by Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company LLC
Do you think you may be “chronically disorganized”? Our first impulse might be to laugh and say, oh yes, that describes me perfectly!
It turns out that chronic disorganization (CD) is a technical term rather than a humorous one. It describes, not someone who often can’t find her keys or who pays a bill late twice a year, but someone for whom disorganization is severely reducing their quality of life. CD is marked by its longevity, impact, and resistance to self-help efforts.
This might describe a person in peril of being evicted because of the state of his or her apartment, or who has been unable to file taxes, not to get out of paying them but because gathering the necessary papers is simply impossible. It could be someone who is alienated from family and friends because of problems with organization.
Chronic disorganization may be rooted in varied causes, including traumatic brain injury, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, and other physical and psychological causes. In other words, it is not the same as the simple overwhelm that we all feel when confronted with too many voices calling for our attention and too little time in the day.
The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD) was formed to support those for whom disorganization is not just a frustration or a personal foible, but those whose lives are profoundly impacted by disorganization and the inability to overcome it without help.
The NSGCD maintains one of my personal favorite websites. It is, I’m happy to report, a model of order and ease. I’d like especially to invite you to explore the information-rich resource section. (Just resist the urge to print out all the pdf’s, which would create way too much paper clutter!) There you’ll find tons of useful information about chronic disorganization. Especially note the fact sheet which gives common characteristics of CD individuals.
If you recognize yourself, a friend, or family member here, don’t hesitate to contact me for help in locating more resources for this person.
Full disclosure: I earned a Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization from the NSGCD several years ago. I believe it is essential for anyone who works with organizing and productivity to understand CD and recognize it when they see it. If you need help, I’ll be happy to point you toward some wonderful people who do this work (I don’t). There are many skilled and compassionate people who can help.
Are you trying to help a chronically disorganized person? Are you chronically disorganized? What has been effective? If you recognize yourself as CD, what do you wish us “average messies” could understand about what it’s like to be truly CD?