Manage Your House

I Am Joe’s Keys

Life is never dull when you belong to an organizationally challenged adult with ADHD! Here, organization tips from Joe’s keys.

Set of keys by wallet on table in home of ADHD person trying to organize
Set of keys by wallet on table in home of ADHD person trying to organize

I am Joe’s keys. My silver finish is rubbed off to expose brass, and I am slightly bent from having been used as a screwdriver when Joe couldn’t find his toolbox.

I’m supposed to be hanging on a little hook by the door or nestled comfortably in Joe’s pocket, but I spend most of my time in the laundry room. I’m there because Joe forgets to take me out of his pocket. Sometimes, I’m under the newspaper on the kitchen table, and I have spent a few nights in the fridge. Life is never dull when you’re with Joe!

Joe is organizationally challenged.

I could help Joe get organized, but he won’t listen to me. Of course, I can’t talk. I’m Joe’s keys, not his larynx. But, if I could talk, this is what I would tell him:

Find a place for your things to live.

Joe’s checkbook lives in a specific cubbyhole. His can opener was living with his checkbook, but they didn’t really get along very well. Can opener now lives in a nice little rental near the microwave. She seems to be happier there and you should see what she has done with the place!

I have a place to live, too, but most of the time Joe forgets to put me there.

Organize things in a way that makes sense to you.

Another big help in getting your stuff together and remembering where you put it is to keep items that are usually used together at least close to each other. Joe has a can opener by the stove and this other one that just recently took up residence near the microwave.

There was a logical reason why the can opener was living with the checkbook, but I can’t remember what it was. But then, isn’t that always the case? We move in with someone, and, before you know it, you can’t remember why you did it, except that it seemed like a good idea at the time and you had already picked out furniture and stuff…

Color code everything that you can.

Here on the keyring, Joe has these little rubber things that go around the top of each key. Each one is a different color. Very cool. Color works for other things, too. Use different colored boxes, folders, envelopes, and computer disks for everything. You want bright colors that really stand out so you can still seem them when you shut your eyes to remember.

Use the trash can.

The best organizational tool you can get is a trash can. It’s amazing how much stuff piles up. And remember — more piles only means that I get buried more often. Go through all of this potential landfill material. Be merciless. Remember: OHIO — Only Handle It Once. Pick it up, decide what to do with it, then do it, especially if what you have decided to do with it is to throw it away.

Remember: Don’t throw away your keys.

Hire a pro.

There are professional organizers who will come in and help you get things put together. Start searching in the ADDitude Directory.

Learn to make lists.

As an example, here is a list of ways to get organized:

  • Make the decision to organize your life, your home or at least your sock drawer. Commit some amount of time to this project — half a day, a couple of hours or some other reasonable length. Organizing your life may take longer than organizing your sock drawer. It might be best to start small and work your way up.
  • Before you start, make sure you have a variety of different colored pens, markers, file folders, boxes, and labels. You will also need a large trash.
  • Choose bright colors for files, labels or boxes. Use different colors for different things. You may want to buy a package of stickers. The idea is to make each file or box as visually stimulating as possible so you will be able to “see” later in your mind.
  • Buy stackable storage containers to save space. When you buy these, be sure to pick up the lids. People always forget the lids.
  • Clear the desktop or drawer, or whatever area is to be organized. Put everything in one large box.
  • As you remove items from the large box, put them in the appropriate folder or box. Label these as you go.
  • Set aside one box for sentimental stuff that serves no useful purpose but you don’t want to throw away. Use this box sparingly.
  • Use the trashcan. Be merciless about getting rid of unneeded material. If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it.
  • As you are throwing away old magazines or newspapers, decide if you really need these subscriptions or if you can cancel. Write down the cancellation information, then throw the magazine away. Unless it’s an ADDitude magazine. You want to keep those…
  • Decide on specific places for items like keys and checkbooks, or anything else that you use everyday.
  • Load the file folders, boxes or other containers back into the desk, drawer or room.
  • Group items together in a way that makes sense to you.
  • Step back and admire your clean, organized desk, drawer or room.
  • Soak in this feeling so you can recall it later as motivation to stay organized. Do a happy dance.
  • Schedule 15 minutes per day strictly for the purpose of maintaining your newly organized environment.

Ask for help.

When you do lose something, like important files or plutonium, use all of your available resources. The other day, Joe called information and told them he had lost all of his socks. She said they were behind the dryer. She was right.

Now, that is scary.

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