In my previous life, I was a special education teacher. So when I was asked by a few people for ideas on how to organize and declutter when you have ADHD, I put on my teacher hat and got thinking. I implemented a lot of these ideas in my classrooms, so everything I suggest is something I’ve used while working with individuals with ADHD.
You may find that some of these tips on how to declutter with ADHD may work for you, while others may not. It is about testing things out. Knowing your limits. And deciding on how long you can stay focused on a project so that you can complete it.
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1. Start Small
The biggest piece of advice I have is to start small. Pick a small pile to go through or one drawer in the kitchen. This might not seem like much, but a little does go a long way.
By starting small, you are able to better gauge how long you can handle a decluttering task. Some of my students and clients can only last about 15 minutes on one task before moving on to the next. Others can handle longer periods of decluttering, it depends on each individual.
The goal is to find your sweet spot when it comes to decluttering. So, by starting small, you can see how long you can work before you need to take a break!
2. Make A Plan
Once you have selected a spot to start decluttering, make a quick plan. It might be to throw away five things. Or maybe you want to give a drawer a specific purpose.
By creating a plan, you are able to focus on the task at hand.
3. Set A Timer
Once you create the plan, set a timer. Make sure you leave yourself 10 minutes at the end for clean up.
Let’s say you know you can work for 30 minutes on one task. Set your timer for 20 minutes. Use the last 10 minutes of your time to clean up the remaining piles you have created.
I love using visual timers for tasks like this. It helps you visualize what needs to get done and how long you have to do it.
4. Declutter With ADHD
Start by removing everything from the area you selected. Just grab the first thing you see. Ask yourself if you want to keep it. Do you use this item? Would you buy it right now if you saw it at a store? Is there a reason you are holding on to this item?
If you decide to keep the item, make a pile. If you decide to get rid of the item, make a different pile. Either throw directly into the garbage can/recycling bin, or into a pile to sell. Give yourself a deadline to sell by and if doesn’t sell, then donate item. I typically recommend 1-2 weeks before donating.
5. Make Piles
As you declutter, I suggest making piles. These piles should be based on each item. Create more general categories such as manuals, which can include manuals from all items in your home. Or medical, which can be all medical bills/documents/etc.
Use Post-It notes to create your piles so you don’t get overwhelmed when you see all the stuff you need to go through. If the piles aren’t labeled, you might not know where everything should go. Your job is just to create piles with Post-It categories.
6. Create Storage
Once everything is sorted into piles, your timer should be going off soon. This is why you left the 10 minutes for the remaining steps.
All your piles need homes now. I recommend setting them up for simple ongoing maintenance. Some of my favorite things include magazine holders, using one holder for each category. I also like clear shoe boxes for things like cords and gift cards.
Not everything might have a home after the first decluttering session. That is ok! Your goal is to start small, not to complete everything.
7. Keep It Simple When Organizing With ADHD
The biggest thing to remember is to keep your system/process simple. I love magazine holders, because you can just toss the papers into the holder to keep things easily accessible and contained before you go through and declutter.
Keep your categories rather broad so you can easily find places to store your items. Plus, make sure you get rid of things as they come in. This is really important for mail (and homework/art projects/coloring pages). Open and sort as soon as it comes in. This is an easy and simple way to reduce extra clutter.
Now, use these tips for how to declutter with ADHD and use this FREE printable checklist to help keep you focused while you declutter!!
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