ADHD and Organizing Your Space

Humorous though it may seem, disorganization can plague your soul and wreak havoc in your life. Disorganization is especially pronounced in people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) People with ADHD have trouble organizing things. They have trouble organizing time, their thoughts, and data.

Adults with ADHD

Adults with ADHD tend to “organize” by putting things into piles that, over time, grow and proliferate like weeds. Living in such a disorganized environment, whether in the workplace or at home, is like having cobwebs in the brain. Fortunately, there are some useful devices and new habits you can employ to restore a measure of order and clarity.

Because the ADHD brain is low on filing cabinets, you need to set up more filing cabinets outside the brain. In other words, you need to replace the piles with files, so to speak. You need to establish some structure in your daily life that will allow you to make up for what’s missing internally in your mind.

Children with ADHD

Some of the most common occurrences of disorganization in children with ADHD, manifests itself in:

  • messy backpacks,
  • missing homework assignments and
  • lost school supplies, or
  • their phone to name a few of the most common occurrences.

Parents of children with ADHD devote a good deal of time to helping them get organized, but the effort need not feel oppressive in any way. Daily routines and chores are easier to remember (and can even be fun) when written out on a color-coded checklist.

Furthermore, by breaking down all the steps, even the simple ones like “brush teeth” and “make the bed,” can make the morning less stressful for the whole family.

Organizational Tools

An alarm clock is an example of structure. So is a key chain, as well as a basket to put the key chain in every day when you get home.  If you’re always losing your phone, keys or other items, then the Tile Pro is a helpful tool in locating misplaced items.

Preset alarms serve as helpful, handy reminders for everything from time to do chores to time to take daily medications. While, weekly planners are indispensable tools for organizing and prioritizing homework assignments. In addition, they serve as helpful reminders, for example, to bring a special t-shirt or snack to school or pick up your dry cleaning on the way home.

In the world of ADHD, there is NOW and NOT NOW, which is why a Time Timer is a helpful  tool for managing homework.  Feeling the passage of time helps to develop time management skills.  Begin by setting it for 20 minutes to begin every study session or whatever project it is you’re working on. Then break for 5 and reset for another 20.

And thank heavens for Post-It Notes, which serve to remind your ADHD child, partner or yourself about a myriad of tasks. Setting up these tools helps provide a critical structure so that over time they’ll learn to initiate and use these tools on their own.

Get Well Enough Organized

Most people will counsel you to get super-organized. I urge you to ignore that advice. There’s no need to go overboard with any of these organizing tips. People with ADHD need not become super-organized neat freaks – a goal that is usually out of their reach anyway. They just need to become well enough organized to achieve their goals.

It’s all about mastering basic tools of organization like:

  • making lists;
  • keeping important things all in one easy-to-access place;
  • creating flash cards and other memory aids to help remember important information; and,
  • knowing where to find things quickly without going on a massive treasure hunt every day.

Books on getting Organized

There are some good books on getting organized written specifically for people with ADHD. A good one is ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau. It has many specific tips and methods that will help people with ADHD.

Although not a book on organizing, Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child  gives parents an upbeat and encouraging new approach to living with and helping their ADHD child. The practical strength-based techniques Drs. Hallowell and Jensen present put the talents, charms, and positive essence of the child ahead of any presumed shortcomings.

ADHD Coaching

If you’re unable to get “well enough” organized on your own, have an ADHD coach can help. At The HALLOWELL  Centers we recognize that even the best treatment plans can get sidetracked without the proper “follow through” tools and mechanisms. Our Coaching services utilize the latest in applied psychology,  organizational theory and brain science to help get you on track and keep you on track. Learn more HERE.

Or you can learn more about coaching by listening to Dr. Hallowell’s podcast: Learn all about ADHD and Coaching.

* This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Dr. Hallowell Logo

©1994 - 2024, Dr. Edward Hallowell and the Hallowell Centers,
All rights reserved. Content may be used only with prior permission.
Privacy Policy