Defeating the Clutter Monster When You Have ADHD

When you have adult ADHD, staying organized can be a continuing struggle. Despite your best efforts, yet you never seem to get any more organized. There are piles of papers and clutter all around. You still lose your keys on a regular basis and spend time every day looking for your cell phone. There are strategies that can help.

Below are a few tips, from Eileen Bailey at Health Central and the editors of ADDitude magazine, that can help you stay organized in your home.

  • Start small – If you get quickly distracted when trying to organize and end up getting nothing done or becoming overwhelmed, then you are probably starting too big. Break the task down. Start with one small area and work on clearing the clutter in just that area. Don’t think about any other areas of the house until this one is completed. If you find this overwhelming, set a time limit, such as 15 minutes. Set your timer for 15 minutes and then stop until the next day.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw things away – The less “stuff” you have lying around, the less clutter you have. Many people with ADHD find it difficult to throw things away, thinking they might need that item sometime in the future. And it is important to hang on to important financial tax documents. But there are probably plenty of things you could easily dispose of and never miss. Consider designating one spot in your house, such as a drawer or closet, to keep those items you aren’t ready to let go. Once this area is filled, go through it and get rid of the things you haven’t used or thought about.
  • Get a “clutter buddy” – Once a year, get a friend or family member to help you sort your clutter into multiple piles like “keep”, “toss”, “donate” and “age.” The items in the “toss: pile get dumped immediately. Items in the donate pile are those that can go to a charitable organization. Items in the “age” pile are things you will want to look at in 3 months and see if you still want to keep them. This will help you regularly declutter your household.
  • Ditch magazines you aren’t reading – Copies of magazines can quickly accumulate and result in a large amount of clutter. Read what you can and then recycle old magazines. If you find you don’t have time to read certain magazines consider canceling your subscription and stopping the clutter at its source.
  • Cover potential clutter surfaces– Many area, like dressers or tables, are magnets for clutter. One way to prevent this is to cover these spaces with other things. For instances, put place settings on a dining room table. Or put photos on a bedside table. This provides a neater appearance and stops clutter before it can start.
  • Organize your daily mail – Don’t let mail pile up. Sort mail each day. Keep a recycle bin near your desk to dispose of junk mail. Put bills and other important mail that requires your attention into designated folders or inboxes.

There are numerous books and online resources to help you eliminate clutter and prevent from building up in the first place. Find the strategies that work best for your lifestyle. It is an important step to keeping your life more organized.

How to ADHD – Overwhelm Part One: How to Tackle the Clutter

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  1. Iris E May

    This was very helpful to me. Right now I’m on the computer and I was set to clean my kitchen and living room. I used to use your info for my daughter who is diagnosed ADHD. she is 23 now, started college, quit,does Pot to relax. Dr put her back on Adderall XR and it helps a lot. I can tell from 1500 miles away by her Facebook when it wears off. Thank you for all your help. I’m the one who’s having issues now and I’m almost 70. No dementia, just every symptom of ADD. So I read your articles and they help. Especially time management and clutter. I stay out of the stores so i don’t buy anything. Thanks again. iris