Organizing When You Have ADHD
Time Timer - Organizing When You Have ADHD

If you have ADHD it’s possible you struggle with getting organized. Clients I work with sometimes have a difficult time setting up routines around organizing. Or sometimes impulsivity or memory get in the way of maintaining organized systems. Procrastination and focus are also a challenge. With all these things working against you how can you get organized when you have ADHD? I will share with you how I help my clients.

When I first meet a client with ADHD I often discover expectations are set way too high. They want their home to look like homes in catalogs and magazines. I politely and supportively begin the reality check and set new expectations. I ask these questions:

  1. What is a realistic vision if you are organizing with ADHD? No one has a home that looks like what we see in catalogs and magazines. If they do it’s because they pay other people to maintain their home on a regular basis. Organized homes don’t have to be minimal, stark, or tidy all the time. Organized homes need systems that allow you to tidy up quickly without stress. Identify the systems that are most important and start there.
  2. Who can you go to when you need help organizing? You cannot do it all and should not do it all. You have resources. Use them. Identify who is most helpful to you when you’re stressed or overwhelmed.
  3. What can you do when organizing gets hard, yucky, and is not longer fun? The chore of organizing is a journey, not a destination. I call it a chore because it’s laborious, it’s time-consuming, and it’s constant. Most of us, whether we have ADHD brains or not, want tasks to be fun, easy, and instantly gratifying. Identify tools you can use in a pinch when organizing becomes a chore.

Let’s dig in a little deeper

A Realistic Vision

What is a realistic vision if you are organizing with ADHD? It’s NOT what you see on TV, or in magazines or on social media. It’s helpful to look at TV shows and photos for inspiration but it’s not how most of us live or what most of us can maintain. Life is busy, overwhelming and full of distractions. I say this not because you have an ADHD brain but because it’s the world we live in. A realistic vision is what simple looks like and that is all.

Simple means removing obstacles. What is in the way? It can be something as annoying as the drawer that sticks, the hangers that clothes fall off of, or the plant that is partially dead and dropping leaves. Therefore if filing isn’t simple, stop filing. Yes, I am being serious. Piles can work in many ways and they don’t need to be visible for all to see. If folding clothes is a chore, use hooks instead. Remove the obstacle.

Get Support

Have you ever heard of a body double? It may be just what you need when you can’t focus or need help organizing when you have ADHD. A body double is someone who works along side you. They can’t be a talker, ask too many questions or be impatient. If they distract you they are not a good body double. A body double can work on a separate project in the same room. They can even work virtually if it works for you.

A body double is an anchor in the room. They are a sounding board if you have a question. They can keep you on track if you ask “what was I doing again?” Professional organizers practice body doubling everyday! It works.

Tools You Can Use When Organizing with ADHD

  • Have a goal. Anytime you do an organizing project clarify your goal. Don’t make it too big and specify the result you want to achieve NOT how you want it to look. For example, the goal is not to organize the bathroom. Instead, the goal is to be able to put makeup on in the morning without stress.
  • Work in short spurts. A project may take longer but working in small chunks of time can be very beneficial. Use tips below to ensure when you take a break you go back to your task of organizing.
  • Structure your time. Schedule tasks that force you to maintain focus. For example, if you know you have a friend picking items up you will be forced to ensure their items are ready. This will keep you on task.
  • Use music. Work for the length of one song. When it’s done take a break. When the next song is done get back to work. Create a playlist that helps you focus and energizes you.
  • Set a timer. Set the timer for intervals of 15 or 30 minutes. Whatever works best for you. When the timer goes off ask yourself, “Am I working toward my goal?” It’s likely you will get derailed from your task at hand at some point during your project. Asking this questions periodically is a way to ensure you stay on track when you lose focus or impulsivity kicks in. The timer will ensure you don’t veer too far off track. Here are some favorite timers I suggest.

If you feel you need more support with getting organized and have ADHD book a FREE phone consultation and learn how we can help!

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