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How to Keep Your Home Organized When You’re Burnt Out

Updated: Jan 16

Burnout is generally defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” It’s often avoidable, but sometimes we’re just not capable of noticing that we’re on that path until we’re already on it.

As a self-employed entrepreneur, I am no stranger to burnout. There have been times when I’ve hit a wall and had no energy or motivation to keep up with my home, my job, or my self-care. So how do we cope? How do we stay “on top of things” when we have nothing left in the tank?

This is going to sound rich coming from a professional organizer, but in all sincerity, organization was my best friend during those times of intense stress.

Obviously, organization is not going to solve all of your problems. But it is an invaluable skill— especially when it comes to burnout— because organization gives you the freedom to do the bare minimum on days where that’s all you have to give.

So today, I wanted to share some low-effort home organization tips that have helped me cope with my stress and keep my life from falling apart— despite having no energy or motivation to keep it all together.

(Please keep in mind, though, that this blog is purely anecdotal. I am not a therapist or a doctor, and I am not qualified to give you advice for your mental health. Overcoming burnout looks different for everyone, and if you’re concerned about your well-being, please seek the advice of a licensed medical professional. <3)

#1 - Ask for help.

No person is an island, and if you’re fortunate enough to have people in your life who care about you, then reach out to them for assistance. Ask the people you live with if they wouldn’t mind helping you with your chores that day. You can also ask friends, family members, or even a professional organizer to help you sort through your living space.

#2 - Wait for things to get messy before you clean it.

This might sound like a no-brainer to most, but for me, it wasn’t. I’d love to always have my home looking “A+ clean” because, hey, who wouldn’t? But maintaining a spotless home forever is an exhausting and (in my opinion) overrated endeavor. So instead of being preoccupied with a big mess that’s not even there yet, give yourself the grace to address disorder as it arises.

#3 - Use bins, boxes, and baskets.

Systems that require minimal effort are often the ones we sustain the longest. So if your natural urge is to throw things into corners, why not throw them into something? Mound of shoes blocking the front door? Hello, shoe bin. Dog toys littering the floor? Into the box you go. Wherever you notice things piling up, put a container there to toss it in. (Just try and keep similar items in each container, like laundry, toys, shoes, etc.) It’s not the most optimal method of storage, but it’s far, far better than the floor.

#4 - Just take care of the trash.

When you’re too exhausted to thoroughly clean your home, just do this one thing: pick up the trash. That means all wrappers, food waste, plastic bottles, or anything else you need to throw out. Not only will your home instantly feel a little cleaner, but you’ll also avoid attracting unwanted pests. Trash piles up fast when you’re burnt out, so if nothing else, take five minutes every day to clear it.

#5 - Take care of your papers.

Little else in your house is as important to keep organized as paperwork. If you’re too stressed to go through the papers you already have right now, then just start addressing the new stuff. Place whatever important mail you get into a labeled folder the second you open it to avoid tossing it out or losing it in a pile of papers. And when you can, go through your documents and sort them into categories so they’re easier to find in the future.

#6 - Remember that “good enough” is good enough.

Allow me to introduce what I like to call the band-aid method: if you only have the time or energy for band-aid solutions right now, then that’s all you need to do. Allow yourself to prioritize what really matters— your body, your mental health, your relationships— and address your home’s needs later. At the end of the day, if you can shrug your shoulders and say “Good enough”, then you’ve done well.

Most organization systems fail because even if they aren’t complicated, they feel complicated. And the last thing a burnt-out brain wants is more complication. So whatever you can manage to do from day to day, do that. And remember: burnout is not permanent. Seek help, stay positive, and take care of yourself.


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