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Challenges of living with disorganized people

By Iris Holloway

Iris’ Tips

Today,  I say thanks for your comments. I’ve communicated with several individuals. It’s awesome to get your feedback. Keep it up. Today we’ll be talking about “ Living or Working with a Disorganized Person”

Clutter Clashes can set the tone for relationships. It can spring up with most anyone,  a spouse, child, teenager, roommate, co-worker, parent or yes, a boss. Living or working with the clutter/disorganization of  a  person can be more frustrating than trying to clean up your own clutter.

It’s an awful feeling  to  start a workday, come home at the end of the day , or visit someone; looking at someone else’s clutter. Your own productivity can literally be diminished.  Watched the  ” Hoarders” tv series lately?  Yes, sometimes it gets that bad.   

It may appear as a lack of consideration from the other person. No matter how many times you mention the “ mess” , nothing changes. What can you do about it? Can you motivate others to change their ways? How do you navigate a relationship with someone who has a different threshold for chaos?  Before you go getting excited, keep these two realities in mind.

  • ● You can’t motivate someone else to get organized. No, nagging doesn’t help. Just as with losing weight or quitting smoking, you’ll never succeed in motivating someone else to get organized. Change will only occur when they have an internal personal goal driving them. The secret is to tap into what the clutter is costing them.  Ex:  In your opinion, your spouse’s shop is totally disorganized. But wait, they know  where  everything is, but when it comes time  to find a part, it can’t be found. Later after a replacement has been bought, ( an expensive part $ 300 or so) you find it under a pile of “stuff.”  Your child has an assignment that can only be completed with access to the internet.  You live in a rural area with poor connections. It’s due tomorrow. A bill arrives electronically.  It’s  due on the tenth.  It is not flagged.  The fifteenth rolls around and a late charge for  $28  e-mail is received.  Sound familiar?
  • ● The mess is not an expression of disrespect. Being angry can be a major stumbling block. Think about it! They may not even see it as a “ Mess”  . They may not be a visual person.
  • Their chaos may serve as a psychological function, such as a need for control or abundance. That person may not think he is disorganized but just sees his organizational  style as different.
  • Regardless of whether people don’t notice the mess, thrive on chaos, or have a different style , the bottom line is  their “ Mess” drives you crazy. So, what do you do about it?  You can:
  • ● Let it go! Love the person despite the mess and pick up after them.
  • If the choice is  to let it go  you must strive to keep your sanity. Look at he piles. Create storage there. Place stray items in an individually labeled tote. Put up a screen. Throw a sheet over it temporarily when  you are forced to be in the area.
  • ● Co-design shared spaces. Learn to live together and accept you have different styles and co-design the common areas. Establish different rules for common & private areas.  Allow each person  to have a private place to keep as they desire. Divide up room responsibilities. Schedule a time without interruption to discuss areas that need to be focused on. Strive to accept joint ownership in finding that  resolution. Stay focused and have fun.
  • ● Help the person get organized. Persuade the person in allowing you to assist.  Show them what it is costing them. Show them what will be gained.  Be a good clutter buddy. Build a person’s confidence. Point out areas they are good at being  organized. Have fun but “ DON’T make fun”. Don’t force the idea of getting rid of  stuff. It will happen. Respect the other person’s privacy. Make it easy on your buddy. Pull together containers,  trash bags , labeling accessories. Help  with disposal of  items to give away or discard. Be a good sounding board.
  • Most important, be in the moment for your friend , child, teen, spouse, roommate, co-worker and yes, even the boss. Be upbeat. Be patient.  Project confidence that the opportunity can be accomplished together. Whether you are organizing yourself, or helping someone else, there is a right and a wrong way to approach the project.
  • Next article I’ll be discussing the “ Secrets to be a Professional Organizer “ and how to create a system that works and lasts.
  • Until next time, email is hollowayiris@bellsouth.net