Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Backsliding is a term used by professional organizers to describe a client's return to previous behaviour or habits that led to disorganization. Many, if not most, of my clients experience backsliding to some degree several times over the course of our work together. While not necessary, it is frequently experienced by many people as they try and get more control over the space, time and "stuff" in their lives.

You will know if you are backsliding. Horizontal services are filling up again with clutter. An area in your home or office that had been kept organized is starting to be disorganized. Perhaps you find yourself late for appointments more often after some time of prompt, timely arrival.

To handle backsliding, start by staving off the guilt. Admit you've had a backslide and get on with your life. We can give guilt about 30 seconds and then move forward.

Second, see if you can identify which behaviours you have returned to. Were you clearing the top of your desk each evening and have now stopped? Were you clearing the floor of your bedroom each evening and have now stopped?

Thirdly, see if you can identify why the behaviours have returned. It takes about 28 consistent repetitions to instill a new habit. Perhaps your 28 events were interrupted by illness, extra projects at work, a sick child or parent or an unexpected loss.

Four, practice the behaviour you would like to instill again. Try daily repetition at the same time of day.

Finally, give yourself a huge pat on the back and celebrate your success!

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