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Understanding Chronic / Challenging Disorganization: Are you Chronically Disorganized or Situationally Disorganized?

by Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed.


NOTE:  This Article has been updated

It has moved to my new webhome at arianebenefit.com.


Click below to read the article in full.

The Truth about Chronic Disorganization:  Understanding What Causes Chronic Disorganization and How to Heal the Trauma of Lifelong Disorganization, Overwhelm and Frustration



Although I prefer the term "Lifelong Disorganization", the established industry term is "chronic disorganization" - this is not intended to imply a medical condition, nor an "incurable" condition.

The intention is to distinguish an "ongoing pattern of disorganization" from the "short term situational disorganization" and clutter that is the normal result of grief, illness, having children, and other life changes.


In 2013, I'm offering

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Thanks for understanding as I go through the process of gradually reinventing all of my "legacy" websites.  To avoid "broken" links, my legacy websites will remain active indefinitely.


Reader Comments (5)

By your definition, im no a chronic disorganized person, but neither a situational disorganized, there´s something in the middle? My office, sometimes is a mess, but im not feel guilty and this do not stop my work. I letting go a lot of things, including some that i will use... just to not see it again. I know where is everything until someone change something and only this stress me. I use to clean and organize my house once a month, (living alone), and do a lot of mess, specially in multi-uses room. My car is an extension of my house and my office, until no one can seat, including me. Well that´s sound like chronic... but since i have memory, i use to do a lot of mess, clean, organize, mess, clean, organize, and mess again. And im a excellent organizer, when i do.

I do not read this complete at first, and i already found this:

YES High intelligence and creativity
I DONT KNOW Right-brain dominant information processing style
YES A wide range of interests
NO PROBLEM Difficulty understanding own needs objectively
NO PROBLEM Strong emotional attachments to things
MAYBE The energy of another person helps them feel “focused and interested”
YES Tendency to lose track of time
YES Ability to focus and engage so intensely that they may forget to eat and / or attend to daily life maintenance like shopping, cleaning & organizing
YES Difficulty focusing on things they don't find fascinating
NO Tend to get easily stressed and frustrated especially if things don't come easily or they can't do something "perfectly"
YES “Global” thinking styles – tend to see everything at once
YES Difficulty categorizing and making decisions because they can think of so many possibilities
DEFINITELY IM INTP “Intuitive” and /or “Perceiving” preferences in their MBTI (Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality type
October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterA disorganized person
My son and daughter-in-law are very disorganized and live in constant clutter. The dishes can often be left in the sink for 24 hours at a time. They are both highly intelligent and creative. They are often chronically late. When I visit I feel like there's a trainwreck waiting to happen. On the other hand they spend wonderful time with their 2 children and spend quality time doing what they enjoy.

I recogtnize that I am very organized and never leave dishes in the sink. I'm almost anal about having my counters clean and washing dishes after every meal. I like my home picked up after what I consider a reasonable amount of time. So maybe this bothers me more than it should. We spent Christmas with them and every room was filled with clutter. I felt overwhelmed and energyless due to the surroundings. Yet my precious daughter-in-law spent a tremendous amount of time organizing gift-giving to 12 families.

I 've never said anything to them about this. My question is should I talk to them about it--I fear interfering where I should not.
I just see how their lives are affected negatively by all of this. Hope you can give me some advice. Jackie Smith
January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJsackie Smith
This is me to a T! I've been in and out of counseling for years. I'm back to a "lower than low low". I want and need help. I don't know who to turn to. I'm on meds. I'm in my second marriage. I have 7 children and 11 grandchildren. I moved into a new house and finally have an office/crafting room. It's a mess. I could not find a therapist in my area. Money is an issue.

Having a diagnosis is great but now what?
January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTerri
I am chronically disorganized. I am 50 and single and have left the teaching field. I was a good teacher - but too disorganized. Slowly, over the years, it's gotten worse and worse and worse. No one who knows me really "gets" how hard it is for me. Then again, I let no one, except the 7 pets and my sister, into my house. Everything in my life has been disrupted by the avalanche of important things and umimportant things all jumbled up in heaps and piles in my house. I desperately want help, but am not rich enough for expensive help. Any inexpensive help out there?
November 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCher
I've been watching hoarding episodes online, and I know I have tendencies in that direction, although I know I also have a stopping point. I have always struggled with creating order and have just thought I am a lazy procrastinator. I have a neat-freak friend who claims to "vibrate" in the presence of disorder (she can't handle it), and I've often wished I could "download" that trait, as it were.
I would like to get a handle on the clutter, which just seems to spring up around me as sure as my heart beats. It seems that I can spend all my free time trying to create order leaving me no time for all the creative projects I would like to pursue.
I feel like I am pursuing an unreachable goal (tidiness and order).
Can I achieve this in my lifetime?
November 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdottie

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