Many adults with ADHD complain they are not able to control the clutter in their house. With so much “stuff” around, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Clutter can actually cause stress and guilt.
Here are twenty tips to helping rid your house of clutter. Although they may not all work for you, instituting just one or two into your daily routines may help you to begin to control the clutter, rather than letting the clutter control you.
- Rid your home of obvious junk. We tend to never throw out anything, after all, you never know when you may need something again. But there is always “stuff” that obviously is no longer needed. Once a week, walk around your house with a garbage bag and throw away those things you no longer need. This might be things like: last week’s newspaper, old magazines, memos from your child’s school when the events have already passed, expired coupons, food no one will eat, expired medications or utensils that are broken or rusty.
- Use a laundry basket to clean up your home. Start in one room, fill the basket with everything that does not belong and carry them to where they belong. Go to the next room and do the same thing. Continue until you have made it through all your rooms.
- Get a storage box for papers. Fill with papers you are not sure if you will need again. (Do not include papers you know you will need, such as tax documents or previous tax returns). Close the lid and write the date on the top of the box. After one year, throw out any papers that you have not looked at throughout the year.
- Use clear, over the door shoe holders inside closets. Use these to hold small items that may be on your counters and tabletops. The items will be easy to see and easy to get to but out of the way.
- Adopt a “trade” policy of buying new things. If you buy something, you need to get rid of something. For example, if you buy a new shirt, you must get rid of an old shirt that you no longer wear.
- When you buy new furniture, purchase items with built in storage areas. Buy tables with built in drawers or trunk style tables. Buy beds with pull out drawers underneath. Use benches in your kitchen that have storage areas under the seats. The extra storage areas will help you keep items you need close at hand but allow them to stay out of sight.
- Buy some pizza boxes from a local pizzeria. These boxes are easily stored under beds and can hold children’s artwork or school papers.
- Make clean up part of your nighttime routine. Each night have your children gather up all of their items and bring them to their room when they go to bed. Some parents will gather up anything after the children go to bed and put them away for several days to emphasize the need to keep their items in their own rooms.
- Give each member of the family one room they are responsible for (in addition to their bedroom). Each day they are responsible for gathering up items that do not belong in that room and putting them away.
- Throw away junk mail every day. Even better, purchase a small shredder and shred any junk mail as soon as you get it. (This can help avoid identity theft.)
- Set a time limit, such as 15 minutes per day. Use a timer and use this time to work on one specific area. When the timer goes off, you are done for the day.
- Use several boxes, clearly marked “Give away” “Trash” and “Keep” When decluttering one area, put everything in one of the boxes. As soon as one box is filled, take it where it belongs, rather than letting it stay and become clutter.
- Set specific goals to decluttering. For example, instead of saying, “I am going to clean out my old books,” say “I will get rid of 20 old books that I no longer need.” By making specific goals, you have a better chance of completing the task and feeling as if you have accomplished something.
- Break down large tasks into smaller ones. For example, if you are cleaning out your kitchen cabinets, break the task down into cleaning out one cabinet. Once that is finished, you can begin on the next cabinet.
- Make decluttering part of your family routine and make everyone responsible. Keeping your home neat should not be the responsibility of one person but should be shared by everyone that shares the space.
- Make decluttering a game or a fun time together. Set aside fifteen minutes each night and put on some music, dance around the house while decluttering and putting things away.
- Write down an action plan for decluttering. Putting something down in writing will help you to accomplish it. In addition, when you write it down, be specific as to what you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it.
- Decide to have a yard sale. Rummage through your house for as many items as possible that you can sell at a yard sale. Whatever is left at the end of the sale must be donated to a local second hand shop.
- Keep up the decluttering on a daily or weekly basis to keep your home free of unwanted or unneeded stuff.
- Reward yourself. Each time you accomplish a goal (even if the goal is to spend 15 minutes working on decluttering a specific area), give yourself a reward.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.