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Five Strategies for ADHD Friendly Home Organisation

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

This week, instead of just starting with the story, I wanted to include all your stories throughout! Home organisation is a common issue for those of us with ADHD. We can struggle with:


• Working memory (where is that item I carefully put away?)[1]

• Time blindness (why does it feel like it will take hours to clear the dishwasher but I can clean the whole house an hour before company?)[2]

• Dopamine (I don’t want to clean, it’s too boring.)[3]

• Transition times (how do people come back from work and immediately start making dinner followed by the dishes?!)[4]


To help you start creating a neurodiverse-friendly home, here are five strategies people with ADHD use to organize their home.


1. Consider Minimalism:

For many ADHDers, reducing what they had at home made it easier to clean. This meant that, unintentionally or intentionally, they adopted a minimalist lifestyle. One commenter noted, ‘my partner and I just had two bowls, two plates, 2 cups, etc. Keeps us from having dirty dishes mean around’. Another commenter noted it was ‘hard with kids in the mix, but I lean very minimalist.’ So if you’re struggling with sorting, cleaning, and organising your house, maybe consider reducing what you have.


2. A Place For Everything:

If you’ve watched Marie Kondo or The Home Edit, you’ll know giving everything a designated space is part of their home organization methods. This method is especially useful for those of us who struggle with working memory. Without a designated space, it can feel impossible to figure out where you put items.


Some of your comments on this included, ‘my favourite organisation tip has got to be my cubbies. When my husband gets home, everything from his pockets goes in that pocket cubby. So when I find his wallet or keys, I know where to put it.’ Others used a similar strategy saying ‘everything goes into areas it is associated with’ and ‘label literally every shelf and drawer, so you never forget what goes where.’


3. Make Space Visual:

Another thing many of you agreed on was the importance of setting up a system that was easy to see. This visual space can help reduce the steps in executive functioning tasks around the house. If items are in an easily viewable cubby, you don’t need to remember where they are, how many you have, or even have to remember to close the cupboard door! Other commenters noted it was essential to ‘have things you need to remember to do in a place where you visually see them. Otherwise out of sight, out of mind.’ For example, one commenter brought, ‘see-through – clear containers so they [kids] can see what is in them, which helps my kids a lot to organise.”


4.One Thing At A Time:

Overwhelmed with cleaning and don’t know where to start? The advice from most ADHD commenters was to do one thing at a time. One commenter noted that ‘I try to clean one room a day.’ While another said, ‘my best tip is to gather things together that are related and then tackle each group/pile one at a time.’ Whether your items need sorting or space needs cleaning, breaking down these tasks and doing one thing at a time can really help you focus without getting overwhelmed.

5. Make Home Organisation Fun:

Here at Unconventional Organisation, we talk about dopamine a lot. [3] The reason is simple. It’s so much easier to do a tedious task if you add more stimulating activities. When it comes to home organisation, many of you felt the same way, stating ‘I have playlists that help me get into the flow state I need’ and ‘I will listen to podcasts, so I feel like my time cleaning isn’t a waste of time.’ To help you with boring cleaning tasks, try saving interesting podcasts or video to listen to when you get started. You might find the desire to listen acts as a good motivator!

Thanks again to everyone who commented and provided such valuable answers to last weeks question. Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas to get started organising your home in a way that plays to your neurodiverse strengths. Remember, if you struggle to organise something in a manner you’ve seen others use, it may not be the best system for your neurodiversity. Let yourself do what works best for you without judgement.


Talk again soon. Skye



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References

[1] R. Alderson, L. Kasper, K. Hudec, and C. Patros, ‘Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Working Memory in Adults: A Meta-Analytic Review’, Neuropsychology, vol. 27, pp. 287–302, May 2013, doi: 10.1037/a0032371.

[2] K. J. Radonovich and S. H. Mostofsky, ‘Duration Judgments in Children With ADHD Suggest Deficient Utilization of Temporal Information Rather Than General Impairment in Timing’, Child Neuropsychol., vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 162–172, Sep. 2004, doi: 10.1080/09297040409609807.

[3] G. Tripp and J. R. Wickens, ‘Neurobiology of ADHD’, Neuropharmacology, vol. 57, no. 7–8, pp. 579–589, Dec. 2009, doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2009.07.026.

[4] N. J. Cepeda, M. L. Cepeda, and A. F. Kramer, ‘Task switching and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’, J. Abnorm. Child Psychol., vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 213–226, 2000.

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