Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: How Can I Get Out from Under These Crushing Expectations?

If you procrastinate on projects because you’re overwhelmed with shame and guilt over past failures, you may feel like there’s no hope — either for your battered self-esteem or your future productivity. Here, our organizing coach explains how to overcome shame and manage your own out-of-control expectations.

Q: “I always have so much to do that I’ve procrastinated on/let get way overdue/totally forgotten about/become totally panicked over because I don’t know how to do it/wanted to do/would love to enjoy doing but can’t because I feel so, so guilty over what needs done (like what I should have been doing all along so now I’m reaping the tremendous & painful consequences of shame & guilt & grief & depression & regret over/let so many people down/created mountains of all the piles & good intentions but no follow-through, all that I’ve screwed up for years & am still screwing up & so I leave everything in piles for ‘later.’ I’ve always wanted to be the normal, respected, valued-at-least-by-my-family person who just feels joy in life. I’m already in my late 50s… am I a lost cause?” —BuckeyeMom

Hi BuckeyeMom:

I truly applaud you for being so open with what you want to accomplish. And let me say you are NEVER a lost cause, no matter your age!

I do need to ask: Have you ever thought of working with a professional organizer? Professional organizers are trained and skilled specialists who help people create order where it is lacking and move forward on improvements. They can also help you discover options you might not have known on your own. And they can help you get unstuck and started.

[ADDitude Directory: Find Professional Organizers Near You]

The truth is, most people think organizing is something everyone should just be able to do; and it’s simply not.

There are two wonderful organizations that can help you find the right organizer, too. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO.NET) and The Institute for Challenging Disorganization are two I recommend. Finding a professional organizer is a very personal decision. So feel free to ask questions to find the perfect fit. Good luck!

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions here!