What does it look like? Home and/or work spaces containing too much, disorganized stuff. Difficulty knowing what items are owned and/or finding them. Those struggling with chronic disorganization may also suffer with disorganization relating to time and process.
Clients that suffer from chronic disorganization have struggled with this for most of their lives. Many of my chronically disorganized clients have taken classes, read books, and possibly hired people to help them become organized, all to no avail. They feel hopeless that they will never get out from under it. Not true. Chronically disorganized people may need additional, regular, and specialized support, but they are not destined to be disorganized for the rest of their lives. Note: It is important not to assume those who struggle with chronic disorganization are also struggling with Hoarding Disorder, a diagnosed mental health condition.
What does it look like? Too much stuff and too many commitments caused by a “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude.
Unfortunately, many people suffer from a “more is better” attitude when it comes to stuff and activities. This can be destructive both financially and physically. Our health suffers when we are surrounded by too much stuff too many activities. Think about it, everything we own needs care: we need to pay for it, insure it, dust it, water it, etc. In addition, when we over-schedule our time, we don’t get enough rest and our health suffers. What’s the point?
What does it look like? This is short-term disorganization possibly caused by a sudden life event.
Disorganization of this type is easier to tackle than most. Situational disorganization is caused by events such as moves, acquiring a loved one’s possessions after their passing, time away from home for vacations, medical emergencies, etc. This type of disorganization can generally be brought back under control fairly quickly with some extra time and effort.
What does it look like? Have you heard the term “we live what we learn?” This is the basis for historical disorganization.
Some of us learned early on the importance of becoming and staying organized and embrace it as adults. Some of us were raised in cluttered environments and feel comfortable living that way as adults. Some of us were raised in highly organized environments (possibly minimalist) and rebel against that lifestyle, living our adult lives in a more cluttered environments. Conversely, some of us were raised in very disorganized, cluttered environments and choose to live our adult lives at the opposite end of the spectrum. How we were raised plays a very integral role in our choices as adults.
What does it look like? When you tell yourself “I’ll put that away tomorrow,” but you don’t. Or “I’ll file those papers next time I’m in the office,” but instead you just close the office door. Or “I’ll leave the laundry on the couch just this one time,” but then it becomes a habit. That’s habitual disorganization.
Conquering habitual disorganization requires substituting new, positive routines (and rewards) for the negative routines that have resulted in our disorganization. The first step is to identify the habit that is causing the disorganization. For example, if you routinely pile laundry on the couch, add a routine/reward that requires you to keep the TV turned off until the laundry is put away.
Do you see yourself in any of these types of disorganization? What are you willing to do to overcome them?
National Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Area Chapter President
Institute for Challenging Disorganization, Six Certificates of Education