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Why Getting Organized Can Feel So Overwhelming



I recently read a post on Facebook that said:

And it really got me thinking. On days when my mental health isn't feeling 100, the simplest tasks can feel daunting. Especially with the events happening in our nation and the global pandemic (and further affected if you have any mental health issues or learning disorders) your executive function is overwhelmed. Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. We use these skills every day to learn, work, and manage daily life. Trouble with executive function can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions, among other things. Some people describe executive function as “the management system of the brain.” That’s because the skills involved let us set goals, plan, and get things done. When people struggle with executive function, it impacts them at home, in school, and in life.


My clients, they often reach out to me when they are so "overwhelmed", "don't know where to start", "out of control". Especially if your home doesn't already have systems in place, getting organized can feel like a million little unconquerable steps. Sometimes, "tidying up" can feel like one easy 15 minute task. Other days, tidying up the same space with the same level of disorganization can feel insurmountable. If this is how you are feeling that is okay!


My advice for those hard days is do what you can and complete whatever steps feel the least exhausting mentally and physically.


If you don't already have systems in place in your home or office, on a "good" day start implementing them! This doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as "the mail always goes here", "on Sundays I reorganize my closet when I do laundry", "the dishes get washed every night before bed", "my clothes are organized by season" etc.

The more systems you have in place, the less overwhelming organizing will feel!

Your brain will start to compartmentalize and group tasks together instead of breaking them down into a million little pieces. As you know, its much easier to maintain an organized space than it is to start and I think the "executive function overload" definitely has something to do with it.

If you're thinking, Aileen, I see 1 million things I need to do but don't even know what they are, start with my New Year Organization Checklist! I have already broken tasks down into common, manageable items and you can go at your own pace. If you don't know how to implement systems that work for your lifestyle, I highly recommend consulting a professional organizer. If you'd like to work with me, I'm currently taking more clients both virtually and in person (with 100 miles of DC). A virtual session is perfect to discuss your space and come up with lasting solutions that you can maintain.


I hope this week is a "making coffee is one step" kind of week for you.




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