What Disorganized Behavior Could Reveal About Your Mental State

Updated March 6, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many of us have engaged in what is known as disorganized behavior from time to time throughout our lives. Still, it's a sliding scale, and while some people seem to be exceedingly skilled at keeping the various essential aspects of their lives organized and intentional, others struggle in doing so.

If disorganized behavior continues to be a challenge for you despite your best efforts, then what might that reveal about your mental state? That is the question that we will examine ahead, and we'll also talk about some practical ways for you to become a more organized person.

Are Disorganized Behaviors Interfering With Your Quality Of Life?

What Might Disorganized Behavior Mean?

Have you ever known someone who didn't seem ever to be able to get to an appointment on time? Maybe if you went over to their house, you could count on there being dirty clothing all over the floor of their room. If you opened the fridge, you'd probably see leftovers that were several weeks old. This same person likely would have a tough time planning out a schedule for a trip. They'd be consistently late for class or work, and they'd misplace things.

The overall impression of someone like this is that they're disorganized in virtually every aspect of their life. It's not one area that they struggle with where organization is concerned, but all or most areas. It seems that certain people are just wired that way; however, there are specific mental conditions that might make someone more prone to live this sort of lifestyle, and some of disorganized behaviors can potentially be treated. One possibility is that the person in question might have a mental health condition known as disorganized schizophrenia.

What Is Disorganized Schizophrenia?

It is likely that you have heard of the term “schizophrenia.” Disorganized schizophreniais an offshoot of that larger banner group, also referred to as hebephrenia. Those who have a diagnosis of hebephrenia engage in disorganized speech. In other words, they may have extreme difficulty concentrating or focusing on one train of thought, and they might jump quickly from one topic to another. They could say illogical things or respond to questions with answers that are unrelated. They may demonstrate various facial tics as well.

Someone with disorganized schizophrenia will likely engage in the sort of disorganized behaviors that we already mentioned. Their overall daily functioning can present distinct challenges for them, such as a lack of impulse control. Their behavior might appear bizarre to others or seem to lack any particular purpose. They may have trouble dressing or maintaining basic hygiene in some cases.

Other Reasons For Disorganized Behavior

Of course, not everyone who is disorganized has schizophrenia, so if you know someone who exhibits some of these symptoms, make sure not to jump to that conclusion immediately. Some other conditions can also lead to disorganized behavior.

One such condition is depression. If someone has clinical depression or even a milder form like seasonal affective disorder, then they might have difficulty doing things like getting to appointments or keeping up with housecleaning. If depression is occurring and it’s causing an individual to seem disorganized, and that is negatively affecting their life, then prescription drugs or therapy (or a combination of the two) might be the answer. The person in question will need to see a qualified mental health professional to get a diagnosis, as well as some recommendations about what they can do.

A disorganized person might also have recently experienced a loss of some kind. A death in the family might be the cause for the individual to no longer prioritize some of the activities that they used to enjoy or care about. If that's what's happening, then their behavior might change after the grieving period is over. They might benefit from therapy to process some of their feelings of sadness and loss if they can't seem to do so by themselves.

It could also take an intervention by family and friends if a person seems to be stuck in a negative thought cycle. Usually, time is the best solution. After enough of it has gone by, perhaps combined with therapy or certain prescription medications, the person should get back to their old self again.

Anal Expulsive Personalities

There is also a condition called anal expulsive personality. You may have heard of the term anal retentive. An anal retentive person is a person who is fastidious about most things in their life. They might always leave the house impeccably dressed, with not a hair out of place. Everything in their home could appear orderly and clean, and they might even be fixated about everything being in its “right place.”

Anal expulsiveness embodies the opposite of an anal retentive preson. Here we have a person who tends to show a general lack of self-control. Their room or their whole house is likely messy, and again we see things like a fridge that badly needs to be cleaned out, piles of dirty dishes everywhere, and the like. These people will also probably have the same difficulty making it to appointments on time, and so forth. The overall impression of someone who is anal expulsive is a slovenly individual.

If that's what's happening, then it's not likely that drugs or therapy will be the answer. Instead, self-help books to teach better behavioral skills or working with a life coach will probably get better results. Anal expulsiveness is a condition that can be moderated by conscious efforts on the part of the person who has it.

Solutions For Disorganized Behavior

If the reason for disorganized behavior is something like schizophrenia or another serious mental condition, then pharmaceutical intervention and therapy will be possible options, but what if the cause is something less extreme? What if the person doesn’t have any immediately identifiable condition, and instead they've just picked up some habits from their role models that get in the way of daily functioning and relationships?

There are some cases where disorganization is a learned behavior. If you grew up in a house that was messy all the time and your parents or guardians never emphasized the importance of organization in your life, then it stands to reason that these habits should continue into adulthood.

Life Coaches

Hiring a life coach is one of the ways that you can learn some better organizational habits. These are professionals who have various backgrounds, but the intention of any of them is the same. They can give you some pointers on how you can overhaul your life from the top down so that you won't have the inherent problems that come with being sloppy or messy.

A life coach can teach you strategies to get to work or school on time. They'll probably emphasize the importance of setting a schedule for things like house cleaning. Maybe they'll have you keep a strict calendar to which you can refer at the start of every day. Your activities can all be listed there. Every moment of your days might be planned. This may seem like an extreme measure, but if you genuinely want to change your life, then it could be the best way to go.

Self-Help Books

There are also dozens or possibly hundreds of self-help books on the market that can teach you how to be more organized. These might be a more cost-effective idea for you if you don't have the budget to hire a life coach. Some people also respond more to internal stimuli than external, which is why reading a book themselves and following the advice in it might seem preferable to them.

If this appeals to you, then you can look at some of the selections online and get an idea of which book sounds right for what's happening with you. Some resources have sections where you can plan out your days that should be useful for you as you begin to implement some of the ideas that are described.

Are Disorganized Behaviors Interfering With Your Quality Of Life?

Do You Need To Talk About Your Organizational Problems?

If you want to talk about your problems with organization, then you can reach out and speak to one of the mental health professionals at BetterHelp. Getting some support in this area can make it much more likely that you will succeed. If you try to do it on your own, then your effort might stall, so consider allowing someone to serve as your sounding board to give voice to your problems.

Online therapy has gained a lot of traction in recent years, and rightly so. Studies have found it to be effective in treating people who experience challenges with disorganized behavior. For those who are engaging in disorganized behavior due to depression, online therapy has shown promising results. Results indicated that symptom severity was significantly reduced after using the intervention. When it comes to hebephrenia, a separate study affirmed the potential for internet-based therapy as an effective intervention for people diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. Using internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) – a form of talk therapy – practitioners found that the intervention was successful in reducing symptomos like hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized behavior.

BetterHelp is also incredibly convenient and customizable. Sessions can be conducted anytime, from anywhere – you’ll just need an internet connection to get started, and for sessions depending on the mode you choose. A short questionnaire will match you with a therapist who may be a good fit; you can chat with them immediately, and are free to choose someone else if you don’t think they’re a good fit for you.

Continue reading below to find reviews of some of our therapists, from people seeking help with being more organized.

Counselor Reviews

“Samantha is amazingly kind, attentive, and non judgemental. I had a lot of anxiety about starting therapy because I didn't know the kind of person I'd be talking to but I couldn't have been luckier. She hears every word I say and really cares about making a genuine connection and helping me learn more about my mind and organize my thoughts in a productive and therapeutic way. The world can be overwhelming and frustrating but she has been a consistent safe haven for me and my mind every week. I can't thank her enough.”

“Does great job. I needed help dealing with career stress. He is helping me think about managing work flow, organization, even sleep habits to lower my overall stress. Had never worked with a counselor before and not what I expected, but what I needed.”


If you have lived for the majority of your life being disorganized in various ways, then you know how problematic it can be. You might miss out on opportunities because of lateness. You can potentially upset your teachers or bosses, and maybe you've lost jobs because you can't seem to change your bad habits. Your home life might be challenging because the people with whom you live may feel constantly upset with you due to your inability to clean up your living space.

All of these issues can be corrected, though, if you make a sincere promise to yourself to change. If you can't do so on your own, then you can try one of the tactics that we suggested. It might take several of them together to get you to where you need to be, but once you see the effect that more organized behavior can have on your life, then you will likely feel compelled to continue your progress-making. You can take the first step today by reaching out to a licensed, nonjudgmental online therapist at BetterHelp.

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