Organized and disorganized business women

How To Deal With OPD – Other People’s Disorganization

If you have a question personal organization, decluttering, simplicity, or goals, simply post your question on my Facebook page.

Here’s a recent one…


There’s a fellow manager at work who’s a train wreck – and they don’t realize it. How do you help someone who’s clearly not organized but who thinks they’re doing fine?


In general, trying to change another person’s behavior tends to:

  1. Frustrate you
  2. Annoy them
  3. Have little or no effect on the bothersome behavior.

As someone whose parents were called to the school when I was in kindy because I wouldn’t share my markers (those miscreant children would NOT replace the caps) I totally get the irritation of OPD – Other People’s Disorganization.

Here’s my best advice for dealing with OPD:

Tip #1: Realize that the one who feels the pain is the one who has to change

If you’re affected by this manager’s disorganization, your energy is best spent finding ways to get what you need rather than change what they do.

This might mean, for instance, giving them a list of your weekly needs (in a nice way, of course) and following up (pleasantly, of course) each afternoon at 4.

Work out what you need in order to do your job – and focus on asking for that.

Tip #2: Model the benefits of being organized

Although people don’t often respond well to unsolicited advice, they do tend to notice when someone else has what they want.

Being happy and organized yourself is a great way to sneak under this manager’s radar. Then, if they ask you how you’re so organized, you can offer to help.

Tip #3: Accentuate the positive

At heart, we’re all just pigeons learning to bowl – that is, we’re at least partly susceptible to positive reinforcement from our environment.

Showing sincere appreciation when your colleague does the things you need for your job could help encourage the organized behavior you want.

As long as your appreciation is genuine and not manipulative, you can feel fine about conducting a little behavior-shaping experiment of your own.


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