Organizing Pitfalls #10: Backsliding – Losing Hope and Moving Beyond

You’ve experienced this before. You put in long hours to organize your office into a productive, well ordered work zone. You’ve patted yourself on the back and made a promise to keep it this way always. Flash forward a week, a month, or even a year.
Your office looks just the way it did before you organized. You’re thinking, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I keep this space organized? This is hopeless.”
Stop! What you are experiencing is called backsliding and it happens to everyone. As professional organizers, we anticipate seeing it happen with most of our clients.
Why does backsliding happen?
  • New habits are hard to maintain.
  • Life events (both major and minor) throw routines out of whack. So do holidays, seasonal changes, and vacations.
  • Organizing systems are not always perfect.
So don’t let backsliding discourage you. 
Here are a few ways to move on:
  1.  Recognize and list any factors that could have contributed to your backsliding…
    • Getting home late every night for the past two weeks
    • Forgetting to write notes in your capture book (or phone); Relied on fifty post-its and paper napkins to document ideas and tasks
    • Finding your file drawer mysteriously stuck…again.
  2. Get back on the horse… start practicing those new organizing habits again 
  3. Create contingency plans for when life gets in the way
    • Delegate or specify where stuff will live temporarily until you can deal with it
  4. Prioritize fixing or replacing faulty organizing equipment 
  5. Call upon a professional organizer to help get you back on track or tweak the system. Don’t be embarrassed calling; we know that backsliding is a normal part of the process and want to help you succeed in the long run.
Backsliding does not have to be the end game. Recognize that it is a normal part of the organizing process. Prioritize practicing new habits and cleaning up the backlog. Finally, remember to call on a professional organizer if you get stuck or just need some non-judgemental assistance to get you back on your feet.
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