Managing the Day-to-Day During Times of Stress

Managing the Day-to-Day During Times of Stress

The Neat Freak shares her tips for staying focused amidst endless distractions.


I love to write about organizing. But for the past few months, I’ve had a hard time focusing. Writing about closets, pantries, garage shelving and spring cleaning seems a bit trivial to me right now. And I don’t think I’m alone. Close to 30% of workers in the U.S. have admitted to being less productive since the election, and 87% admitted to spending part of their workday reading political social media posts.

It’s important to stay focused and productive when times get tough.

So, how do you go about those regular, day-to-day tasks that still need to get done (or at least should get done), when you’re spending so much time reading the news, feeling anxious and discussing politics? It’s not easy!

First, I think stressful times allow us to get very clear about what matters most to us. There are a number of people engaging in politics for the first time, and that’s wonderful! Far too few people vote in our elections (particularly non-presidential elections), so if more people are engaged, this is what democracy looks like. Spend this time discovering the issues that matter most to you, and find the best way to engage. Also, be clear on your strengths. If you don’t love making phone calls or attending rallies, meetings or functions, find other ways to be politically active. Clarity will allow you to spend your time on things that truly matter to you. We’re most effective with our time when we’re genuinely engaged.

Think globally, and act locally. And I mean very locally. Sometimes, you have to start right in your own home and control the things you can control. Last weekend, my husband and I cleaned out our dirty, clutter-filled, rarely seen basement. And it felt fantastic. I can’t make decisions about who will be the next SCOTUS judge, but I sure as heck can recycle some moldy cardboard and donate some light fixtures we no longer use. I can also give our winter coats that no longer fit to a charity that will share them with immigrant families. I can drop off an extra bag of groceries at the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service. And I can spend a little time every day smiling, loving and trying to make America a kinder place in my own home and surrounding community.

Finally, fall back on your organizing routines and try to maintain the systems that work for you. Most of the time, an organized home, office and calendar gives us energy. Knowing that certain things are taken care of and crossed off the to-do list gives us peace of mind about our lives. Maintain what you can so you have energy for the long haul. No matter your political leanings, these are stressful times filled with conflict. Take pleasure in the small organizational tasks and routines you know you can count on so you can wake up and face days that are filled with uncertainty.

Keep neat! Hopefully I’ll be back to my regular programming of hospital corners and alphabetized spice drawers soon!

Perri Kersh
Perri Kersh is the neatest, and sometimes freakiest, at Neat Freak Professional Organizing, LLC in Chapel Hill. She works with individuals, families, small business owners and students to help them get and stay organized. When she’s not organizing for others, she frequently shovels up after her husband and children. You can read more about Neat Freak on the website above or reach Perri at 919-824-8196.