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11 Hacks for Staying Organized at Home With ADHD

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I have always been terrible at keeping my place tidy and organized — I am by far the messiest person I know. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered it was probably because I kept trying to organize my apartment in the same way that my friends and family do — in a way that is inherently neurotypical. I had never stopped to consider how I might make changes to make my space more ADHD-friendly. When I moved into my most recent apartment, I made a conscious effort to make it more suited for my needs, and considered ADHD issues like object impermanence that get in the way of me making my space work.

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For starters, “tidy” looks different for everyone, and my version of tidy may look different from a neurotypical person’s idea of tidy. Part of this process was learning that it’s OK to make my space work for me — it’s my space after all. Here are some of the hacks I implemented:

1. I bought open storage boxes to store my clothes inside my closet instead of drawers.

With drawers, I can only see the top layer, whereas with open storage boxes, I can see everything that is stacked inside the box. I know I struggle with object permanence, so if I can’t see it, I forget I have it. I have bought so many duplicates because I think I don’t have something, but it’s really just stuck at the bottom of a drawer.

2. Unless I have people over, I leave my closet doors open so I can see everything.

This makes it easy to see everything, and I can hide it simply by closing the closet door.

3. I make sure all my sleeves are pulled out in my closet.

Sometimes a shirt gets pushed back a bit when I put something else away, and I can’t see it. Making sure all the sleeves are visible every once in a while helps me remember what I have.

4. Cabinets with glass doors are really helpful in the kitchen, so I can see what I have without having to open a cupboard.

If I can see into the cupboard I’m more likely to remember what is in there and not overbuy food or kitchen items. The best part is that I don’t have to keep things out and looking messy — it’s all put away, but I can still see it!

5. Using smart devices/plugs helps because I have a habit of misplacing remotes and not being able to turn things on or off.

If something is connected to my Google home or my phone, I can control it from there. Another benefit of connectivity is that I can double check that I locked my front door with a smart lock. I always forget if I’ve turned things off, or locked the door, and being able to check or turn things off from my phone helps.

6. I keep multiples of some items, such as phone chargers, in different areas of my apartment.

Sure, I could walk a few steps to grab my charger and use it elsewhere, but when I don’t have usual spots for something I lose them easily and can’t find them. By keeping my chargers in the same spot and just using different ones depending on where I am, I’m never frantically running around for a charger with 3 percent battery.

7. I put sticky notes everywhere.

Sticky notes on my laptop screen or monitor for work reminders, sticky notes on my bedside table if I need to remember something when I wake up, and most importantly, sticky notes on my wallet if I need to remember something out of the ordinary when I leave the house (ie. anything that is not my wallet, phone or keys).

8. Do a little song and dance!

I am notorious for not remembering if I’ve turned off my hair straightener or clothes iron. This often becomes a source of anxiety when I’m out because I’m worried something will burn if I’ve left it on. Now, when I’m turning it off, I consciously do a little dance and sing out loud what I’m doing, because I find that it can help me remember better. I once read that singing things to yourself while studying or doing some kind of movement helps your memory.

9. Look for appliances or electric devices with auto shut off features.

My clothes iron and hair straightener have auto shut offs after 30 minutes now so if I forget to turn something off, it will do it on it’s own. This not only helps my electricity bill, but it also ensures I don’t cause any fires.

10. When I can budget for it, hiring a professional cleaner to help with cleaning my apartment is immensely helpful.

I’m really bad at finding the motivation to clean my apartment, and often avoid it. But I feel bad when things are really dirty, which only makes me more overwhelmed and less likely to clean. Hiring a cleaner every once in awhile is like a reset button that helps me get back to a good spot, so that it doesn’t feel so daunting to clean up after myself.

11. If my place is starting to get a bit messy, and isn’t past the point of no return, I invite people over to hang out.

The extra pressure helps me get that last second motivation to make my place more presentable and is a great way to get me going. Sometimes this can backfire because I get really overwhelmed, but if it’s not too bad, it’s a great hack. Plus, I get to see my friends, which is always nice!

I wish I’d found these ADHD home hacks earlier in my life, but I’m so happy I discovered them because they’ve made a world of difference in making my world a little more manageable. If you struggle with cleanliness and maintaining a neurotypical home, it’s not your fault! So much of the world wasn’t built for us, but you deserve a home that’s designed and built just for you. It doesn’t make us lazy or a failure to struggle with these things, it just speaks to our neurodivergence, and that’s totally OK.

Getty image by PeopleImages

Originally published: December 9, 2021
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