An Organizational Guide for the Rest of Us

Do you look at your friends’ organized homes with a little bit of envy? Do you wonder how they manage to keep their living spaces clean and organized? Some people are born with the natural ability to organize. Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff by Lisa Lawmaster Hess is not the organizational book for them. No, this book is for the rest of us.

While this isn’t a book targeted specifically for homeschoolers, we who homeschool often have a hard time managing the stuff in our lives. After all, our children don’t leave the house for six or more hours a day like traditionally educated children do. They are usually home, making projects and messes (a.k.a. “learning”). We also have all those educational books and resources adding to the general clutter of our homes. Yes, organization for homeschoolers can definitely be a challenge.

Hess argues that “if we can tap into the skills and talents [God] has given us, not only can we organize in  a way that’s sustainable, but we can also be the best version of ourselves.” She divides people who struggle with organization into three personal styles and three organizational styles.

Discover Your Style

The personal styles are: I love stuff, I love to be busy, and I need to see it. I love stuff people have a strong attachment to things. They frequently collect items and have a hard time parting with stuff. Those who love to be busy thrive on a hectic schedule. They have difficulty managing both things and time. Those who need to see it (this is my personal style) leave things where they can see them to remember to do them. They have “to-get-to” piles.

The organizational styles are: I know I put it somewhere, cram and jam, and drop and run. Those who know that they put it somewhere struggle to find what they need when they want it. They put things in the most convenient place at the moment rather than the logical place. Those who cram and jam put things into spaces that are already full to the brim. People who drop and run tend to put things down instead of away. They can usually find things where they last used them.

Discover Organizational Tips Designed for You

Know Thyself offers helpful quizzes so that you can determine which style(s) you fall into. Based on your answers, Hess suggests various containers and systems to help you get organized.

Hess also discusses her STYLE system for getting and keeping organized. Start with success; Take small steps; Yes, it has a home; Let it go, and Easy upkeep. She also acknowledges the challenges of living in a house with people of various organizational styles.

Know Thyself is useful and realistic for those who have a hard time with organization. It won’t make you perfectly organized overnight, but it will help you make solid, incremental steps in the right direction.

Author: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor of "Today's Catholic Homeschooling", is the mother of two biological sons and one adopted daughter. She is in her fifteenth year of homeschooling. She has a B.A. in History and Fine Art and a Master's Degree in Applied Theology. She is the author of "The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling" and "The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary". She blogs at