Published on ADDitudeMag.com

13 Secrets to Stress-Free ADHD Living

Tried-and-true tips for organizing your home, time, and personal life.


Use a Timer

If it’s hard to concentrate on one task, such as folding laundry or washing dishes, all the way to completion, try doing it in increments. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and stay on task until it goes off. If you think you can keep going, reset the timer.

Find a Chore Buddy

This is a friend or family member who works alongside you while you tackle mundane chores, like balancing a checkbook, filling out a job application, or reviewing financial statements. Your chore buddy will help you create a productive atmosphere by sitting quietly and doing an unobtrusive task, like clipping recipes from a magazine.

Prioritize Your To-Do Lists

Keep the number of action items limited. Pick three action items to be done right away, and have a “parking lot” list of less urgent demands. When you finish one action item, pull a task off the parking lot list. This helps manage your priorities.

Write It Down -- and Forget It for Now

Use your smartphone or a notebook as an external hard drive for your brain. When ideas pop into your head while you’re in the middle of doing something else, write them down and move on. This way you won’t get off track.

Sort Mail Daily

Collect and sort mail daily. Keep a recycling bin by your desk or close to the door, so you can get rid of junk mail before it makes it to your desk. Sort mail into categories based on the action required. Keep the most urgent documents in a visible place.

Go Digital

Two words: online banking. It cuts down on paper to file, and eliminates the need to write everything you’ve debited or charged to your account.

Create a Launch Pad

Have a spot for essentials and likely-to-be-lost items like sunglasses and keys. Pick a spot by the door, perhaps the top of the fridge or counter, or a bookcase or table. Put anything you know you’ll need when you leave (outgoing mail, shopping list, etc.) there, and place items like car keys and your purse there as soon as you get in.

Keep Related Items Together

Keep items that are used together near each other. That way, you don’t have to keep running around to get the things you need to do a job. For example, keep wrapping paper, tape, scissors and bows in the same closet so you have everything you need to wrap presents in one spot.

Label Storage Containers

Keep similar items, like kitchen supplies, together in the same containers. Tape index cards listing all the contents on the side, and update it as needed. Make sure the card is facing outward when the container is stored, so you can easily tell what’s inside.

Downsize Your Desk

Empty space attracts clutter, so limit the available space. If your desk is always buried in paper, get a smaller desk. If you always lose things in your backpack, get a briefcase or messenger bag.

Buy Bright and Shiny Objects

Colorful or shiny objects are easier to see and remember than black or neutral colors. Colorful personal items, such as wallets, notebooks, and cell phones, are harder to misplace and easier to find. Post colorful notes to remind yourself of tasks or deadlines, and keep papers in color-coded files.

Set Multiple Alarms

When being on time is crucial, set an alarm clock, cell phone alarm, and ask a friend to call you. You can ignore one alarm. It’s harder to ignore three or four.

For important deadlines, post notes where you’re likely to see them, write down reminders in your planner, and schedule reminder texts or emails.

Focus on the Departure Time

If you have trouble being on time, focus on the time you need to leave, rather than the time you need to arrive. If you have a 2:00 appointment that’s 20 minutes away, focus on a 1:30 departure time.

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