Disorganization | How to handle sudden unexpected situations

Disorganization occurs when you are confronted with a sudden and unexpected situation. These might include:

  • Diagnosis of illness or chronic condition
  • Injury or accident
  • Separation, divorce, death
  • A job loss, forced retirement
  • Job promotion
  • Adult child returns home
  • Financial emergency
  • Natural or man made disasters
  • Theft, break-in

Sudden and unexpected situations can impact organization and time management. Some situations are negative ones such as illness, injury, relationship separation, or a financial emergency. Others are positive and yet disruptive. These might include a job promotion that requires more responsibility including travel, an inheritance, or a faster than expected sale of your house.

sad man sitting on bed

Sudden and unexpected situations (freedigitalphotos.net David Castillo Dominici)

Disorganization |What to do

If you are generally an organized person it’s important to try to stick to your routines and use your systems as much as possible. Being proactive and putting organizational systems in place before you need them is critical. What to DO:

  • DO – Create well-named, easy to access electronic and/or paper files. Scan important documents.
  • DO – Share important contact information with family and a trusted friend.
  • DO – Create a disaster plan for you and your, including an emergency kit in your home, vehicle and workplace.
  • DO – Keep a pad and pen near your bed in case you wake up with an idea.
  • DO – Reschedule non-urgent appointments.
  • DO – Take a leave from a job or volunteer position.
  • DO – Arrange car pools and ride shares.
  • DO – Spend less time on non-essential leisure tasks such as watching television and engaging in social media.
  • DO – Delegate more. Give your co-worker, partner and/or children more responsibilities.
  • DO – Buy healthy, prepared foods. Use a food delivery service.
  • DO – Hire professional services: Professional Organizer, driver, housekeeper, concierge services.
colorful vegetables

Self care (freedigitalphotos.net Praisaeng)

Disorganization | What not to do

  • DO NOT – Forget to practice self care. Get adequate sleep on a nightly basis, make healthy food choices, drink water, exercise regularly, take recommended supplements and medications, as directed.
  • DO NOT – Short change your need to make time to relax and rejuvenate. Spend time in nature, practicing meditation, yoga, read for pleasure, listen to music and get a massage.
  • DO NOT – Criticize or judge yourself. Do the best that you can under these new circumstances. Treat yourself as you would your best friend.
  • DO NOT – Lose your sense of humor.
  • DO NOT – Leave yourself without cash on hand.
  • DO NOT – Isolate yourself from others. Maintain social contacts.


For most of us feeling disorganized is a temporary state of being. Maintain your routines and systems, modify as needed. Plan ahead.