ADHD and How to Stay Organized
ADHD makes getting and staying organized challenging. Restlessness, impulsivity, focusing difficulties, and other symptoms of adult ADHD get in the way of someone’s ability to concentrate on a tedious task like organizing. However, when your life and surroundings are cluttered and disorganized, important things are hard to find, it’s hard to complete tasks, it feels chaotic, and ADHD symptoms are intensified.
It’s a horrible cycle: ADHD makes organization difficult, but disorganization worsens ADHD symptoms, and those make it even more difficult to organize. That doesn’t mean you have to give up and live in frustration. There are organization tips for ADHD adults that can help.
Getting Organized When You Live with ADHD
For adults with ADHD, inattention and problems focusing interfere in organization. Organizing, and then staying organized, isn’t always the most exciting task on your to-do list, so attending to the job and focusing on all that needs to be organized can be a problem. You can solve this particular problem by jazzing up your organizational system.
Getting organized with adult ADHD doesn’t have to be boring. Create ways to manage your clutter, your desk, your papers, your calendar and more that appeal to you. Color-code a filing system so you can store and access important papers efficiently. Create logical spots for everything. Keys, for example, are best kept by the door so you don’t have to search frantically for them, making you run late. Use strategically placed baskets or jars to keep things in. Buy them at a craft store or thrift shop and paint or decorate them to make them appealing to you. This makes staying organized with ADHD easier.
Staying Organized with ADHD
Staying organized doesn’t have to be a Sisyphean challenge. One of the best ways to stay organized when you have ADHD is to keep up with it. It’s tempting to forgo sorting and decluttering in favor of something more fun. However, spending a short amount of time each day putting things in their proper place, will help you stay organized almost effortlessly.
Tackle bite-sized bits each day. Create an organization routine, doing it at the same time each day so it becomes automatic. Make it fun by playing music or turning it into a game. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and challenge yourself to get a certain amount of items organized. When the timer sounds, you can stop and be done for the day. If you met your goal, reward yourself.
Perhaps the best way to stay organized when you have ADHD is to think about why organization is important to you. Many people with ADHD think in terms of a bigger picture rather than minute details. Organization involves minute details, but it also involves a grander scope.
Staying organized can positively impact the way you live. It helps you function better, feel on top of things rather than always a step behind, and gives you a sense of competence and confidence. When you spend your brief amount of time each day organizing and decluttering, think of your greater purpose: feeling good and moving forward.
Sometimes, even when you’re motivated by your purpose for organization, it can be hard to know how to go about it. There are things you can do to help yourself be organized.
Organization Tips for Adults with ADHD
When organization seems daunting, it’s hard to keep up with it. The following ADHD organization and time management tips for adults can help you not just stay afloat, but swim powerfully ahead.
- Establish structure that works for you. To function easily and smoothly, have a logical place for everything. Incorporate ADHD organization charts, color coding, and more.
- Lists are one of the most useful ADHD organization tools. Keep track of things you need to do, important dates, and more.
- Set your phone or computer to notify you with reminders of appointments, events, etc.
- Have a notebook with you at all times to work on your lists and write down important thoughts so you don’t forget them. Having multiple notebooks that you keep in strategic places can be helpful.
- Use bulletin boards or white boards to pin up or write reminders to yourself.
- Find one planner system that works for you, and use it.
- Use ADHD organization apps. Multiple apps to help with organization and time management are available. Explore the various options, and select an ADHD app to help yourself. Find one that has the features and style you like.
- Use an ADHD coach or organization consultant. These professionals come to your home or office to teach you ADHD organization skills.
Getting and staying organized with ADHD can be challenging but very rewarding. When you know how to stay organized, you will reduce ADHD struggles and free yourself to move forward and thrive.
Last Updated: 01 November 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD