STYLE Savvy: Imperfectionism


A few months ago, I told the editor who helped me whip my book proposal into shape that she was not allowed to come to my house until after Know Thyself was published. Otherwise, I feared she might deem me unfit to write about organization and take away my contract.

She wouldn’t, of course (would she?) After all, I’ve been very forthcoming that I am a work in progress. And, the subtitle of the book is The (Im)perfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff.

So I’m guessing it’s okay that I’m an imperfectionist.

You can tell this is true because there are pockets of perfection, and spots that need sorting. The towels in my linen closet are perfectly folded, but there are stacks of paper on my dining room table that have grown roots. I thought I knew what was in each of the piles until I went looking for something last week and found it …

In the wrong pile.

There’s a place for everything and everything has a place in my school backpack, but there’s a small side table in the family room that I set up for beginning-of-the-semester overflow in August and have been trying to get rid of ever since.

And I just turned in midsemester grades.

There’s definitely a theme here.

Why, if I know what to do, isn’t my house like something out of a magazine?

Because life interferes. My best-laid plans get derailed by the unexpected and the unplanned, not all of which are bad. But I have no deadline (except one that’s self-imposed) for the sorting and, since it’s not as much fun as an impromptu night out with friends or as big a priority as the things I get an actual paycheck for, or as necessary as sleep, it always falls to the bottom of the list.

But I continue to put it on my list.

Why? Because we’re more likely to do the things we actually set to paper. And because to fail to include it on the list would mean that I’m giving up and letting the stuff win.

And that’s not going to happen.

This week, I’m enjoying my midsemester break. I wisely made sure that all of my assignments were due last week and the week before so that I wouldn’t have to spend the break grading papers. That means writing and organizing will take top priority. That may sound deadly to you but, to me, those are the ingredients for a perfect break.

And maybe, just maybe, the pockets of perfection will overtake the stuff that needs sorting.

"Imperfectionism" by Lisa Hess (

Image credit: (2017). CC0 Public Domain

Copyright 2018 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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