A Pro Organizer’s Best Advice for Living with a Disorganized Person

published Mar 20, 2022
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If your standards of cleanliness and organization are higher than those of the person (or people) you live with, you may think that your choices are limited. On one hand, you could tidy up after everyone and feel resentment rising like a thermometer; on the other, you could live in squalor and feel anxious and antsy all the time.

Luckily, those aren’t the only options. In fact, the answer to living in peace with a disorganized person is recognizing one simple, but game-changing fact I’ve learned after a decade of working with disorganized people: Their behavior has nothing to do with you.

Let me say that again: It has nothing to do with you. 

Your disorganized roommate hasn’t left things askew out of disrespect for you and your organizing system. They’re not trying to piss you off by leaving their towel in a wet heap. They’re not taking your help for granted, nor do they expect you to come along and clean up after them.

They just don’t see the world the way you see it. A disorganized person has a different standard — and that’s okay. Once you realize this, it can help you curb your resentment and frustration about living with a disorganized person and their mess. 

A few tips to help you on your journey toward acceptance (and changing your own feelings rather than their behavior):

  • Try to stop yourself from tidying anything out of spite, which is a waste of your energy.
  • Take some deep breaths and remind yourself their mess has nothing to do with you.
  • Ask yourself if you can live with it the way it is. If you can, great. Move on. If you cannot, put the object in order for yourself — for your own peace of mind — and enjoy the result.