ADHD & Home Organization
You might have heard that some adults with ADHD, particularly those who live alone, cannot seem to keep their homes organized. What is the reason behind this challenge? More importantly, can it be managed? Learn more about ADHD & Home Organization here.
Table of Contents
ADHD & Home Organization: 5 Examples of Difficulties
1. Keeping The Routinary Tasks Checked: Why Organization Often Needs Constant Reminder
2. ADHD And Task Initiation: Why It’s Sometimes Difficult To Start With Chores
3. Problems Inside The Laundry Room
4. Do We Need A Professional Organizer?
5. How Memory Is Affected by ADHD
6. Home Organization Techniques
ADHD & Home Organization FAQs
How To Manage My ADHD Home Organization Difficulty
In my experience, living alone while having ADHD can sometimes be a struggle and an overwhelming task. For me, the hardest part of managing my place is that there isn't anyone around to help me aside from myself. 😭 I have to do everything, so it's easy to get stressed out. And when I’m too stressed, I might stop doing anything related to the task that caused my distress. More importantly, tasks that I should do immediately are sometimes postponed until the last minute or until I no longer have a choice but to do them.
Cleaning your home, doing chores, or tidying everything is a skill learned by almost everyone at an early age. Young children are taught different tasks on how to organize things. Family members often share tasks because sometimes, they can be pretty burdening. Some households delegate one task or more per person, and everything will be harmonious. But for many people with ADHD, it is not that easy.
For some, ADHD affects home organization. The challenges can be brought by different ADHD symptoms like sensory overload, inattention, and impulsiveness, among other things. Some adults with ADHD can struggle with having an organized house because they cannot seem to keep up with their hyperactive brains. Also, too much stuff caused by impulse buying behavior can prevent us from organizing everything efficiently. 😅
Keeping The Routinary Tasks Checked: Why Organization Often Needs Constant Reminder
We often put post-its on our bulletin board and a list of tasks that we need to accomplish every day to keep everything organized. 📝 We carefully plan out the rest of the week and turn it into writing for us to not forget the necessary details and do them diligently. We put our best effort into achieving these goals, but ADHD can sometimes get in our way. 🥺
In other words, things don’t always go as planned.
I was saddened when I saw the already withered plant that I used to water every day consecutively for the past two weeks. 🌱 I developed the habit of watering and giving it the required sunlight to grow every morning - special thanks to my to-do list. I thought I wouldn't need the list anymore as I was confident enough that I'll remember the routine that evolved throughout the time frame. The moment I let go of my reminder, I became distracted, left my precious plant outside, and remembered it only a couple of days later.
During that time, the regret made me realize how important it is to keep those routine tasks checked. 📝 It would be better to over-communicate with yourself rather than not put any effort. Organizing solutions, like reminding ourselves with post-it notes, are there for us to use so that we never leave anything behind. There are numerous reminder tools and applications that you may want to check HERE to help you with your struggles.
ADHD And Task Initiation: Why It’s Sometimes Difficult To Start With Chores
Are you worried about task initiation? Yes, I am! Task initiation or starting on an activity (chore) for me is the final push or urge to begin doing something and continue rolling for the next couple of hours (especially when I hyperfocus). What makes me afraid of starting something is the thought of finishing it imperfectly. Sometimes, ADHD brains entertain the idea of delaying tasks because we think we may not be able to finish them well.😅
When I moved to my new place, it took me months to unpack my baggage and organize them well. The novelty of my new place 🏠 clouds my thoughts about organizing my things and it directly affects my thinking and functioning. Conditional scenarios often visit my ADHD brain like, "If I unpack everything now, will I be able to finish it the same day,” “I want to eat pizza at the nearby fancy restaurant I saw on the way here," or like "I have all the time in the world, I'll explore everything first about this wonderful place, and I'll do my baggage after I'm done."
Starting a task for us can be a struggle because our brain's executive functions are affected by ADHD. Executive Functioning is responsible for formulating strategies and plans, like the ones we need when we like to organize our stuff. It is also the one that initiates actions for us to achieve these goals.
Problems Inside The Laundry Room
There are lots of helpful tips to get you through your mountain-load laundry. The funniest advice that I have encountered regarding staying organized with your laundry is to put them in a trash bag and purchase new clothing items—just kidding. 😉
An average person may sometimes find doing the laundry relaxing and enjoyable, but I do struggle with it. The moment I see my laundry basket full 🧺, I panic and worry about what I need to do to fix the problem. It usually starts with, "I need to wash them all now, or else they will start to smell," and ends with, "Why am I doing this? I hate laundry!"
My mental health is at stake every time I need to deal with piles and piles of laundry. The first thing I need to do is to separate the colors from the whites, then choose the cycle and temperature for each type of clothing, and finally, put fabric conditioner and softener.
There are so many things to remember, even the number of times I need to repeat the process before getting my fresh, newly-laundered clothes. If I wish to finish the laundry, my time management and schedule might also be compromised. I have to allot extended hours for me to have clean clothes.
However, the struggle does not end there. Folding and organizing these clothes and returning them to the cabinet might take another week or so. By that time, I had already accumulated another set of dirty clothes. Should I do paid services for my laundry? 🤔
Do We Need A Professional Organizer?
While some people struggle in doing house chores, there are professionally organized people. These people sometimes turn their organizational talents into a career.
Hiring a professional organizer is an expensive way to achieve an organized home. These people will declutter your whole house and help you manage everything from your clothes, books, kitchen items, and even your bathroom items. After the organizers have done their job of decluttering and organizing your place, they will teach you methods on how to keep everything in order. But do we need to go this far if the struggle of organizing task and tidying our home becomes unbearable?
Let me share my experience.
I often do grocery shopping every other week to buy some fresh ingredients in case I have the energy to cook some decent meals for myself 🍲. I list down all ingredients I think I need, buy them, and add to the cart anything else that I see cute or charming.
So, this week, I ran to the shop to purchase some stuff. When I came back to put all the items I bought in the fridge, I saw something that I was not supposed to see there. I forgot that I have plenty of frozen goods from the previous grocery shopping. I think I can still save some of the stuff that I found, but ultimately, I don't know if they are still safe to eat. 😭
The problem became so significant. It came to the point that I decided to get someone who could help me with my home organization problem.
You see, sometimes, when our ADHD affects home organization to the extent that it can no longer be contained, it is time for us to seek professional help. However, I still try to do most things or ask my trusted friends for support. 😘
When things get tough, there may be a need to consult a professional organizer. In my case, I don’t have to hire them frequently - only when the problem already affects the quality of my life. Buying too much food while still having some left in the fridge, for instance, can put my health at risk. Not to mention, it’s quite an expensive habit.
There are still many things that I can do to grasp the situation better and prevent spending money on extreme measures (like hiring professionals). There are self-help guides 📚 with flexible thinking and realistic tips that can be done so you can achieve an organized home. We can also reach out to our pals and ask for their help. They can be our second set of eyes to help us find things we need and achieve an organized home.
How Memory Is Affected by ADHD
Personally, it's pretty hard to remember things. Sometimes I get confused if it is caused by normal forgetfulness or ADHD. But, deep down, I think my ADHD accentuates or contributes to my forgetfulness.
One time, as I was doing paperwork for my plans for the coming week, I got a tumbler and filled it with coffee ☕ to brighten the mood. After a while, I went to fetch some water and put the mug beside me to keep myself hydrated. As I was hyperfocused on what I was doing, I was shocked that I already had 6 glassware on my table! The mugs and tumblers invaded my desk! 😅
You see, I figured that the need to have something to sip or gulp is probably my way of coping with my forgetfulness.
Many people with ADHD have trouble with their working memory and muscle memory. Working memory is a part of short-term memory that enables us to recall information from our long-term memory. It helps us hold several pieces of information in mind at once. On the other hand, muscle memory is the process of storing data in our muscles so we can perform specific tasks without having to think about them too much. We often use muscle memory when we are doing things that we are already familiar with, like brushing our teeth or tying our shoes.
Some people with ADHD often have trouble with their working memory because they might have difficulty holding information in their minds long enough to use it. They may also have trouble with muscle memory because they might have difficulty focusing on the task long enough for their muscles to learn the task.
But either way, there are still strategies in life that we can do to make peace with all the clutter and achieve an organized home.
Home Organization Techniques
It’s true that many people struggle with home organization from time to time. But, some people with ADHD can have it more complicated than anyone else. 🥺 There are times when our emotional control - and even our lifestyle - gets affected by these instances. To help you with the problem of cleaning your home and tidying your things, we need better research on tips and tricks for this struggle.
Some may suggest using a Sunday basket to check all the chores you've done and all the paperwork you have. But sometimes, it can be a disaster!
We can try other things, but for now, here are some of my suggestions, tips, and strategies that you may want to try out:
- Set a daily schedule of things that should be done according to the level of priority.
- Make a checklist of these tasks and have it posted in an easy-to-see spot to help you remember what you have to do.
- Make a list diligently in order to develop a habit out of it.
- Start with baby steps. You don't have to do everything all at once. Just focus on one area and work on your next project after finishing the first one.
- Do the most important tasks first, especially if it is something that can't be postponed or left to another day.
- Tick-off those tasks that are already done. Doing this can sometimes motivate you to work harder.
- Do self-monitoring with your progress and tap your back for a well-done job!
- Seek professional help if the problem is already out of control and you can't seem to find a way out.
May it be throwing the contents of the trash can outside, washing dirty dishes, or emptying your laundry basket, remember that you have your own pace in life, and you don't need to worry about what others may say. ❤️ We all have different capabilities, and we need to learn how to understand ourselves more to manage our time and resources well.
ADHD and Home Organization: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Is it common for some people with ADHD to struggle with keeping an organized home?
Yes, it’s fairly common for some people with ADHD to struggle with keeping their homes organized. This is especially true for people who live alone. Sometimes, the problem gets so bad they need to hire a professional to clean and organize their whole house!
2. What ADHD symptoms affect problems with home organization?
Several ADHD traits contribute to the difficulty in keeping the home organized. To name a few, we have forgetfulness, sensory overload, getting easily distracted, inability to pay attention, and impulsivity.
3. Do people with ADHD need to hire professionals?
It depends, really. Hiring a professional can be expensive and may not be sustainable. If the problem gets out of hand to the point that it affects your mental or physical health, you might want to consider. But, if possible, you can employ the help of your friends and family. Talking to a therapist or coach can also help.