What Disorganized Behavior Could Reveal About Your Mental State

By: Steven Finkelstein

Updated December 17, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown

Many of us have been guilty of a little 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 under control, others struggle with it mightily.

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

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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. There are specific mental conditions that might lead to this sort of lifestyle, and some of them can potentially be treated. A possibility is that the person in question might have disorganized schizophrenia.

What Is Disorganized Schizophrenia?

It is likely that you already know what schizophrenia is. Disorganized schizophrenia, though, is a condition that is an offshoot of that larger banner group. It's also called hebephrenia. Those who have it engage in disorganized speech. In other words, they will have extreme difficulty concentrating or focusing on one train of thought, and they will jump quickly from one topic to another. They will say illogical things or respond to questions with answers that are unrelated. They may demonstrate various facial tics as well.

Also, they will engage in the sort of disorganized behaviors that we already mentioned. Their overall daily functioning will present distinct challenges for them. They will have a lack of impulse control. Their behavior might appear bizarre or lack any particular purpose. They may have trouble dressing or maintaining basic hygiene in some cases.

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Other Possibilities

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

One of them 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 might be the answer. The person in question will need to see a qualified mental health professional to get diagnosed and get some recommendations about what to do.

A disorganized person might also have recently suffered 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. If that's what's happening, then their behavior might change after the grieving period is over. They might need 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 their family and friends if they seem 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

Then there is the anal expulsive personality. You probably have heard of the term anal retentive. This is a person who is fastidious about everything in their life. They always leave the house impeccably dressed, with not a hair out of place. Everything in their home is orderly and clean, and they might even be a little obsessive-compulsive about you moving things around in their living space.

Anal expulsive is the opposite of this. Here we have a person who shows a general lack of self-control. Their room or their whole house will always be a mess, 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 expulsive 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 bad habits from their role models?

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.

Look Into Finding A Life Coach

Getting yourself 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.

They'll teach you how 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 will all be listed there. Every moment of your days will be planned. It's an extreme measure, but if you genuinely want to change your life, then it might 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 money 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 on Amazon and get an idea of which book sounds right for what's happening with you. Some of them 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.

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Say Goodbye To Disorganized Behavior

If you have lived for the majority of your life being disorganized in various ways, then you know how problematic it can be. You miss out on opportunities because of lateness. You 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 suffer because the people with whom you live are constantly upset with you due to your inability to clean up your living space.

All of these problems 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 won't ever want to go back. You can make a fresh start of it, and new doors will be opened for you.

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 makes it much more likely that you will succeed. If you try to do it on your own, then your effort might stall, so let someone be your sounding board as you 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 just as effective, and sometimes more so, than in-person therapy. In fact, the Berkeley Well-Being Institute reviewed BetterHelp in particular. Their study found that 98% of BetterHelp clients make significant progress and improvement in their mental health journeys, 96% prefer it to other forms of therapy, 70% no longer experienced depression symptoms after treatment, and approximately 90% rated a high and positive working alliance with their therapist. This is compared to 74%, 60%, 57%, and approximately 60% for in-person therapy users, respectively.

BetterHelp is also incredibly convenient and customizable. Sessions can be conducted anytime, anywhere – you’ll just need an internet connection to get started, and for sessions depending on the mode you choose. These include phone calls, video chat, instant messaging/texting securely and privately within the app, or live voice recordings sent back and forth. A short questionnaire will match you with a therapist we think would 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.”


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