In this blog, the Effectiveness lab discusses the ‘DNA of the disorganised’ – consider the latter the characteristics of disordered people and in many cases, they cannot be changed.
Disorganisation is a word we use daily in our lexicon, but never stop to deeply reflect on its meaning and impact on society. When we fail to plan properly and control our lives, we are disorganised. Individuals that cannot plan their personal affairs effectively and efficiently are disorganised.
We witness daily, disorganisation undermining the effectiveness and efficiency of individuals, families, organisations and national economies. The total annual cost of disorganisation anywhere in the world is in billions of dollars. Let us put the cost of lateness in perspective: If the cost of lateness to work costs a developed economy like the UK nine billion pounds a year, can you imagine the cost of lateness to work for an African economy like Uganda?
What makes the DNA of the disorganised?
- Extremely poor sense of time: an incredibly poor sense of time, and illusions about how to fix the problem. The poor sense of time gets worse when they are focused on something. Aware that they are aways late, disorganised individuals will have their watch/clock adjusted to read minutes or hours ahead of the correct time. Apparently, this is to compensate for their lateness; i.e. if the correct time is 11:00 am, their watch will read 11:30 am. How can the latter be a solution to perennial lateness?
- Chronic failure to break their day into small logical parts they just can’t put together a jig-saw of their day; what should come first, comes last and what should be last first or in between first and final. The resulting disorder overwhelms them as they constantly play catch-up. Leaving too much to be done, too late, gets the disorganised into a state of panic all the time – they regularly run late, forget things, etc. Their brain can’t break down tasks and place them in logical order
- Never learning from their daily failure: They never learn from failure. For example, if a disorganised person is late for work every day, and the underlying reason is that they wake up in the morning unprepared, they still won’t change their routine. One would assume that the solution is to adjust their routine and prepare everything needed for their morning routine, before going to bed. But they simply won’t do so.
- Taking action at the very last minute, even if forewarned: – A lack of preparedness turns the disorganised into the ‘last-minute’ type. They completely lack the ability to determine when to act and on what, to forestall future lateness. The disorganised are simply not ready for anything, leaving the organised folks bewildered; the organised don’t understand what makes the disorganised fail at preparing well, for things they know have to happen.
- Lacking a mental pattern to map where they place property: For some strange reason, the disorganised always misplace their property – Examples: vehicle and house keys, mobile phone, personal wallets, etc. Within the confines of their homes and offices, they lose property and will do it every day. As discussed above, they simply won’t learn from their failings.
- The tendency to become complacent and expect those others around them to stomach their disorder: – Disorganisation can manifest in people with addiction to drugs. Many disorganised people know they are disorganised; some get professional help; yet, they always fall back to their old habits. The long-term consequence of the latter is for the disorganised to shift the burden of their disorder to those they live or work with. In effect, it is you to change your lifestyle and not them. The tolerant amongst us will certainly want to help the disorganised – but in the long run, it becomes too big a burden to bear.
Welcome to the trials and tribulations of life with the disorganised!
Should the organised worry about the disorganised?
The organised folks must be asking why they should be bothered by the existence and business interests of the disorganised. The bosses amongst the organised believe that to fire or deny the disorganised promotion at work is always an option available to them; families with loving spouses, children, and extended kin will consider all sorts of mitigation, for example – close family support which is still possible in some areas of Africa, a disciplinarian approach to curing the vice which again is not uncommon in Africa, others may even think about polygamy as the solution – i.e. merely substituting the disorganised DNA with another type of DNA.
The reality is, we do not always get to choose the kind of ‘organising-DNA’ we get from God or for the atheists, the biology that ‘procreated’ us. If I have the opposite DNA to yours, and in this case the disorganised type, the place to start may be ensuring that I am not excluded. Exclusion may make my situation worse.
The sad truth is that in a fast-moving 24/7 world, the tendency by those that have the different DNA is to express frustration with their disorganised peers. The disorganised are considered a burden to the organised. They are a permanent drag on what the organised are doing.
The disorganised folks end up taking valuable time from others’ schedules; because they are constantly behind and playing catch up, the organised are often forced to abandon their work to support them. In some instances, it is a choice between supporting them and team/organisational failure.
Since they are constantly behind schedule, they tend to create social tension within families and teams at work. The organised run out of patience and start demanding that the disorganised shape up. Tensed, the disorganised become even more disorganised. The result of all this is strained relationships. I am confident that you have all seen this in your homes and workplace.
How does one live in harmony with the disorganised?
This is a highly difficult question to answer – it comes down to one’s tolerance of the behaviour outcomes of the disorganised person. Some of you will stand more than others peers, spouses, and kin that are slow, always late, misplace their property, and ultimately a constant drag on your life.
However, since we cannot always know in advance the organising-DNA of those we marry, live, procreate, or work with, the most efficient way to live with the disorganised is to help them organise. You have to know that such support is palliative and not curative! The latter should help you make your choice, depending on the type of personality you are – the more intolerant your character, the more you will struggle to live, work with and to support the disorganised
The choice is yours!