Ask the Experts

Q: “How Can I Organize My Paperwork With an ADHD Mind?”

Young adults with ADHD are commonly — and easily — overwhelmed with paperwork, including homework and bills. To conquer ADHD-related procrastination, you must first make the paperwork less intimidating. Here are strategies for breaking it down.

Q: “Paperwork stresses me out and I’d like some advice on how to catch up on all of my paper-related tasks. I’m pretty good at maintaining the rest of the house, but my office area is a disaster.” – ADHDHQ


 Ah, the dreaded paperwork. Sometimes it feels like it never stops piling up and like you need a life jacket just to keep from drowning. I’m here to rescue you with a few suggestions on how to organize paperwork to get you unstuck and started:

  • Go paperless as much as you can. Pay your bills online, scan receipts, and sign up for a mobile application program that will store all your medical records. Create folders on your computer the same way you would a file cabinet. Any way you can reduce the paper coming in will lessen the stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

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  • Change your environment. This is one of my favorite strategies. Do you like to be outside? In your garden? On your comfortable couch or in your bed? One way to motivate you to complete difficult tasks is to carry them out in a location you enjoy.
  • Make it fun! Crank your favorite music and throw yourself a party. Set a timer and play “Beat the Clock” by seeing how much you can accomplish before it goes off. (Of course this might not be the best strategy when studying or doing homework!) Grab your favorite candy or snack and “have a treat while you make it neat.” Infusing energy and play into your routine is a wonderful way to get your ADHD brain moving.
  • Try body doubling. Do you have a friend who needs to get stuff done, too? The presence of another individual often helps to focus us and often helps us ignore distractions to stay on. Try inviting a friend over for a paper party and see if it helps you stay focused, anchored and able to complete your work.
  • Schedule “office visits.” Pick a time when you know you will have a few uninterrupted hours to work every month. If you don’t plan your time, the likelihood of doing the work is slim. Next, add this time slot to your planner or the calendar on your phone — just like you would a doctor’s appointment or night out with friends. If you give the task the same importance as your other tasks, you are more likely to honor it in the same way.

[Free Download Available: Your Guide for Controlling Clutter]

Good luck!

ADHD Family Coach 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.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!