So many of us have unseen challenges that can hinder our ability to get and stay organized. For adults who have ADHD, just the thought of organizing your ADHD life can seem overwhelming. We work with so many people who really have learned to embrace organization – on their own terms – that we know it is possible.
One of the most important messages we share, not just with our ADHD clients but with everyone with whom we work, is that no one is going to be harder on you than you are. It’s okay to make progress but not achieve perfection. Perfection is boring!
With that in mind, here are our best tips for organizing your ADHD life:
Write It Down
Whether it’s an appointment, something you have to do, or your grocery shopping list, write it down. If you don’t like dealing with pen and paper, the notes app in your phone is great for making lists and recording reminders.
One of the biggest issues we see with many of our clients (ADHD or not) is a tendency to over-commit. Sure, you’re already working full-time and raising kids, but why not volunteer for the PTA and bake brownies for the girl scout troop and promise to sew costumes for the school play. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to reduce the number of obligations you have. And it’s okay to have five minutes a day where you can just breathe.
Throw It Away
Learn to train yourself to see the trash can as your friend. Do you get a lot of magazines in the mail that you think you’ll read later but end up just being another stack of clutter? Cancel as many subscriptions as you can, and throw away any magazine you’re not going to sit right down and read.
Whether it’s unsubscribing from magazines or creating a capsule wardrobe that has simple, classic basics you can wear anywhere, do what you can to simplify your life. You can extend this by thinking about how you run errands, too. Instead of running off to the store, forgetting something, and having to go back, make a list first. Then, time the trip with other errands you might have (the bank, dropping the kids off at school, etc) to further streamline your obligations.
Use To-Do Lists
Make a to-do list, and prioritize what absolutely must be done today. Add things to the list that you’d like to get done if you’re feeling up to it. Add a couple more things that you would love to get done but it’s okay if they wait. Each day, use the list to keep you focused on what must happen (appointments, grocery shopping, etc). Free yourself from feeling overwhelmed because anything beyond the must-be-done portion of your list is simply a “would be nice but it can wait” item. At the end of the day, you can throw away the list and make a new one the next day.
Enlist a Friend
Get a friend who will help you recognize when you’re becoming too hyper-focused. This friend should be one who will help you declutter and be honest with you when she thinks you’re keeping things that really should have been gone a long time ago.
Hire a Professional Organizer
Working with a professional organizer can help remove some of the burden of getting organized. It can also free you to see where you can make small changes that deliver big benefits rather than feeling overwhelmed.
Small changes can have a big impact.
Be sure to check out our other ADHD resources: