Decluttering My Desk: Avoiding ADHD Pitfalls

Deborah Health Guide
  • So recently I decided that I couldn't live with the clutter on my tiny desk anymore. Here's a reminder of what my desk looks like pre-de-clutter:


    The first thing I did was to take everything out and put it in a single big pile. There's a good reason for doing it this way instead of doing one surface at a time. That way all similar items are put away in one fell swoop instead of being handled a few times.


    For instance, I know that I have a few papers floating around that I'm going to file under "Lawrence progress reports." My son's swimming class evaluation and the report card we got in June will go in the same folder, but I'm pretty sure they're currently in two different places. If everything that needs to be filed is in one place, I can get it filed quicker. A big caveat, though: If you do things this way, you have to get it all done at once. Otherwise, you'll just end up with another pile that sits there, except it's probably really big.

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    I was planning on just clearing the desk area off and calling it a day, but then I realize that to file my employment record away I'll have to use the file holder in the cabinet behind me. This is what that looks like:


    I swap books and CDs on online sites, and keep the ones I'm planning to swap in this cabinet. And I have been meaning to clear it out. But, you know, that's a bad idea. If I take on too much at once I'll end up with a big mess if I don't finish while I'm gung-ho about it. You know what I mean, right? You probably have done this before, if you have ADHD. So I decide to hold off, and just take the file holder . There's my first tip for de-cluttering/organizing an area:


    Don't get off track and don't let the job expand.

    This is really easy to do, mainly due to our distractability. We notice that something else is a mess, and lose track of what we were originally working on. Focus on one project at a time, and don't expand the job unless it honestly makes sense. In this case, it didn't make sense because the areas are separate, and so are their purposes.


    And also:


    If you take a break, set a timer for 15 minutes.

    Otherwise, you know what will happen (also due to being easily distracted). You'll wander by your de-clutter project an hour or so later and only then remember what you're trying to accomplish. But breaks are a good idea, unless you start to hyper-focus - if you do, just go with it!





    So the only things on my desk are my teacup, my nail stuff (I was in the process of doing my nails when I took the picture), a CD case for a CD that I was burning when I took the picture and my son's ADHD medicine. Then there are two pretty boxes I bought that hold things I use every day, or almost every day. The little pile behind the keyboard is things that I ended up scanning that day. As you can see, it's pretty easy to dust and there's room to write checks and do small projects.


    I won't kid you - this took most of the day, and if it had gotten sunny outside, I'd have been off to the pool. But since I did this de-clutter project a few weeks ago, I have taken the time every day to keep it clear. It's kind of addictive.

Published On: November 01, 2011