Are You Chronically Disorganized?

How to determine if so and tips to help

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Did you know there's an actual organization specifically studying and treating chronic organization? The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD) studies and treats individuals with serious disorganization. No, neither did we, but we're glad we discovered their site and some useful resources that can determine with fair accuracy whether a person is suffering from situational disorganization or something more chronic, and thus in need of professional help. Find out if you fall into one category or another below...

The NSGCD lists four common characteristics that distinguish someone who is situationally messy (times when one finds themselves in clutter or chaos for a short period of time, resulting from an unusual turn of events or changes in your living arrangements) opposed to someone who is chronically disorganized:

  1. Chronically disorganized people have a lot of "stuff," far more than they can use or need.
  2. The "stuff" accumulates because chronically disorganized people have difficulty letting go of their possessions.
  3. Disorganized people tend to be interested in many things, and some of the clutter is a result of many half-finished projects.
  4. Individuals with Chronic Disorganization tend to be easily distracted, may have poor time management skills, and need to see projects in process to remember to take action.
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There's also a Clutter-Hoarding Scale and survey developed by the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization to help pro organizers like our very own Beth a way to determine the parameters of what they're dealing with, because just like GI Joe once proclaimed, "Knowing is half the battle". Beth recently listed 4 tips to improve organizational habits:

  • Track your habits. If you're going out to any sort of event where you know they might be handing out goodie bags, pamphlets, or postcards--just say no. Because we're such a consumerist society, we'll take the free stuff (even when we don't need it). So if you already know ahead of time that you like taking the free stuff, remind yourself before you walk out of the door to just say no!
  • Make less paper come in the apartment. Mail is one of the biggest clutter offenders. Because we receive mail almost daily, it's hard to keep up with all of it. First, you need to get off the junk mailing lists. This is a great post that gives you the resources to get off the junk mail lists. Also, it's about creating good habits. Opening the mail daily (even if you don't act on it immediately) is a great way to declutter. Recycling goes immediately in the recycle bin and the paper that needs to be shredded is taken care of at once. If you have a landing strip set up to handle incoming mail, your new habits should be much easier to form.
  • Don't give up just because your new system didn't work out. The reality is, organizing takes time. You didn't become disorganized overnight and chances are, you won't become organized over night. If you start out knowing that eventually, your life will become more streamlined then you're less likely to give up during the process. We always tell our clients, it's going to get messy before it gets better (how can it not, we're literally pulling everything out).
  • Maintenance is key. Just because you finally get your life organized doesn't mean your life will always stay organized. In order for your previous organizing systems to work, you have to maintain them. Paper will always come in the door and we will always buy more things--you just have to have the rules and guidelines in place to prevent overflow.

And here's our own tips for tackling organizing that can help both situational and chronic sufferers alike:

[Creative Commons Image: r0Kk]