How To Be Organized Enough

Excelerated Organization™ – being well-enough organized – means you are free from clutter, everything has a permanent home, and you are able to put your hands on what you need when you need it.
organized enough

Not So Well Organized

“I bought a great book on how to get organized,” I told my wife the other day. “But I don’t know where I put it.”

“Have you looked under those piles of stuff on your desk?” she asked. “There could be anything under there!”

“Oh, no,” I replied. “I know exactly where everything is there. All the new stuff is on top and all the old stuff is on the bottom.”

If this sounds uncomfortably familiar, maybe we should talk about Excelerated Organization™. Excelerated Organization™ – being well-enough organized – doesn’t mean you have all your shoes sorted by color, all your tools labeled and stored alphabetically, or last year’s newspapers neatly stacked on your bookshelf. Being well-enough organized means you are free from clutter, everything has a permanent home, and you are able to put your hands on what you need when you need it.

Excelerated Organizaton™ and the Excelerated Life™

Like many practices in the Excelerated Life™, Excelerated Organization™ overlaps with other Excelerated practices.

For example, in the area of self-care and Excelerated Selffulness™: When you are well-enough organized, you are less stressed and have less wasted energy. It has been reported that Americans spend about 2 1/2 days each year looking for misplaced items. Excelerated Organization™ can help you recoup some of that lost time.

Being well-enough organized improves self-esteem and the feeling of accomplishment. A messy home, missed appointments, or paying bills late lead to low self-esteem. Disorganization shows a lack of control over yourself, your environment, and your life. Excelerated Organization™ brings a boost to your self-esteem, makes your life flow a little more smoothly, and gives you a sense of control.

Finally, when you are well-enough organized you can use the time you save to focus and work toward your BIG goals. Not having to search for or replace lost materials improves your productivity.

Why Am I Disorganized?

If you are not currently experiencing the benefits of being well-enough organized, perhaps it’s time to ask why?

It may be helpful to determine if you are always disorganized or if it’s a temporary state. If it’s temporary, what changed? A major life event may have disrupted your organization or simply taken your attention away. What could you do to regain the organization habits you had developed?

What are your buying habits? Do you use shopping as a “creative” outlet or stress reliever? Or do you only buy to replace items? If it’s the former, maybe it’s time to search for other ways to be creative or to relieve stress. (And maybe try something that doesn’t require you to go out and buy more materials or tools.)

Are you afraid of getting organized? Some people think “getting organized” means letting go of things you love. Not true – at least with Excelerated Organization™. Some think a “sterile” space will stifle creativity. Again, not true. Often, having a clean, organized space in which to work sparks creativity.

Or perhaps you’ve tried to be better organized and failed, and you’ve decided you just don’t “have what it takes” to be an organized person. It might be helpful to identify with the 4 archetypes, as defined by Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici in their book, New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living.

The 4 Archetypes

According to Fortin and Quilici, each of the four archetypes, or typical examples, has different reasons for holding on to stuff. While one person sees an item as clutter, another might see it as useful, another as expensive, another as having sentimental attachment. Understanding the different archetypes can be helpful as you seek to become well-enough organized.

The four archetypes are: connected, practical, energetic, and frugal. Each archetype has certain behaviors associated with it that make it difficult to let go of certain things. Fortin and Quilici call these behaviors the “shadow side”.

The Shadow Side

The shadow side of the Connected archetype is “Clinging”. These folks have a difficult time letting go of gifts, cards, souvenirs, ticket stubs, programs, and other memorabilia.

For the Practical archetype, the shadow side is “Limited”. Practical people find it hard to get rid of old arts and crafts supplies, electrical cords, and scrap materials of all sorts because they “might need it someday”.

The shadow side of Energetic? Scattered. Instead of focusing your energy on one project till it’s completed, you scatter your energies ineffectively over a multitude of endeavors . . . and have to deal with all the bits and pieces of material needed for each. Perhaps you’ve heard of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out? This might be an issue for the scattered person.

“Frugal” is the fourth archetype. Scarcity is the shadow side of Frugal. Those with a Scarcity mindset find it stressful to get rid of anything with perceived monetary value.

If you recognize yourself in one of these archetypes, you can find ways to deal with these specific issues here, or by reading the book (just don’t let it add to the clutter!)

Start With a Plan

If you want to get back to being well-enough organized (or to get there for the first time), start with a plan. To help with planning, ask and answer these questions.

  • What do I want? How will being “well-enough organized” look for me?
  • Why do I want it? What are the benefits of being well-enough organized? What will I gain? What will it cost me?
  • When do I want it? Set a deadline for when you’ll begin.
  • Where will I start? Shall I tackle a whole room? The garage? Or should I start with something smaller – my closet, a junk drawer, the top of the dining room table?
  • What will I do? Turn off the TV at a certain time? Have a “no buy” month? Set up a budget? Dedicate a Saturday morning to organizing?

How To Organize

There are no shortages of information here. You could query the web for “how to organize”. Or go to blog, scroll down to Categories, and select Excelerated Organization for all the blog posts about becoming well-enough organized.

Staying Organized

Of course, becoming well-enough organized is not a one-and-done endeavor. You must take steps to hang onto the gains you make. For this, I recommend using the “Zorro circle”. [Achor]

This term comes from a scene in the movie The Mask of Zorro. Alejandro, the young Zorro, is taught by the old sword master, Don Diego. Diego draws a small circle on the ground. Alejandro must stay within that circle as he duels with Diego. Only after he masters the small circle is he allowed to work from larger and larger spaces. The feeling of control and accomplishment he gets from mastering the small circle allows him to accomplish greater and greater feats of swordsmanship. [Achor]

Work within your Zorro circle to organize one area of your space. Commit to keeping that area organized and clutter-free. Expand your circle as you can, always working to keep in good order what you’ve already done.

Remember, small steps forward are better than making a giant leap, then falling back. It does little good to spend a weekend organizing your entire house, only to have it slip back into its cluttered state within a couple of weeks. Excelerated Organization™ means making the small permanent changes that will keep you well-enough organized from this time forward. And that is embracing the Excelerated Life™!

Excelerated Organization™ — being clutter-free and well-enough organized — able to find what you need when you need it — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


Achor, Shawn. The Happiness Advantage. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2010.

Fortin, Cary Telander and Kyle Louise Quilici. New Minimalism: Decluttering And Design For Sustainable, Intentional Living. Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books, 2018.

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