Here it is, the beginning of May, and every magazine you open contains articles about spring cleaning. With the weather improving, the urge hits to get outside more and enjoy the break in weather. It's hard to imagine spending more time indoors to do what many of us hate to do: cleaning and organizing. Not only do we hate it, we're often paralyzed, not knowing *how* to do it: which cleaner do you use for the floor? What's the best way to clear out the garage, when there are so many steps to consider? As adults with ADHD, breaking down large projects into smaller ones can seem almost impossible when even deciding on where to start can be overwhelming.
Further, we get distracted, we procrastinate and before we know it, spring has morphed into summer, then fall and winter and the cob webs from last year are still hanging in the closet. As you read the richly detailed magazine articles, you feel a pang of anxiety, depression, guilt and even a drop in self esteem, as you wonder why it seems so easy for others to do this, but for you, it's an obstacle bigger than life.
Where to Start
We need to remind ourselves that cleaning, let alone deep Spring Cleaning, may not be an area of strength for us. Our ADHD symptoms prevent us from just jumping in and knowing how to attack the many chores needing to be done. Or at least the ones we're told need to be done. Magazine articles don't consider the needs of all readers, thus, we're told to do a million different things to make our house, yards, garages and offices look spick and span. As someone with ADHD, it's important to remember that these are often expectations that are unreachable. It's best to "kick it down" a notch and allow ourselves to do what works best for us and not feel like we must follow a list of 150 "must-dos" for spring cleaning.
The very first step, then, is to accept your challenges and make your strengths work for you.
10 Tips for Spring Cleaning
- Make a list of things that need to be cleaned and organized and prioritize them. Once that's done, go back and put a line through the chores that aren't 100% necessary to accomplish. Do you really need to mop down the floor in the furnace room?
- Set up a time-line. Take your calendar or whatever type of planner you use and set aside a chunk of time daily or weekly and write down which chore you'll be able to work on. Be realistic about how much time you have and then deduct about ½ hour from that. That way, you are giving yourself permission to stop at the given hour but yet allowing yourself to continue if you have the time and energy.
- Everyone has their own style of managing large projects. Some like to stick with one till its completed; others prefer to multi-task to avoid boredom. Which is your preferred way of attacking big projects? Make sure you break down big jobs into smaller ones so you don't feel overwhelmed. Consider writing down all the steps needed to complete the projects.
- Begin with the job you are dreading the most. Once done, you'll feel a huge sense of accomplishment and will more likely have the energy and confidence to tackle the rest that are on your list.
- Be realistic: If you know you can't wipe down every cabinet in your kitchen, choose the ones that need the most attention and focus only on those.
- Always try to have someone help you. Not only will you get the job done more quickly, you'll have company while doing it, making the task more pleasant.
- Consider trading chores with friends/family. If you don't mind raking up the backyard but hate the idea of clearing out the garage, swapping with someone is often an ideal solution.
- Hire someone to help with the big jobs, i.e. yard work, window washing, carpet cleaning, etc.
- Do a "good enough" job of it. Don't compare yourself with others; make it work for you. If you're satisfied with how your pantry looks with a light dusting or quick re-arranging, then leave it at that and don't worry about it.
- Ask yourself if it's really worth worrying and obsessing over. Perhaps you don't need to even do a spring cleaning! Keep plugging away at your regular chores and think of it as a work in process.