Disorganization can add stress

Survey says that poor organization negatively impacts people’s lives

That mile-high pile of dirty laundry may be more than an irritant; it could be a major stressor in your life.

A recent study commissioned by the Professional Organizers in Canada suggests that disorganization in the home, at work and relating to time-management can lead to feelings of stress — even failure.

Of the 80 percent who identified themselves as disorganized during the November 2009 online survey, most said they felt that disorganization negatively impacts their lives. And depending on the age group, between 11 and 19 percent responded that their disorganization makes them feel like a failure.

It’s a figure that surprised Kristie Demke, president of Professional Organizers in Canada.

“It’s one thing for (professional organizers) to think others are disorganized,” she says. “But it’s another thing for (the public) to say it.”

Nevertheless, Demke says 40 percent of her clients have admitted to her that they’ve suffered from depression as a result of their being disorganized. A lot of would-be clients call her on the phone in tears, she adds.

“Many see home as a hostile place,” she says.

A disorganized home can include lots of unfinished projects scattered about, she says, or a week’s worth of mail piled on the desk

“It could be 10 years worth of clutter on your dining room table.”

But what’s considered disorganized for one person may not be disorganized for another. Not every one needs organizing, she says,
and you should consider doing it only if you think it’s going to improve your life and your space.

So if disorganization can lead to stress and feelings of failure, does alleviating the disorganization take away that stress and negative feelings?

That’s beyond the scope of the study, but Demke says in her experience getting organized can definitely bring mental health and quality of life benefits.

She’s had numerous clients tell her that organizing their kitchen reduced stress and made their lives easier and better.

Helping clients with organizational strategies can have other benefits and actually help them to be more organized in other areas of their lives. In other words, if you learn to better organize your desk, chances are you’ll also learn to better manage your time.

But expecting perfection is a no-no. You can’t make a really disorganized person a model of perfection, she says.

One of Demke’s clients has four kids under six, her own business and a home office. Demke will go in on a regular basis for three hours, and together, she and the client will help organize new projects and priorities as they arise.

“At the end of the three hours, is her office perfect? No.”

While it won’t be magazine cover worthy you’ll be able to see the floor, and the space will be more aesthetically pleasing. Most important, she says, it will be as functional as it can be for the person using it.

For those who choose to hire a personal organizer, Demke recommends going to the Professional Organizers in Canada website at

She recommends definitely emailing the organizer or doing a phone interview to make sure you feel comfortable with the person.

“It’s a close relationship,” she says.

Working in a non-judgmental environment is another way to ensure the organizing experience doesn’t stress you out even more.

“A good organizer should never make you cry.”

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: May 31 2010 10:08 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto