Level 3

Improve Chaotic Lifestyles

Certain people can seem to have an inability to be consistently organised, each day they keep putting things off, avoiding tasks and over time, they become overwhelmed by the chaos. This disorganisation can cause multiple problems such as bills not being paid, missing appointments, poor living conditions, lost items, children missing school, poor money management, untidy homes, relationship conflicts, difficulty caring for themselves or their children. These types of difficulties tend to cause concern and may well come to the attention of the local authorities.

If you view extreme chaos to be at one end of the scale and extreme Rigidity at the other, it’s possible to rate where people are on the scale. For example, rate yourself, then rate your partner, alternatively, how tidy is your desk or work space compare to your colleague.

Rigidity  5  4  3  2  1  0  1  2  3  4  5  Chaos

As a practitioner, you will rate the organisational ability in every home you visit, without realising it, but it’s only when you enter a home that is chaotic that it becomes a conscious thought.

The reasons for the chaos are numerous including neurological dysfunction such as with children with ADHD and an off shoot from this can be impulsiveness. Some people high on the creativity scale can appear to be very disorganised. Other causal factors may include people who are overwhelmed with stress, have learning difficulties, suffer with mental health issues, substance abuse, etc.

Often organised people are baffled by disorganised people, they become annoyed with the turmoil, resent having to clear up their mess and feel they lack discipline but the reason for outlining these casual factors is to make people aware that in many cases disorganised people don’t function in the same way and are unlikely to respond to requests and reprimands.

Finding the right approach to help people with chaotic lifestyles depends on establishing the cause. For example, someone with learning difficulties isn’t suddenly going to change or an impulsive person isn’t going to stop and think about the consequences before making a decision.

General Approach
Initially, overcoming a chaotic lifestyle could be helped by encouraging the individual to develop a series of organisational behaviours to develop positive habits, prepare procedures and create systems. Try reversing the chaos by starting with simple tasks, create assignments where the individual allocates time just to do one thing. The individual could suggest a task they could manage, for example, putting things away. If successful, recognise accomplishments, reward with complements and encourage them to add another task and so on in the process of making continuous improvement in the persons capabilities. Things may not be perfect but any improvement is better than none.

Often people with a chaotic lifestyle benefit from an advocacy service to help represent them, secure benefits, request help, manage debts, etc.

Identify the Cause
It’s worthwhile spending time trying to identify what is causing the chaos and finding a way to target the cause which could be the key to effective change. Once the cause has been recognised, its then a matter of what (if anything) can be done to change it. For instance, improving parental consistency, altering work/life balance, reducing stress, overcoming depression, dealing with substance abuse. However, problems with neurological dysfunction may not be resolved and its worth considering bringing in support. 

Team Support Approach
Finding the right support depends on identifying which of the key competences the individual is not adequately coping with. Then using advocacy skills to represent the person and secure the services they need. Bring in support from parents, friends, teachers, volunteers or collaborate with specialised services.