Ask the Experts

In Sight, In Mind: Remembering Objects with ADHD

When it comes to organizing strategies, sometimes the problem is remembering what you have put away – especially when ADHD causes additional forgetfulness.

“I am a 42-year-old adult with ADHD. When objects are put in drawers or closets, I forget about them — out of sight, out of mind. So I keep a lot of things out in plain view, which defeats my goal of decluttering. How can I solve this?”

The fear of forgetting is a common organizing bogeyman, but we can slay this bad boy with some clever organizing tricks and a bit of trust. Clear bins and open shelving are a great start, but to avoid visual clutter, store your items, including the bins, on shelving. Keeping floors and other surfaces clear will “calm” the space.

What about those items that must be tucked away? If you rent a ski condo, you can find the dishes because they are in the kitchen cabinets, you can find the first-aid kit because it is in the bathroom toiletry closet. At the drugstore, you can find the dental floss because it is in an aisle labeled “Oral Hygiene.” In these cases you can find things easily in a strange setting, no memory required! Why? In the condo, items are stored where we expect them and where we will use them. In the store, grouping and labeling guide us.

Organize your home using these principles. Store things where you use them, and label items when you have a large stock that overwhelms. And reduce items to the essentials — the ability to see every item or label when you open a bureau drawer or closet door will give you that extra bit of trust, so that you don’t have to rely on your memory.