Is There Such a Thing As “A Little” OCD?

I’ve told you guys before about what a clean freak my mom is, and how she carries the whole universe in her purse. I avoid going into a lot of detail about the extent of her OCD, because (1) this is a personal finance blog - sometimes, anyway - and (2) she would murder me with her bare hands. Well, not her bare hands, because that could get messy. She’d probably have to bust out a pair of these:

Anyway, I’m realizing lately that I have inherited some of my mom’s obsessive-compulsive ways. I just didn’t manage to get them in the ways that count.

Let’s review all the ways I’m not like my mother, shall we?

I can’t cook I’m finally learning to cook at 29 years old. My house is usually somewhere between chaos and utter destruction, and that’s on a good day. I have a house full of dogs, including a puppy who randomly pees when she is excited, scared, bored, or (apparently) any other emotional state you can imagine. I don’t participate in fundraisers for my son’s school. I eat in my living room. I’m a smoker. Up until about 16 months ago, my finances were an utter disaster (and I’m still climbing out). Gee, does any of that scream OCD to you? I didn’t think so.

BUT… (There’s Always a But)

I will probably never be as nutso about cleanliness as my mom. Hell, I don’t even think Mr. Clean or the Pine Sol lady are on her level - they probably pay her for lessons or something. But I have to admit, there are a number of things in my life that simply must be a certain way.

Lately, as my self-employment has moved away from freelance writing and more toward web design, my OCD is in overdrive. My clients have no idea how much I agonize over the smallest details, from the exact placement of the logo to the color scheme to the way the site renders on mobile devices. I literally cried when the social media icons I made for one blog were the wrong color (then I got over it and fixed them). And while I know that the site owner’s happiness comes before mine, I die a little inside if someone chooses things I wouldn’t pick.

You see those colors? That’s the color scheme I chose for an as yet unidentified website. (It’s one of MY websites, so no stealing!) I have been agonizing over those colors since DECEMBER. And if any of you tell me you don’t like them, I will come to your house and kick you in your nether regions because I seriously cannot spend any more time looking at different shades of the same four colors.

My obsessive tendencies don’t hinder my ability to finish projects quickly. (Well, unless they’re my own projects, but that’s because I put my clients’ stuff first.) I’m learning to let things go and move on in the interest of getting done before I die of old age. But when I look back at screenshots of the work I’ve done, I find a million ways I could have done things differently or made them look better. And that’s where I’m stuck.

Part of me thinks it’s good to be nitpicky about something as important as another person’s website. After all, people judge a website within mere seconds of visiting it. But I also wonder how much I’d be able to accomplish if I didn’t feel so compelled to make everything perfect.

Do you or your friends/family have any OCD traits? Are they the good kind (like my mom’s) or the crazy kind (like mine)? Are there times when it pays off to be a little obsessive about certain things?


Is There Such a Thing As “A Little” OCD?22 Comments

  1. I've got some Obsessive Compulsive tendencies myself…and I think they can be good and bad at the same time.

    Example: I like everything in their place

    Good: Our home is always neat and picked up
    Bad: I'm the only one who knows where anything is

    Example: Pairs of things belong together

    Good : shoes are always arranged with their mate and easy to find
    Bad: I'm endlessly made fun of for straightening everyone's shoes when we have gatherings.

    I think you get the drift.

  2. I would say my OCD is a little different. I've definitely changed a lot because people used to tell me it was super annoying. But I used to repeat things a lot. I would have to do everything multiple times (such as locking the door, setting my alarms, etc).

  3. I have a lot of OCD traits, but most of them are fairly benign (I have to sit in the same seat in every room, I eat my food in a certain order, I count the steps down the train stairs and jump the last one if I don't come down on my right foot). The definitely don't make me any more productive lol which is too bad =

  4. I have an icon that says "I have CDO, it's like OCD except in alphabetical order, the way it should be". My OCD traits are a minor annoyance, most of the time, but sometimes it's a blessing. For example, I can't work in a messy area. My desk at work is always clean, unless I'm actively working on a project. Several of my reviews have praised this, especially since my desk can be seen by anyone walking thru the office. It also keeps my kitchen clean, which is nice.

  5. I really like that color scheme. Very pretty. I am VERY OCD when it comes to computer layout stuff. I need my desktop looking one specific and one specific way only. At work, 90% of the time my tabs look pretty much the same way, and they have looked that same way for 3 years! (IE, payroll program, second IE, Outlook). When one of my windows crash, I'd rather close everything and start from scratch so that it is in the same format again. It does help me, because I know exactly where to go when looking for something!

  6. LOL. You're hilarious, Andrea. I definitely have OCD traits; like Bridget, I eat my food in a certain order, have an order-of-operations for how I need to go to bed/wake up (wash face, brush teeth, take pill, etc) and I freak out if it's different, and my bed must be made PERFECTLY at night for me to get into it.

  7. I'm weird in that I can be a total freak about some things and not give a flying flip about other things. For instance, I remodeled by daughter's room when she was a baby. There's is a corner where the wall and closet meet that doesn't have a piece of molding or quarter-round. It's been that way for SEVEN YEARS! The rest of the room is perfect.


    When I stock water bottles in our fridge, I have to turn all the labels the same way.

    When I mow the grass, the lines HAVE TO BE STRAIGHT.

    When I wash the car, it has to be perfect.

    I guess we're all a bit strange.

  8. Good site for picking color schemes:

    I'm not OCD, but only because I'm missing the C. I get completely obsessive about projects I'm working on.

  9. Details? What are details?

    I need to get a few +1 OCD points more so than I need fewer. Sorry to all you people who have to have everything ordered. I'm not sure I've ever experienced that feeling.

  10. I love that blue - I have a similar blue in a nail polish that I LOVE haha.

    I am CRAZY ocd - actually saw a therapist about it when I was younger. I have weird "rules" like pillows with tags must have the tags coming out of the pillow case and all pillows must face with the pillowcase opening AWAY from doors and that is just the beginning! I will say, and after I told you about the pillows rules you may not believe me, but I have loosened up a bit since getting married and having to deal with another person invading my space and breaking my rules.

  11. Those colors are cool, what are the names of them? Being a guy, I know I would just call em green, blue, purple and gray. All kidding aside, I have a couple ocd traits. When I am trading stocks, I need my internet tabs in a certain order from top to bottom, yahoo/msn, TD and other brokers websites, Finviz, and then my charting site. They need to be in that order or I close everything out and have to do it all over again. I've tried having my trading platform on my left screen, but I can't do it. It needs to be on the right.

  12. I don't have OCD but I am picky about certain things. I think most of us are.

    As a client, I appreciate how specific you are. It's why you're great at what you do and it's why people hire you. We know we're getting something awesome and thoughtful, not something slapped together just for a paycheck. It's also nice because we don't have to be hard on you…you're hard enough on yourself :)

    As your friend, I do think that your OCD causes some undue stress and it's hard to watch (because, you know, I care). I'd like to see you relax a bit but that's like telling my dog to stop barking…it's not going to happen. And I accept that. Because it's part of who you are.

  13. I'm totally OCD when it comes to my lip balm. I started applying petroleum jelly to my lips with abnormal frequency back in high school. I used to carry around a tub of it with me in my purse. I graduated to lip balm some time in college. If I run out or lose my lip balm, I, literally, cannot function. I must stop what I'm doing and head to the nearest store.

  14. My wife is OCD. But with 3 boys who are are complete tornado’s living in the house, she has been diluted down a bit.

  15. So does this mean I can get your help with my wedding colors? I'm absolutly horrible at deciding what colors I want. And I never dreamed of a wedding so that's no help.

    As for a little OCD…yeah, I have that. I was getting laughed at about a facebook game I play because I have certain ways of playing. I arrange books and movies in certain orders and can tell when someone else has touched them. I have to rearrange them at that point. Theres more but I think that is the worst of them.

  16. I get a little OCD about how emails from our business are worded. I have to catch myself from correcting my husband's wording even though his way works too - it's just not my way…

  17. I wouldn't say I am OCD because I know I wouldn't have a problem stopping my habits I have but I am definitely a very habit driven person. I don't think it is a bad thing to be OCD about some things as long as you know how to manage it. Oh, and the colors are great! :)

  18. I think your traits are more "perfectionist" traits… not OCD.
    But… that's why the colour scheme you chose is PERFECT!

  19. LOL - a little OCD - yup. But rarely the useful kind… my clothes need to be hung a certain way, bottles & lids MUST match (no, you can't put a green lid on a pink bottle!). You know, weird stuff. I wish I were a neat freak, but sadly, I'm not.

    I do like those colours though, especially the lime and purple.

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