Now Available! The Complete Home Makeover Guide Tailored Specifically for Those With ADHD.


Why ADHD and Clutter are a Chaotic Duo & How to Get Past it

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.

Why ADHD and clutter are often a chaotic duo:

Have you ever walked into a room to do some tidying up and instead found yourself wanting to get out of there ASAP? There is a very real dilemma that often exists between ADHD and clutter. 

Excessive clutter can be doubly challenging for those of us with ADHD because not only might we be more prone to collecting it, but we are also more distracted by having to look at it.

When ADHD and clutter are paired, the struggle to stay organized often becomes even more pronounced.

In this article, we delve into the many reasons why ADHD and clutter do not make for harmonious housemates. We’ll also talk about what you can do to minimize how clutter affects you and your productivity. 

8 Reasons why ADHD and clutter can be problematic when paired:

1. Distraction:

Those with ADHD often experience heightened distractibility, making it difficult to focus on specific tasks. Excessive clutter adds another layer of distractions, as the eyes and mind are constantly drawn to the chaos surrounding them. 

The sheer amount of visual stimuli can overwhelm someone with ADHD, making it challenging to concentrate on the task at hand.

Order and chaos spelled with scrabble squares.

2. Decision Making:

The presence of both ADHD and clutter makes decision-making just that much harder. Those with ADHD often are more indecisive about how to deal with the clutter that they see. 

Having ADHD can impede our ability to prioritize and make decisions efficiently. When confronted with clutter, the need to decide what to keep, toss, or organize becomes a daunting task. Having too many choices and the inability to quickly make decisions can lead to procrastination, which just exacerbates the problem.

3. Forgetfulness:

Those with ADHD tend to be more forgetful and to lose things more than those with neuro-typical brains. This is the case for me. It is also true that the more stuff you have, the harder it is to keep it all organized.  

There is nothing more frustrating than frantically searching for something you can’t find. Time is wasted and if you don’t find it, and if you have to buy another one, then money is wasted too. Perhaps the most troublesome consequence of losing things is the overall stress that it causes.

When ADHD is combined with a cluttered environment, the chances of us losing important items skyrocket. The struggle to locate keys, documents, or everyday essentials in a sea of disorder leads to frustration and stress. All of this further complicates our attempts to maintain an organized home.

4. Time Management:

Since many with ADHD already struggle with time management, the presence of too much clutter only amplifies this issue. Losing and searching for things creates additional time-consuming obstacles. 

Simple tasks, such as finding a specific item or clearing a workspace, can escalate into time-draining endeavors, disrupting daily routines and contributing to a perpetual state of disorganization. 

5. Overwhelm:

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. 

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.  

6. Emotional Impact:

A cluttered environment can have a negative impact on emotional well-being, which is particularly relevant for individuals with ADHD who may already grapple with heightened emotions. 

The visual chaos of clutter can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and a sense of being overwhelmed, further exacerbating ADHD symptoms. Eliminating excess clutter becomes not only a matter of practicality but also a crucial aspect of mental and emotional health.

7. Lack of Control:

Another reason ADHD and clutter do not pair well together is that a cluttered space makes us feel like we don’t have control of our environment. Having our environment decluttered and organized helps us to feel more in control. The more control we have at home, the more satisfied and less stressed we feel. 

This is why it feels so good to walk into an organized, clutter-free room. It is also why taking time to declutter a space or complete an organizing project, brings us so much mental peace. 

8. Impulsivity

Those with ADHD not only have trouble dealing with excess clutter, but they also tend to collect more of it. One of the several executive functions affected by ADHD is impulsivity. Inhibition is the ability to control impulsive behavior and resist distractions. It is also known as self-restraint. 

Individuals with ADHD often lack this inhibition and find it challenging not to immediately act on their impulses. For this reason, they can have more clutter coming into the home due to the tendency to bring home or buy things on impulse. This is especially true for those who often engage in online shopping. It is all too easy to simply click and place an order. 

Clean room with desk.

Strategies for overcoming the ADHD and clutter challenge: 

When it comes to ADHD and clutter; LESS is MORE and simple is best.

1. Own less stuff:

The best way to stay organized if you have ADHD is to have less stuff. I can’t stress this statement enough. Letting go of everything you are no longer using is key. If you take only one suggestion away from reading this post let it be this one. 

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 space becomes. Keeping your storage spaces less full will ensure that you can find, retrieve, and put away things quickly, with minimal effort. 

2. Create simple systems: 

Next to having less stuff in your home, keeping it organized as simply as possible is the next best thing you can do to help yourself stay organized.

You want to make everything as simple to store, use, maintain, and put away as possible. This will help you minimize the clutter you have to look at on a daily basis.  If it’s super simple to put away, its more likely to done.

Avoid micro-organizing.

Instead of storing each pair of socks in separate compartments in your sock drawer, place two bins inside your drawer. Dump all of your black socks into one bin and all the white ones into another bin. 

Steer clear of high-maintenance systems.

Pouring every new pantry item you buy into pretty labeled containers is not for you. Most individuals with ADHD do not have the patience to mess with maintaining these kinds of systems.  

Store things right where you use them.

This will allow for quick access and cleanup.

Use caution not to use sources like the Home Edit as your sole guide for getting organized. Comparing yourself to what you see there can actually leave you feeling less organized. You want to focus more on functionality and less on making things pretty.  

3. Create decluttering habits:

Keep a donation box in an out-of-the-way but assessable location in your home year-round. This will allow your family to toss no longer used items in the box as they come across them. This is a simple trick that encourages automatic decluttering. 

In addition to this, put a twice-a-year decluttering day on your calendar. Push past the common decluttering excuses used to hold onto things that you don’t use. Keep in mind that just as you have a constant flux of stuff coming into your home, each month, the same amount of stuff should be leaving your home to keep it balanced. 

4. Establish clutter reducing routines: 

Develop consistent daily routines and helpful habits to help you automatically keep clutter at bay. Here’s an example, let’s say your bathroom drives you crazy because the countertops are always a cluttered mess, – Get in the habit of quickly clearing off your countertops in the bathroom each morning when your done getting ready for your day, before you leave the room.

This action will likely take only 20 seconds to execute. And while this might take much mental effort at first, it will become automatic once you have practiced it for a few weeks. Before you know it, you’ll be keeping your countertops clutter free without even thinking about it.

Another example – begin the habit of taking 10 minutes each day to tidy up your home. Do it at the same time each day – maybe right after dinner or whatever time works best for your schedule. Get your family on board with this practice and you’ll be shocked at how much clutter can be reduced in just 10 short minutes with lots of helping hands. Just this one tidying routine will greatly reduce the amount of clutter you have to deal with and look at each day.

5. Utilize helpful organizational tools that minimize clutter: 

If you are like me and have to see things to remember to do them, you may have to leave some things sitting out on countertops as visual ques.  But you can corral these items together in an attractive container (see below) so that your counters look less cluttered.

You many also want to invest in other easy to use storage solutions, such as open topped clear containers to create a visually pleasing and functional storage spaces. Containers also help keep things sorted and grouped together. That said, use caution not to purchase anything until after you have done your sorting and decluttering. It is a common organizing mistake to shop first. If you do this, you likely will end up buying the wrong products.

Labels for containers can be particularly helpful for quick identification and for keeping families organized. Invest in open topped hampers and trash cans and place them in every room where laundry and/or trash seem to accumulate. Install hooks in your closet and mudroom or entryway to make hanging often used items easier for yourself.

Tin container sitting on countertop.

6. Start small to avoid getting overwhelmed:

Attempting to tackle a large decluttering job when you have 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. This may work for Marie Kondo and others, but it won’t work for you. Instead, break projects into small chunks. Declutter one clothing rod, drawer, or shelf at a time. This will help you side-step getting frustrated and giving up. It will also allow you to clearly see your progress. 

7. Assign a permanent home to every single thing you own:

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 checkbook? Taking this step will drastically reduce how often you spend time searching for lost belongings. It will also minimize random clutter buildup in your home.

What’s more, is that once everything has a home, putting things away takes much less time and effort. That’s because your not having to think about or look for homes for things.  Your ADHD brain needs to be able to put things away quickly because you likely don’t have the patience to evaluate each item.

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 things together. Name each space that holds specific items; Have a coffee cup cabinet, a medicine shelf, a sock drawer, etc.   

8. Incorporate more space into your home.

Keep in mind that when you clear your space of clutter, you also clear your mind, so the empty spaces in your home are important too. Having some empty space allows energy into your home and creates a peaceful, Zen-like environment. This is soothing for everyone, but is especially important for those of us with ADHD.

You’ll be doing your eyes and your mind a favor by taking the following steps:  

1. Leave a few smaller walls clear of wall hangings.

2. Consider reducing the amount of furniture in each room, – as a bonus, this will make those rooms look larger.

3. Clear off kitchen counters and other flat surfaces so that plenty of clear space remains. Only a few beautiful, sentimental, or used-daily items should be carefully selected to live on top of your flat surfaces.  

Like everything else in life, balance is key and the Yin-Yang theory is a very real thing. Your home feels and functions best when it contains a balance of both space and stuff within its walls. 


The combination of ADHD and excessive clutter poses a formidable challenge when it comes to maintaining an organized home. However, with a proactive approach, including decluttering, simplifying, establishing routines, and utilizing organizational tools, we can create a more supportive living environment for ourselves. 

Recognizing the interplay between ADHD and clutter is the first step toward reclaiming control over our space and fostering a sense of order and calmness in daily life. 

If you really want to get serious about decluttering your home, read my post “15 Common Situational and Psychological Reasons for Clutter.”  To find out which of these might apply to the kind of clutter you are struggling with. 

Want Room-By-Room Guidance with Decluttering and Organizing Your Home?

My Complete Step-By-Step Home Makeover Tutorial for Those with ADHD is now available. Click below to learn more about how you can get support from me just as if I were working there with you in your home.

ADHD Home Makeover Guide

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. 

always have



in your space…

…but let it be

as simple

as a daisy

in a vase.


Feeling Stuck?
Schedule a coaching call, virtual organizing session, or a home assessment with me, and get the support and encouragement you need to move forward.
Girl on chair in front of computer.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

you may also like

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This