Getting Organized: Why Is It So Hard?

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben (before-pic)

We’re almost at the end of a two-week autumn vacation. Normally this vacation lasts for a week, a quick breather in the fall trimester, but now it got extended to help lower the Covid infection rate. It seems to have worked a little, at least.

I thought another week of time at home would definitely help me to finally get my house cleaned up and looking somewhat organized and peaceful. And it’s not like I didn’t do anything… I organized all the kids’ toys (with their input, though not their help, per sé). I went through all of my teaching materials, which took me about 4 hours of non-stop sorting and I managed to do the floors with my partner’s help.

Still, there are so many quick tasks that take so very little effort and have a big impact that I just – don’t – do. My kitchen counter only gets cleared fully about once a week. In the middle I just clear spots here and there when needed, and feel stressed about it all the time.

My bathroom didn’t get fully organized and wiped down in one go, even when I know that takes less than an hour to do. My baskets of folded laundry take three days to get emptied into the closets, for some strange and unknown reason. And I’ve just about had it with the everygrowing piles of ‘miscellaneous’ that are taking over my house.

Not having company over due to Covid doesn’t really help either. At least when my friends came to visit I felt motivated to get the place looking neat and peaceful.

The effect on my mood is undeniable, however. The clutter makes it hard for me to relax in my own space, so I tend to escape into my screen at night (De Twaalf on Netflix is my new vice. A great series from our small country), instead of doing things I know I’d want to do more, like reading, writing or meditating every now and then.

It’s not like I lack the time, either. I have entire hours in which I don’t seem to do anything in particular apart from going to different rooms and moving a few items around. I’m lacking structure and drive.

So what’s the missing piece here? Why am I struggling to do things that take little effort and have a big impact? What’s making me shift my focus from the morning, when I feel motivated, to an hour later, when I start distracting myself?
I know that making to-do lists and planning my day would help, but I don’t get round to that either. It seems as if there’s a voice in my brain that tells me ‘I deserve’ to take time off and just relax. And I’ll have plenty of time to do all those chores later.

I’m guessing the lack of dopamine I get from these cleaning activities might have something to do with it (read more on the role of dopamine in this post). The fact that my phone keeps jumping into my hands probably does as well, and for the same reason. For the other, perhaps more deeply rooted causes, I’ll ask my friend and coach Olga ( to tackle the issue during our next weekly coaching session where we coach each other. I’ll let you know what we discover. And maybe, just maybe, for today, I’ll put my phone somewhere out of reach and turn off this computer until I’ve tackled some of those tasks.

Starting…. now!

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