Updated: Sep 8
“I don’t know why it’s so hard! I should be able to make this work.” It’s a familiar sentiment. As a professional home organizer and productivity coach, I hear this pained confession all the time. And it’s so understandable. We’re all trying to figure out what works. And with ADHD, it feels times as difficult.
There are solutions! I’ll share some here, but first let’s clarify why it’s so difficult.
ADHD affects the development of a set of abilities called “Executive Functioning Skills,” which our brains use to plan and stay on task. But we’re clever, so we find workarounds. For instance, “clutter” for people with ADHD typically is often simply piles of unfinished projects left as helpful visual reminders. Clutter, however, is linked with triggering coping mechanisms and avoidance. Pair that with the fact that attention deficit makes it difficult to finish anything, and you have a recipe for emotional flooding. The solution is to create systems tailored to your specific needs and lifestyle. A good system will help you easily identify the next most important thing and stay on task ‘til it gets completed.
To get started, here are four steps and two tips!
Step 1: Start with a Brain Dump
Write out the things you want to change in your home. Don’t overthink it; just include the things that bug you the most right now. Organize your list into groups by looking for common themes. For instance, you might have categories for your kitchen, living room, bedroom, and work space.
Step 2: Identify Your Priorities
Creating a workable plan requires knowing yourself and what’s most important to you. So don’t skip this step!
Ask yourself these questions: “What’s life like right now? What’s most important to me? What’s working? What’s not? If I could change one or two things about the way my home functions, what would those things be?” Write down your thoughts. If you’re struggling to answer, consider talking with someone close to you who knows you well enough to help you with this step.
Step 3: Create Simple To-Do Lists
To make your list, pick a category from your brain dump. Then ask “Which thing in this list has to be done first?” Think in terms of what would make life function. Keep your priorities in mind. For instance, you might be irritated by your disorganized pantry, but if your priority is to make healthy family dinners, it's really your full sink of dishes that needs to get done so you’ll have clean pans to cook with and plates to eat from.
Write the first priority down as item number 1. Then repeat the process until every item in your brain dump category has a place in the list. Repeat the process with each category.
Step 4: Create Routines
To keep an organized space, you need routines; simple tasks you do regularly to keep your home functional. It can be as simple as implementing 15-30 minutes of nightly tidying, or as complex as following a full weekly cleaning plan. Developing these routines can take time, but once they become habits, you'll naturally thrive in your home. Begin making a list of things you notice need to be done regularly for your home to feel functional. Once you’ve identified most of the tasks, break the list into categories and make a plan for when you’ll tackle each task. It could be a daily plan, weekly, or even monthly.
Tip #1: Give Yourself Grace
Remember that any new skill takes time to develop. Give your plan two to three weeks. Then you can clearly identify what's working and what isn't. Stick with what's working and make adjustments to everything else. Tip #2: Get a Coach
It's easy to get side-tracked or stuck when you're in the middle of a task. Your prioritized plans can help you jump back on the bandwagon if you need a break, but unforeseen difficulties may end up derailing you. This is where a coach or therapist can come in handy. They can teach you proven, targeted methods for staying focused and on-task so the things on your list actually get done! They can help you prioritize, build routines, and break down big projects into manageable tasks. Look for someone who understands ADHD, is encouraging, and will carefully evaluate your needs to create a plan tailored specifically to you.
I’ve been called the “clutter coach” because I love working alongside my clients, helping them develop the skills they need to make life function better.
You're Invited to My ADHD Workshop!
If you're interested in learning some of the proven strategies I teach for overcoming ADHD hurdles, I'm hosting a virtual workshop September 9th. If you’d like to join us, you can visit www.tidyhomeandschoolroom.com/workshops. I’d love to see you there!
I hope these steps help you find relief and enjoy your home. Here’s to living in serenity and freedom!