us to maintain our efforts and make regular progress. Without the ability or mechanism to release steam, we would throw in the towel altogether and give up on everything. It’s good to build this release valve into what we’re doing and make it part of the program. This way, we start fresh and are recommitted every Monday.

I’m not a nutritionist like my friend, Linda, but there’s something here that makes sense and I see this in organizing, too.

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My friend Joanne was complaining about losing momentum when trying to get herself organized after several months of steady progress. Actually, I think she’s doing GREAT if she can claim months of effort, because many people would give up a diet or an organizing project within a week or a month. So, Joanne, give yourself a round of applause!  It’s a matter of perspective. When you have 10 pounds to lose or a whole house to empty, it’s a process that is going to take time. You can lose a pound in a week, you can organize a closet in a day, but the bigger project is going to take some time and you will need to build in ways to reduce the pressure, take stock of your wins and renew your commitment every week. 

You will need support. If you are like 80 percent of the American population, you will need a team to support you and cheer you on. This could be Weight Watchers, your sister or an online group. Many of the people I work with say they would not get organized without me there. Nicole in Eastchester said, “Don’t take it personally Andrea, I like you; I just hate organizing!” We laughed at this and then resumed organizing her closet.

People need the support, especially if something is not a part of their natural skill set or they are pressed for time/attention because of other commitments. If you have kids, a dog, a house, a working spouse, a social life, a civic life or a spiritual community, at some point you will be hard-pressed to get everything done. Because of the numerous demands on your time and attention, you will have to let something go. If not, you will either blow up or melt down.

Release the pressure and let something slide for a day or two. That could be the morning workout, the dishes in the sink or the board meeting. The following day you can pick up the pieces and restart your commitment. 

The important thing here is the long-term goal, not the momentary lapse in effort or attention. If you are truly committed to something, you will happily pick up the reins the next day and resume your journey toward this worthy goal. Go ahead and cheat. Let the dishes slide, eat the jelly beans and play hooky for an afternoon or day. You will be stronger and more committed tomorrow! 

Happy organizing! 

Andréa Deinstadt is a professional organizer serving families in Westchester and Fairfield counties. Contact:; 914.391.8816;

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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