Shortcuts to a Cleaner, Less Cluttered House

Life is too short to stress over laundry, bathrooms, and kitchens. Free yourself from the burden of overwhelming housework by following these practical, ADHD-friendly tips for living cleaner and more organized every day.

Housekeeping Tips for ADD Adults ADDitude Magazine

Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion, with stop-offs at tedium and counter-productivity.

—Erma Brombeck

Get Organized with a Chore Board!

It's not the house that generates dirt and clutter. It's the people living there. So make sure everyone who dwells under your roof knows which chores need doing, who's going to do them, and when.

Write everything down on a "chore board," and post it prominently. If someone needs a reminder, send an e-mail or post a sticky note.

If your kids do their chores consistently, reward them with praise, money, or privileges. (When those fail, there's always blackmail.)

Get Organized with ADHD


Should it be called "housekeeping" or "house arrest"? It's not easy to tell the two apart, especially for people with attention deficit disorder (ADHD). As Erma Bombeck put it: "Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion, with stop-offs at tedium and counter-productivity."

There ought to be a better way — and there is. In my 16 years as a professional organizer, I've helped hundreds of adults get organized with ADHD and stay on top of their housework. Here are the strategies my clients with ADHD swear by. Feel free to modify them to suit your needs.

Straightening Up

Many ADHDers like to keep their stuff in full view because they find that seeing a thing helps them remember to repair it, return it, remove it, or replace it. Unfortunately, clutter is unattractive and distracting. I wish there were a painless way to get rid of clutter. Alas, it takes a bit of work. But it will go more smoothly if you do things systematically.

To keep stuff out of sight but not out of mind, use labeled, see-through containers, bins, and baskets. Once you fill a container, that's your cue to go through it and toss what's not needed.

Start in one room, and then move to the room to your immediate right. Repeat, until you have circled back to where you started. Carry a plastic bag as you move from room to room. Anything you want to discard goes into the bag. Toss out old magazines and junk mail, but do not waste time going through loose papers. Just put them in a neat pile and move on. Come back to go through them when you have more time.

When you've cleared a desk, table, or another surface enough to shift, shift stuff left and dust, then right and dust.

Laundry Room? Check. Kitchen? Check.

Pay special attention to chairs and sofas. As I tell my clients, "You deserve to not share your chair with anything but your derrière."

If you encounter something in one room that belongs in another, toss it toward the door. Pick it up on the way out of the room, take it to the appropriate room, and then return to your rightward circle.

Doing Laundry

Get one giant basket for darks, another for whites. Get rid of hampers, and have family members deposit their soiled clothes directly into these two communal baskets.

When the baskets are full, load the clothes into the washer and — to make sure you follow through — set two timers. Leave one atop the washer and take the other with you as you move through the house doing additional laundry-related chores. These include making beds (comforters save time because they double as blankets and bedspreads), matching socks, folding linens, ironing, and so on. When each load is finished, put it in the dryer, reset your alarms, and do more laundry-related things.

Doing the laundry will take at least three blocks of 40 minutes, or two hours, once a week.


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