3 Helpful Things I Do as a Professional Organizer with ADHD

published Sep 14, 2022
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I’ve gotten used to the look of disbelief when I reveal I have ADHD because I’m known as a very organized person, specifically when it comes to my physical stuff. I began a professional organizing business in 2017 and then received my diagnosis in 2021. Most of my life up until that point was spent masking my symptoms, as well as keeping my space as clutter-free and orderly as possible. 

I began to realize there was a strong connection between my organization obsession (which has been present since birth) and my ADHD. By embracing a minimalist lifestyle and creating foolproof systems in my home, I was able to eliminate the threat of decision fatigue and curb the common struggle among fellow ADHDers of misplacing items on a regular basis. 

Here are some things I’ve done to remain organized, which has ultimately made living with ADHD more manageable. 

Practice the art of decluttering

Too many options, from what to eat to what to wear, can lead to burnout, particularly for an ADHD brain. That’s why I’ve done all I can to minimize what I own. Choosing to use my only curling iron is, for lack of a better term, a no-brainer. As opposed to when I owned four that all did something slightly different. Not only does it mean one less decision to make, but it also creates significantly less chaos in my linen closet.

The desire to live with less required me to realize that decluttering is not a one-and-done task. It’s important to have an ongoing plan and to get really good at letting go so it doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming. Keep a tote in your closet so you can add to it as you come across clothing that no longer sparks joy and donate when it’s full. Block some time off on your calendar at the start of each month to go through your pantry and fridge. Assess your beauty products every season. Consistency, assisted by straightforward reminders, is the key to making sure that there’s as much going out as there is coming into your home. 

Stick to (very) simple systems

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as over-organization. Pantry labels that are too specific or an email account with dozens of subfolders make you think harder than necessary. While I’m a firm believer that sorting things together and into their own zones is a crucial step to getting and staying organized, I avoid going above and beyond. The goal of being organized is to make life easier, so if I have to pull back an excessive amount of layers to find or return something, it defeats that purpose.

Focus first on placing the things you need often at eye level. Consider the type of container that’s easiest for you to use. I prefer open-top baskets or stackable, slide-out organizers because I reach for something with one hand while I’m multitasking with the other (or attempting to, anyway). If you’re an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of person, clear bins will work well so you can still see what’s inside while keeping things neat. Whatever type you prefer, always place labels, as general as can be, on the outside at least until you get used to what’s inside.

Set timers for tidying up

Once I start to hyper-fixate on something, it can derail the rest of my day — or even weekend if I let it. If I know that I have to be somewhere in an hour or so and would like to clean up any clutter along with getting myself ready, I’ll set timers using my smart home device so that I don’t spend too much time on one task and leave none for the next. This method allows me to feel accomplished even with performing micro-tasks. Maybe I can’t rearrange the entire kitchen, but I can get my junk drawer in order in under 10 minutes and it’s better than having done nothing at all.

I also set timers on my phone whenever I go into a store that I know I could easily get immersed in (say, The Container Store). This way I can stay focused on what I went in for and avoid bringing home stuff that I most likely don’t need, otherwise known as clutter.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: I’m a Professional Organizer with ADHD — Here’s How I Get (and Stay) Organized