How to Get and Stay Organized When You Are Stressed

Time and again I run across articles and blog posts that discuss how being organized and decluttering can help reduce stress levels. Now, don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that being organized really does help to minimize your stress and anxiety levels. However, for most of us, the least likely time that you will strive to get organized is when you are stressed!

I will be honest, I have a very organized home, but when I am feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or stressed, the state of my home can definitely serve as a reflection on my state of mind. It’s a double-edge sword. Things may not be at their best because of how I am feeling emotionally; but how I am feeling emotionally is affected by things not being at their best. The big question is how to overcome that?

Here are a few tips to help you get organized at the least opportune times. 

Give Tourself Grace.

You definitely don’t want to add more stress to your plate. This is one of the times when you want to be gentle with yourself. If emptying and cleaning out a closet feels overwhelming, it’s definitely not the time to take on a project of that magnitude. Practice giving yourself grace by telling yourself that it is okay, and taking things at a slower pace is just the right pace for you to be moving at.

Think Small and Close.

If you are in a funk and your energy has hit a low point then you probably don’t want to be climbing up into the attic is start a huge home organizing project. Start to think about organization projects that are smaller in scope; and also right at your fingertips. For example, cleaning out the cabinet under the TV may be a great project when all you want to do is watch Netflix. Remember, a few smaller projects will always be equal to one larger project. You may also be surprised that one small accomplishment will lead you to taking on your next project.

Know Your Limits.

You are the only one who can judge your energy level and your willingness to work on a project. By being in touch with what your limits are you’re able to take control of the situation. When you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, the last thing you want to do is create a giant overwhelming pile that often comes when you are working on a larger organization project. During times when you feel stressed because you are pressed for time, or already have too many things on our to-do list, you don’t want to  pile on more to-dos. Think about what may be the root cause of your stress so you are able to make organization decisions that won’t make things worse.

Set Realistic Expectations.

Unless you are one of those really lucky people who stress cleans, you won’t be feeling an urgency to Marie Kondo your entire house when you are feeling anxious or stressed. But, you may feel better by tackling those projects that give you the most bang for your buck. If you know that cleaning and organizing your entire closet is not something that you can handle, then maybe just focus on the smaller parts, like accessories, or shoes.

Once you decide where you are going to focus your efforts set parameters as to how much time you are going to spend on your project. Be sure to also set parameters for how much you can realistically declutter. If you are focusing on shoes, challenge yourself to declutter two or three pairs rather than cutting your shoe collection in half.

Celebrate Your Organization Success.

Three words… Before and after!

Snap a photo before you start a project. Then snap another when you are done. When we are able to see physical proof of our accomplishments we are better able to celebrate them.

Please keep in mind is that these tips are just that…tips. They are not a magic cure-all for your feelings of burn out, stress, anxiety, or depression. Taking care of yourself is always more important than organizing you’re home or space. If you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or if you are unable to take care of yourself, please reach out to a loved one or medical professional to get the help you need.

Published by Jenn DePauw - Organized Priorities

Jenn is the owner of Organized Priorities, a Colorado-based company specializing in Organization, Productivity, and Operations. As an organization and productivity professional, Jenn specializes in individual and team productivity coaching as well as organization for both individuals and small businesses. She is also the author of The Organized Priorities Blog (, an organization and lifestyle blog that focuses on making life more organized, more productive, and a little easier. For helpful tips on everything from weekly planning to home organization, and daily celebrations to words of encouragement you can follow @organizedpriorities on Instagram.

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