• Not Feeling Organized?

    Being in “charge of your life” requires organizing (time, activities, spaces, etc.). However, despite your best intentions, chaos may rule your days (and stress you out). The chaos may feel like a personal failure that is impossible to overcome.

    Yet, think about how a good friend or a counselor might respond to your self-judgement. For instance: “Many people struggle with disorganization. I’m sorry it’s hard for you. Your difficulties with organizing are not indicative of a lack of capacity for it.”

    A key question to ask yourself is if the organizing approaches you have tried are a good fit for you. Useful approaches work with your stumbling blocks (e.g., chronic distractibility or time management difficulties) rather than demand you organize despite them. You need organizing techniques that are tailored to address your specific challenges.

    Here are a few organizing strategies you might customize (Kolberg & Noadeau, 2002):

    • Organize for reasons that matter to you (rather that adopting someone else’s values or practice for which you have negative connotations). 
    • Do sprints, not long-distance runs: Divide up projects into smaller, simpler pieces that can be completed “in a dash.” 
    • Subtract before you add. Add a new commitment only after eliminating a prior one. 
    • Get energized: What stimulates you, that can help you get/stay organized? 
    • Get it done, make it fun: When a task is made fun by framing it as a time-limited challenge, maybe done with a buddy, it is more likely to feel achievable. 
    • Think like a restaurant server. Clear as soon as you clutter.

    This article was inspired by Kolberg and Nadeau’s ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize your Life. The authors stressed that support and structure need to be matched with the challenge of each organizing task for each individual. They describe how you can create your own support and structure, as well as involve family, friends and professionals.

    The Mindful Counseling Center can help you explore emotional issues or unrealistic self-expectations related to organizing and options to address the problems. Reach out to request a counseling appointment.

    (This article was adapted from our Mindful Life e-newsletter, 2-1-23.)