Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: My Spouse’s Home Office Is Like Quick Sand!

When your business is at home, disorganization can easily spill over into your family life. Our coach offers advice on clearing the cobwebs in your workspace — both mental and physical.

Q: “My husband has ADHD and is self-employed; he has clutter stacked to the rafters in his office and overflowing into our living space and garage. He’s overwhelmed by the mess and can’t complete his work tasks. He asked me to quit my job and work with him, but the way things are now, that feels like jumping off a cliff. What are some tips to help my husband organize his office and thaw his frozen brain so that he can start productive work again?” — FrozenMan

Hi FrozenMan:

I applaud you for wanting to help your husband. Though I don’t think you need to quit your job unless you want to, it does sound like your husband needs someone to help him get unstuck.

Have you heard of body doubling? It means working alongside someone else, and it can help us to initiate and stay on task. Hard work goes faster when we do it with someone else. So perhaps you can set aside a specific time each week to work together on his clutter. Make it fun and reward-oriented. Put on music, have your favorite snacks on hand, and when you’ve worked for the allotted amount of time, go do something together that you both enjoy.

[Free Download: Manage ADHD’s Impact on Your Relationship]

If that isn’t feasible, have you thought about suggesting your husband work with a professional organizer? These are trained and skilled specialists who help people create order where it’s lacking and develop personalized organizing systems and structures that work for you. They can also help you let go of what you truly don’t need to keep and discover options you might not have found on your own. I like to say we help you get “underwhelmed!”

If this is an option that you might want to consider, please check out the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. Finding a professional organizer is a very personal process, so feel free to ask lots of questions to find the perfect fit for your husband.

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

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