The 5 Best Things to Stress-Organize—Plus 2 to Skip

Organizing these areas could help calm your nerves.

For some people, home organization is a natural reaction to stress. Tidying up can help regain some feeling of control, and simple, repetitive actions (like folding) can be soothing. When used in moderation, it's a harmless coping mechanism with a big bonus: a neat and tidy home.

But some home organization projects end up being more stress-inducing than calming. (Hint—that major closet overhaul.) To keep your tidying-up activities easy and productive, we've identified some tasks that are best to tackle when you're stressed, along with a couple to save for a calmer time.

Best Things to Organize When Stressed

Kitchen Utensil Drawer

When stressed, start by organizing a small area, like a drawer. It shouldn't take too long, so it's an easy way to feel a sense of accomplishment. It's best to avoid organizing anything too nostalgic or personal, so a kitchen utensil drawer where you probably don't have a close personal connection to the items is ideal. It should be relatively easy to group items and donate or toss duplicate tools.

Linen Closet

Simple, repetitive actions—like folding bath towels—can be soothing, especially when incorporating mindfulness techniques. Arrange bath towels and bedding in rainbow order for a satisfying visual effect. And don't let that fitted sheet stress you out!


It's a good idea to tidy up your bedside table for two reasons: First, it's a small surface, so it should be relatively easy to tackle. And second, clearing the space around your bed may help you sleep better.

Keep only the book you're reading and a glass of water—maybe a small bud vase or lamp. Most important: Move your phone far away from your bed to prevent late-night scrolling.

Cell Phone

Our phones can be sources of stress, especially if they're our primary source of news or if we're spending too much time diving into negative social media comments. Try these an app to delete and organize. If you have an iPhone, consider setting time limits on apps via the Settings menu.

Purse, Wallet, or Bag

This is a small area that shouldn't take too long to declutter. Clearing out old receipts and spare change should only take a few minutes. Plus, it will make it easier to find what you need when you're out.

Skip These When Stressed

Organizing Anything Sentimental

In general, nostalgic or sentimental items are more challenging to organize, requiring more time and emotional labor to sort through. If you want a good cry, by all means, go for it. But if you'd prefer not to make the day any more difficult, take a rain check on going through old photos or journals.

Completing a Closet Overhaul

When feeling emotional, it's not the ideal headspace to make big decisions about your wardrobe. It may just leave you frustrated, making you feel like nothing looks good or fits well. If you can, save this task for a calmer time when you can make balanced decisions about what to keep and toss.

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