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Getting Organized

How Did I Get So Disorganized, Part 2
When Your Habits Catch Up with You

Vicki Norris
Restoring Order

CBN.comOver the next few weeks we are discovering how we became so disorganized in the first place. If you’ve been unsuccessful in your organizing efforts and are trying to figure out “How did I get here?” this series is for you!

If you want to get organized and stay that way, you have to dig down deep. It’s kind of like weeding…sure, you can chop the tops off the weeds if you’re sick of looking at them, but doing so will only result in their rapid return. If you want to rid the soil of your life of disorganization, you will have to pull out your disorder by the root. Only then will you create order and sustain lasting change.

Last week we covered “situational disorganization:” when life events precipitate our disorganization. This week we will explore “habitual disorganization:” when our habits are wreaking havoc in our space and lives.

Habitual Disorganization

Some of the clients I’ve worked with have needed help re-directing their behavior. Some are stashers. Some are stackers. Others are pilers, spreaders, suffers, and hiders. You name it, I’ve seen it. There are a million bad organizing habits, and we’ve all indulged them from time to time.

Instead of unloading the dishwasher, we leave our dishes in the sink, hoping someone else will unload. Rather than facing the paper pile-up, we shut our office door so we can’t see the mess. We knowingly overbook our schedule because we can’t say no. We resist using a calendar and important events and appointments fall through the cracks. We all have our own unique collection of bad habits that lead to disorganization. We are the habitually disorganized.

Habitual disorganization does not mean that we are forever cursed and stuck with chaos in our life. Rather, it means that we have created our own state of disorganization with our collection of bad habits. We can also remain in our chaos, using our bad habits as a reason for why we can’t get out. Whether we are dealing with space, time, paper, information, or tasks, we all have our own set of patterns that may sabotage our order. By our own hand, we become victims of disorganization.

Two of the most common and destructive bad habits I see my clients practicing are task dodging and over-scheduling.

Task Dodging

Are you a task dodger? Do you procrastinate and put things off for later completion? If so, this bad habit can cause a variety of problems in your space and time management. Letting the laundry grow into an overwhelming mountain can impact your wardrobe and your daily routine. If all your clothes are dirty you will have a hard time getting ready in the morning. You may choose not to attend certain events if you don’t have the proper attire. If you are out of clean socks, you may neglect your daily exercise routine. In extreme cases, I’ve seen some folks go out and buy new clothes rather than keeping up with their laundry. Procrastination is a habit that must be broken in order for you to experience orderly living.


Another common bad habit that causes disorganization is over-scheduling your life. Well-intentioned mothers allow their children to sign up for a multiplicity of clubs and sports. Some want to give their children every chance to succeed and to stand out from other children. Some want their children to have a better chance at winning scholarships due to their roster of activities and athletic abilities. Others simply would like to give their children opportunities they never had.

As a result of over-scheduling, the family practically lives in the car, shuttling back and forth between activities. Since the over-programmed family doesn’t have time for meals at home, everyone consumes a fast food diet because it is quick and easy. As a result, they begin feeling crummy and lethargic. Since everyone is on the go, it becomes harder to keep up with chores at home, like bill paying and housecleaning. The very activities that were intended to enrich the lives of the children end up taking over everyone’s schedule. While it is difficult to set priorities and boundaries for yourself and for your children, doing so will create more balance and sanity for the family. Over-scheduling may seem harmless, but it is a bad habit that snowballs and can negatively impact your lifestyle.

Now the Good News

The good news is that you can begin to identify any bad habits that you’ve developed that are contributing to your disorganization. Acknowledging those habits is the first step to restoring order. If you don’t identify your bad habits in the process of organizing, your efforts won’t make a lasting impact. As you engage in your organizing process, you can then proactively work to eliminate those bad habits. When you extricate yourself from self-defeating habits you can truly be liberated from disorder.

Read How Did I Get So Disorganized, Part 1

Adapted from: Restoring Order™ copyright © 2006 by Vicki Norris (available now at and in July 2007as Reclaim Your Life™.  Copyright © 2007).  Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

About the Author: Vicki Norris is an expert organizer, business owner, speaker, television personality, and author who inspires people to live out their priorities. Norris is a regular on HGTV’s nationally syndicated
Mission: Organization, and is a recurrent source and contributor to national lifestyle publications including Quick & Simple magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Real Simple magazine. Norris is also author of Restoring Order™ to Your Home, a room-by-room household organizing guide.

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