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How to organize even when you’re sad

When the world stops making sense, it’s hard to concentrate on everyday tasks like decluttering. There’s a giant feeling of ‘why bother?’ hanging over everything and a feeling of terrible impotence. Anger turns inward to depression. So, the closet is a mess? So what?

When you’re too mad or sad to declutter or organize anymore, find your poster board and your markers and make a sign. Grab your mask and your sunscreen, your sunglasses and water. Join or start a peaceful protest.

If it took you thirty minutes to round up all those supplies, come back afterwards and set up an action station in your house. Pick a spot where you’ll keep the sunglasses, the masks, the sign you made and a bottle of water.

That way, every time your heart aches to do something and you know that all you can do is add your voice, you’ll be able to act.

Organizing is meant to help us live our lives more purposefully and with intent. If it helps you feel heard, it’s done its job. There’ll be time to tackle the closet later on. Maybe even soon. But for now, let your heart be your guide.

If you’re sad but don’t feel moved to protest, maybe you need to walk outside. Set up a shelf where you’ll always find your keys, your wallet and your sunglasses. That way, when you know you need to walk, your organizing prep lets you do that immediately.

Maybe you need to get out in your garden and do some weeding. Set up a shelf where you’ll always find your floppy hat, your gardening gloves, a hand shovel and a bucket. This week I found myself drawing up mad plans for turning the gravel yard on the side of our house into a peaceful oasis. A wildly ambitious project that’ll take months if not years for me to complete.

It’d be easy to get overwhelmed and add that failure to the existing weight of despair but if I take twenty minutes a day to pull weeds before it gets too hot, to take a handful of stones away, the job will get done.

Mountains get moved a shovelful of dirt at a time. Houses get cleared twenty minutes at a time. And change happens when we all add our energy to making that happen.

READ MORE >>> Decluttering motivation

by Lucy Kelly


  1. I am definitely a “shovel full at a time” kind of person. I would much rather work on a task for 15 minutes a day for a week than for 3 hours at once. I’ve always been this way, I don’t think I cultivated it. I find joy in tiny progress, and knowing I am not requiring myself to be at it too long helps me get started. Anything to lift our spirits at this time is worth it!

  2. Love this Lucy. I love the options you have suggested. Also, I love the idea of doing a little every day. Eventually, things get done and you can see the progress. Take good care!