Chronic Disorganization and ADHD Organizing

What is Chronic Disorganization?


Chronic Disorganization is a term created by The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) and refers to the long-lasting difficulty some people have to get organized in their daily lives.

Not to be confused with Situational Disorganization, an often brief, period of time where things could be very chaotic and messy but after a while, the person regains their ability to organize the space. That said, it is quite common for what started as “situational disorganization” to evolve into “chronic” or “challenging disorganization.”

Although Chronic Disorganization can look similar to Hoarding Behaviour, and they share many common characteristics, the difference lays in the reasons for the clutter accumulation and the emotional attachment to the items.

How can I tell if I suffer from Chronic Disorganization?

According to the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, you might be chronically disorganized if:

  1. You have struggled with disorganization for a long period of time. Perhaps things started to get messy due to life challenges but instead of improving they got worse with time.
  2. It has a negative effect on your life on a daily basis. The clutter and disorganization in your home makes you anxious, you can’t find things when you need them, you are late to appointments, bills are overdue because you forget to pay them, can’t use areas of your house due to the mess and clutter, etc.
  3. Most self-help attempts have failed. You have purchased organizing books and organizing containers but not been able to apply them to your situation
  4. You don’t see that improvement is possible in the future. You feel there is something wrong with you because you can’t maintain organizing systems. Feel helpless and frustrated.

What causes Chronic Disorganization?

Chronic disorganization is NOT a disease. It is a behavioral pattern found in all kinds of people, regardless of gender, age, education, or income level.

Sometimes Chronic Disorganization can run along or result from, brain-based conditions such as Depression and Anxiety. Other contributor factors associated with Chronic Disorganization are ADHD, OCD, Autism, autistic spectrum disorders, chronic pain, depression, addiction to shopping, cluttering and hoarding, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, brain injury, and PTSD.

It could also be triggered by difficult life transitions such as a loss of a loved one, changes in the family structure like having a baby or getting divorced, as well any ongoing major illness. If you having been raised in an environment where life skills were not taught because everything was done for you, or you grew up with parents who were chronically disorganized, or you grew up in an abusive environment also increases your tendency to follow the same pattern.

Those stressful situations or life transitions cause what we call Situational Disorganization, a period when chaos reigns while we try to adapt. If we can’t cope for a long time, the clutter continues to accumulate. At a certain point, daily life becomes overwhelmingly stressful, and chronic procrastination becomes a challenge as well. Our emotional estate is affected and we start feeling traumatized by the experience to the point of feeling numb, overwhelmed, and unable to restore order. There is a tendency to experience acute flareups of extremely intense emotions like frustration, anger, overwhelming grief, and sadness for what your life could have been like, or disgust, followed by episodes of other addictive or compulsive behaviours like shopping, eating, self-isolation, TV binging or other kinds of “escape.” It's also very common to get “stuck” in a pattern of YO-YO between extremes of getting organized and then becoming overwhelmed with clutter.

If your quality of life is suffering, help will most likely be needed to recover and to maintain a reasonable level of organization.


Some Common Characteristics of Chronically Disorganized Individuals:

  • Right-brain dominant information processing style
  • Highly creative persons
  • High intelligence / giftedness
  • Difficulty understanding own needs objectively
  • Wide range of interests and many uncompleted projects
  • Losing interest easily when things become boring, need for constant stimulation
  • Ability to focus and engage so intensely in what they like that they may forget to eat and/or attend to daily life maintenance like shopping, cleaning & organizing
  • Accumulates large quantities of objects, documents, papers, or possessions beyond apparent necessity or pleasure.
  • Difficulty parting with things and letting go because of the creative possibilities laying in everything
  • Difficulty categorizing and making decisions because they can think of so many possibilities
  • Need for visual “clues” as reminders to take action
  • Tendency to form piles of things and prefer open/see-through storage
  • Easily distracted, lose concentration on the task at hand
  • The energy of another person helps them feel “focused and interested”
  • Low tolerance to frustration and tendency to perfectionism
  • Weak time management skills, arrives late to dates, paying overdue bills.
  • Commonly diagnosed with ADHD, ADD. Anxiety and Depression are also frequent challenges.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry.
You don’t have to do everything by yourself; change is possible and help is available!


The challenge of being chronically disorganized with ADHD


ADHD Is a very common diagnosis that can make things a bit difficult when it comes to getting organized.
Because of the different brain wiring and chemistry, you could feel like your mind is jumping all over making focusing and organizing very hard. That makes things like studying, home organizing, and time management, very challenging.
It is very common to have many passions and ideas and common areas like the living and kitchen get cluttered by open projects. Visual overstimulation and overload can occur and you never feel the satisfaction of completing a project. Common spaces lose their intended function. Uncompleted projects may cause financial strain and increase conflict with loved ones.
As your brain chemistry is working against you and your coping mechanisms may not be enough, assistance is necessary.

How we can help

Much like how someone might need a personal trainer, nutritionist, or wellness coach to establish a lifestyle approach towards healthy eating and exercising, severely chronically disorganized people are likely to benefit from Holistic Clutter Coaching in order to transform and improve their wellbeing.

If you are chronically disorganized, the standards for “being successfully organized” are different from what mainstream people perceive as well-organized. As your needs, skills, gifts, and challenges are different, you will need to set and design your own standards and processes, choosing things that work for you, your life, and your home. It will be a journey of self-discovery, exploring, trying, eventually failing but constantly improving. We will hold your hand every step of the way, providing emotional support and teaching you tools and skills, until you reach balance and autonomy.

How we do it:

We provide hands-on coaching to establish a flexibly structured environment and develop practical strategies for monitoring your needs and making effective adjustments.

We will work in the 3 areas:


Mind: Mindset

  • We will help to develop an integrative, practical, and wellbeing-oriented lifestyle approach that is deeply committed to making time for meaningful living and self-organizing on a daily basis.
  • We take the time to learn and work with your learning style. This will facilitate communication and the transfer of skills.
  • We will work together to cultivate talents, aptitudes, and mindset habits such as design thinking, decision-making, systems design, and the ability to identify habits and triggers in your patterns.

Heart: Emotional regulation

  • You will increase self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-advocacy, and your ability to solve problems.
  • You will learn new habits and how to weaken the intensity of the discomfort of compulsive and impulsive triggers that result in unwanted consequences
  • We can assist you in time management to fit in the critical component of self-care so that you have the energy to be your best.


Home: Hands-on help and virtual clutter coaching and organizing

  • We will assist you in simplifying your space, creating a calm and organized home; it will give your eyes and mind a place to rest reducing visual overstimulation and anxiety.
  • We can help you establish routines that will work for you to help manage your home and your daily responsibilities.
  • We can help you prioritize your projects and get them to completion.


If you are ready to make a change for the better and start a new chapter in your life, give us a buzz and let’s get the conversation started.
Don’t wait any longer, we are here to help!