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Blog: Chronic Disorganization

Chronically disorganized (CD) people organize differently than non-chronic people. There is absolutely no doubt about that. Alternative methods for arranging, containing, filing, categorizing and sorting stuff are often are required to make organizing headway with people who are chronically disorganized. The challenges a CD person faces results in excess stuff, of that there can also be no doubt. So when a decision is made that an item is no longer wanted or needed (no small event) alternative methods for getting rid of that item may also be needed to effectuate a complete divorce. De-acquisition methods can help. 
'De-acquisition' refers to deliberately losing possession of the things we no longer want or need (stuff). In its highest form the practice of de-acquisition would have us give forethought to how we would de-acquire something at the moment that we acquire it. Let's say you just bought a digital TV. And you have an analog TV that works perfectly fine. And you are CD. Guess what typically happens to that analog TV? I'll give you some clues.  40% of people who own a garage park their vehicle in the driveway because the garage is occupied by stuff. Need another? Closet storage and not living space expansion is the number one home construction growth area.
Better to pollute your living space than the planet? Of course. Many people think landfills are designed to breakdown waste and turn it into harmless compost. Actually because of the lack of moisture and air, whatever does break down can take 40 years. The shelf life of electronics is about a zillion years. Though bottom-lined with synthetic plastic to protect the waste from the groundwater, e-waste can still emit harmful chemicals that can leach into the soil, water and air. So now what?
You schlep the TV off to self-storage. And why not?  They have free coffee, comfy chairs, wireless connections, and a way bigger TV's than yours in the lounge of many self-storage facilities. Self-storage in the US is equivalent to three times the size of Manhattan!  Some CD people visit their self-storage units more than the grandkids.
Okay, so what else can you do? Try one of these de-acquisition methods instead.
Social Network Shopping
Two-thirds of regular e-shoppers almost always seek out customer reviews before making a purchase decision. Most of that group researches products online whether they ultimately buy that product in a store, Web site, catalog or elsewhere. The more opportunity there is for consumers to educate each other via social network shopping, the more specialized and customized purchases will be. Less acquisition = less stuff. Yahoo, E-Bay and Amazon all offer social network shopping features. I predict (it is a New Year, isn't it?) that the re-sale of stuff amongst and between social network shoppers will increase once they've "met" online as consumers and customer reviewers. CDers are much happier selling their stuff to someone they 'know' than to a perfect stranger. And when social network shopping hits FaceBook and MySpace watch out!
Community-based Commerce
Craigslist.com is the 5th most visited website in the world. Craig Newmark, the founder, notes that "a culture of trust" accounts for the popularity of Craigs List. The appeal of is two-fold: the thrill of turning stuff that would otherwise have no cash value into surprise cash; and the pleasure of gratifying the needs of a buyer whose face you can actually see and hand you can actually shake. If you haven't tried Craig's List give it a whirl. Be smart. Meet your buyer in a public space, transact only with cash and make sure somebody knows where you are going to meet your buyer.
Re-Use and Auction
By bringing millions of buyers and sellers together, the eBay marketplace and other websites like it, enable reuse on a large scale. Reusing computers, cell phones and electronics extends their useful life. That maximizes their value before they're finally recycled. It also delays their entry into the waste stream, another advantage as more advanced recycling techniques are developed. Go to rethink.ebay.com for more information.
Recycling is still a good idea though e-waste presents special problems. Sometimes a recycling center will resell electronics to developing countries and call it "closing the digital divide". Little kids are getting lead poisoning and other ailments in China and Africa because of this. Or they'll use prison labor with few OSHA safeguards to de-manufacture electronics exposing prisoners to toxic waste. Or they might just turn around and dump it in landfill. So check out your local recycler before you use them.
Websites helpful for finding local e-waste recycling sources are www.earth911.org, electronicrecycling.org or your local Environmental Protection Agency.
Charity Begins at Home and Elsewhere
Practice Hand Me Ups. Whenever you acquire a new technology toy or tool, give the older version free to a family member.
Consider giving to specialty organizations such as the Humane Society for pet stuff, a local theatre group for stuff that can be used for costumes or scenery, and school associations for stationary supplies. Tools can be donated to rebuildingtogether.org. 
For the sources to all the statistics above and for more information about de-acquisition see Special Report, The De-Acquisition of Stuff at www.squallpress.net. 

posted on: 1/19/2008 11:00:00 AM by Judith Kolberg
category: Organizing Challenges

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Chronic Disorganization

by Judith Kolberg

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About Judith:

FileHeads Professional Organizers founded in 1989, is a business-to-business professional organizing firm providing time management , office organizing, and productivity consulting. Company-wide training, keynote speaking, and custom teleclasses are available as well as individual organizing sessions. Chief organizer, Judith Kolberg, is an award-winning professional organizer, international author and speaker. FileHeads is regarded as one of the nation's foremost authorities on the special organizing needs of chronically disorganized and AD/HD individuals.

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