We all want to be successful in life but what if you struggle with being disorganized. Being organized doesn’t come naturally which is why we first have to define what is disorganization.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines disorganization as “the quality of being badly planned and without order.”
Merriam-Webster dictionary describes disorganization as “psychopathological inconsistencies in personality, mental functions or overt behaviour”.
What does that really mean?
To me being disorganized can be the result of a life event, such as an illness or the birth of a child.
Think about the chaos that ensues after the birth of a baby.
You are severely sleep-deprived, trying to figure out life with this new responsibility that needs constant care, you have a spouse that needs attention, perhaps other children that need attention, meals need prepared, the house needs cleaning and bills need paying and if that isn’t enough, your body needs to heal from the physical exertion of childbirth.
Yes, things are pretty chaotic at first but it usually only takes a few weeks for things to fall back into place as you learn to create a new normal and plan each day so things get done in a timely manner.
So let’s take a closer look at disorganization and learn what we can do to overcome it.
Why Is Organization Important?
When we are organized, our home, workspace and brain are uncluttered making us feel relaxed, calm and able to face whatever challenges come our way.
Because I am a full-time online entrepreneur, being organized is extremely important.
As a blogger, I need to block out time to research and write new articles on time since I publish every Tuesday and Thursday.
I also block out time to review old articles and make any necessary changes to update them.
Since we also have an online store, I need to block out time for finding products and filling orders.
I also need time blocked for bookkeeping which lately has not been getting done. This weekend will be catch-up time.
It is easy to see why I could forget important tasks if I didn’t use a planner.
We are able to focus and be productive, meeting deadlines and being on time for appointments is so much easier.
Being organized also allows us to be more spontaneous and meet up with family and friends or pursue a hobby without feeling rushed, anxious, stressed or overwhelmed.
When we feel good this also has an effect on other people we come into contact with enhancing our relationships.
The symptoms of disorganization
So what does it look like to be disorganized?
Well actually there are some pretty classic symptoms:
- frequently late for appointments
- can’t find anything
- constantly hit with deadlines that catch you unaware
- making good money but you’re always broke
- run out of household items when you need them the most
- communication is suffering (phone storage is always full, emails are piling up unanswered, computer files are everywhere)
- not willing to try new things or take a risk
Recognize any of those in your own life?
I know I have struggled with several of those.
So now that we know what to look for let’s take a look at what may cause people to be disorganized.
What caused this disorganization
First of all, I want to be perfectly clear that habitually being disorganized is not a medical or mental disorder.
It is just a series of bad habits that are wreaking havoc in our lives and causing us to not be able to find important papers in a timely manner or to be late for appointments or miss deadlines at work giving us the reputation of being unreliable.
Let’s take a closer look at how this even becomes a problem, what causes people to become disorganized in the first place.
Sometimes life throws us a curveball and things may be in a state of chaos temporarily until we sort things out again.
Or perhaps it was a life change, like a marriage, birth or death and we need time to establish a new normal.
This type of chaos and disorganization is temporary and order will be restored within a reasonable amount of time.
During these transition periods, a certain amount of chaos and disorganization is normal and is called situational disorganization and is a normal side effect of life changes or situations.
Habitual disorganization is the result of bad habits developed over time and is self-inflicted.
It is usually the result of:
- procrastination on either starting or finishing a project
- overscheduling our life
Don’t fall into the habit of just tossing the keys on the counter and throwing your jacket on the chair, take the few moments to properly put them away and your mind and home will be less cluttered.
And give yourself some time like a month to get used to the new habit and you will love yourself for it.
This is often the result of modelling our upbringing.
People often imitate the behaviours they grew up in.
They were never taught the skills that would assist them in living organized and orderly lives.
I remember growing up my mother was not the most organized person. In fact, as I recall her disorganization was the cause of many arguments between her and my father.
He hated being late yet it seemed we were always late because Mom had forgotten something or couldn’t find this or that.
I remember thinking “I don’t want to live like that.”
This is influenced by our social world. We have all heard the expression “keeping up with the Jones”.
This is where you want to accumulate more stuff than your neighbour. This leads to having more stuff than you need and end up renting a storage container or buying a bigger house.
I know people like this as well which when visiting can turn into nothing more than a tour of their house while they show off all the new things.
To be honest, I tend to avoid these kinds of visits because it becomes more of a show home than a visit.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not the same as your friend bought something that you are checking out.
No, this is a disorder of trying to impress others with what they purchased.
Chronic disorganization actually causes a debilitating state of disorder regularly.
Someone who is chronically disorganized usually has a past history of disorganization and several failed self-help attempts.
These people are often described as being “packrats” “collectors” or “messy.”
This is more common than I realized and they even made a television show about “Hoarders” which I refuse to watch. I mean why would anyone want to put that into your head. I would rather watch organized people.
What Can I Do?
If you recognize that you may have a problem with disorganization there are several things you can do to have more control over your life.
It takes time to develop new habits so don’t be too critical of yourself if you fall into your old ways from time to time.
Just recognize the error and move forward. Old habits are hard to break sometimes.
We get better at things by practicing.
Evaluate How You Spend Your Time
Feel like you never have enough time? Can’t get it all done? Feeling stressed and overwhelmed and don’t have time for the things you enjoy?
Oh sure, we all have times when we are busy and can’t meet that friend for lunch but if you are consistently struggling to meet that deadline or can’t spare 15 minutes to read your favourite book then maybe you are taking on too many responsibilities.
Take a closer look at the things you are doing.
- Can I delegate any of these tasks?
- If you are checking your phone too often perhaps turning it off during certain “work” time periods you may find you are able to get more accomplished in that time frame.
Sometimes by simply delegating one or two tasks frees us up to complete the other tasks on time and without feeling so rushed.
Organize Your Time Wisely
Time management is not always an easy thing to learn.
Using a planner is very helpful for me in every part of my day. Work and personal events all go into my planner.
I schedule appointments deadlines for work, lunch dates, even dates with my husband.
To me, if it isn’t in the planner it won’t get done.
Plan, Prioritize And Follow-through
I like to start my day by thinking about the tasks I want to be done that day. I then prioritize them and make sure they are in my planner.
for me, I set blocks of time for each task and literally check them off in my planner as I accomplish them.
Absolutely everything from answering emails to laundry is in my planner, each task with its own time slot.
Being consistent from day to day and week to week will help establish the habit of doing those tasks at those times and they will be less likely to be forgotten.
Find A Home For Everything
This is a big one that I find essential and avoids a ton of wasted time hunting for lost things.
When you are working from home it is essential that the house stays tidy and uncluttered.
Finding a home for everything avoids collecting piles of bills or papers on the counter.
In our home, keys are hung on a hook by the door. They are always ready to grab on your way out the door and we are never late because we couldn’t find the keys. We learned this one the hard way when we had to replace the ignition in the vehicle because the keys went missing.
Now over 20 years later we have never had a problem with lost keys because after that incident he built a key hook for all keys to go on. It also makes a great gift for someone.
For me, a cluttered house lessons my ability to focus on work because I am thinking about the messy house that needs cleaning.
Once I made it a habit to always put things in their place, the house never looks cluttered or messy and I can much more easily focus on my work.
Drop Bad Habits
This can take time but little changes can make a big difference.
If you habitually say yes to every request, try saying NO sometimes. It doesn’t always have to be you to do everything.
For example, when we would invite the kids over for dinner or a holiday I would be busy doing everything. I would buy the groceries, cook all the food, bake the desserts and clean the kitchen afterwards.
While the family all enjoyed their visit, I was working in the kitchen. I didn’t get to visit because often I wasn’t done working till they were ready to leave.
The whole reason I invited them was that I wanted to visit them.
So now, with my husband’s advice, I enlist the family members to help out.
- Husband still does the carving
- The granddaughter sets the table
- My daughter can make the gravy
- Son-in-law cuts the salt-pork and pours the wine
- The grandkids clear and load the dishwasher
By delegating tasks I now get to visit and talk to our guests. The most important part is that we are building stronger relationships by working together.
Another thing is don’t rely on your memory, use that planner for everything.
Manage External Time Wasters
Sometimes, external factors can have a significant effect on our day.
This could be unexpected visitors or a meeting that dragged on or maybe you got stuck in traffic.
If you are concerned about traffic then leave earlier, allowing extra time in case of heavy traffic.
One thing we have done is tell our friends and family when we are working by choosing consistent hours. This helps them to know when it is okay to drop by or call.
Set a specific time for making phone calls or returning emails then shut your notifications off when you are working. It is less of a distraction allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
How I Make A Living Online
By now I hope we have a more thorough understanding of what is disorganization.
There are many different reasons why people may become disorganized.
We have also learned that being disorganized doesn’t have to be something that plagues our entire life.
It is possible to learn effective time management that helps us become much more organized.
Try several methods and see if you can’t improve the quality of your life.
As a self-employed blogger, I personally found that by decluttering my home and my mind I am better able to focus on my work and get more done in less time.
Using a planner is an essential tool that I can’t live without and I strongly urge you to try using one.
Have you struggled with disorganization?
Do you use a planner?