ADHD ORGANIZING TIPS | CLOSETS & BEDROOMS
13 Simple ADHD Closet Organization Tips
I am a Southern California turned small town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls.
Back when I first started my organizing journey in 2013, I had what I thought of as a dirty little secret. I have ADHD and although I am organized, and enjoy the process of sorting, and tidying. I knew that there were many others with ADHD who really struggled with staying organized. I had a case of imposter syndrome and mostly kept the fact that I had ADHD to myself. That is until I learned that there are other successful professional organizers who have also learned to compensate for their ADHD.
I eventually realized that my need for order and simplicity actually stems from having ADHD as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am able to relate to and help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.
I help women and moms with ADHD, but I also help those who struggle with clutter without having ADHD. Because simplicity and less clutter are always at the heart of staying organized, there is much overlap when it comes to finding solutions to clutter and disorganization.
I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible and to helping others do the same by teaching them how to declutter their homes, simplify their lives, and manage their busy families better.
I have been helping others stay organized since 2013.
It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life.
in your space…
…but let it be
as a daisy
in a vase.
The following ADHD closet organization tips will help you keep your clothing and closet in order if you have ADHD.
Do you get frustrated every time you walk into your closet? Have you attempted to declutter and organize it all but instead get overwhelmed and walk back out the door? For those with ADHD, closet organization can feel like an uphill battle.
There are three primary weapons that you can use to help you defend yourself against closet clutter and clothing messes. These three things are game changers for any closet, but they are especially important for those with ADHD.
Top 3 most helpful ADHD closet organization tips:
1. Simplify your closet by keeping less stuff in it.
I cannot emphasize enough how much of a difference this one thing makes. Those with ADHD become overwhelmed with visual clutter faster than those who don’t. And the more stuff you have, the harder it is to keep it all organized.
I am not suggesting you pitch it all and limit yourself to a capsule wardrobe. Though that WOULD be super easy to maintain, it isn’t necessary. Simply reduce the amount of clothing you own by keeping only what you actually wear and feel good in. And do not overfill your closet to the point that it is no longer user-friendly.
Do not exceed your closet’s clutter threshold
Once your closet has exceeded its clutter threshold, it becomes less functional and user-friendly. Clothing is more difficult to find and put away because space is limited and things are crammed too closely together. If you take only one action after reading these tips, let it be this one. By reducing your clothing inventory, you will make the largest impact on keeping your closet organized long-term.
2. Make everything super easy for yourself to find, retrieve and put away.
The less clothing you have to store, the more space you free up in your closet. This makes it easier to store things so that they are easily accessible. If you have ADHD, you may not have the patience to deal with going through a lot of work to dig for things. And you likely will have even less patience for taking the time to put it away again.
Leave tops off of storage bins and avoid products like multi-item hangers. These require to much work to use, so they are not functional. I recommend the velvet hangers above the rest, they are well made and the velvet coating stops slick or wide-necked clothing from slipping off the hanger.
Avoid storing clothing in plastic storage drawers. The drawers require too much effort since they do not open or shut easily. Remove shoes from boxes and clothing from dry cleaners or garment bags.
A no-fuss closet is your goal.
3. Store things simply by keeping clothing types together.
Keep all like items together so that you can find them easily. The less thought your ADHD brain has to put into where to find things the better. For example, storing all of your tank tops together, and all of your short sleeve shirts together is better than separating clothing by casual vs. dressy outfits.
Storing them by clothing type, (pants, tanks, long sleeve shirts, etc.) ensures that you won’t ever have to question where to find a sort of dressy, semi-casual shirt. You want to store things so simply that a 5-year-old could find things in there.
Additional ADHD closet organization tips:
4. Avoid the seasonal switch
Try to avoid moving out-of-season clothing in and out of your bedroom with the seasons. It is much less work to keep everything accessible year around. If you can store everything in your bedroom closet and dresser drawers, you will eliminate a lot of unnecessary work for yourself.
Don’t store keepsake clothing that you don’t wear in your closet. Get items like college sweatshirts and your prom dress out of your closet and into a plastic keepsake bin. Store these items with the rest of your keepsakes in a basement or storage room.
5. Push past the inability to get started.
Task initiation is one of several executive functions that can be affected if you have ADHD. That might mean that while doing interesting tasks are not a problem for you, you just can’t muster the energy to get started on things you don’t enjoy.
One way to get past this is to see if you can make the task more interesting for yourself. Can you inspire creative problem-solving or make the job more fun or challenging somehow?
6. Break the job down into small tasks to build momentum and avoid overwhelm.
Another effective way to push past getting started is to build momentum. Start by only focusing on completing one small task. For example, just pick up all the trash. Once that is done, put all the dirty laundry into the hamper. Next, clear off the closet floor. Keep moving forward with one task at a time. By doing this, you will start to make progress without getting overwhelmed. This will help you build the momentum to continue.
7. Use the power of urgency by creating a deadline for yourself.
Deadlines are often effective for those with ADHD. You can create a deadline for yourself by telling a friend or family member that you are organizing your closet. Tell them you are planning to show it to them on a given date. This will be your deadline. Now you have to get it done before then. I am much more motivated to clean my house if I know that we have company coming. Our company becomes my deadline.
Another great way to create a since of urgency for yourself is to use a Timer Cube. A Timer Cube can easily be set for 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Set whatever time you are comfortable and when the timer goes off you are done. Working for a set time in small increments is also another way to prevent overwhelm. If your home has an Alexa device installed, you can also ask Alexa to set a timer for you.
8. Use a body double
Inviting a trusted friend or family member to help with the project can also hold you accountable to get the job done. A body double can also redirect you if you start to get distracted. Just make sure that you choose a non-judgmental person who will support you.
9. Do not attempt to pull everything out of your closet all at once.
Some professional organizers suggest removing everything from your closet all at once. But this is not the best advice for those with ADHD. Unless you have a very tiny closet, this will likely overwhelm you, and if you run out of time or get called away, you may get distracted and not make it back to finish the job.
10. For those with ADHD, closet organization systems should be kept simple.
It is easier to maintain organizing systems if they are simple and functional but not overly complicated. Place 2 or 3 smaller bins inside your sock drawer and toss all of your socks in. Have one bin for white socks, one for black socks, and a third for the rest. That be enough.
This simple system is better than having lots of tiny separate compartments to keep each individual pair of socks in. Complicated organizing systems may look impressive but require too much time and effort to set up, use and maintain. Using your kitchen as an example, transferring things like spices and pasta into pretty containers sounds appealing and looks great, but requires too much time and energy to keep up with. Functionality and simplicity is your goal.
It is a common tendency for those with ADHD to want to hone in on attempting to perfectly micro-organize something small while ignoring the bigger and more important task at hand. For example, spending two hours perfectly organizing your jewelry drawer, instead of getting the bathroom organized as you had planned.
11. Accessories, shoes, shelves and Cubbies
Store similar items like purses and scarves together in decorative containers to keep them all together. If you can, stand items up rather than lay them down. This will make things easier to see and retrieve. Hang belts together using hooks or a belt organizer.
If your closet does not have ample shelving for your shoes, you might want to invest in a Shoe shelving unit made specifically for organizing shoes. Look for a sturdy unit with flat shelves. Avoid the units with slanted shelves, they are not as functional since shoes often slide off of them.
If your closet’s upper shelves are overstuffed, consider moving things that are not clothing or bedroom related to a storage area instead. Common things I find in closets that can be stored somewhere else are keepsake items, photos, and luggage.
Cubbies are a great place to store your folded jeans and bulky sweatshirts and sweaters that won’t wrinkle if folded. Decorative bins can also be placed inside your cubbies to hold smaller items.
12. Establish as many routines and habits as possible.
Habits and routines are our helpers and they can keep us on track to get things done. See what habits you can develop to make tidying and maintaining your closet more automatic.
Here are 3 examples: 1 – Place a hamper in the closet and get in the habit of tossing all of your laundry in there rather than tossing it on the floor. 2 – Install hooks and start using them to hang often worn items like robes, and PJ’s. 3 – Get into the habit of taking a few minutes to tidy up your closet every night when you put your PJs on.
13. Name your spaces, containers & shelves.
Susan Pinsky, the author of “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD” suggests that as you organize, it is helpful to name your bins, shelves, and drawers. For example, you might have a jeans shelf, a dress area, or a scarf bin. This will help you avoid tossing random items together. Just naming your spaces and containers, will help you keep things in order.
Need someone to hold you accountable for getting the job done? For more information on getting virtual help from me with your closet, visit my Virtual Organizing page. I can walk you step-by-step through the process and we can address your specific challenges together.
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