5 Culprits of Disorganization

Before you can dig out of your disorganized state, you have to understand what led you there. Professional organizer Vicki Norris sheds light on five common causes of clutter buildup in our homes and lives.

  • A
  • A
  • A

E-mail This Page to Your Friends


All fields are required.

Separate multiple e-mail addresses with a comma; Maximum 20 email addresses.


Sending E-mail

Sending E-mail

Or Do Not E-mail


A link to %this page% was e-mailed

#3 — Historical Disorganization
The cause: When your upbringing (either orderly or disorderly) impacts your state of order. You can either model or rebel against the environment in which you were raised.

Growing up with Disorder
In some cases, we rebel against the disorganization we grew up with, and we resolve to train ourselves for orderly living. Due to our disorganized past, we want to have an organized future. Growing up feeling out-of-control is not a good feeling, so we determine to control our environment in our adult world. Our history with disorganization offers plenty of proof that the costs of disorder are significant. As we reject the disorder of our past, a re-training process is required. If we grew up with disorder, we will have to learn how to create order. Re-training can help us gain skills we didn’t learn in childhood, thereby correcting the past.

On the other hand, some of us don’t want to learn organizing skills and we rebel against order. We succumb to our disorganized past. Since we were not taught to organize our belongings or time, and we never learned the skills to tackle clutter. Since we didn’t acquire organizing skills in our youth, we enter our adult lives ill-equipped to manage the onslaught of paper and tasks that comes with employment. We can’t believe someone else is horning in on our work, micro-managing us, and telling us to clean up after ourselves. We want to live in the way we’ve always known; it might not be organized, but it is familiar.

Growing up with Order
Some of us grew up in impeccable homes where perfectionism reigned supreme. As we enter adulthood, we may rebel against the order we experienced because it was imposed to restrain us instead of to release us. Along with the order came rules, regulations, and restrictions. Your current definitions of order are likely along the lines of control, authority, and restraint. By altering your definitions of order you can change your opinion of it. If you began to define order to include freedom, peace, and sanity, wouldn’t organizing be less threatening and more inviting? By changing your definition of order, you can escape your past and begin to experience true peace.

Finally, some of us grew up in a showcase of order and we embraced it. We loved the orderly lifestyle then and we love it now. We can't understand why others would knowingly and willingly live in chaos. We bring our organizing skills into our own adult world and adapt them to our unique needs. We recognize that organizing is not a series of regimented activities, but a method of discovery that allows us to correct the things that are not working in our environment and time. We know that organizing isn’t a strict set of rules; it is a means of liberation.

Whatever your experience with order has been, you likely have responded to that experience in your adult life. You may have embraced or rejected order based upon your history with it. Becoming cognizant of your past experience with order will help you discover where your feelings about organizing have developed. Your feelings about organizing have likely played a role in how you cope with the disorder that imposes itself upon all of us.

We Recommend...

Organizing the Bedroom

Organizing the Bedroom

Bedroom organization requires sorting, cleaning to make your personal space a calming haven.

Cut Entertainment  Clutter

Cut Entertainment Clutter

Organize CDs, DVDs and other entertainment items.

Star Secrets to Cleaning and Organizing

Star Secrets to Cleaning and Organizing

Sabrina Soto, host of The High Low Project, admits she's a neat freak. HGTV Magazine reveals her clean, clutter-free tricks.

(11 photos)

HGTV Inspiration Newsletter

Create your unique, personal style with advice and inspiration from HGTV.