Do I Practice What I Preach? (Habits, Maintenance, and Backsliding)
Dear Readers: I hope you enjoy this refreshed post from 2016.
I was helping a long-time virtual coaching client with email maintenance, teaching her about Inbox Zero, and I admitted that mine was currently more like Inbox 200. In fact, as I continued to say, I don’t do anything (maintenance-wise) every day.
She was relieved to hear it.
Is it backsliding if you skip a day on purpose? Maybe you've just found your sweet spot. Click To Tweet
Clients seem to enjoy it when I admit to shortcomings, I guess because it makes me seem more human. More like them. Which I am, in more ways than not.
Here are some of my written confessions:
- Confessions of a Professional Organizer (I’m organized enough, and not one bit more.)
- How Clean Does Your House Really Need To Be?
- Does Your System Need Tweaking Like Mine Did?
- Is Your Kitchen Counter Worse Than Mine?
- If You Can’t Find Something Clean Up!
So, do I practice what I preach? Yes, and no.
Do I make my bed, do my dishes, and sort my mail into an action file every single day without fail? No.
Do I put things away that I got out to use during the day? Yes. Always? No.
But I do these things more days than not.
Do I think it’s OK to skip a day, or a week? Yes, I do. But it wouldn’t work for everyone. And I don’t think that pointing out loopholes right up front would be helpful. It would be like telling a teenager: “OK, you know the speed limit is 60, right? But if you are careful, and if traffic is light, and if there are no cops around, you can probably get away with going 70.” It might be true, and there might be some students in the class who would keep that concept in mind and not abuse it, but what self-respecting drivers training instructor would actually say that to a student? Do they do it themselves, though? Probably.
Habits make things easier
The point of creating a daily habit is that you don’t have to think, every day, “Am I going to do it today? If not, when am I going to do it?” It’s SO MUCH EASIER to just do it daily. I have a few good habits, and a few bad ones. I am, according to the Four Tendencies quiz in Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before, a Questioner — with a streak of Rebel, which does not help one little bit. So I tend to make things harder on myself than they would be for, say, an Upholder or an Obliger.
Do I practice most of the things I preach most of the time? Yes. Often enough that if you visited my home, or examined my calendar, you would agree I am pretty organized! Can I find my scissors when I need them? Yes. Do I get things done on time? Yes. Can I help others get organized? Absolutely!
Besides, whoever said getting organized and staying that way was easy?
Certainly not me. Case in point:
- Getting Organized Once And For All
- WHY I Love Chores
- Being Organized Isn’t Easy
- How Can Less be More?
Find maintenance strategies that work for you
Here are a few examples:
- Don’t break the chain! (Keep track of what you did on a calendar or chart.)
- Make rules for yourself such as: “I can skip one day (or week, if it’s a weekly task), but I can’t skip two.” (I’ll warn you, though, it’s a slippery slope and not for everyone.)
- Create a mantra that works for you. Mine is: Progress equals Happiness.
- Find your sweet spot. (How clean does your house really need to be?).
- Read Gretchen Rubin’s book (mentioned above) to learn strategies that will work for your tendency. And to learn what loopholes you use without even realizing it.
- Learn to live and work by design, not by default.
- Expect that you will get off track periodically, and learn how to get back on track easily.
Know this: Backsliding is normal
Everybody takes a day off now and then. And things happen, like illness, travel, and emergencies. And things slide — the house gets messy or you forget an appointment because your system of task and calendar management got interrupted.
It’s not that it was a bad system. If it worked for you before, it can still work for you. Just get back on track easily as soon as you can without beating yourself up about it.
But…is it even considered backsliding if you skip a day on purpose? I don’t think so. I think you may have just found your sweet spot between being orderly, being productive…and just being yourself.
Procrastination and perfectionism
Consider, too, whether you are procrastinating. Procrastination is a resistance to doing the thing…but why? Does it not sound fun? Do you not know how to do it? Have you not broken it down into do-able steps? Are you not convinced it needs doing? Or are you just in the procrastitivity zone?
Are you a perfectionist? Perfection can sometimes be about fear of how others will perceive you. Good enough, most of the time, is good enough. And done, almost always, is better than perfect.
So, if I don’t practice what I preach, at least not to the letter, not all the time, why do I not feel like a failure? It’s because I have systems in place that work for me. And everything has a home. And I know how to get back on track when I need to. And because I believe in myself.
Last confession of the day:
Sometimes, if my house is a mess and I haven’t tidied up before bedtime, I think, “I hope I don’t die tonight!” You know, lest “they” make the mistake of thinking my house is always that way. LOL!
Let me ask you: Do YOU practice what YOU preach?
Does this blog article make you feel better about taking a day off?
Please share with us in the comments below!
- Hazel Thornton is an author, genealogist, and retired home and office organizer.
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- Copyright 2016-2024 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life and Beyond