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Am I Chronically Disorganized?

Disorganized home affects your life from work, finances, personal life to your home.

No one is organized all the time.

  • Punching in late for work once in a while

  • Forgetting your cell phone on the dining room table as you run out to your annual doctor’s appointment

  • Spending an extra 30 minutes trying to find that one tax form from two years ago buried somewhere in your office

These are common disorganization situations that can happen to anyone once in a while.

Does it mean you are chronically organized? No.

But if these things are happening nearly every day, it may be more than common disorganization.

Chronic Disorganization is defined as disorganization that occurs over a long period of time and persists even after trying many self-help options.

What Makes Chronic Disorganization Chronic?

Chronic disorganization is not something that happens overnight. Many of those who are chronically disorganized have been for a long time, possibly since their childhood.

According to the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, Chronic Disorganization is defined as disorganization that (1):

  • continues over a long period of time

  • threatens the daily quality of life,

  • recurs even with repeated self-help attempts, and

  • Is expected to continue into the future

Who Can Be Affected by Chronic Disorganization?

Chronic disorganization affects people of all ages, races, and class. Some factors associated with chronic disorganization can include, but are not limited to (3):

  • Neurologically based factors like ADD, ADHD, Multiple sclerosis (MS)

  • Mental health issues like depression, anxiety disorder, or OCD

  • Even limiting beliefs like not believing in yourself or believing that you are a procrastinator can be a factor in chronic disorganization.

The factors associated with chronic disorganization can be different for everyone.

Each individual has their own story and cause for chronic disorganization. You can learn more about your specific struggles by working with a certified professional.

Chronic Disorganization should not be confused with common disorganization that happens during life changing events or unexpected situations.

The Difference Between Common and Chronic Disorganization

Common disorganization happens to everyone once in a while, especially during unexpected situations or changes in your everyday routine. Some examples include moving, starting a new job, having a baby, and emergency situations.

Chronic disorganization negatively affects your daily life in various forms, from your home, work, finances to your personal life. Some examples of chronically disorganized behavior and its negative impacts include (2)…

Chronic Disorganization At Work


  • Missing deadlines often

  • Tardy or absent from meetings

  • Unable to locate your office supplies

  • Issues with organization that are noticed by staff members and management

Negative Impact on your career

  • Seen as unreliable and unprofessional

  • Not seen as a candidate for future promotions

  • Increase chances of getting fired

Chronic Disorganization At Home


  • Storage spaces are filled to the max

  • Unable to find items

  • Hard to complete household chores like cleaning or cooking

  • Spending lots of time looking for lost items

  • Accumulating items to the point of overflowing storage units

Negative Impact on your life at home

  • Unable to relax in your own home

  • Constantly feeling stressed or worried about doing day to day chores

  • Wasting extra time trying to clean the things you don’t love or need

Chronic Disorganization Affecting Finances


  • Repeatedly forgetting to pay bills

  • Losing email or paperwork for bills

Negative Impact on your finances

  • Low credit score

  • Paying more on interest fees

  • Accumulating debt

  • Unable to save money for the future

Chronic Disorganization Affecting Your Personal Life


  • Missing appointments with friends

  • Not scheduling appointments with healthcare professionals

  • Tried to help themselves multiple times, but unsuccessful

  • No time for personal goals

  • Unable to see a better future for yourself

Negative Impact on your personal life

  • Relationships with friends aren’t strong

  • You don’t feel healthy

  • No motivation or goals to strive to

  • Low self-esteem

If you find yourself doing some of these things, but aren’t sure if you are chronically disorganized. Ask yourself the following three questions.

  1. Has disorganization been a factor in your life for many years?

  2. Does your level of disorganization interfere with the quality of your daily life or negatively affect your relationships with others?

  3. Has disorganization persisted despite self-help attempts to get organized?

If you answered yes to all three of the questions, you might be experiencing chronic disorganization.

For a more detailed questionnaire, you can fill out the full questionnaire from ICD here.

Family and friends are the largest and most important support system after finding the right professional for those who are chronically disorganized.

I am not chronically disorganized, but my friend/family member may be. How can I help them?

Chronic disorganization is difficult for the individual affected as well as their close friends and family members. I commend you for learning about it and taking steps to help them.

I recommend communicating with them first.

Have an honest conversation about what is going on.

Share what you have noticed and your concerns how their disorganization may be affecting their lives. Sometimes people affected by chronic disorganization won’t see it as a problem. To them, it may seem normal since it has persisted for years.

Chronic disorganization is challenging to get through. It requires breaking old habits, thought patterns, and mental work. It is recommended to work with a certified professional to create long lasting results. During the process, try to be as supportive and caring as you can.

Being angry or frustrated is natural when trying to help them.

But keep in mind how they would feel if you ridiculed them for trying to do better. Putting someone down or being negative will only discourage them or make them feel worse when everything they do feels wrong.

Finding the right professional organizer certified in chronic disorganization is important. They are trained to work with those with ADHD, ADD, and so many more neurological factors.

Where Can I Find Qualified People to Help Me?

By asking this question, you are already on the path of improving your life.

So many people are affected by chronic disorganization that there is an institute dedicated to helping them.

The Institute for Chronically Disorganized was created by a group of passionate and eager professionals who work to provide research, knowledge, and resources to help those experiencing chronic disorganization (4).

Their website includes a directory where you can find the perfect certified and trained professional organizer for you in your area.

If you are looking for a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization® (CPO-CD®) located in the East Bay Area in California, I can help.

As a CPO-CD®, I do more than help people organize their belongings. I focus on my clients to understand their story and help them improve their lives as a whole. We work together to bring newfound balance and organization into all aspects of their lives using the SHiFT™ approach.

If you are not in the area, I also offer virtual services so we can work together from anywhere in the world.

Get Started Today



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