Cultivating a cleaning routine could feel daunting for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as they have high expectations for themselves and are scared of failure when it comes to meeting the standards they set. With this in mind, tasks such as cleaning, organizing, and cultivating to-do lists may almost seem impossible. Although this may be the case, you're not alone and it's totally possible to find a route to cleaning and organizing your space that suits your needs.
I took the time to speak with Dr. Victoria Du Barry, of @inbalancepsychotherapy, who believes it is super important that people with ADHD should stop fighting their brains and start working with their brains instead. Du Barry provided us with her thoughts on the importance of keeping a clean space when you have ADHD and offered mindful and respectful tips that people with ADHD could follow to maintain their living spaces.
Why is having a clean and intact space important for people who have ADHD?
Du Barry states that maintaining a clean and organized living environment can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Having fewer distractions by keeping the space clutter-free can help to alleviate ADHD paralysis, a sensation of being overwhelmed by your environment, which is a common challenge for people with ADHD who may have difficulty with organization and time management.
Below, you’ll also find Du Barry’s top 10 tips on how to clean and organize your home while having ADHD.
1. Use Baskets
Have a “catch-all” basket for each room. For example, if you struggle with keeping your coffee table clean, get yourself a small basket. At the end of the day, anything on the coffee table goes in that basket. It's a quick way to remove any visual clutter and tidy up a room.
2. Label Your Containers
Grab some clear containers, and label them! This is helpful for the kitchen, bathroom, garage — any room really. Making sure the containers are clear will help prevent the “out of sight out of mind” thinking those with ADHD often deal with.
3. Set a “Clutter Rule"
When Du Barry mentions a “clutter rule,” she means that if you buy one new shirt, you get rid of two (this goes for all household items). This leads to a lower chance of items piling up and feelings of being too overwhelmed to declutter. The less clutter, the better.
4. Create a “Launch Pad”
Creating a “launch pad” near the front door is beneficial. A launch pad could be a bin, shelves, or a few hooks on the wall — you want to put items in here that you’re going to need every time you leave the house. Think keys, wallet, umbrella, purse, and so on. Easy to find and easy to grab when you’re on the go!
5. Set a Timer
Du Barry suggests using a free online timer called Pomodoro because you can add tasks under the timer to help keep you on track. This “focus time… then break time” cycle helps to retrain your brain to focus on one task at a time and resist distractions. Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on ONE task — stay on task until the timer goes off.
6. Organize Your Fridge
She recommends organizing your fridge in a way that works for you. We want to make things functional. With ADHD, it is “out of sight out of mind,” therefore, Du Barry suggests keeping leftovers on the top shelf, condiments in the crisper drawer, and veggies in the door or middle shelf, as condiments don’t expire as quickly as fresh veggies. Overall, you want anything that expires quickly to be seen right away.
7. Schedule a Laundry Day
As laundry is a boring and multi-step task, Du Barry recommends picking a day of the week — let's say Monday — and making that laundry day. That is it. No other chores or “to-dos.” Grab your timer, and tackle it.
8. Organize Mail ASAP
Mail could get out of hand quickly. To prevent pile-ups of paper, Du Barry recommends getting rid of any junk mail before it makes a home at a table or desk. Keep a recycling bin close to your desk or door along with a bin labeled “important mail” — that way you can quickly sort mail and take action.
9. Keep Disinfectant Wipes Handy
Keep Clorox wipes and a roll of paper towels in every room (and your car!) for quicker cleanup. That way you can immediately grab one when a spill happens and tackle it then.
10. Always Ask for Help if Needed
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Du Barry recommends asking a friend or loved one to help you sort your clutter into four piles — keep, toss, donate, and age. For the “age” items, review them in three to four months. She suggests putting a reminder on your phone as well. Also, if you haven’t touched certain items after the period mentioned above? Toss or donate!