Am I Chronically Disorganized?
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.
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.
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
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
If you find yourself doing some of these things, but aren’t sure if you are chronically disorganized. Ask yourself the following three questions.
Has disorganization been a factor in your life for many years?
Does your level of disorganization interfere with the quality of your daily life or negatively affect your relationships with others?
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.
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.
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.