Blog‎ > ‎

When Stress Overtakes the Organizing Process

posted Nov 9, 2010, 4:15 PM by Kristin Mastromarino Vander Wiede
Stress is a symptom resulting from disorganization.  For some, like myself, feeling disorganized increases our stress levels during busy times in our lives.  And the situation only gets worse as we take on the challenge of getting ourselves back in order because it can be that much more overwhelming when our plate is already full.  This is a common problem when trying to keep up with daily responsibilities we all struggle with, but there is hope!

It is important that you recognize that putting the time and energy into getting everything back into order will pay off, even if it doesn’t feel like it now.  Although it may seem discouraging to look at all you have to do, it is important to take some action to get to a more balanced place.  As time strained as I can get each week with managing a masters program, a store and a roster of clients, no matter how out of control my home base or office gets, I can always put it back together quickly because there is a designated spot for everything I own.  Once you have a strong system in place, you can usually get a room, or even a whole house back to order in less than an hour.  But aiming for perfection every day is not realistic, even for a professional organizer!

In trying to accomplish the goal of creating order in your home or office start out by looking at the big picture goals.  How do you visualize the room that you are bothered by?  What activities do you want to be able to do in that room?  What steps will it take to get it to your final goal? 

Once you see the big picture, you can begin focusing on getting the project done.  Start small.  Even if it is cleaning out one desk drawer, sorting through one pile of paper or spending time separating items into categorical piles in a bedroom (clothes, reading material, jewelry, etc.), you are taking the steps necessary to begin whittling away at the overall project.

Just dealing with the clutter is not the only component you should be considering when you are trying to decompress.  Make time for yourself.  Take time to breathe, especially now that the holidays are around the corner. Even if it is taking fifteen minutes in the morning to read an article in your favorite magazine, or making a list of the five positive highlights of your day right before you sleep, recognize that you must get some quiet time to be able to focus.  When you feel like you are being rushed or sitting in traffic late for a meeting, pretend that you have all the time in the world and change your mindset to not let the stress of being late over take you. Calming your mind will help you build the energy and focus to take on the projects you are trying to procrastinate.

Building time in your schedule to eat properly and exercise are also part of living an organized, well balanced lifestyle.  Yoga can be one of the best ways to stretch your muscles to alleviate stress.  Consider taking time to make meals ahead of time and freeze portions for quick meals on busy week nights.  Marinade a meal’s worth of meat in freezer bags and freeze them.  When you leave for work in the morning, pull one of your packs out of the freezer, place it in the fridge and let the meat marinate as it thaws for quick preparation when you get home. 

Taking the time to simplify your life will give you even more time to focus on clutter around you.  With a little preparation and self-awareness you can break the cycle of stress and begin to feel balanced again.

Kristin Mastromarino is a professional organizer at Livable Solutions Professional Organizing, LLC  (, owner of The Organized Lifestyle retail store ( located in Guilford, CT.  You can email her your questions at