We all consider ourselves disorganised at various points in life. Frequently this is associated with an event or life change, and is usually temporary.
For some people though, this disorganisation has been present for much of their life, or has come about as a result of an enduring physical or mental health challenge. It is persistent, and can therefore be referred to as chronic in nature.
Did you know that there is an Institute for Chronic Disorganization?
The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) is a not-for-profit organisation providing education and training to Professional Organisers and related professionals who specialise in working with the population affected by chronic disorganisation. Their mission is to provide education, research, and strategies to benefit people challenged by chronic disorganisation.
According to ICD, chronic disorganisation:
- Persists over a long period of time;
- Frequently undermines quality of life;
- Recurs despite repeated self-help attempts; and
- Is expected to continue into the future.
Some common characteristics of chronically disorganised people include:
- Accumulating large quantities of items beyond apparent necessity or pleasure;
- Difficulty parting with items;
- Being easily distracted or unable to concentrate;
- Having poor time management skills; and
- A number of uncompleted projects.
We can probably all tick some of these boxes at various stages in our lives. When many of these are present in our day to day lives over an extended period, the impact on the individual, their home life, work life and relationships can be detrimental.
What causes chronic disorganisation?
Increased clutter and disorganisation can be both a symptom or result of physical, biochemical and psychological issues impacting a person.
There are wide range of factors that may cause or contribute to such disorganisation. Some examples are:
- Neurological or brain-based challenges such as ADHD, Traumatic Brain injury, or Multiple Sclerosis
- Mental or physical health issues such as OCD, hoarding disorder or impaired mobility
- Environmental and systemic issues such as lack of storage space, or systems that are too difficult to maintain or have not been established with the needs of the users in mind
- Life crises or transitions including births, deaths, ageing, or a traumatic incident
In some instances, chronic disorganisation may occur concurrently with other conditions such as hoarding disorder, ADHD, depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
So what can you do?
It is not as simple as just “tidying up” or getting rid of things. There are many underlying issues that need to be identified and addressed to achieve sustainable results over a period of time.
If you or a loved one is affected by chronic disorganisation, there are a number of options available to you.
- Look at online resources, such as the ICD website, for further information, about chronic disorganisation and strategies for moving forward;
- Speak with a General Practitioner, counsellor or psychologist about any underlying issues that may be present;
- Look for a clutter peer support group (locally or online); or
- Consider engaging a professional organiser who has specialised training and/or experience in this area (like us!).
First and most importantly though, be patient and kind – to yourself or your loved one challenged by disorganisation.
Be encouraging and supportive, listen without judgement and celebrate successes, no matter how seemingly small.
You can achieve your goals.
Melissa Sleegers, the founder of Allsorts Organising, is a Subscriber of the Institute for Chronic Disorganization (ICD). She is also the only Canberra-based Organiser to have received specialist certificates in Chronic Disorganisation, Hoarding, Ageing and ADHD from ICD.