With ADHD, How Can I Get Organized & Stay Organized?

photo ADHD Organizing

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a perplexing condition for both those who have it and those who interact with them. Interestingly, the number of those diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise and has increased 42% over the last decade. So, how does one combat the ongoing disorganization that often goes hand in hand with ADHD? Naturally, the first step is to bring order out of the chaos that is your home and/or office environment. Here are some useful tips to get there:

Make a plan & write it down

Create an overall plan of attack. Do you want to revamp your entire home or simply start with that jam-packed garage? Write out your plan on a poster board or a large chalkboard and place it in a prominent location as a focal point reminder.

Clear the potential distractions

Turn off the TV, the computer, and music sources. Silence your cell and landline. Give Alexa a time-out. Ask your co-habitants to leave you to it. Give yourself the gift of time to address your project wholeheartedly without the possible distractions.

Ask for a helping hand

Do you have a neat-nick pal who would relish the project? Remember, structure is a healthy goal for those with ADHD. While the whole idea of organization likely makes your skin crawl, some people thrive on making things orderly. Those friends or family members would be delighted to help out. Or, hire a professional organizer to do it for you. Then you can move directly to part 2 (below), keeping it that way.

Get to work in short time periods

Divide that master plan you designed into short intervals and identify a specific area to address for each time slot. Because you probably short-change yourself in terms of the time that tasks will take, plan on 2-3 times longer than you initially think. Then break the overall plan into small bits of time that will hold your attention, like 30-45-minute intervals. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in that time when you are focused and determined. Then set your timer and get to work. When the timer goes off, stop and take a break.

Sort stuff into categories

In preparation for your grand organization project, gather four containers. Purchase fancy crates from your local Container Store or use cardboard boxes. It is up to you. Decorate them so that they are visually appealing and pleasing to you. Mark them with the following labels: Donate, Gift, Trash, and Keep. So, if the item is in good enough shape to be useable to others, donate them to your favorite charity. Or, if you think someone in your immediate circle would appreciate having the item, gift it to them. If it is still in its original packaging, re-gifting works, too. Trash is pretty apparent, but we have to ask ourselves sometimes, “Why the heck do I still have this?” Hopefully, after this exercise, your “Keep” container will not be overflowing.

Give yourself a reward

Indeed, after completing the entire project, you deserve a treat: that movie you’ve wanted to see, your favorite ice cream sundae, or a long walk in the woods with your beloved pet. Make it something you truly want, something that will work as a “carrot” to keep you on track. Even reward your efforts after you complete the small steps in your new organization plan.

Okay, big congrats on getting through the organizational phase! You are rockin’ this! Now let’s keep your world orderly.

Keep those sorting containers at the ready

Yes, keep those four labeled and decorated containers around for ongoing sorting. Any time you run across something that could be donated, gifted, or tossed, throw it into the appropriate box. This will keep you constantly aware of the need for structure in your environment.

Manage your mail & papers

Accumulation of paper can quickly destroy your beautifully organized surroundings. Get in the habit of sorting incoming mail daily, right next to your recycle bin. Then immediately dispose of flyers and junk mail. Ask any company which sends unwanted mailings to remove you from their database. For the items you are keeping, have decorative file folders nearby, including one for the correspondence requiring some action on your part. Use neon color-coded folders or even add a touch of glitter. Add the logo of suppliers you regularly use to their file tab. A fun way to grab your attention.

Handle it online

Do your banking, shopping, etc., online to cut down on pesky paper destined to pile up. You can retain digital receipts in your email files to eliminate paper copies. Set up recurring expenses on auto-pay to take those off your mind entirely. If you use your local library, even this interaction can be done online. Most libraries offer downloadable books and movies, too.

Keep a notebook nearby

Whenever your fertile mind is darting in a dozen directions, grab your notebook and jot down your thoughts, great new ideas, To-Dos that you just remembered, and whatever. This is vastly superior to a bunch of post-it notes or illegible notes scattered around. A daily planner can also be helpful in a similar way.

Let technology keep you on time

Use your smartphone to help you keep appointments, by setting your calendar reminders to go off near your departure time. That way you won’t have to obsess about keeping those commitments.

Set aside time weekly for maintenance

Reserve brief tidbits of time to maintain the significant progress you have made toward an organized life. Do you need to make a run to Goodwill to drop off your overflowing “Donate” box or are extra items showing up in that cupboard you just decluttered? Organization requires vigilance. You have worked so hard to get to this point, stay on top of it. You’ve got this!


Whenever you need an assist, the SolutionsForYou team is just a phone call or an email away.   503-246-0710      Anne [at] SolutionsForYou [dot] com

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