Housework and ADHD

When you have ADHD, one of the worst tasks imaginable is… housework. It is boring and mundane, 2 things that people with ADHD hate the most.  When you don’t enjoy something there is lots of potential for procrastination and distraction, and a two hour job can drag on all day.

Theoretically housework is not difficult; people without ADHD seem to be able to do it effortlessly, which only makes you feel worse! Now in addition to the piles of dishes and clothes, there is  also guilt and shame too.

ADHD characteristics do make housework hard, but not impossible. Here is a winning ADHD friendly formula that makes housework interesting and even fun.

1) Get a piece of paper and a pen and write down every room that needs your attention. For example:

  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Living Room

2) By the side of each room, write down the number 10. This stands for ten minutes.

3) Go into the first room,  set your timer for 10 minutes and blitz. Do whatever needs to be done. It could be changing the bedding, picking clothes off the floor, vacuuming, etc. Keep moving until your timer rings. A golden rule is don’t leave the room you are working in (even for a second) during those 10 minutes. If you find an item that belongs in another room, put it by the door, and move it at the end of the 10 minutes. This keeps your mind focused and minimizes the chance of distraction.

4) When the timer rings, stop what you are doing even if you are in the middle of a task, and move to the next room. Moving on might be hard because our minds crave completion. However, it’s because you do stop and move on that this technique is so successful. Since you are moving from room to room you don’t get a chance to feel bored. Instead you stay motivated and energized. The timer creates a sense of urgency and also turns the housework into a game.
5 When you have finished all the rooms on your list, have a mini break. Drink some water and then start again at the beginning of your list and spend another 10 minutes in each room. By then you should have 4 clean and shiny rooms.

If you are thinking “10 minutes doesn’t sound long enough, my rooms are really messy,” you will be surprised by just how much you can do in 10 minutes.


There are a couple of variations to this technique you can try.

Feeling Overwhelmed

If you are feeling really overwhelmed or resistant to starting, set your timer for 5 minutes instead of 10.

Large Area

If you have a very messy room or large area, such as a garage or basement, mentally divide that area into 4 quarters. Then work in each quarter for 10 minutes before moving to the next quarter.

When you have finished your housework, be sure to reward yourself with a treat. You deserve it.


Here are 4 more related articles

The ADHD Moving House Checklist

The ADHD Friendly Way To Do Laundry

How To Avoid Fights About Housework

Why It Is Important To Make Your Bed!

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  1. Darcey Ayers says:

    Hi, my week with chores has been good. I have been keeping it clean and cleaning in spurts is helping me. I have 3 cats and they are like kids lol. Plus I have a dog. My place is not always clean and my family thinks that I don’t try when I do try. My man knows I do my best. He tries to help when he can. Team work is a good thing if not one sided. Positive​ Support giving some credit for at least making an attempt. Find a solution to the situation. You can either be a part of the situation and make it worse. Look for solutions is much better. Laugh yes laughing helps.

  2. Paris says:

    Dear Jacqui, my housework is my Achille’s heel. I live in CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome). Your ten minute technique is very similar to which I highly recommend to your readers (but be careful…you can get sucked into reading the site and put off your chores! ha ha). A timer is great for kids and adults! It IS true that you find yourself “racing” against it to get more dishes done or a few more towels folded. It is weird how our minds work. The timer can work at the office or for homework or yardwork, too! If you think you hate exercising, set your timer for 10 minutes and leave your house…just walk in any direction with the dog or the kids or with an audio book…when the timer dings…turn around and walk home…you have just walked 20 minutes! Voilá! I wish I could say I do all of these things but my Laundry Monster says otherwise. Procrastination and distraction are the worst. But your site makes me feel a little better knowing I’m not the only one. Thank you.

    • A.J. says:

      I like your CHAOS acronym. It describes me perfectly, unfortunately, and it’s clever.

      Oh, and you’re most definitely not the only one lol. I feel like that too, sometimes.

  3. Victoria Vroman says:

    I habe 3 kids. 7, 2, and 7 months. Laundry is my biggest enemy. It’s everywhere. It looks like my house threw up a department store. We have quite a bit of clutter and most days I stay locked in my head reading a book because it is just so overwhelming. My relationship with my boyfriend is suffering because of my Inability to keep up with the kids and housework. I have made lists, charts and other things. What can I do?! I don’t take meds.

  4. sandra says:

    The timer tip might work. I am going to try it. I am excellent at cleaning for company-my whole bedroom is filled with bags of stuff from last Christmas. Unfortunately I need help with papers-I sort and sort and sort-I am always looking for something. How do I know what to keep? I have boxes of papers.

  5. Christy says:

    I will find every reason to get distracted and do something else. My little sister says that I walk around touching things and talking to myself and wandering around doing nothing. I told her the talking and touching is my way of trying to think hard enough to focus on what needs to be done and in the process I end up wandering from room to room doing a few things all day. I get nothing done. I have tried the timer and after a few days actually forget my timer, my notes and calendars. I forget everything. So depressing. Meds make me aggressive. Watching tv is the only thing that makes me calm.

  6. China Mbt Shoes says:

    great share, great article, very usefull for me…thank


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