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Tips for Getting Organized When You Suck at Organization

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Some people come to a skill naturally and some people (especially if you have been diagnosed with executive functioning difficulties or ADHD) really struggle to master that same skill no matter how simple it might seem.

If you find yourself routinely apologizing to important people in your life for missed dates or forgotten assignments or lost keys, you might need to work on organization. For those of us that struggle with this life skill, we can come across to other people as careless or even indifferent.

First you have to acknowledge the negative feelings you've developed around this issue. You aren't a bad person, you are bad at this specific skill. And when you aren't good at something, it is hard to want to practice it. But, of course, the only way to improve is to keep practicing.

Next, identify your particular weaknesses so you can break down "organization" into the specific things you need to improve. Is physical organization your problem (does your backpack or room look like a disaster zone?) or are you struggling more with losing track of time and missing events? Once you identify your weakness, work on developing the SIMPLEST solution you can manage.

Use outside tools as much as possible. Outsource, outsource, outsource. Set alarms on your phone, write things in a calendar as you are talking about it, not later, send yourself a future email to remind yourself that something is due. Set a timer if you are starting an activity during which you lose track of time.

Keep trying. If one system or strategy doesn't work in the short term, ditch it and try another. If a strategy works for a while but doesn't stick, try to make it slightly easier for yourself and stick with it for a little longer. You are creating a new habit and that takes repetition, usually at least 3-4 weeks solid.

Bookshelf of different items organized by type
Everything in it's Place

Finally, don't get hung up on traditional standards. If you've never been able to put your clean clothes away in a dresser, try using bins. Just because it is "normal" doesn't mean it is the only way to do it. Laundry bins might take up more space, but they are better than clothes all over your floor, which mix with papers and dishes... You get the idea. Do what works for you!

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