Chronic Disorganization: What is it?

Most people feel scatterbrained, disorganized, and like they need to have a better handle on their schedule at times. Often it takes a simple pause and reset to get things back in order and on track. Other times, it takes much more than that.

Chronic disorganization defined

Chronic disorganization (CD) is a term used to describe people who find themselves living in disorganization for a long duration. An expert in Attention Deficit Disorder, Judith Kolberg, started using the term chronic disorganization. In her book What Every Professional Organizer Needs To Know About Chronic Disorganization, Kolberg shares a more in-depth description of CD, strategies for working with people with CD, as well as real-life examples of clients living with chronic disorganization.¹

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization states three PARTS that a person must have for their disorganization to be chronic.² Those are:

  1. Persists for an extended period of time.
  2. It undermines the person’s quality of life.
  3. Despite a person’s efforts to get organized, it continues.

Characteristics of individuals with chronic disorganization

CD is behavioral. Individuals struggle with some of the following attributes:

  • Has difficulty letting go
  • Accumulates large quantities of possessions
  • Finds it difficult to manage time and is chronically late
  • Often loses or misplaces things
  • Has many interests and unfinished projects
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is talkative, intelligent, and emotional

There are other elements involved, however, these are the most prevalent. Keep in mind that chronic means it has persisted for extended durations of time, affecting their quality of life.

What causes it

People that struggle with CD often have comorbid issues and other factors associated with their chronic disorganization.   Such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).³ Those with ADHD have an impairment in focus and uninterrupted attention. This can make staying organized an extremely difficult task.

Taking action

All hope is not lost for individuals living with CD. In fact, there are numerous supports available including professional organizers who are trained in working with individuals with chronic disorganization. They receive a certification through the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization CPO-CD®.

Professional organizers provide helpful organizational systems and tips that restructure the layout of a space. They are also able to address topics of concern such as time management, procrastination, perfectionism, habits, and behaviors that lead to long-term organization over time.

Working together, healthcare professionals and professional organizers are able to address the emotional and behavioral aspects of CD to provide a comprehensive support system.

¹ Kolberg, Judith. What Every Professional Organizer Needs to Know About Chronic Disorganization. (Squall Press, 2008)