Manage Your House

Readers Share Their Top House-Neatening Tricks

For most people with attention deficit, a picture-perfect house is an impossible dream — but these ADDitude readers take up the challenge and share how they’re succeeding at house cleaning.

View of clean and neat home.

ADDitude asked readers: “What are your best strategies for neatening up the house?”

I clean up in stages. I’ll dust everything one day, clean the sink and toilet while my daughter is in the bath, and vacuum all the rooms on another day.
—Cheryl, New York

I turn on music and keep moving from room to room until almost everything is put away. It’s not a big deal if I get distracted, as long as I keep putting stuff away.
—Helen, California

I have a cleaning person come every other week. If I don’t pick up my stuff, she can’t clean.
—Nancy, Arizona

I keep only what we need. Get rid of Tupperware and dishes that you don’t use, as well as old clothing, toothbrushes, toys, books, plastic bags. Use bins to transfer winter and summer clothing to the attic.
—Kristine, Washington

[Free Download: 22 Clutter-Busting Strategies for Adults with ADHD]

I use the Motivated Moms app for my iPhone (motivatedmoms.com). It isn’t overwhelming, and it reminds me of daily chores, as well as special ones.
—Julie, Idaho

One word: FlyLady! I follow her plan to keep extra stuff (or clutter, as she calls it) out of my home. When my children were young, La Leche League had a saying: “Do I want that knickknack (or whatever) on that table, where I have to dust it, or do I want a nice empty spot, so I can spend that time with my child instead of cleaning?”
—Sarah, South Carolina

I use a chore chart with stickers, just like the ones you would use with kids. I give myself a sticker if I do some of the chores. I emphasize progress, not perfection or completion. Doing a little each day means progress over time.
—Tara, Texas

I’m old school. I use a to-do list. I discard junk mail daily. I set up a file system for most-used papers, so there are no “treasure hunts.” I keep one assigned “catch-all” basket in every room, to temporarily hold things that don’t belong there.
—An ADDitude Reader

[The Power of a Well-Crafted To-Do List]

I invite people over for dinner or a visit, so I have to clean up for them.
—Christine, California

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  1. To tidy a room I play a game with myself I call “50 Things”. The goal is to get to 50; I proceed from one number to the next by each single tidying action. Straighten the throw on the sofa: 1. Plump the cushion: 2. Old newspaper in the bin: 3. Groups of things picked up together count as one (such as gathering up a handful of coins or a stack of magazines) but as separate numbers if they are tidied separately. Items that live outside the room being tidied are removed from the room but not actually tidied away: they are just placed inside their correct room on the same floor or taken to a suitable place for onward transit later (like the foot of the stairs if they are to go upstairs). I then return immediately to the room being tidied without distraction and carry on counting. I find I can tidy a room in no time at all this way because the focus is on the counting and not on the tidying. If there are still things to tidy by the time I reach 50 I invariably find I’m in full flow by then and don’t want to stop so I carry on (continuing to count) until the room is done. Every time I see the room starting to get messy I do my counting game.

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