Decluttering & Organising in Norfolk and Online

Organisation and ADHD

Organisation and ADHD

ADHD image

Piles of stuff all over. Papers, clothes, crafting items, unpaid bills and unfinished projects all around the kitchen, dining room, kitchen worktops, coffee table and floor. Sounds familiar? I’m describing the home of one of my recent neurodiverse clients.

Many of the people who contact me either identify with ADHD traits or already have a diagnosis. It’s generally a life-long condition that can affect anyone and in different ways. But looking beyond the mess, there are many things to applaud. In my experience, people with ADHD are intelligent, innovative, creative people who struggle with too much stuff and how to manage it.

This is because living with ADHD can make getting organised a real challenge. Poor working memory, impulsivity, difficulties with staying focused, and other symptoms of adult ADHD can really interfere with a persons ability to apply themselves to routine, everyday tasks. This can be a real issue, because when the environment is cluttered and disorganised, ADHD symptoms can intensify.

But there are many organisational strategies that can work for ADHD minds. Here are my Top Tips – each one starting with a question to encourage self-reflection. Try them out and see what works best for you.

Compulsive shopping

Question: Do I over-shop? What are the reasons for it?

Shopping can act as self-medication for people with ADHD, with impulsive or big purchases providing a dopamine rush. But before making that purchase, ask yourself if you can really afford it or if you really need it. Get into the habit of holding off making the purchase for a few days, then come back and reassess whether the desire to buy is still there. Before making a major purchase, discuss it with a spouse, friend or family member. Use them to help you decide whether it’s a wise move.


Question: What can I let go of to make my life easier?

I cannot emphasise this enough. Getting rid of unnecessary items in the home means having fewer things to look after, organise, put away and think about. Simpification is not about going without, it’s about placing value on what you need versus having an excess of wants which tax an already compromised system. There is a weight to everything, whether it’s physical stuff, financial responsibilities, digital clutter, tasks or obligations. It can all add up to overload!

Stuff on the loose

Question: What stuff gets spread around that could be containerised?

Putting scattered items in containers immediately helps to control clutter, so think about what you can store in this way. There might be an urge to purchase lots of pretty storage containers, but my advice is to resist doing this until you have first decluttered. Then you can plan exactly what storage is needed based on the items you have left. Use containers you already have before you buy new ones. It’s really important to categorise – storing like items with like. It can also be really helpful to use containers WITHOUT lids or transparent containers so that you can quickly scan what’s inside.

Use labels

Question: What do I consistently lose or have to spend time figuring out?

Labels are really useful to the ADHD brain. Clients often say that if they can’t see it, they forget it exists. So adding labels to drawers, cupboards and storage can help to quickly find things, put them away and decrease the amount of time you spend hunting for them. The colour you use for your labels can help too. Research suggests that red and yellow are remembered more easily than blue or green.

Put things back

Question: What stops me putting away the things I use or pull out?

Adults with ADHD spend twice as much time looking for things than their neurotypical peers. Given that it takes more time to find something than it does to put it away, time spent looking for belongings is time wasted. Designate a specific place for frequent use items: keys, glasses, bills, incoming mail, and return things to their home until it becomes a habit. Make sure the designated place is near to where you use them, as this is a much more efficient use of time. For example, I get changed into my running gear in the bathroom, as this is where I keep my sports bag.

Rubbish, isn’t it?

Question: Where does rubbish tend to build up?

Place a waste basket in every room. Having to walk to a different room to dispose of rubbish can serve as a barrier for the ADHD brain. If the receptacle is nearby and can easily ‘be seen’, it is much more likely to be used for it’s intended purpose.

Make it work for you

Question: What organising ideas are already working for me?

Setting yourself up for success is a big part of organisation. So give some thought to how you organise your stuff and make sure it suits you and your lifestyle. Making it functional and convenient, rather than complicated or instagram -worthy, is what generally works best. Look at what systems/routines work for you already and see if you can use those ideas more widely. Automation can make life much easier so look at what you can easily automate, e.g. electronic calendars, shopping lists, online banking, recurring purchases.

So small adjustments, like keeping things simple, using labels and automation, are all things that can make a difference. Try out different strategies to find what works for your own unique needs. But remember to give any new idea a decent amount of time to work. Good luck!

And if you need more help, contact me here for a no-obligation, free chat by phone or Zoom. I can’t wait to speak with you!

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