Living in a cluttered, unorganized environment is a common thing when you have ADHD. However, being surrounded by ‘stuff’ can make your ADHD symptoms worse. It is harder to focus and concentrate. It is easier to lose important items like keys and important paperwork, and it can also exacerbate coexisting conditions such as anxiety.
Here are 8 reasons why ADHDers find it hard to have an organized space
You might start one activity, get distracted and then you start working on a second activity leaving the items from the first activity lying around.
2) Out of Sight, Out of Mind
You don’t like to put belongings away in cupboards because you are scared that you will forget about them.
Tidying up is one of those boring mundane tasks that ADHDers hate to do. This means that you keep putting it off for another day.
You keep newspaper articles and other objects as visual reminders of things you want to do and see. Your fear of forgetting means you accumulate lots of items, and they are difficult to keep organized.
ADHDers love to collect things: teapots, baseball caps, pens, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is; I bet you collect at least one thing. These collections can grow large and are tricky to keep organized.
You feel overwhelmed just looking at your cluttered space, and you feel paralyzed, fatigued and can’t take any action.
7) Don’t Know How
You honestly never learned how to be tidy and organized. It’s not an excuse, but being tidy and organized isn’t a skill that you were born with and maybe no one taught you how to do it properly.
8) Decisions, Decisions
Organizing requires many decisions in a short space of time.
Making decisions is hard when you have ADHD. It takes mental effort, and you might second guess your decision or beat yourself up for making the ‘wrong’ decision.
How many of those points resonated with you? Don’t worry if it was all of them!
The opposite of a disorganized cluttered space, is a calm, peaceful one in which you know where your belongings are, and you feel happy to invite an unexpected visitor into your home. How do you create that space? With the help of a brilliant book by Marie Kondo called, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”.
The difference between this book and every other book written about organizing is that you ask yourself a different question. Rather than asking ‘what could I throw out’, you ask ‘what do I want to keep’. Marie suggests holding each item and asking “Does this bring me joy?” If it does, then you keep it, and if not, it is time to say goodbye.
It’s simple yet very powerful!
This simple question is very helpful for ADHDers because it cuts out all the mental negotiating that can happen in your mind. You don’t have to consider if the item was a gift, if you used it in the last year or, if you might need it again. Just ask one question, “Does this bring me joy?”
Here are 3 of my favorite tips from the book that I think will help you too.
1) Pick an Area You Want to Declutter
Start small, maybe a shelf. Remove everything from the shelf. Next, only put back the things that bring your joy. After you have tried the technique on a small area, and experienced for yourself how easy and fun it was, you will be very motivated to continue.
2) Start with Items That are Easier to Part With
Marie says people have trouble throwing out things that have:
Functional value (when you could still use the item)
Information value (has information you think you might need)
Emotional value (being anything sentimental)
Don’t start with any of these things! It will sabotage your good intentions. Instead, pick a category that will be easy for you. Marie suggests starting with clothes.
3) Don’t Let Your Family See What You are Getting Rid of
When people see what you are donating, they might seem shocked and you might find yourself second guessing your decisions. You have done so well to get to the donate / throw out stage; you don’t want a third person to change your mind.
With fewer items in your space the organizing almost of takes care of itself.