Published on ADDitudeMag.com

13 Tips to Conquer the Clutter

If you can't find your kitchen table because it's buried under piles of stuff, these tips will restore order to your rooms and life.


Straighten Up In Spurts

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 do more, reset the timer.

Nip Clutter Buildup in the Bud

If clutter tends to cover tables and dressers, make those surfaces less inviting. After you clean up your dining room table, set the table. It not only looks nice, but also eliminates the dining room table as a space waiting to be cluttered. Do the same thing with your bedside table—put photos or mementos on the table to "fill" the surface.

Deal With Mail Daily

To prevent paper pile-ups, 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 designated inbox or folder.

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. (And are less likely to go out and purchase duplicates.) For example, keep wrapping paper, tape, scissors, and ribbons in the same closet so you have everything you need to wrap presents.

Create a Chore File

Staying on top of chores is a major challenge for ADHD adults. Creating a weekly plan can keep you on track. Over the weekend, write down the chores that need to get done in the upcoming week on index cards. Arrange them in order of priority, and keep them in a single location. If you live with a spouse or partner, talk with each other and decide which of you will do what.

Label Storage Containers

Packing items away can lead to an "out of sight, out of mind" problem. To keep track of what you have, 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.

Designate Junk Drawers

Finding homes for items like unlabeled CDs and orphan screws can slow down de-cluttering efforts. To prevent this, designate at least one junk drawer in every room. If you don't know where an item should go, put it in that drawer. Once the drawer is full, sort through it. Use what you can, and discard the rest. Then start the process anew.

Stop Clutter at the Source

> Set a clutter rule: If you bring in two pairs of new shoes, you have to get rid of one old pair. The same rule applies to all household items.

> If you're a thrift store person or love yard sales, keep yourself from bringing clutter home by keeping your hands in your pockets. There is a connection between touching and buying an item. 

Get a Clutter Companion

A few times a year, get a friend to help you sort your clutter into four piles: "keep," "toss," "donate," and "age." Discard the "toss" items at once—before you have a chance to change your mind. Place "donate" items in heavy-duty garbage bags, and drop them off at the nearest donation bin. Save "age" items, and review them three months later. Place a reminder on your calendar, so you don't forget.

Corral Magazines You Don't Read

If unread magazines tend to pile up, put them in a small basket. When the basket is full, sift through the magazines. Read what you can, and discard or recycle the rest. (You might drop off the best magazines at a hospital or women's shelter.)

If you are habitually unable to keep up with the issues of a particular magazine, cancel the subscription or read it online.

Tame the Technology Stuff

Computers and electronic devices are the new clutter for many ADHDers. Because these devices become obsolete very quickly, appoint a "device captain," who syncs the devices and makes sure the old machines are recycled properly and all the cords are labeled and stored away. 

Play This De-Cluttering Game

When an area has so much stuff on it, you don't know where to start, try this trick: Drape a sheet or a blanket over most of the clutter you want to organize, allowing only a small area to show at a time. Deal with that bit of visible clutter. Once you've organized the first bit, slide the sheet over to expose another chunk of clutter.   


Simplify Bill-Paying and Finance Clutter

> Use a single checking account, and sign up for online banking. Pay as many bills as possible using automatic payments to keep down paper clutter

> Ask your accountant if you need to keep monthly bank statements. Maybe you can get by with keeping quarterly or yearly statements, and toss the rest.

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