Making Peace With ADHD Clutter

Making Peace With ADHD Clutter

If you find yourself drowning in a mess of clutter, from overflowing drawers to chaotic closets, you're not alone. Having trouble with organization is a common experience among ADHD adults. Why does this happen, and when might it require professional treatment or medication? This article is packed with tips to help navigate this common challenge. From tips on organizing that pile of clothes in your drawer or closet to when mess leads to stress, we've got you covered.

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Written by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach

Reviewed by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach
In this Article

Reviewed by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach
A word form our expert

Messy Desk, Messy Mind? The ADHD Guide to Clutter

Navigating the world of clutter is like an obstacle course for those of us managing ADHD symptoms. 🥺 Whether we're trying to keep a cluttered desk in the office organized or sorting the eternal piles of mail on the dining room table at home, the clutter monster seems to be ever-present. While our minds are often full of fantastic ideas, we get derailed easily when it's de-cluttering time. 😅 

For many ADHD adults, especially those living solo, a cluttered space can spike anxiety levels. We all have those moments where we want to have a big clear-out, but emotional attachments can make it hard to get rid of things. Sometimes, it might be more about money - we might be afraid to sell or donate something of value just in case we need it again.💰

So, let's understand what makes clutter such a daunting task. With that understanding and some actionable strategies, we'll get on top of the clutter in no time. 💪

ADHD Symptoms That Can Contribute To Clutter

So, you've spent time goal setting and even penciled in 'de-clutter the dining room table' on your to-do list, but the clutter remains. Let's investigate some traits that might interfere with our grand de-cluttering schemes. ⬇️


Sometimes, amid the chaos, tasks like 'empty the laundry basket' get lost in the shuffle. It's great if a family member can jog our memory, but things can get tricky if it's just you and your smartphone reminders. Pressing snooze on that notification can mean we easily forget, and the task remains unfinished.

Getting Easily Distracted

Our wandering focus is often the culprit when it comes to maintaining a clutter-free environment. When one thing after another pops up on our phone, or we find something exciting during a cleaning session, it's easy to get sidetracked. 😬

Difficulties in Organization

Organization is pivotal in how we manage day-to-day. We're not short on ideas or intentions - the problem starts when our ADHD brain flits to the next thing, leaving us in a disorganized whirlwind. 😭

How Clutter Shows Up In My Life

My own workspace is a bustling mini-metropolis. There's a planner, my trusty to-do list, some books, and many other things I can't live without. Sure, it's a little chaotic, but I have a system. I know where everything is, and tasks get ticked off the list. ✅

I've spent time dabbling in decluttering, but it's a task easier said than done. One moment, the desk looks passable; the next, an avalanche of papers and unopened mail descends. 

Once, my family and friends came over, and the mad dash to make the house look presentable was nothing short of overwhelming. 🤯I didn't just sweep stuff under the rug - I stuffed it in closets, drawers, anywhere out of sight. 😅 My parents were super impressed with how 'clean' my house looked. But when they were gone, I couldn't find anything.

It turns out that knowing where everything is in your clutter can be a form of being organized in its own way - and spaces that are too tidy can actually make us anxious or understimulated.

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Strategies for Conquering Clutter When You Have ADHD

The thought of decluttering can feel overwhelming. So, let's dive into some nifty strategies to help you clean your house without losing your mind. 😄

Daily Maintenance is Your Friend

It all starts with spending a few moments every day neatening up. When you invest a minute or two daily on maintenance, you'll find that your room stays organized with less effort. Your house won't get to the point where it needs a massive overhaul, and that's a win! 💪

If you struggle with this, try having 'drop zones' around your home. A 'drop zone' is a designated area where you can temporarily place items until you have the time to put them in their proper places. This could be a basket near the front door for keys and mail or a special drawer in your kitchen for items you always have in hand but aren't sure where to put. 📦

The Power of Hyperfocus 

Got a day off? Spend time hyperfocusing on one room at a time. Declutter like a storm, then get that stuff out of your life for good! Take it to its 'forever home,' whether that's the donation bin, the recycling center, or the trash. 👋Your mental health will thank you for the peace from a less cluttered living environment.

The Hand-Free Rule 

When you're hunting for lost items, ensure your hands are empty. If your hands are full, there's a good chance you'll set down whatever you're holding when you find what you're initially looking for. Next thing you know, you've got another missing item on your hands! Empty hands mean you're focused on just one mission: finding that lost item without creating a new job for yourself. It's a simple tip, but you'd be amazed how much stress and time it can save you.

Get an Outside Perspective 

Step into your room and see it through a visitor's eyes. 👀This helps identify what needs to be organized or rid of. If you haven't used it within the past year and it's not sentimental, thank it for its service and let it go!

Small Spaces Make Big Differences 

Tackling the entire garage in one go? That's a recipe for overwhelm. Instead, focus on a manageable 3x3-foot space. This makes the task less daunting for your ADHD mind and offers a quick win that boosts your morale. 🎉 Plus, you're learning the ropes of tidying the whole area, one small square at a time. It's about progress, not perfection! 😊

Get Inspiration

Following websites or social media channels focusing on decluttering can offer daily tips to shift your mindset. These consistent nudges can add up, helping you manage clutter more effectively over time. It's like having a daily mini-coach in your pocket! 📲

Less is More 

Owning fewer things makes decluttering so much easier. 🙌 Impulse buying is often the sneaky culprit that accumulates more stuff than we need. So, the next time you're tempted by something that's not on your list, take a moment to pause. Ask yourself, 'do I really need this?' Sticking to your list will help you manage clutter and save money! 

Keep Your Brain Busy

Adding background music or tuning into your favorite podcast can elevate the whole decluttering experience. 🎶 It transforms what could feel like a tedious chore into something far more enjoyable. Not only will your house get a mini-makeover, but your mental health will also improve. It's a fantastic way to create a positive vibe while tackling your clutter, making you more likely to continue the habit. So, hit play and get going! 💃


Sometimes, our brains are as full of ideas as our rooms of papers and knickknacks. It's often part of having an ADHD mind, and you know what? That's absolutely fine! 💖

Remember, the ultimate goal isn't to have a Pinterest-perfect home but to build a space where you can flourish. If you can find what you need, sleep peacefully at night, and don't lose essential items daily, then you're on the right track. 👍

That said, if that growing mountain of papers in your office starts causing stress or affecting your well-being, it's a sign that it's time to act. Feeling overwhelmed isn't a failure; it's a prompt for action. If your inability to tidy and organize becomes too difficult, seeking professional mental health support is okay. 💪

The struggle with clutter is about something other than being incapable or not putting in effort. It's about recognizing when to step in and when to let go. So, let's ease up on ourselves; getting more organized is a journey full of small victories - and minor setbacks!

Life can be messy, ADHD or not. While we might face unique challenges in maintaining a tidy environment, the silver lining is that we're not powerless. We can take control, even if it's just one drawer or closet at a time. We can adapt and create systems that work for us through supportive tips, a dash of ingenuity, and perhaps a little professional help. So, even if clutter feels like your arch-nemesis now, remember you've got the tools and resilience to turn the tables. 😉

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ADHD & Clutter: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is it normal for people with ADHD to struggle with decluttering and keeping their things organized?

It's common for individuals with adult ADHD to face challenges in maintaining an organized space. This isn't due to a lack of effort but is often linked to symptoms such as forgetfulness and being easily distracted.

Should problems with decluttering be a cause for concern?

Well, it depends on the impact. If clutter isn't affecting your daily life or well-being, it may not be an immediate concern. However, if the disorganization starts to negatively impact your mental or physical health, consulting with a mental health expert is advisable.

What are some ways to improve problems with clutter?

To manage clutter effectively, addressing the underlying symptoms that contribute to disorganization is beneficial. For instance, if forgetfulness is a consistent issue, utilizing tools such as reminder apps can be a step in the right direction toward a more organized living space.

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