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Top 10 Tips For Decluttering With ADHD For Best Results

Decluttering with ADHD: Tips for best results

Why decluttering with ADHD can be such a challenge.

As a professional organizer with ADHD, I learned early on that there is a dilemma that exists between clutter and the ADHD brain. Clutter can be doubly challenging for us because not only might we be more prone to collecting it, but we are also more distracted by having to look at it.

And as if that were not enough…we often are more indecisive about how to deal with it. When it comes to the things we own, the less stuff we have to deal with and see, the better.

Why decluttering is so important if you have ADHD.

Those with ADHD become overwhelmed with visual clutter faster than those who don’t. Every single item we see is a reminder of a task that needs to get done and a decision that needs to be made. As a result, we can have too many thoughts going on at once, and difficulty processing those thoughts.  

10 Top tips for decluttering with ADHD:

ADHD manifests itself differently for each person, depending on their unique tendencies and traits. What works for one ADHD brain, may not work for another. For this reason, I have created a list of suggestions for you to try. Choose and try the ones that resonate with you. I use many of them myself.

 

1. Develop a well-thought-out plan of action.  

If you have a large decluttering project to do, sit down and create a plan for the project. What is your intention for this space?  What’s not working in this room?  What is working?  Visualize your desired outcome for the room.  Visualizing your room, successfully organized and decluttered will help you materialize your goals.

This will help steady you if you get overwhelmed or flustered. Break the project down and list each small step. Cross each item off of your list as you go. This will bring you much satisfaction as you complete each step. Add each project to your calendar to further solidify your plans.

2. Push yourself to just get started. 

Several executive functions are often affected by ADHD, and task initiation is one of them. The term “an object in motion stays in motion” applies to decluttering as well. If you are struggling with putting an organizing project off, keep in mind that getting started is often the hardest part. If you can push past this inertia, you will build up the momentum to keep going and get the job done.

If you tend to be perfectionistic, this can get in the way of  getting started as well. Let go of thinking your space needs to be perfect because having the project done but not perfect is better than feeling stuck because you can’t come up with the perfect plan. Once you get started, keep moving forward one small step at a time and stay focused on your successes.

3. Less is best.

If you have ADHD, letting go of everything you are no longer using and keeping your home organized as simply as possible is key. 

The best way to stay organized if you have ADHD is to have less stuff. I can’t stress this statement enough. The more stuff you have, the harder it will be to keep it all organized. Also, the more things you have stored in a given space, the less user-friendly that storage space becomes. Keeping your storage spaces less full will ensure that you can find, and retrieve things quickly with minimal effort. 

Boxes of clutter

4. Get past common excuses for not letting go of things.

I often hear the same excuses for not letting go of things, such as “I might use this thing someday” or “I should sell this thing” or, “I don’t use this thing, but I paid a lot for it, so I should keep it.”

These excuses for not decluttering become the barriers that get in the way of freeing yourself from this kind of clutter. Try to let go of making excuses that keep you bound to the things that you don’t really use.

5. Start small.

Attempting to declutter with ADHD can feel like an overwhelming task. What you don’t want to do is take everything out of your walk-in closet all at once. Instead, break projects into small chunks. Declutter one drawer or cabinet at a time. 

This will help you side-step getting overwhelmed.  It will also allow you to clearly see your progress. At the end of the day, if you can open your pantry or closet and see the fruit of your labor. This will give you the encouragement you need to keep going.

Another common decluttering mistake I see is trying to organize more than one space at a time. Avoid jumping from room to room tidying a little here and a little there. At the end of the day, you’ll be exhausted and may not feel like you’re making progress. Stay focused on the project your working in until it is completely finished.

An organized pantry shelf.

6. Assign permanent homes to every single thing you own. 

Since every decluttering project includes figuring out what to do with the things you are going to keep, you will want to be sure to assign homes to everything.

Everything in your life should have a place to call home. Where do your car keys go? Do you have one designated spot for your fingernail clippers? Having homes for everything ensures that you don’t end up with homeless items sitting around, cluttering up surfaces and spaces.

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. This will help you keep things together and avoid ending up with what I call “hodge podge” containers full of random things. For example, have a sock drawer, a party supply container, and a medication shelf. Naming your spaces helps you to make automatic associations with those spaces and hence less likely to toss random things there.

7. If you have a lot of decluttering to do – do it in this order.

Avoid starting your decluttering journey with a challenging category. Generally, keepsakes, photos, and paperwork are more difficult categories of clutter to tackle. Going through paperwork is a much slower process than decluttering say… your pantry. And keepsakes and photos usually have many emotions tied to them.

To make more rapid progress, start with a more manageable category like bathroom toiletries, or the food in your pantry. Most of us don’t get teary eyed over a nearly empty bottle of shampoo.

8. Use the power of urgency to make decluttering more interesting.

For some of us, getting started on a project is easier if we have some sense of urgency to get us going. 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 decluttering a space in your home.

Let them know 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. In this way, they also become an accountability partner for you.   

9. Use my 5-step system for making decluttering with ADHD simpler and less stressful:

P-E-A-C-E

P – PULL OUT AND SORT. Sort everything from one SMALL space at a time. Make only no-brainer decisions right away by tossing or donating the obvious. Sort everything else into piles of items from the same category.

E – EVALUATE AND ELIMINATE. Once everything has been sorted into piles, evaluate each pile. Now that you can see exactly how much of everything you have, decide what to keep and what to eliminate.

A – ASSIGN A HOME. Assign a permanent home what you are keeping and remember to store things where you use them.

C – CONTAINERIZE. Use containers to keep sorted items together and label them. Using open topped clear plastic containers will help you to easily see what’s stored inside and retrieve what you are looking for quickly.

E – ESTABLISH THE HABIT. Now that everything is organized, put items back into their assigned homes each time you finish using them. 

10. Avoid collecting and keeping too much stuff. 

Individuals who have ADHD can be more likely to shop impulsively, thereby bringing home more than they intend to. Today, with online purchases being just a click away, shopping and collecting stuff is dangerously simple.

Shop mindfully and selectively and make quick online purchasing more difficult for yourself. Remove your credit card number from your computer’s memory so that you have to type the number in each time you make a purchase. 

If you struggle with letting go of clutter, read my post on getting past the most common excuses for not decluttering the things we no longer use. Resist putting off making decisions, which only postpones your decluttering progress. Instead, decide to decide now.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, when you choose to use the links provided. See my privacy policy for more information.

Laura Coufal

 

About Laura

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. 

always have

something

beautiful 

in your space…

…but let it be

as simple

as a daisy

in a vase.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Tiffany Wiseman

    I would love to see an entire article on Step 8.

    “Develop a well-thought-out plan of action. “

    No! I’m not formally diagnosed with ADHD, however, have many signs & symptoms of it. 😬

    Yes! Getting started has been the hardest part, for me.

    And my brain gets overloaded with this part of it, especially. Making the plan!

    Reply

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