I've noticed in my years as a professional organizer that a fair amount of my clients have struggled with a variety of health issues along with their disorganization. Last year I experienced some major health challenges that made getting and staying organized a true challenge even for me! However, I also found that by using this system, I was able to create a home I loved to spend time in and a lifestyle that made things much easier, especially on those days when I didn't have the energy to get out of bed, much less function. I especially wanted to support those of you who are looking for solutions to regain control over their own lives.
1. Your Bedroom NEEDS to be your Sanctuary.
This is where you are probably spending more time than you care to think about. I spent months being forced to spend most of the day in bed. It was boring and depressing. However, because I chose to create a bedroom that I loved; which included owning bright, cheerful sheets and bedspread, hanging my favorite pieces of art in my bedroom so I had beautiful artwork to view and because I created an organizational system that allowed me to stay organized even on days when I could barely function - it made those long days a lot easier to deal with. Whether you are healthy or sick, your bedroom is your sanctuary. You NEED to be rested to stay healthy and to get healthy. Viewing happy, cheerful items in your sanctuary that make you feel happy, serene and comfortable will go a long way toward feeling better (at least psychologically) so choose to only keep items you really love in your bedroom.
2. Keep & Wear Only Clothing you Love.
It's really easy to just start wearing baggy t-shirts and sweats as you spend each day at home. However, you feel better about yourself when you know you look nice. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with t-shirts, but choosing to keep and wear only the clothing that fits well, is in good shape and you really like will help keep up your spirits. The one thing I had during my sickest days was that while I felt horrible, I at least felt like I looked good and it helped a lot. Even cute pajamas that make you happy can make a huge difference!
3. Get Some Help!
When I first got sick, I could barely move out of bed for 3 weeks. I live on my own and did not have friends or family to rely upon to help with basic household needs so I relied on the Internet to purchase most of the items I needed from cat food to new linens to groceries. Most online stores offer free delivery and you can get pretty much anything you need delivered these days. Allowing others to help you - even if it's your local delivery people can help you save time and energy. If you have friends or family you can rely on, let them help you! It makes life so much easier when you have support.
When I couldn't move, I had to prioritize what was truly important to me. Most often that was taking a shower and getting food. I had to leave slightly wet laundry in a bag for those 3 weeks because I didn't have the strength or energy to take care of it. I had to let it go. What I handled when I could, were bills that needed to be paid - again relying on online bill paying to ensure everyone got paid on time. I did dishes when I had enough energy even if that was only for 5 minutes. When I had enough energy, I tackled larger tasks. Cleaning and then purging. I allowed myself to just let go of whatever I couldn't do or finish at the time and I just chose to accomplish what I knew I could handle and what was most important. Letting the small stuff go is hard but it was my only choice in order to stay sane.
5. A Little Goes a Long Way.
Start with one category, such as your clothing. Your first step is to put like things together. Put sweaters with sweaters, t-shirts with t-shirts and so-forth. The more you put like things together, the less you'll have to spend time and energy looking for stuff. If you have a lot of clothing it's okay to do it in small increments. Do what you can and have energy for. If you only have 10 minutes to put like things together, that's fine. Just take those 10 minutes and categorize what you can. Eventually it will get done and the process will become easier and you will probably find you have more energy as you progress. Clutter is exhausting so getting rid of it will make you feel lighter. Also, while organizing can be done all at once and it's usually easier that way, I also feel that organizing can be treated like dieting: every day do a little bit and you'll start seeing the results.
6. Keep It Simple.
Do NOT overcomplicate your life. It's already complicated. By choosing the easiest option each time it will help you to create simple systems. Make it easy for you to find items you use most often by putting them right where you need them. Put the stuff you use a lot in plain sight and make sure you can reach them easily. Have a spot for everything so you know where to find them again. The more simple you make your life, the easier it is to get more done, rest more easily or just stress less.
7. Only Keep What You Love.
Choose Joy! Right now you are sick and tired and most likely struggling. Right now life seems more challenging than anything else but you can still choose joy! In fact, this is a great way to start remembering what joy feels like. I know I practically forgot what joy even felt like anymore but when I chose to only keep what I truly loved- no matter if it was my clothing, books, kitchen utensils or paperwork, I immediately felt an energy unlike I had before. I felt happy! I felt lighter! I felt like the ME I am was slowly starting to return. I felt human and in control. I slowly relearned what Joy meant to me. I slowly relearned how to make choices based on what was best for me.
When you're sick it often feels like everyone tells you how you should feel and what you should do about it. It can be annoying and frustrating at times and usually very overwhelming. It's like you lost all autonomy just because you got sick. You didn't. You are NOT helpless. In fact, choosing to only keep what brought me joy was what finally allowed me to become empowered once more. It helped me start making better decisions for my life and my health. Things slowly started getting better and on those days when things were hard, it sure helped to be in a space where I loved looking at everything I saw.
It may take time, but you CAN develop a system that works for you and is easy. Surrounding yourself with supportive people and professionals to help you achieve your goals will also help.