6 Tips for Managing Clutter When You Have Adult ADHD

Health Writer

When you have adult ADHD, organization is a never ending quest. You try and try, yet you never seem to get any more organized. You still have piles of papers and clutter all around. You still lose your keys on a regular basis and spend time every day looking for your cell phone. Don't lose hope. The following tips can help you organize your home.

Start Small

Does this sound familiar? You decide to get organized and clear out all your clutter. You might start off strong but soon get distracted and end up getting nothing done or become so overwhelmed you give up on the project. You are probably looking at the big picture. Instead, break the task down. Start with one small area and work on clearing the clutter in that area only. Don't think about any other areas of the house until this one is completed. If you find this overwhelming, set a time limit, such as "I am going to organize this area for 15 minutes." Set your timer for 15 minutes and then stop until tomorrow. Even 15 minutes of organizing each day will add up.

Don't Be Afraid to Throw Things Away

Of course you don't want to throw away financial papers, taxes or other legal documents but there is probably a lot of "stuff" that you can get rid of and never miss. The less stuff you have, the less clutter you have. Many people with ADHD find it difficult to throw things away, thinking they might need that item sometime in the future. If you are like this, consider designating one spot in your house, such as a drawer or closet, to keep those items you aren't ready to let go. Once this area is filled, go through it and get rid of the things you haven't used or thought about.

Cut Down on New Stuff

Impulsively buying things that draw your attention is a sure fire way of filling your house with clutter. Think about when you are most likely to buy the trinkets and gizmos that fill your house. Do you shop online? Browse stores because you are bored? Need to spend money every time you get paid? The first step to minimizing new purchases is to find your motivation. Then, you can work on strategies to change the behavior. For example, one woman decided she would never buy anything new unless she knew exactly where she was going to put it once she got home. If she didn't have room to store it, she didn't buy it. On those occasions she gave into her impulses, she would get rid of something at home so as to not add to the clutter.

Add a Declutter Time to Your Schedule

Schedule time each day or week to work on decluttering your home. You can set aside 10 or 15 minutes a day or an hour each week. Experiment to find out what works best for you. Pick a small area each day, such as cleaning out one kitchen drawer or picking up the clutter from the living room. You might want to make it a family activity once a week and have everyone work on clearing the clutter from a small area. It is often easier to keep at a task when you work together.

Ask a Friend to Help

If you have a hard time decluttering your home because you want to keep everything, consider asking a friend to help you sort through and get rid of unneeded items. Sort items, room by room, into separate piles. One pile should be for donating, one for keeping, one for trash and one for "not sure." Once you complete a room, immediately take the items to donate away and put the throw-away items in the trash. For the items you aren't sure what to do with, place in a certain location in your house. Make sure to designate a certain area. Once the area is full, you must decide what to do with them.

Use Your Computer or Online Resources for Financial Papers

Many bank statements and other financial documents are available online. You can save them directly on your computer rather than having papers stacked in piles everywhere. For documents not available online that you want to keep, scan them into your computer and save them. Create a folder on your computer labeled "financial documents" and save all in that folder so you can easily find the one you need later. Be sure to back up your computer or make an extra copy of the folder on a flash drive.

Create Systems to Reduce Clutter

Do you and your family tend to drop items as you walk into the house, making every flat surface a breeding ground of clutter? Keep a large basket, a shelf or cubbies by the front door to leave keys,  umbrellas, backpacks, books, purses. As soon as someone enters the door, they put everything in the right place, where it can be easily retrieved later.

If, no matter what you do, you can't seem to get clutter under control, consider working with an ADHD coach for organization. A coach can work with you to come up with systems and routines to help you reduce clutter.