Why Getting Organized Is the Ultimate Form of Self-Care — and How I’ve Incorporated It into My Daily Routine

published Feb 15, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

One of my all-time favorite quotes about getting organized doesn’t actually come from a professional organizer or home organization guru. It was a tweet from Gabrielle Bernstein in 2012 that reads: Getting organized is a sign of self-respect. But I like to take it a bit further and add that it’s also a form of self-care.

Similar to taking a warm bath and applying a soothing face mask, tidying up can — and should — be part of your self-care routine. In fact, I think it should be held to an even higher standard and considered as important as drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic, but the benefits of being organized have such positive effects on my mental, emotional, and physical well-being. 

When my home is in order, I’m much more motivated to participate in other healthy habits. I can see the countertops and what’s in my pantry so I’m inclined to make more home-cooked meals. I know where my workout clothes are so it’s easier to get dressed for the gym. My living room is (mostly) free of chaos which sets the stage for some mindful meditation.

While I know having a perfect home is not realistic, especially if you’ve got kids, pets, or a partner in the mix, it can be tidier with a bit of effort that blends in with whatever routines you already have in place. Everyone deserves to embrace regular self-care rituals, no matter how big or small, and that includes getting organized.

Here’s a list of things I try to incorporate into my daily routine — and how much time I dedicate to each of them — to make sure I stay on top of the clutter.

Credit: Tessa Cooper

Morning Routine

  • I make my bed shortly after waking up (1 minute). I’m sure you’ve heard this a dozen (hundred?) times before but it doesn’t hurt to hear it again, especially if you’re not already in the habit of making your bed. This simple act sets the tone for both your day and your space. It’s like mentally clicking something productive off your list early in the day. Plus, it instantly makes the bedroom look neater.
  • I put all products away before I leave the bathroom (1-2 minutes). As organized as I claim to be, I’m known to make a complete disaster of my bathroom while getting ready. Whether I need to leave the house or am working from home that day, I reserve a tiny bit of time to put away my skincare, makeup, and hair products as soon as I’m done with all of them. Mostly because a clutter-free sink makes my nightly routine more enjoyable (and doable, thanks to the clear countertop). By not owning more stuff than I have space for and by creating an easy system to store the things I use, I’m able to clean up even if I’m running late, which I usually am.
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Nightly Routine

  • I reset the kitchen and living room while I still have the energy (5-10 minutes). This might be easier for any night owls out there, but I’m the type that can fall asleep the second I sit down. Knowing this about myself, I carve out some space right after dinner to tidy the most used spaces of the day. I’ll load the dishwasher, put away leftovers, wipe down surfaces, take the garbage out, pick up errant dog toys, and fix up the couch while I’m still on my feet. This way, I can properly go to sleep knowing that I’ll wake up to a neater home.
  • I prep what I can for the next day (10-15 minutes). This includes choosing an outfit, packing meals, and jotting a to-do list all in the name of being more organized tomorrow. I’ll be honest, this doesn’t happen every night. Sometimes I’m too tired, and other times I’m just lazy, but I try to do at least some prep as often as I can. Because, when I do, it makes me feel like I’m on top of things and that I care about future me. In other words, it feels a lot like self-care.
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Weekly Routine

  • I make sure to sort any mail/receipts/finances (up to 20 minutes). With an abundance of paperless options, this is thankfully taking less and less time. I aim to go through the mail daily so it doesn’t pile up, but I do have a small entryway organizer to keep it in until I can get to it. About once a week, I’ll gather up the receipts that are floating around the house or in my wallet and then sit down to look at my bank account. I make sure everything lines up before tossing or scanning. Since I find this process absolutely boring, I usually pour myself a glass of wine or pick up a fancy coffee (depending on the time of day) to bribe myself because I know letting it go on for too long can result in an overwhelming amount of paper clutter.
  • I tidy up the kitchen (up to 5 minutes). Working mostly from home means I’m making a lot of meals. So, cleaning the kitchen isn’t only an after-dinner activity. I make sure to do what I can throughout the day even if I have just a minute because micro-tasking does make a difference. I’ll focus on what’s time-sensitive such as putting food away in the fridge or scrubbing new(ish) spills and what will make the biggest dent like emptying the dish strainer or breaking down boxes that have collected on the counters. There was a time when I couldn’t relax with even a single dirty spoon in the sink but I’ve come to realize that that’s not healthy nor practical. Self-care includes giving yourself grace when you’ve got a lot on your plate and knowing you can get to it later.
  • I tackle the laundry situation (30-60 minutes). I know there are different levels of laundry for everyone depending on how many people are in the home, how often work clothes need to be washed, and so on. It’s just me and I only do about four to six loads per week but, like managing finances, it’s definitely not my favorite task. I’ll put headphones in and call a friend or turn on my favorite comfort show while sorting, folding, and putting things away to keep on top of it and make it more enjoyable. Remember, self-care isn’t always glamorous. Usually, it’s doing the dirty work that results in a healthier, better version of yourself.