It’s the end of another long day, and the kids are finally asleep. With a snack in hand and Netflix calling your name, you step into your quiet living room (alone for the first time all day), intent on enjoying some much-deserved, you time.
As you flop onto the couch in exhausted relief, it happens. You land on a forgotten toy, sticky sippy cup, or uncapped marker.
In tired defeat, with the found item in hand, you survey the room, slowly taking in the chaos around you.
To your right, the coffee table is overflowing with stacks of mail and picture books. Down by your feet, the end table is dotted with cloudy juice bottles, half-eaten snacks, and discarded wrappers. Every corner is piled high with stacks of boxes, toys, and abandoned fitness equipment.
Your furniture has amassed enough clothing to comfortably operate a mid-sized consignment shop, and everything in the room is dusted with chicken nugget crumbs and wayward Cheerios.
Closing your eyes, you sigh deeply. You know it’s not just the living room. Though they’re not all as bad as this room (you tell yourself), every room in the house is like this.
When Clutter Becomes Chaos
Thinking back, you wonder when it happened. It used to be just that one room (the “storage” room… “guest” room… whatever – the one where you could shove everything into closets and drawers). But now, you can’t just shut the door and forget about it because it’s not just that one room. Now, every cupboard and shelf is overflowing.
Perhaps you can admit you’ve always had a little clutter. Maybe your spaces have always been a bit disorganized, But now, for some reason it’s starting to feel completely unmanageable. And, it’s making you feel unmanageable. You find yourself wondering whether you’ll ever find a way out of the mess
My friend, you are very much not alone, and you are not doomed.
But you may be chronically disorganized.
What Is Chronic Disorganization
The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization defines chronic disorganization as “disorganization that has persisted over a long period of time, that detrimentally affects your quality of life, and which persists despite attempts to change” (Institute for Challenging Disorganization, 2018-2020, https://www.challengingdisorganization.org/ ). And it’s surprisingly common.
Furthermore, there are many conditions, illnesses, and situations that can cause a person to be chronically disorganized. Some of the brain-based causes include, but are not limited to: attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, addictive tendencies, dementia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Beyond the mental component, physical illness can also contribute to disorganization. Illnesses such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, and poor health in general can all interfere with efforts to organize your living space.
Or, maybe you were just never taught how to live organized. It’s pretty hard to master a skill you never learned.
Chronic DIsorganization: A Way Forward
Regardless of the source of your chronic disorganization, the good news is, this is a manageable problem. Though there’s no magic pill that can miraculously turn you into Martha Stewart, you don’t have to live in constant chaos either. With the right tools and support system, chronic disorganization can be managed and even overcome.
The first step is recognizing that disorganization is primarily a behavioral problem, not an illness (To clarify, hoarding is a clinical diagnosis, which is very different and requires a different approach than chronic disorganization). Because disorganization is behaviorally-based, you can learn how to modify your habits and lifestyle to become more tidy, less cluttered, and most importantly less stressed.
Before you jump for joy, remember it takes time to learn new habits and behaviors. These new ways to think and act aren’t going to happen overnight. It can take years to relearn how to manage your stuff and your space. I’m still learning and I’m a professional organizer! So if you don’t change right away, don’t feel bad. It’s a process.
That said, you can still get started right now. Here are some common techniques used to address chronic disorganization:
Some of the techniques used to address chronic disorganization include:
- Education and training focused on decision-making (disorganization comes down to delayed decision-making)
- Example: Working with a coach to determine your unique delay tactics and proactively identify positive choices
- Focusing on, challenging, and changing your mindset regarding how you structure your time.
- Example: When you hear yourself saying, “I don’t have time to get into that,” look for smaller tasks or activities instead of giving up or doing nothing.
- Creating systems in your home that address trouble areas
- Example: You know you come in and toss your mail on the kitchen counter, so you place an inbox there to catch the mail. You also add a reminder on your calendar (at a time you know works for you) to go through the mail and sort and respond once a week.
- Learning to respond to triggers that lead to your disorganization
- Example: You hit the snooze button for the ninth time, then finally roll out of bed. Already running late, you rummage through your closet, trying on and discarding several outfits before finding something that will work. In a rush, you leave the mess behind, telling yourself you’ll “deal with it later.” But later never comes.
Do these examples sound familiar? If so, you may be ready for some caring, compassionate support.
Hope through Help
You don’t have to be a hoarder to ask for help. Our professional organizing specialists are trained to help in exactly these ways! Whether you prefer in-person or virtual organizing, we’re here to help walk you through the entire process from beginning to end. We’ll even take the time to teach you how to do it yourself!
Our goal is to instruct, guide, and teach you how to organize your life, your stuff, and your time in ways that work for you. that you can successfully manage your space on your own! At the end of the day, when you sink into your living room couch, ready to relax, the only thing we want you to see is your home, your space, and your sanctuary – not an overabundance of stuff.
Feeling like chronic disorganization may be your challenge? Ready for a change? Contact us to start reclaiming your spaces and your life today.