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The One To Zen Organizing Blog

Breathe in Calm, Breathe out Clutter

  • Writer's pictureJill Katz

Organizing Like A Navy Seal

Woman doing a pushup

The History:

I once had a client, we’ll call him Brian, who said "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” It was our first organizing session and I was a ball of energy. There was so much to accomplish and I wanted to make sure that Brian got his money’s worth.

Brian’s house was full of stuff. He needed my expertise to help him work through the clutter. But Brian was also very systematic. When I opened his dresser drawers, I saw shirts and pants folded in the most precise way. It was art. “Where did you learn how to fold this way?” I asked. “YouTube,” he replied. He then proceeded to slowly show me how he folded his shirts. ( I do not have the patience to do this but here’s the link in case you do)

"Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
-Navy Seals

When I got home, I looked up Brian’s quote and saw that it was actually a quote from the Navy Seals. The general principle: Do something slowly and get it right the first time. It’s a hell of a lot faster than rushing and then having to repeat it. I imagined a Navy Seal commander yelling this to his troops and their response “Sir, yes sir.” Now the quote seemed even more impressive to me.

ADHD & Slowing it Down

2 duffel bags outside

I spoke with my daughter, Abigail, about this quote. (Abigail has given me the green light to share her story). She has ADHD, the inattentive type, and approaching a task slowly and smoothly wasn’t her usual approach. Abigail was in the middle of packing up for her gap year. Or she was “supposed to be” packing. In reality and self-admittedly, she was procrastinating.

Abigail explained that once she begins a task she tries to finish it in one shot. Her efforts are often haphazard because she rushes through the task. The result is that she often makes mistakes and she compromises the quality of the task. Yet, she is afraid that if she doesn’t push through, she will procrastinate. Just like how she is putting off her packing at that moment.

I asked Abigail what would help her to slow down the packing process so she can get it right. After all, she doesn’t want to forget an item. She considers my question and responds. The best strategy for her is to write down all her thoughts about packing and what she needs to do. Once she “throws up” all this information, she feels less frantic and can then circle back to the task at hand and approach it more slowly. She agrees to make her list today and I agree to check back with her tonight.

Organizing Like A Navy Seal

Jill Katz organizing boxes to donate and keep

How can you channel your Navy Seal?

Here are some tips to slow things down in order to produce a smooth outcome:

Get it out

Write out all ideas first- you can remove the anxiety from this step because you don’t have to actually do anything but write down your thoughts.

Create an outline

Write down all of the steps you need to take based on these ideas.


Schedule time to accomplish each step. Build in extra time to review your work as you go.

Slow it down

Take your time - no rushing allowed!

In Conclusion

Three years later, I am working with Brian again. He is moving and I am helping him to downsize. As I lay out my plan for him, he nods approvingly. He can see that I have taken the time to lay out his options and he appreciates it. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” I say to him with a wink.

Oh, and if you are wondering about Abigail, she still has a few days before her flight. But I am happy to report that most of her clothes are in her duffel bags and ready to go.

Do you have trouble slowing down during your tasks? I would love to hear any strategies that work for you.

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