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  • Writer's pictureJenny Wilson

ADHD & Organizing

First and most importantly, however it may look on the outside, people with ADHD aren’t inherently “lazy.” People with ADHD have brains that function a bit differently and therefore need to approach the care and maintenance of their homes in a unique way.

I got to work with a family with ADHD this summer. To best serve them, I wanted to learn about possible reasons for their discomfort as well as potential solutions. So, I listened to and read articles by psychiatrists and people with ADHD and ADD. Doctors are great, and also, we can learn so much by listening to those personally living with cognitive disorders. I’ve summarized their help here and I’ll link some channels below if you want to watch them too.

The most important thing to remember is the overwhelm we feel leads to avoidance, which leads to clutter. It is so common for a us to want to clean our homes, finish those projects, but our brains get stuck with the seemingly endless list of steps. We become unsure where to start and almost certain we will never finish once we begin. So, we have to create systems for ourselves that remove the bulk of the uncertainty and minute-by-minute decision making.

But how??!!! Here are some tips:

First, we need to reduce our inventory (read: only keep the things we are willing and able to care for). Taking the time to choose what we want to keep and be responsible for is a must. We have the BEST idea for That Thing we’ve kept for 5 years, and we also know the chance of us getting to it in the next 5 years is low. So, we have to ask ourselves if we want to continue caring for The Thing while it waits its turn.

Second, we need to keep it SIMPLE. People with ADHD, especially the very smart ones, can come up with the most gorgeous, intricate, complicated processes to deal with their stuff and their home. That’s lovely. And it almost never solves the problem. We need simple. Like a clear-bin-of-tools simple. Visible-trash-cans-without-lids-in-every-room simple.

~When we declutter or clean, we only do one room at a time or one corner of a room at a time. If items need to go to another area, we need to make piles for us to take to the other places later. If we try to take things to other rooms as we go, we’ll end up distracted by that other room, rather than completing the one we started. Keeping our body in the same area will help us stay focused.

~Ask for or hire a non-judgmental shadow. Some of us focus much better if we have

someone physically in the room with us while we process through our projects. It is so important to ask someone who is encouraging. Someone snapping at us and constantly making comments about how bad your space is will get us nowhere.

~Keep the storage easy. Like for real, EASY EASY. It needs to be as easy to put our things away as it is to leave it out. The best way to achieve this is to have a home for all of our things. And that home needs to be simple to access and simple to close. Having a drawer stuffed to the brim with t-shirts is not going to get us to quickly put away our laundry.

Also, when we create our storage solutions, we need to make them visual. Using labels is helpful as is using clear boxes. We need to be able to easily see what we’re looking for and see where our things go.

~Speaking of easy, we need to remove the decision making from our daily/weekly homemaking tasks. We look at a messy room, don’t know where to start, so we don’t start at all. Instead, it’s helpful to have a step-by-step list of things to do. I have a list of things I recommend doing daily, weekly etc. included here that may be useful.

~Set phone reminders! If we are forever forgetting trash day, putting a weekly reminder in our phone calendar is a huge help. If we forget to switch our laundry, setting a timer on our phone helps us remember to move the stuff to the dryer. Some people with ADHD set reminders for everything from washing their face to putting their dishes away.

Some of us struggle for ages before we find out we have a difference in cognition. We’re bewildered, thinking, “Why can’t I figure this out like other people do?” It can be incredibly frustrating, especially if our loved ones who share our spaces are at the end of their patience too. When we get a diagnosis, it can feel at once freeing and overwhelming. We finally have an explanation. AND once we know what our “thing” is, it is our responsibility to find solutions to best care for ourselves and our homes. There are so many resources available, truly. We simply need to start looking.

Youtube accounts with useful ADHD info:

There are patient, knowledgeable people out here ready to help. We are not alone! When you are ready and able to invest in your future calm, you can hire me or any of the talented pro organizers listed with the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) at

I'm fully vaccinated and now open for in person organizing sessions, sanity saving cleaning services, as well as packing and unpacking services. Gift certificates available.

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