When we examine the question, “Disorganized or Just Plain Messy?” it may seem to be quite obvious…aren’t they one and the same?

Well, not really. Organization is about being about to find what you need, when you need it and quite frankly, there are a few folks who have been clients that have literally astounded me with their ability to find the darndest things in the middle of what I call complete chaos! They are messy people, but they are not “disorganized” in the sense of being able to live life without the mess interfering. In this case, these folks simply needed help in setting up systems that work in reigning in the mess, a task they did not have time to do themselves. When I checked in with them after the job was complete, they were using the systems and functioning quite alright. If they had truly been disorganized, this would not have been the case.

Let’s review why…

Messiness occurs, and accumulates quite rapidly, I might add, when we either do not have time to tend to certain tasks, or we do not have the proper systems in place to reign in the mess properly. A person may know where to find their items, but their “storage system” is unsightly.

For example, I spoke with a professional our family frequently uses for a service he provides and he was commenting on his paperwork and how it builds up and makes him stressed. On the outward, it appeared to be disorderly, indeed. However, as my husband and I spoke to him about the situation, he demonstrated being able to find anything he needed. The problem was, as we found later in the conversation, the computer system he uses to invoice and the consequent storage of printed invoices, receipts, etc. were lacking. This caused a “back-up” in his system, which was causing him stress. We made some suggestions and look forward to seeing his back-log cleared up. Problem solved.

True disorganization will have some tell-tale signs, which just seem to scream “I am disorganized!!” Here are just a few:

  • Unable to find what is needed the majority of the time
  • Constantly have to “run here or there” to pick up something they were just at the location to do.
  • Forgetting appointments
  • Forgetting assignments
  • Late payments on bills due to not knowing the due date and payment amount (or where the bill is!)
  • Frequent “melt-downs” when the person is under a deadline.
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of follow through in the details

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a springboard for evaluating whether a person is messy or really dealing with the effects of disorganization.

One last note, I would like to comment that I have found that messiness is a thief, as much as true disorganization, so I am not advocating remaining a messy individual. But the solutions, while similar, are different in the sense that the truly disorganized will require new systems, new thought and behavior patterns and a LOT of practice; whereas, the one who is messy simply needs a system that works and, generally speaking, can have the mess taken care of fairly quickly with the right tools.

Diagnosing properly is important, particularly within a family, where provocation can happen very easily. Knowing what we are really dealing will give us a “leg up” on solving the problem.

Tune in tomorrow for some practical paperwork solutions for your kiddos schoolwork, as some of them will be needing help right about now!