Five More Causes of Disorganization and How to Lessen Their Impact

As we discussed last month in Five Causes of Disorganization and¬† How to Counteract Them, there are many different causes of disorganization. Guess what? It’s possible to experience more than one source at a time. ūüôā

There are two factors of disorganization that are more temporary than others. One is transitions, such as a move, job change, marriage, divorce, separation, birth or other similar life changes. The other is life crises. These include but are not limited to death, job loss, health emergency, protracted family challenges, or major accident.

Don’t misunderstand. These situations can be devastating and can last for a long period of time. However, once they have passed, it is likely that you’ll be able to attain your previous level of organization.

How can you navigate the clutter that is bound to impact your life at one or more points? First, whenever possible, be prepared. Sometimes you have a longer period of time to plan than others. Moves, births, marriages or job changes often have more lead time than death, job loss or separation.

However long your planning time, you want to determine what tasks absolutely must be done versus what can be deferred or deleted. You must pay bills to avoid late fees. It is nice but not crucial to send out greetings cards for various celebrations. Give yourself permission to have a “not-to-do” list.

Photo by seanmfreese

Photo by seanmfreese

Lack of functional systems. Having¬†effective¬†routines is the backbone of organization and productivity. Some systems you don’t even think about because they are such ingrained habits. The order in which you get ready in the morning may be something you don’t even think about. But do you have a¬†routine for:

  • Processing mail or email at work or home
  • Filing papers at home or work
  • Noting when you are almost out of a supply and need to purchase more
  • Laundry
  • When to schedule car or home maintenance

The ability to develop meaningful habits is crucial to establishing systems. Habits take between 21-60 days to form. So give yourself time to create new routines. Don’t make the¬†systems too¬†complex. If the routine is more involved, you may want to break it down into sub-habits.

Inaccurate beliefs and attitudes. Over our lifetime we create number of false beliefs about ourselves and our circumstances. Here are some that might sound familiar to you:

  • I’m always late. Everyone in my family has always been late. There’s no way to change it now.
  • I’ve always had clutter. I can’t possibly get organized.
  • No matter what I do, I always forget some of the things I have to do. I’ll never be on top of all my tasks.

One way to decrease these¬†unhelpful beliefs is to minimize inside clutter. So if you catch yourself saying, “I’ve always been a procrastinator” you may shift that thought to, “While in the past I’ve procrastinated a lot, going forward I’m going to try to decrease my procrastinating ways.” Then you might work with a coach, organizer or accountability partner to help you make changes in this area.

Addictive tendencies. While you may immediately think of drug or alcohol abuse, there are other addictions which can also contribute to disorganization. These include but are not limited to: compulsive acquisition via shopping or picking up free items, infomania, urgency addiction and compulsive saving.

A common feature of these addictions is the need to admit there is a problem in order to experience a lasting solution. The next step is to put the right supports in place. This may include therapy or coaching among other options.

Have you identified one or more major causes of disorganization from this article or the previous one? It’s important to know what creates your disorganization so that you can more precisely attack it.

Besides attacking the root of the¬†issue, you need to establish organizational systems that work with your personality, challenges and situations. Organizing is not a “one size fits all” thing.

If you need help attacking your disorganization and making your office or home more functional, let us know. We would love to help you enjoy your space!



Janice is available to speak throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, including Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Denver, London, New York City, Montreal, Ontario, Paris, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Salt Lake City, San Francisco, St. Louis, Seattle, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., and the Triangle area of North Carolina (including Apex, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Fayetteville, Morrisville, and Raleigh).

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