Bold title 'ADHD & Home Organization' above an illustration of a person with pink hair and a grumpy expression, by @the_mini_adhd_coach, reflecting the theme of home organization challenges related to ADHD.

ADHD Home Organization: Effective Strategies for a Tidier Life

Organizing a home when you have ADHD involves creating simple, sustainable systems that cater to ADHD traits. Start by reducing clutter, using clear labels, and establishing a designated spot for everyday items. Emphasize routine and use tools like timers and checklists to maintain focus and motivation. Tailoring the organization system to individual ADHD challenges is key to long-term success in keeping a tidy and functional living space.

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Written by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach

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In this Article

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A word form our expert

Is Your ADHD Making Home Organization A Struggle? 

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the simple task of organizing or tidying your home, let alone cleaning it? You're not alone. Many with ADHD face unique challenges that turn routine chores into herculean efforts, with procrastination building and building, just like the dishes. 🧼 But what can we do about this? That’s exactly what we’ll discuss in this article, including: 

  • The impact of ADHD and executive dysfunction on home organization.
  • Practical strategies to manage daily chores.
  • The role of reminders and routines in staying organized.
  • When to consider professional help for home organization

Discover how understanding ADHD's influence on organization can transform your approach to everyday tasks.

How ADHD Impacts Our Home Organization

ADHD and its symptoms touch a lot of areas of everyday life, from hyperactivity and inattention to impulsivity and sensory overload

This is because Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the development of the brain’s executive functions and by extension our executive functioning skills. 🧠

These executive functioning skills include:

  • Task initiation and completion
  • Working memory
  • Organization
  • Impulse control
  • Planning
  • Prioritizing

Note: these aren’t all the skills affected, but the ones relevant to home organization.

With ADHD, we don’t always develop these skills until later in life than neurotypical people and may struggle to tackle tasks that rely on many of these at once - which household chores and organization often do. 

It’s not just executive dysfunction that impacts this area of our lives. ADHD symptoms like hyperactivity can turn you into a tornado of action or an agent of chaos. 🌪️

Sensitivity to external stimuli can make household management difficult too. From a young age, I would get triggered whenever I heard a vacuum cleaner. 🧹 Now I know that this particular sound triggers my sensory sensitivity and sends me into fight or flight mode - not ideal for a family member just trying to clean up. 

Impulse buying can also quickly become an issue as we accumulate more and more stuff (and boxes) that we don’t need. Obviously, the more things you own, the more there is to organize, and it can become incredibly overwhelming.  

Task Initiation: Why It’s Difficult To Get Started

Do you find the first step is always the most difficult in any household chore? I do. That’s a task initiation problem and one of our dysfunctional executive functioning skills. 

Ever decided to clear out your wardrobe, but instead spend hours watching closet organization videos on YouTube? That’s it. The ADHD brain loves to procrastinate and guide you toward anything other than the task you set out to complete. 

Sometimes that’s because of perfectionism or fear of failure and sometimes a task is more like a project and needs to be broken down

When I first moved into my new place, it took me months to unpack and organize everything. With the excitement and novelty of a new place, there was always something to distract me. Why would I choose to stay in and unpack, when there’s a new pizza place to try out, or a whole neighborhood to explore? 🏠

If, before I moved, I’d realized I had too much stuff and done a proper declutter, I could have avoided this situation and used moving day as a deadline. I find deadlines can work to force me into action if they’re real and important. 

Poor Memory: Why Reminders Are Essential

Many people with ADHD have trouble with their working memory and muscle memory. Working memory is a part of our short-term memory and helps us hold different pieces of information in our minds at once until we’re ready to use it. 

Muscle memory remembers repetitions so we can perform specific tasks without having to think about them consciously. We often use muscle memory when we’re doing things that we’re already familiar with, like brushing our teeth or tying our shoes. 💪

Since our memory is unreliable, if we want to keep a clean, organized home, we often can’t just rely on our brains to know when and what to do to make that happen.

That’s why we turn to to-do lists, post-it reminders, calendars, and whatever we can to keep everything organized. 📝 These tools can be super helpful in planning out our weekly tasks and remembering all the necessary details. 

I developed a ‘habit’ of watering my plants every morning for two weeks - or so I thought. 🌱 I’d been using my to-do list as a reminder each day, and it worked. After enough time, I was sure I wouldn’t need it anymore - the habit was created, and it was part of my routine.   

But, the second I got rid of that list, I grew distracted, broke the routine and my plants withered, without me even realizing it. 

Cartoon of a person with pink hair expressing sadness next to a wilted potted plant, with text overhead saying 'Remembering you need to water your plants when they are already dead...' from @the_mini_adhd_coach.

That’s how I realized I needed to stick with the reminders and lists. It’s better to over-plan and put in a little extra effort than leave it up to chance. Organizing solutions, like reminding ourselves with Post-it notes, are there for us to use so that we never leave anything behind.

One daily reminder I make sure to use is to tidy my desk at the end of each day. Sometimes, especially after an intense hyperfocus session, I’ll look around and find myself surrounded by mugs, glasses, and water bottles, all with different drinks. ☕ If I don’t tidy it up there and then, they quickly invade the space and make it difficult to focus on work.   

Illustration of a person with pink hair sitting at a desk, looking overwhelmed by an array of mugs, glasses, and bottles, labeled 'Experiencing the famous "mugs/glasses/bottles invasion" from @the_mini_adhd_coach.

Overwhelm: When It’s Just Too Much

So you managed to start getting your house in order. You have your list of chores and are happily ticking them off. But what about the ones that have more than one step? Or have they been left so long they’ve built up?

These bigger tasks can become a real issue.

For me, that’s laundry. 🧺

The moment I see my laundry basket is full, I panic. Not only do I hate the activity, but I know it requires time management and planning. There are far more steps and moving pieces to this task than most, and it’s realistically going to take an afternoon.

You have to separate the colors. Transport it to the laundry room (leaving a trail of socks behind you). Choose the cycle and temperature for each type of clothing. Put in the fabric and softener. Turn it on (important!). Work out when it finishes, so you’re home in time. Remember to come back for it. Either put it in the dryer or hang it to dry. Remember to come back for it again. Then fold it all up and put it away. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but that exhausted me just writing it. 

Statistically, at least one of those steps is getting forgotten

Often, I’ll leave the wet clothes inside the washing machine. Then when I finally discover it, it’ll smell damp and need to be rewashed, starting the process all over again. Sometimes I won’t even remember to turn it on in the first place. 

A cartoon of a perplexed person with pink hair standing next to a washing machine, contemplating whether to rewash the laundry with the thought 'Should wash it again?' Caption reads 'Trying to guess for how long your laundry has been waiting in the washing machine...' from @the_mini_adhd_coach.

Folding and organizing the clothes and returning them to the wardrobe (and not the floor) can take another week or so. By that time, I’d already accumulated another set of dirty clothes. 

The real problem is the negative self-talk that comes with this. ‘Why can’t you even do washing properly? What’s wrong with you?’ If I don’t remember to be compassionate with myself, this everyday organizing task can damage my mental health.

Living Alone

In my experience, living alone while having ADHD can sometimes be an overwhelming struggle that really tests your emotional control. When there isn't anyone around to help run the household, you have to do everything. But this can get stressful, and when the stress kicks in, less gets done. A lot of tasks I’ll leave until the last minute or until I no longer have a choice but to do them, like if I have people coming around.

Cleaning your home, doing chores, and tidying everything is a skill learned by most at an early age. Young children are taught early how to organize things. Family members often share tasks because running a household is easier together. 

But even if you do live in a family home, and have people to share the burden with, it’s not always that easy with ADHD and can cause friction between housemates.

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When to Consider Professional Help for Home Organization

While some people struggle in doing house chores, there are professionally organized people who actually love it. These people sometimes turn their organizational talents into a career. 

If you’re willing to invest, hiring a professional organizer will help you achieve an organized home and hopefully give you tools and strategies to keep it that way.

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

You can also just book online consultation sessions where you explain an issue and they help you create strategies and plans to solve it. 💻

But do you need to go this far? That’s entirely up to you, and how much a disorganized home is affecting your life.

For example, let me tell you about my experience. 

Why I Decided to Get Help

I often do a grocery shop every other week to buy fresh ingredients for when I have the energy to cook some decent meals for myself. 🍲 

But, this week, when I came back from my shop and started loading up the fridge, I found it was already full of things from last week. Some of it could be saved, but a lot of it couldn’t without making me ill. I felt awful at how much I’d wasted, both money and food. 

Comic drawing of a person with pink hair looking into an open refrigerator with a puzzled expression, questioning 'Could this be... my Christmas pudding attempt?!' Caption reads 'Discovering ancient foods in your fridge...' from @the_mini_adhd_coach.

That’s when I decided I needed someone who could help with my lack of home organization. If hiring help meant I’d save money on wasted food each week, it’d be worth it in the long run. 

If your ADHD affects your home organization to the extent that it’s costing you excessively (the ADHD tax) or is seriously affecting your mental health, relationships, and general well-being, it might be time to seek professional help. 

I don’t hire help frequently, but it’s useful to know it’s an option when there’s a persistent problem affecting the quality of my life. 

But, it’s always worth asking your family or trusted friends for support first, or researching helpful tips to improve your organization skills and avoid the ADHD pitfalls. 📚

Practical Strategies to Manage Daily Chores & Organization

Home organization is a skill that not everyone is good at - even neurotypical people. 

That’s good news because it means there’s a huge amount of information available to help you tackle the problem of cleaning and tidying your home, without spending money.

If there’s something in particular you’re struggling with, research! You can find all kinds of tips, tricks, and hacks to achieve an organized house on Google, YouTube, and social media platforms. 

To get you started, we’ve rounded up a few ideas:

  1. Declutter regularly. That way you stay on top of it and don’t end up with an overwhelming amount of things to organize.
  2. Do the most important tasks first, especially if it’s something that can't be postponed or left for another day. 📅
  3. Use or create checklists that break down the overwhelming task of organizing your living space into manageable steps, making creating a calm, welcoming environment easier.
  4. Try meal planning and batching. By deciding what you’re going to eat in advance, you reduce your daily decision fatigue, streamline meal prep, save time, and reduce stress around cooking. 🥪
  5. Create better grocery lists. By being more intentional and categorizing your regular shops, you ensure don't forget essential items but also make grocery shopping more efficient and less time-consuming.
  6. Use habit trackers. You can create trackers for anything, from remembering to water your plants to feeding the dog. Simply tick off each day for a little satisfying dopamine hit. 🪴
  7. Don’t forget your digital home! If you find yourself overwhelmed by the digital mess, create weekly resets with clear steps to tidy up your digital spaces, from your overflowing email inbox to scattered files on your devices.
  8. Build a daily schedule based on the level of priority. Display it somewhere you can’t ignore, like on the fridge or the coffee machine. 
  9. Don’t be afraid to start slow. Baby steps are better than nothing, and you don’t have to do everything all at once. What’s one task you could do right now? Just focus on one area and work on your next project after finishing the first one.
  10. Seek professional help if the problem is already out of control and you can't seem to find a way out.

Want to grab our ready-made checklists and trackers? The ultimate ADHD-friendly planner from The Mini ADHD Coach has all these tools and more, so you can achieve a level of organization that supports both your mental well-being and your home's harmony. 🧘🏽‍♂️

Ready to open the door to a tidier, more tranquil home life with ADHD? Grab your instant download now for just $20. 

Key Takeaways

  • ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and sensory overload can complicate everyday organizational tasks. The disorder affects executive functions critical for task initiation, memory, planning, and prioritization.
  • Develop simple, effective organizational systems that work with ADHD traits like decluttering regularly, using clear labels for storage, and using tools such as timers and checklists to help maintain focus and enhance motivation.
  • Establish routines to enhance task completion, using reminders like Post-it notes and digital alerts to combat forgetfulness.
  • Break down complex or multi-step tasks (like laundry) into simpler steps to prevent feeling overwhelmed.
  • Consider hiring a professional organizer if disorganization significantly impacts mental health, relationships, or financial stability.
  • Explore available resources like ADHD-friendly planners, checklists, and habit trackers to enhance daily living and organization.

Remember, whether it’s throwing out the trash can outside, washing dirty dishes, or emptying your laundry basket, 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.

A compilation of four humorous illustrations by @the_mini_adhd_coach depicting struggles with home organization related to ADHD, such as dead plants and forgotten laundry, with a reminder that 'ADHD is complex, and that we all face different challenges.'

What’s Next?

Looking for more tips and strategies to help around the home? Read these articles next:

Household Chores For Adults With ADHD

ADHD and Its Influence on Hoarding Behaviors

Making Peace With ADHD Clutter

The Mini ADHD Coach Digital Planner by Future ADHD

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 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!

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. 

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. 

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