Malaise, anyone? If you’re feeling bombarded with choices, anxious and weirdly happy/not happy, welcome to the club. I thought it was just me but I’ve been assured by several sources that a post-pandemic rush to return to normal is causing a lot of impulsivity and misdirection of energy. A wise friend counseled me to embrace the pause and focus on the present moment to soothe anxiety and prevent overwhelm. I also think cleaning out a drawer or cupboard cannot be over-rated as a mood lifter.

“Keep it Simple” and “Do the Next Right Thing” are common 12-Step Recovery mantras because they work. Cleaning out a drawer, like talking a walk or meditating, is rarely the wrong thing to do. Here’s a few drawer cleaning suggestions.

The silverware drawer is usually the most organized drawer in the house but even it can become clogged with extra straws and chopsticks and littered with crumbs (because it’s often located under a cutting board). Take everything out and wipe out the drawer and any dividers or containers. Reline the drawer with new shelf liner if necessary. Now put back just the silverware and make decisions about what else deserves some space there. Let go of any excess take-out utensils. If you have a gajillion wine openers, try keeping just your top three.

The kitchen utensil drawer is not as easy a win as the silverware drawer but is a close second. What tools have you not touched in a year or more? Relegate them to a lower drawer or a give away bag.

The spice drawer or cupboard is another level of difficulty because you will have to squint and search for the “good by” dates. Always take everything out of a drawer and wipe it out before organizing. You will not achieve the same level of order if you just leave everything in the drawer and look at the items one at a time; although it seems like the “easier, softer way,” it is actually much more difficult and confusing to work that way.

A vitamin cupboard or tea drawer is another fairly easy project. Anything expired or that you haven’t used in a year might be an easy out

The pantry as a whole is usually a big task, but one shelf or category (soups, snack foods, canned goods) might be your win of the week.

In the bathroom, the top drawer where your daily essentials probably live can make a big difference in how you feel each morning when you start your day. Wash out the drawer and its containers and put back only the items you need on a daily basis. Anything else might get moved to a lower drawer, for example, eye shadows you only wear for special occasions, and you will probably find a few things to toss, like an old tube of mascara or dull razors.

Office drawers are also not too difficult to sort through and good for a daily lift. Keep like items with like, for example, corral all your writing implements and decide which are your top dozen and let the rest go. Pads of post-it notes tend to get scattered everywhere. Calm that stuff down. Take a moment to put all your paper clips in a little caddy or jar.

The bedside table may also have a drawer that could get sorted, or maybe you have a battery drawer in a laundry room or a junk drawer that is not so much of a mess that you couldn’t wrestle it into submission in under half an hour.

You might have gathered enough coins from drawers to buy yourself a frosty beverage. Put the coins in a plastic zip bag and spend them on a treat at your next grocery stop.

One drawer will probably lead to another and another, but try being content with one and “embrace the pause.” Go ahead and open it throughout the evening to smile on your handiwork. Enjoy the lift of energy these little islands of order can give you that will probably make achieving your bigger project goals easier and your sleep more sound.