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How to Organize Your House With ADHD: 19 Strategies

19 Strategies For How to Organize Your House with ADHD

If you have ADHD and you want your home to be supportive and functional, without the fuss of keeping up with high-maintenance organizing systems, this post is for you.  Use this list to get the best strategies for how to organize your house with ADHD.

Just because you have ADHD does not mean that you are doomed to struggle with keeping your home organized until the end of time. Not only am I able to keep my home mostly organized but I honestly don’t spend much time trying to keep it that way

Learning to organize your house with ADHD is a realistic and achievable goal. 

The key is to implement some well-thought-out strategies, helpful habits, and low-maintenance organizing systems. Reducing excess clutter is also an important component to staying organized.

Many of us with ADHD are challenged with many of the same common executive dysfunctions, working memory, time management, short attention span, task initiation, etc. but ADHD can manifest very differently for different people. 

For example, my biggest struggle might be with time management, whilst you may handle this fairly well. Maybe for you, it is a bigger challenge to stay on task and follow through with tasks without getting bored.

For this reason, some of these suggestions may work well for you, and others may not – depending on how your unique brain worksMy aim here is to offer a somewhat comprehensive list of suggestions that typically work for those with ADHD. You can try the ones that resonate with you and leave the others behind.  

Use the following tips, tools, and tricks to set your home up for success and create a more ADHD-friendly home:

1. Establish a launching pad to act as a visual reminder.

Create a system by the exit door to remember the items that need to go with you each day. This works great for family members too, and serves as a visual reminder not to forget important items. Place a bin or another container for each family member near the exit door. Place things like lunches, anything you need to take to work with you, backpacks, instruments, coats, sports gear, etc. there to grab as you are walking out the door. 

This should be done ahead of time or even the night before. By doing this, you will drastically reduce the chances of forgetting somethingThis is personally one of my favorite tips because I am terrible at remembering things at the last minute. I have all to do just to make sure I have my car keys in hand as I walk out the door. 

2. Store things where you use them.

You want to store things in such a way that they are super easy to retrieve and put away.  Why not make clean-up as simple as possible for yourself and your family? The easier it is to clean up, the more likely it is to get done.

Think about the activities that take place in each space in your home and store everything needed to perform that activity nearby. For example, if you’re a coffee drinker set up a coffee bar for yourself and store all of the supplies needed to prepare a cup of coffee right there. Store the coffee mugs and thermos nearby as well. Now you have made coffee preparation and clean up a cinch.

3. Establish activity zones.

Every home functions better when the spaces within it are separated into work or play zones.  Imagine a kindergarten room with separate areas designated for reading, painting, storytelling, etc ex.   

Consider what activities take place in all of the different areas of your home and store all of the items needed for that activity nearby.   Use open bins and labeled containers to make retrieval and cleanup as easy as possible.

Tin container sitting on countertop.

4. Make things visual to ensure that they are not forgotten

Place items for tasks that need to be completed in a visible spotThis will help you remember to do themFor example, store medication that you have to take every day in a bin corralled on your bathroom countertop to remind yourself to do them.   

If you have an assignment that needs to be completed, set it in a highly visible place that will remind you to work on it. Many of us with ADHD are visually oriented, in other words, we need to see it, to remember to do it. We perpetually live in a world of out of sight, out of mind.

5. Distinguish between active and inactive clutter. 

Active clutter is the kind mentioned above. These are items that you have placed in a visible location because you need to take some sort of action on them. 

Inactive clutter refers to items that have been sitting unused in the same location for a long period. Maybe it doesn’t have a home or maybe it doesand you just haven’t gotten around to putting it away. Those of us with ADHD tend to get overwhelmed with visual clutterfaster than those with neurotypical brains, so this is the kind of clutter you want to minimize for your own sake. 

6. See what tasks you can either automate or eliminate.

The less your brain has to remember each day, the easier it will be for you to keep up with recurring tasks. For example, set up an automatic online system for paying bills and have your pharmacy automatically refill and mail your medications to your home each month. 

Consider investing in an automatic vacuum like a Roomba to vacuum for you each week. Today, there are lots of automation possibilities to help you keep up from week to week. Think about what other repetitive tasks you have on your plate that you can automate. 

Also, consider whether or not you have any high-maintenance possessions that may not be worth the effort. For example, a hot tub that requires a lot of work but rarely gets used.  The key is to simplify your life as much as possible.

7. Rely on timers and other devices to help you remember to do things. 

I use alarms to help me remember to do many things I would otherwise forget. They are what keeps me on track. You can ask Alexa to remind you to take the trash out, feed the dogs, go to the dentist, etc. Heck, she can even keep a running grocery list for you, which as a bonus, will help you keep your pantry organized. Phone alarms, timers, and devices like Alexa, are excellent tools for helping us set reminders for daily tasks that need to be done.

Timers and alarms can also help us manage our time better. Poor time management is another common executive dysfunction among those with ADHD.  You can use these tools to remind you that it’s time to make supper time for the kids to do homework or time for you to start getting ready for work.

8. Establish one family calendar to keep everyone organized.

Use a highly visible family calendar system to help your family stay on top of things like appointments, deadlines, chores, and activities. Have one central calendar that everyone uses, whether that be a large white-board calendar or a digital one like the skylight calendar which helps families stay on top of everything that needs to get done each week. 

This will ensure that nothing is forgotten and there are no overlapping appointments. Place your calendar in a prominent area such as the kitchen, command center, or mud room.

9. Create incentives to make household cleaning and organizing tasks more interesting to execute

Since task initiation can be an issue for both adults and children with ADHD, find ways to get around this by making household tasks more interesting.  

For example, you can make a game out of tidying up or play music to make doing tasks more fun. Create a little healthy competition to motivate family members to get going. Give a small reward to the first child to finish cleaning their room or complete a chore.  

You can also motivate yourself to get things done in the same way by incentivizing your own tasks. Listen to a favorite podcast while you work or reward yourself when you’re done with a nap or cup of tea.  

10. Decluttering regularly and ruthlessly will help you keep your house organized with ADHD.

When ADHD and clutter are paired, the struggle to stay organized often becomes even more pronounced. Being surrounded by clutter can be mentally draining for anyone, but for those of us with ADHD, visual clutter is even more overwhelming. That is because we have a lower threshold for dealing with clutter in the first place. 

The more stuff you own and have in your home the harder it is to keep it all organized, so declutter often and regularly. If I could only give you one tip that would have the greatest impact on staying organized and creating an ADHD-friendly home, it would be this one.

Pantry organizing containers.

11Don’t underestimate the value of sorting and containerizing.

By storing all related items together in one location, you will drastically reduce how much time you spend looking for things. Once sorted, place groups of items in some sort of storage container so that they stay together. 

Avoid storing similar items in multiple locations in your home. Its easier to remember where the light bulbs and batteries live, if they are all stored together in one place.  Do you ever catch yourself searching in several locations just to find something? Storing all like items together will also help you stay on top of your inventory.

I also recommend storing anything sturdy enough to stand up, vertically instead of laying flat.  Not only does this make items easier to see but you can grab what you need without disheveling or lifting other items.

Susan Pinsky, the author of Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD also suggests that as you organize, it is helpful to name your bins, shelves, and drawers. This will help you keep related items together. For example, store all of your beverage koozies together, standing up in a small container, and place it in the drink cabinet where you store your other beverage-related items.

12In your pantry, use bins to keep related food items together. 

This will make it much easier for you and your family to find things when they need them. It will also keep sorted food categories together longer. 

Use clear, open-topped pantry bins that have been labeled and take food out of their outer packages so that everything is easy to see and to grab quicklyThis will discourage disheveling and make things easy to find, quickly.

Those with ADHD can be impulsive, remedy this by organizing foods so that healthier items are easy to get to and unhealthy snacks require more work. Place fruit cups, nuts, and other healthy choices at eye level and put cookies, chips, and candy on a higher shelf so they are not so easy to grab. 

Use an expandable tiered shelf to store canned food so you can see everything you have. Your goal is not to have to look for anything that is hiding behind something else. Avoid overstocking your pantry so that you don’t run out of space and lose control of your inventory. Reread tip number 10 again, because this is the mother of all organizing tips! 

13. Have a place for everything you own so that you can find things and put them away easily.

Assigning permanent homes to everything you own ensures that clutter is kept at bay and time is not wasted looking for things. It is also important to make sure that other family members know where things are located.  Reinforce the rule that everything has a home and items need to be returned to their permanent homes when they are not being used.

14Don’t put things off until the last minute.

Given that my ADHD makes me forgetful, and I know this about myself, I compensate for this by preparing for things ahead of timeThat way if there are any surprises or I realize I forgot something, I’ve got some cushion. 

Just as it is much less stressful not to wait until the last minute to do a homework assignment, it promotes peace to get predictable, scheduled activities out of the way ahead of time rather than waiting until the last minute. For Example: Shopping for Saturday night’s dinner party well in advance rather than waiting until Saturday morning, allows extra time for any unexpected snags that might pop up.

15. Lean in to your family’s dumping habits.

See if you can find a way to store things where they tend to land rather than constantly moving things to a different location. If shoes seem to end up by the back door, put a shoe rack there. If coats or backpacks constantly land on the chair near the front door, install a hook rack on the wall near there. Install single hooks in places where towels, purses or robes seem to land.

Does paperwork clutter your kitchen counter? Get some decorative baskets or bins to hide it in or put a hanging paperwork organizer on a nearby wall. Notice where clutter seems to gather and see if you can find a way to store those items where they are easy to grab and put away.

16. Create a daily 10-minute family tidying session.

This one trick will go a long way in keeping your home organized from day to day. Get your family in the habit of participating in a 10-minute family tidying session at the same time each day, perhaps right before or after supper. 

You’ll be surprised how quickly your home can go from messy to orderly when everyone pitches in and works together for just 10 minutes.

You can also make it fun by playing music.  When the music stops, everyone can stop tidying. Use caution not to overstep the 10-minute rule. If 10 minutes turns into 30 minutes, your family might become reluctant to participate.

17. Remove barriers to make unfun but necessary tasks easier to do.

If there are activities you want to encourage yourself or your family to do, make it easier to do them.  If your car is always a mess because trash builds up, place a trash can in your garage right next to your car to make getting rid of trash easier.

As an additional reinforcement, the trashcan will act as a visual reminder not to leave your car without dumping the trash from that day’s travels. In the same way, if trash buildup is a problem in your home, place a trashcan in every single room to make for easy dumping. If laundry on the floor is a problemplace a laundry bin in every bedroom and bathroom.

18. Store things simply and avoid micro-organizing.

Focus on organizing things so that they are super easy to find, access, and put away quickly. Leave tops off of storage containers for easy access. Avoid stacking things on top of each other or placing frequently used items in hard-to-reach areas. 

Overcrowding and over nesting make things hard to put away and retrieve. Once a space like a cabinet or closet has exceeded its maximum capacity, that space becomes much less user-friendly and functional. Avoid storing small items in the back of cabinets behind other things, they’ll just get lost and forgotten about.

Also, if your organizing systems are too complicated, they will require too much time and effort to maintainFor example, it may sound like a great idea to store all of your spices in little labeled glass jars. But will you really take the time to refill it all regularly? In the same way, a simple filing system for paperwork with a limited number of main categories is better than one with numerous confusing categories and subcategories.  

19. What other habits can you establish to keep your home organized with ADHD?

Forming habits, such as doing homework and household tasks at the same time every day, can help you and your family feel more in controlHabits give us a sense of security and predictability that make our lives feel less chaotic. 

Keep in mind that if you really want to create lasting change and create a more ADHD-friendly home for yourself long-term, you’ll need to stick with and practice these suggestions.  Resist giving up on the tips that require new habit formation too soon – especially if you know follow-through is a struggle for you. Be patient with yourself. It takes 21 days to create a habit, but good habits are at the heart of staying organized with ADHD.

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Laura Coufal

About Laura

Who I am is a Southern California turned small-town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls. I am also dog mom to Ollie and Gracie, our quirky pups.

With a B.A. degree in Psychology, I have several years experience working with families and seniors. I believe in a holistic view to organizing. Clearing our minds of the clutter and chaos in our lives is just as important as clearing our physical clutter. By taking a holistic approach to organizing, we can make lasting change.

Back when I first started my professional 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 the same way that I have.

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 also help those without ADHD, who struggle with too much clutter.  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.

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