What to Organize When You Don’t Feel Like Organizing

Sometimes you don’t feel like organizing. I came home from my summer vacation really sick. Luckily, I only got sick on the last two days of the trip, and I was able to take some over the counter meds to survive the plane ride back from France. I couldn’t even get ginger beer down while I was lying my my fancy French hotel room. Once home, I was flat in bed for a solid week, and then very tired and worn out for weeks after that.

What to Organize When You Don’t Feel Like Organizing

What to Organize When You Don’t Feel Like Organizing

If you don’t feel healthy, you probably don’t feel like organizing anything at home. I’ve got seven tips for you on what to organize when you feel like crap.

It took me days to unpack my one little carry-on suitcase.

It took me two weeks to switch from my travel purse to my everyday purse. 

I did the wash, but then clean laundry sat in piles in the bedroom.

I couldn’t even make the short trip down the hallway to put away the see-through TSA-approved bags filled with travel-sized toiletries.

When I was sick, I’d wake up in the morning thinking, this is the day. I’m going to feel better. I’ll get rid of these piles. And then I’d take another nap.

If you are physically compromised, depressed or chronically ill, this all sounds familiar, right? Everything is easier when you are healthy.

My doc said it can take weeks to shake the bug I had. Even though lab tests confirmed her diagnosis, the treatment was bland food, lots of rest, and time. Once I started eating real food again, I wanted to be all better right now, but it’s a slow process. 

What Organizing Looks Like for the Suddenly Sick, Chronically Ill, or Depressed

If you are suddenly sick and take weeks to get healthy again, give yourself some grace on the organizing front. Seriously, there is no prize for making yourself sick again with too much work. Go slow and do what you can do. I just wanted to stay out of the bathroom for more than an hour at a time. Piles of clothes stayed put for two weeks and no one died.

Recovery might feel like forever, but time will pass anyway. You can get frustrated while it passes, or you can be kind to yourself. 

Getting Healthier Makes Organizing Easier

If you are sick or depressed, focus on getting healthy. Even if you don’t feel like organizing, efforts to get healthy might include stocking your fridge and pantry with healthier food, eliminating toxic chemicals from your home, making time in your schedule to stretch or exercise, and scheduling medical appointments. Don’t do all of that at once. It’s a process. Your environment can be making you sick or keeping you in a funk. There’s a reason the term doom room has caught on, but your doom room doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

You may feel stuck, but you can get help to feel better.

You can break a bad cycle either by getting healthier and then getting more organized. Or you can get more organized which leads to feeling unstuck, as many of our clients do.

If you are chronically ill or grieving, you’ll have days that are better than others. Do just a little on the good days. Conserve energy one day so you can tackle a project the next day, and clear your schedule to recover on day three. Get help from a friend or hire a pro organizer. That’s what we are here for.

If you are a caretaker for someone who is sick or mentally ill, you’re going to have down times and sick days, too. I can’t say it enough. Be kind to yourself. Getting perfectly organized when you are in survival mode shouldn’t be the goal. Spend your energy on getting healthy again.

7 Ways to Organize When Don’t Feel Like Organizing

  1. Partial is good. Better than good. Maybe “doing the laundry” is too much, but “washing the laundry” is doable. Wrinkles never killed anyone. While I was sick, I wasn’t strong enough to carry my hamper downstairs, so I carried armfuls of clothes and ran smaller loads just so I had underwear. If you can’t exercise, try a gentle stretch instead. The two-minute sun salutation is my go-to stretch. You can modify this a zillion different ways to do something, even if it feels like almost nothing. Here’s a sun salutation YouTube video, or look up one that works better for you. Yep, doing a partial bit of organizing is still organizing. Making time to get healthy is also organizing. 
  2. Survival mode is totally ok. You probably don’t feel like organizing an entire room or closet, but you can eliminate new messes. Put a trash can near your sick bed for used tissues so you don’t have to pick them up next week when you recover. Put the dishes in the dishwasher instead of in the sink, or better yet, have someone do it for you. (Yes, your kids can take care of you for a bit. Let them help!) Double the days your cleaning service comes, if you have that option. Yep, just surviving is still organizing. 
  3. Be kind to yourself. Would you yell at your best friend for being sick? Of course not. Be generous and patient with yourself in the same way. Yes, you can be kind to yourself even when you are “only” getting the minimum done and really don’t feel like organizing at all. 
  4. Focus on the CANS. Instead of beating yourself up because you can’t seem to (fill in the blank), be grateful for what you can do. After my huge foot surgery a few years ago, I was just grateful when I could scooter to the bathroom. Then I was grateful that I could leave the house. Then I was grateful that I could wear normal shoes again. Now I’m grateful that I can walk without pain. I won’t ever be able to run a 5K or wear high heels, but I CAN do so many other things, so I focus on those.
  5. Stop online shopping for sport or boredom. I get a lot of dirty looks for this one, but boxes and packaging make up a lot of clutter in our homes. Avoid clutter in the first place by not ordering stuff you probably don’t need, at least for a few weeks. Use the 24-hour rule to limit what comes into the home, and you’ll have less to organize when you feel better again. For the essentials and groceries, open packages immediately and remove cardboard boxes and bags from your home before the end of the day so they don’t pile up.  Yep, you can do a lot of organizing just by getting cardboard boxes out of the house. 
  6. Do things differently. When I’m sick, I send a lot more email straight to the trash without ever reading it. If going back upstairs to brush your teeth after breakfast feels like too much, move your toothbrush downstairs to the kitchen sink. Do partial laundry loads instead of full loads. Make your life easier, even if it feels wrong. It might just be the right thing for right now. 
  7. Organize your photos or email instead. Even when I don’t feel like organizing stuff, I still have my phone or computer nearby. Instead of wasting time binge watching TV, spend a few minutes deleting bad photos from your phone or hearting/flagging your favorite photos. You can do this just five minutes at a time, and then go back to napping, uh, recovering. Upload old disks full of photos onto your computer. Set up a computer backup. Or take a free class on how to organize your photos. You can sign up for short, 15-minute classes at https://SaveYourPhotos.org through September 2023 and enjoy them for free through October. Yes, digital organizing is real organizing.

I’m feeling stronger every day. I hope that you are better than well and, if you aren’t, I hope that you are getting better, too.

I know how you feel. I see you wishing you didn’t feel sick. Everyone feels sick or sub-par at some point. Things will get better, I promise. Now you’ve got strategies to stay afloat even when you are too sick and don’t feel like organizing.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Marie A Fritzinger

    I broke my left knee cap last October which involved six weeks in a cast. That wasn’t too bad except they didn’t change the cast right and I ended up in the hospital with blood poisoning and a heart attack so I know what you mean about baby steps. Sometimes it is really hard to be patient about progress and I get depressed that I am not improving but when I look back on it, I’ve come a long way! So this article was really timely! Hope you feel better and better!

    1. Darla

      Marie! I’m so sorry to hear all of this. I’m glad to hear you are improving. Glad you can look back as well as looking forward. Perspective is everything. Keep me posted.

  2. Josie

    I cannot say thank you enough for this! Digital organizing is still organizing! I feel ashamed when I do this! Feel I should be doing more concrete things, but I really can’t as we are sorting out the reasons why, starting Monday with some medical procedures which are necessary but not easy. Going to make some nice comfy undies so I can get through this week ok. So thanks. Really appreciate this as when I do digital work it doesn’t feel like work to me! But I love it!

    1. Darla

      Josie, good luck with your medical issues. Can I say it one more time? Be kind to yourself. I’m glad my message of “digital organizing is organizing, too” landed with you. When I had my big foot surgery and was on the couch for 10 weeks, I wrote an entire book! So, yes, digital organizing counts. 🙂

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