Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: I’m Addicted to Buying Organizing Systems That I Never Use!

You believe in magic bullets. You’re sure that the answer to all of your problems is just one (expensive) organizing system away. But when you get it home, the overwhelm sets in and you just end up more cluttered than before. Sound familiar? Read on.

Q: “Every room in my home is in need of organization. So I buy every book under the sun regarding organization, flag and highlight every page, run out to Home Goods to add to my ‘organizing systems’… and get overwhelmed before I even touch my piles of crap! If/when I do get somewhat organized and I make labels to keep everything nice and neat, I still find things thrown around. How can I make things simple enough to maintain and also be helpful? Please help! I need to keep it simple, but my ADHD won’t let me!” —Mom2theKlee’s

Hi Mom2thKlee’s:

Your question is among the most common — and commonly frustrating — for adults with ADHD. It’s not only difficult to find organizing systems that work for you. But it is nearly impossible to maintain the ones you get going. Here are a few guidelines that may help:

1. Take Stock Before You Shop

It’s only natural to feel the urge to purchase your organizing supplies BEFORE you actually get organized. But until you know what you already own, how much space you can allocate, and what type of supplies you really need, any shopping trip is just going to add to the clutter. Do your homework, then your buying.

[Free Resource: 73 Ways to Organize Everything Today]

2. Everything Needs a Home

Ask yourself if you know where everything lives in your home. Do all of your belongings have a designated spot? And is that spot easily reachable? Once you assign specific “locations” for all of your belongings, maintaining your spaces becomes specific, simple, and easy.

3. Eliminate Road Blocks

We each have our own unique organizing style. Start by asking yourself, “What system is going to work for YOU?” If you need to see your stuff so you know it exists, then remove closet and pantry doors. If folding clothes isn’t your thing, replace your dresser with bins where you can toss shirts, jeans, socks, and underwear. If you detest hanging up clothing on hangers, ditch the closet rod and put up hooks instead. Bottom line? Your system needs to work FOR YOU!

And if you are looking for more tips and tools, please check out our website at We have tons of FREE resources, videos and materials on this subject.

[10 Ways to Bring Calm and Organization Back Into Your Daily Life]

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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2 Comments & Reviews

  1. I have this problem specific to using journals and planners. I’ve tried the Bullet Journal, the Law of Attraction planner, whiteboard calendars and to-do lists, and everything else I can think of. I’m great at planning out the week or my budget or my meal plans, but when it comes to execution I just fail miserably. I forget to check my planner. I’ve even made my own spreadsheets for things that stay taped to my TV to remind me to check in before I veg out, but half the time I just move them out of the way and tell myself I will do it later …which I inevitably don’t do.

    Living in a studio apartment forced me to reduce my clutter and make smart use of my space, giving everything a home. This makes cleaning up (really, just putting clutter away) so easy! But when it comes to de-cluttering my mind and intangible things it just feels impossible. Anyone found a successful solution for a similar problem?

    1. The practice of mindfulness can train your brain to control your thoughts better. It takes practice, but you can start really small and work up over time. I personally like the Insight Timer app, which offers thousands of different practices, but there are many available.

      As for forgetting to check your planner… I use a digital calendar app and have multiple notifications/alerts on everything in my calendar. And everything goes in my calendar. My trying a tech calendar is an option for you?

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

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