Having a well-organized life does not mean that nothing is ever out of place because that would be boring. Honestly, if you ask ten people what it means to have a well-organized life and you will most likely get ten different answers. I will answer what this means to me personally as well as what it means to me as a professional organizer.
Here are the 5 key components to a well-organized life
1. Routines to follow
Someone with a well-organized life has routines to follow that allow them to close the loop with their chores. This does not mean that their laundry is always done or that the dishes are never sitting in the sink.
It means that the pile of laundry never gets so big that it is overwhelming, and that dishes, pots, and pans don’t explode out of the sink and onto the adjacent counters. These chores are done regularly.
Groceries are put away if not immediately then shortly after they come into the house.
Bags of things, magazines, and mail have places to land so that they are not here there and everywhere around the house.
2. Systems to rely on
Life is never static. Things change. There are many things that can happen in a person’s life to upset the applecart. In my experience, when the person is living a well-organized life to begin with the life changing events only temporarily upset the applecart.
They rely on their organizing systems to factor the life changing event into the mix.
Here’s an example:
A couple has a new baby. This is cause for celebration and a restructuring of all their familiar routines. There is significantly more laundry to do, bottles to wash, garbage to take out, and baby paraphernalia to put away or organize. The mail piles up (email and snail mail).
For a time, the couple will have trouble keeping up with the multitude of new chores.
This couple loved their well-organized life and work together to create new systems. This sounds like a simple fix, but it is not. It takes dedication and a true desire to have a well-organized life once again.
Moving house whether you move down the street, across the country, or across the world also creates havoc and necessitates new systems.
But once those new systems are re-created, familiar routines fall into place, and organization is back in your life.
3. An understanding of how much is enough
Homes become filled up and overflowing with stuff when there is confusion over how much is enough and how to release things you are no longer using.
A death in the family is another one of those life changing events which upset the applecart. When my mother passed away, I helped my siblings empty her home. We all (there are 5 of us) took home furniture, china, and artwork. All of us wanted things in our homes to remind us of our mother.
Some of these were sentimental items and some were useful. I had to make many decisions when all that stuff arrived in Atlanta. How was I going to factor these things into my well-organized home? What was I going to release to make room for these things? Was I keeping everything or could some of this stuff merely pass through my home?
These were tough decisions.
In the end, my husband and I rearranged some of our furniture. Our son took a few pieces to his apartment. I took a second look at some of the things I saved and then took them to Goodwill so that someone else could love them.
Everyone has their own tolerance level for how much is enough. To create a well-organized life, you need to know how full you want your home and your day.
4. What is important
Identify what is important to you. Everyone has some control over how they spend their time. Routines to follow help get chores done. Your job dictates some of your work hours. The remaining time is yours to spend.
A well-organized life is a life that allows for flexibility to accommodate time for the unexpected, time for friends and family, and time to just be.
This is not to say that it’s perfect or perfectly organized.
A person with a well-organized life knows what is important to them and does their best to honor the important people and things in their life.
5. A desire for a peaceful atmosphere
Above everything else there is a desire for a peaceful atmosphere. I believe that most people are looking for peace. Peace in their homes and a schedule that allows for peace.
Having a well-organized life means that you work to maintain the organization in your home and in your daily schedule.
This does not mean that your time is planned down to the second.
It means that you work to remove busyness so that you have time for you and those you care about.
I believe I have a well-organized life. Yes. There are times when I am crazy busy and times when the organization in my home is out of whack, but I stick to my routines, follow my systems, and I know what is important to me. Doing these things allow me to bring a peaceful atmosphere back into my home and my schedule.
Call me to schedule a consultation if you want to create a well-organized life for yourself.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.
What a wonderful way to nail down what it takes to live an organized life, Diane! Who ever said that to live an organized life everything must be perfect all the time? 🙂
Thanks, Nicole! Aiming for 100% is a waste of time and effort – I go for most of the time and am happy with that.
I love all of the points you made and especially the idea that feeling organized doesn’t mean you are 100% organized, 100% of the time. Things can be out of place and be temporarily disrupted. But overall, you can rely on your systems to maintain a desired level of calm and organization.
While on vacation, I realized how useful organization is. At home, things are set-up exactly as I want. Those routines and organizing systems have been crafted and tweaked over years to work really well. But when I’m away and in a new environment, so many routines and organizing systems are altered. For example, there was no dresser in the room we stayed, so I had to improvise. It worked, but not as well as things are at home. I also noticed that certain things I always do at home like cleaning up the dishes after every meal, I was more lax about when on vacation. It was kind of fun to let go a bit while away.
All this is to say that whether at home or away, there is a dance between being consistent and changing things up. Part of being organized is having a certain amount of flexibility and knowing how to adapt your routines/systems to a variety of settings and circumstances.
Thank you, Linda. I think there is a big disconnect between what people think having an organized life is and what it truly is. Establishing routines and strategies that work for you takes time and effort but then they are there for you to rely on and to tweak when you’re not at home.
This is such a good article and I love the question. I can so relate to #3 as my story is so very similar to yours. An organized life is great, however, life does throw us some curve balls along the way that we need to be able to navigate the best that we can.
Thank you, Kim. It’s all in knowing what to do when a curve ball comes your way!
I love that you mentioned “A desire for a peaceful atmosphere.” A peaceful and inviting home environment was always my goal. Everything I did to make my house a home was with this in mind.
Love that, Sabrina!
You’ve said this all with such clarity that it becomes easy to see that this all requires what one might call mindfulness or intentionality. We have to think about our obligations and needs to create and tweak rituals and systems, to consider what’s worthy of staying in our lives and what must pass through out space onto somewhere else. If we don’t know what we value and how much of it is enough, it’s impossible to create a schedule or space that reflects our truest selves. As you walk the reader through these five elements, it become clear that it’s not about moving the stuff, but focusing the self. May you and your brilliant mind always have a peaceful atmosphere, Diane!
Yes to all of this. Good job, Diane!
Thanks so much, Hazel!