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ADHD & Misplacing Things: Lost Stuff, Lost Time
Hello, my name is Alice! I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 29 years old. 🙋♀️Before my ADHD diagnosis, I struggled with many things; often, I didn't know what caused them or what I should do to manage these difficulties well. Like any other people who weren't aware of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, I was afraid back then. 😨
After my mental health professional diagnosed me with ADHD, things got clearer. I was also relieved that I had someone to turn to about the trouble I was dealing with. My doctor told me about this neurodivergent condition and the symptoms that can be related to it. I remember having mixed feelings about his diagnosis, but most importantly, I felt relieved back then 🙌 because I finally knew how to address my struggles. I also learned how to support myself and manage my ADHD symptoms to continue with my everyday life.
I admit that I am far from perfect, but I am now more aware of my actions and more capable of handling my ADHD struggles. But, why am I telling you a backstory of my life? Because I want you guys to know that having ADHD isn't a curse or an incurable disease. It is a neurodivergent condition that you can manage with proper treatment and understanding.
Many daily struggles can hinder an adult with ADHD from functioning well, but in this blog, I want to tell you more about one of the most common problems that I - and most people with ADHD - experience, which is misplacing things. 😅
One of the Predominantly Inattentive ADHD Symptoms
Losing things isn't something that only people with ADHD experience because anyone can forget about or misplace their belongings. But for us with this neurodivergent condition, misplacing our stuff seems to happen more frequently. This is mainly because our brains cannot focus and pay attention to small details 😵, making it easy for us to forget where we put what we are currently holding or where we place our stuff.
This often happens to me, and I admit it can sometimes be annoying. For example, sometimes I'll spend hours looking for my mobile phone which I was holding before “I lost it”. I was so distracted by different activities that I placed my phone on the kitchen counter. The counter, per se, was not a problem. But the distractions kept me from taking note of where I placed my phone. I ended up wasting time looking for it!
Things like these happen more often than not, and they can be frustrating, especially when I am in a hurry or when the thing I misplaced is important.
But, my search for my lost stuff doesn't end there. Many important papers and documents 📝📚 📅 are prone to be misplaced as soon as I receive them. Paperwork is something that I cannot do well because, aside from the repetitive task of sorting and organizing, I also tend to misplace or lose them. This often happens when I am dealing with lots of things on my desk, and I can't seem to focus on a particular task. As a result, I developed the tendency to avoid office work as much as I can.
Taking Care of My Belongings
As I learn more about the struggles of having ADHD as an adult, I started to develop masking skills and techniques that somehow solve problems about losing things every time. In my mind I was thinking: I MUST do something other than worry about losing my things and spending too much time keeping track of them. 😔
There's a point in my life when I had a hobby of collecting pens of different colors and designs. If I see something worth having, I do impulse buying and add them to my collection. However, I also happen to struggle with staying organized. So, sometimes, when I need a pen to jot down important things 📝, I don’t have a pen to use - despite having a collection of them! Even worse, I'll find them on other people's desks. I know it's mine, but I don't have any proof for it, and they might only scold me because I lose things often. As a result, for every pen I'll have, I'll put my name on it just in case it gets lost elsewhere.
Another thing that solves my problem of misplacing stuff I own is checking if I still have them on me frequently. However, this can induce anxiety as I often worry that I might have lost something even if I haven't. I usually check my pockets and bags several times to ensure everything is still in its proper place. If I were to describe it, it feels like a constant battle against myself, which can be exhausting sometimes.
But the ADHD Struggle Still Exists
Even though there are efforts to overcome the struggle of losing things often, that doesn't mean that I am safe from one of these adult ADHD symptoms. There are still times I get to experience looking for my belongings for more than half an hour or, if unlucky, a whole day!
With adult ADHD traits such as trouble focusing, difficulty paying attention, and forgetfulness, I couldn't imagine a week without losing things and finding them in weird places 😅. Can you imagine that I have been keeping my reading glasses inside the refrigerator or my car keys inside the washing machine? It's funny how I manage to put things in weird places where I can't even think of looking for them.
Having this dilemma of looking for important things that I often use daily keeps me from being productive. Instead of doing something more essential or ticking off some items on my to-do lists, I spent long hours searching for items until I lost track of my time.
ADHD & Misplaced Productivity
What can you do if you return to the same place several times and still don't find what you are looking for? You'll keep trying to search other areas repeatedly until you discover where your valuables are hiding or remember that you hid them in a place that is not easy to spot.
Some people with ADHD often lose focus when things don't go in their favor 🥺. When they don't have the necessary items to do productive tasks, their focus and concentration can quickly be diverted to searching for them. They get easily distracted and can't move on with their current task because they can't find what they are looking for. This can be one of the reasons why some people with ADHD often have a hard time completing tasks.
Some adults with ADHD struggle with misplaced productivity and tend to have anxiety because of their lost items. Instead of solving their dilemma and focusing on being productive, they get easily side-tracked and look for their things. And sometimes, looking for something can take days or weeks until they finally find it, further delaying essential activities that need to be done immediately.
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ADHD Can Be Mentally Exhausting
There are moments when I feel like giving up because it feels like this struggle will never end. But I know that as someone with ADHD, I need to be more patient and understanding with myself. After all, it's not entirely my fault that I often lose things. It's just one of the many challenges that I need to face in my life as a result of having ADHD.
Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder that isn't managed well can be exhausting most of the time. It's either you become too tired of masking your ADHD traits and pretending that you are managing your symptoms well, or you openly struggle with lost valuables.
At the end of the day, some individuals with adult ADHD are mainly worried about not doing things the way neurotypical people do. They might also be a little envious that non-ADHD people can have a normal day without any struggle on lost valuables.
To add further to our hardships, we sometimes don't get the support we need 😭. Others may find our problems simple or think we are only overreacting to the situation - they just can’t seem to grasp the gravity of the situation. ADHD can be mentally exhausting, especially when people don't understand what we are going through.
People's judgment may make us think that even though we did our best to prevent these things from happening, the struggle is still there. With uncalled for criticisms, it's easy to give up and feel bad about ourselves. When the challenges seem too hard, and we feel hopeless about our situation, further complications can arise. We might even start to think that there's something wrong with us. That's where comorbidities show up, like depression, substance abuse, or anxiety.
Hacking Our ADHD Brain: Tips on Preventing Misplacing Things
I want you to understand that there's still hope for us 👌 when it comes to misplacing things. No matter how difficult it may be to live with ADHD, there's a flip side to it. We may have our share of struggles, but we also have unique strengths and abilities that non-ADHD people don't have.
So, as I have said, I am far from perfect and still need to undergo treatment and therapy to manage my ADHD well. But since I struggle a lot with missing objects and playing detective to find them, here are some clues, I mean tips, in overcoming this ADHD trait:
- Avoid unique hiding places for your car keys or something more valuable. Instead, place them where you can see them quickly.
- Provide a designated vessel or container for items that you use everyday—things like remote control, an apple pen, or your wallet. You can use a small bowl or plate placed in a specific area to lessen the time you'll spend searching for them.
- Get color-coded labels and use them to mark where you place your things. It can make organizing documents, school materials, and other office things much more accessible. You can also use this tip when tidying up your house.
- When you lose something and need to find it, search systematically. Doing this can save you time going back and forth trying to remember where you put your things. If looking in a big area, search space by space, then room by room.
- There are specific ADHD tools that you can try to be more organized. Applications such as Evernote can help you take down important notes and keep track of your to-do lists.
- You can also purchase GPS-enabled devices to track your valuables easily. Likewise, alarm-based devices can also assist you in finding what you are looking for.
If the struggle continues and being forgetful already causes you a great deal of inconvenience, don't hesitate to ask for help from mental health professionals 👩⚕️. They can help you with your mental health conditions and recommend proper medication to help you with the challenges you are facing at the moment.
While it can be mentally tiring and frustrating, remember that you are not alone in this battle 😘. There are other people like you who are also going through the same difficulties. So never give up and continue to find ways how you can hack your adult ADHD brain.
ADHD and Misplacing Things: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is losing things a symptom of ADHD?
Losing things is not an official symptom of ADHD, but it can manifest because people with ADHD are prone to being inattentive. Hence, many people with ADHD experience this struggle frequently.
What ADHD symptoms cause us to lose things?
The main symptom that causes many people with ADHD to misplace things is their inattention. Being inattentive of the things we’re holding or the place we are at can cause us to misplace objects. Secondly, ADHD can also contribute to forgetfulness. And of course, being easily distracted can lead us to lose things.
How can we overcome misplacing things due to our ADHD?
The best way to overcome the struggle of misplacing things is to be mindful of what you’re doing all the time. Purposefully remembering placing an object somewhere also helps. For instance, if you’re about to drop your keys to the counter, you can tell yourself “I’m putting the keys on the counter.” Of course, a mental health coach can also support you in overcoming this trait.