Organization and ADHD: Yes You Can
We specialize in helping people with ADHD and ADD keep their lives in order, and one thing we know: getting help getting organized can make all the difference. Having help not only makes the work go faster but keeps it from becoming too overwhelming, too, because most people approach organization as an enormous, “I must organize my whole house today” kind of thing.
The Secret to Organizing
What most people don’t realize is that organizing is a long‐term project that requires a daily commitment. You have to break tasks down into smaller steps. Start with clearing a small area first, then maintain that while working on the next area. I like to think of it like working out: Once you get started, and build good habits, it’s easier to keep going. Follow our four-step process for each space you organize.
Less Is More
Having less is much better for everyone, whether they have a disability or not. Some people need help deciding what to keep and what to let go of. Other clients are just ready, saying, “I can’t live like this anymore.” I worked with one client who discovered she had 28 wine bottle openers when she only needed three or four. Because this item did not have designated storage space, the client regularly misplaced them. We often don’t realize what we actually have until we see it.
Create Activity Zones
Activity zones can make organizing much easier. For example, if you designate a home office space —a place for the computer and accessories, mail sorting, bill paying, a bulletin board, and calendar – you’ll always know where those items go. You can have many zones: a craft area, a toy room, a reading room – whatever works in your home. Once you have designated areas, you start to have a home for the things you do keep, and things in every room should be easily accessible
Hold the Containers
Storage containers are a great organizing tool, but not until you’ve sorted through everything in the space and identified what you don’t want. That’s why we tell our clients not to buy containers before they organize. If you do, you just waste time and money returning storage containers that you don’t need or won’t work for the newly-organized space.
Tips and Tricks for People with ADHD
People who have learning disabilities experience difficulty with processing information and keeping track of tasks. I encourage my ADHD and ADD clients to write down the steps of each project, breaking down each task into simple steps that can be checked off when they are done. Not only does this keep it from becoming overwhelming, but there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment that comes from checking off each task when it’s done. Daily to-do lists are useful, but I recommend keeping the list at 3-5 items. An egg timer or kitchen timer can also help. Set 20 minutes aside to clean out a cupboard. When the 20 minutes is done, celebrate the accomplishment and save the next task for another day.
Organizing is as much a habit as a process. Take things slowly, and celebrate the small successes along the way.