Organizing for ADHD

You’re smart, creative and totally frustrated. There’s clutter everywhere. You feel unable to get a handle on tasks that other people seem to manage with ease. Like doing the laundry…

First you have to identify which clothes on all the floors are clean and which are dirty. Then you have to get the dirty clothes to the laundry room. In the laundry room, it’s time to sort the clothes. If a stain needs treating you not only have to have the stain treatments available, you need to remember to apply them. Time to start the wash. Hopefully there’s some laundry detergent. Don’t forget to add the detergent as you start the wash. Remember to come back and put the clothes in the dryer before they turn sour. Remember to start the dryer too. Take the clothes out of the dryer before they wrinkle. Put the clean clothes away before they merge with the dirty clothes again. Start the next load of laundry.

So many opportunities to get distracted!

Adults who are diagnosed with ADHD often feel a huge sense of relief at understanding why their house is cluttered and often chaotic. But it’s hard to get past the feeling that you’re lazy or a failure for being unable to keep your house in order.

I urge you to learn all you can about ADHD and if need be, find a compassionate therapist who gets what it’s like and can help you move beyond shame (I’m happy to offer referrals) so you can focus on how to organize your life so it works for you. Not your third-grade teacher, not your mother, not the friend who recommends you “just” pick things up. I know and you know it’s not that easy. People with ADHD spend enormous amounts of energy trying to shoehorn themselves into organizational systems that work for people to whom organizing comes naturally. But with ADHD, a different approach is required.

Clothes were scattered all over Lauren’s (not her real name) three story townhome. I suggested she put a laundry basket in every single area of the house. We put a hamper on each floor so that when she wants to quickly clean up, it’s easy to just scoop up armfuls of clothes and pop them in the nearest one. It’s not as pretty as one decorator hamper in the bedroom, but it makes so much more sense for her life. And that’s what organizing for ADD/ADHD is all about.

How do we get started?