Tried-and-true organization tricks don’t work for you. Why? You need a system designed for your ADHD mind. Efficiency is our battle cry in this room-by-room plan that nips common clutter magnets — like the kids’ room or the hall closet — in the bud.
Organization is an equation that factors in time, space, money, and effort. When we're organizing with ADHD, we give the greatest value to time and effort. Efficiency is our battle cry. We want the fewest number of steps and the least amount of effort. Otherwise, even if we clear the clutter once, we won't keep it up. Follow this guide on how to organize your home (for good!), room by room.
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1. Remember the 3 Rs
To get and keep things in order, use these guiding principals in each room of your home:
Reduce what you have. It's the most direct path to efficient organizing.
Be resourceful. When you have less, you find more creative ways to use your belongings.
Be resilient. If you find you don't have something you need, don't get bent out of shape or rush out to buy more.
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2. Inventory Your Kitchen
Eliminate excess Tupperware. It's better to let a drumstick roll around in a too-big container than it is to have 50 plastic boxes with no matching lids clogging your cabinet and refrigerator. Use plastic wrap, zip close bags, or tin foil if you run out. Or eat your leftovers to free up more.
Get rid of different sized plates and bowls, and buy a uniform set. When all of the dishes are the same, it's easy to load and empty the dishwasher or draining rack. You never have to move a dish to get to another dish.
How do you keep shoes organized without making the system so overwhelming it's ignored? For people without ADHD, stacks of clear shoe boxes might work. For us, we take one at the bottom of the pile, don't put it back and soon the whole room is littered with shoes again. Instead, reduce the shoes you own to a number that will fit in the back of the closet in one row. Then, when you open the door, kick the ones you're wearing inside. Simple and easy to maintain.
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4. Expose Your Garbage Cans
If your family is leaving trash around the kitchen or living room, make it more convenient to throw away. Some families have cans under a cabinet, with a child lock, with a top that only opens halfway. Take the trash can out, put it in a central location and remove the lid. It's not as pretty, but is litter on the counters any better? The goal is to reduce the effort needed for finishing steps — like cleaning up after cooking — so they are a short and workable sprint. It's easy to remember to toss something out when the bin is right in front of you.
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5. Streamline Your Socks
Just thinking about laundry is enough to make you groan. First you sort it, then you wash it, then you sort it again only to fold it and put it away. To avoid towering laundry piles, save yourself some steps. Start by getting rid of all of your socks, and buying new ones in only the two colors you wear most often. You'll never have to match and roll socks again.
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6. Don't Shred It All
Instead of shredding anything with an account number on it, only eliminate papers with a Social Security number.
Put a bin in your office and your child's homework space that you'll empty just once a year. Unload any paid bills or just-in-case receipts in a stack. Have kids put finished homework there as well. Since the papers lay flat, they won't take up too much space. Then, if you need to go back and look something up, it's there waiting, and filed chronologically.
Put toys like LEGOs in bins that are shallow and wide, so kids don't have to dump them all out to find the one they want. Get rid of excess toys. When your kid has fewer, he'll play with certain ones more. When they break you can purchase new ones. Cutting back keeps them interested, and your house uncluttered. Then, set a timer for three minutes, and have kids race to see how much they can pick up in that time. You'll be surprised!
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8. Heed the Golden Rule
The golden rule of organizing is that inventory must conform to storage. Your goal should be empty shelf and drawer space. Schedule a time on your calendar, go through each room in your home, and reduce. Start with the floors, then move to surfaces, then empty out drawers and interiors. A bedroom will take two days, kitchens take three. If you need help the first time, hire a professional organizer for one project. The skills you learn may be enough to get you through the house.
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9. Take 3 Minutes Each Day
There is no organizational system in the world that will work if it's not maintained. Aim for a system, or level of belongings, that will let you pick up any room in three minutes. Then, after dinner, have the family pitch in with clean up. Before sitting down for TV or relaxation time, walk around and put everything away so you're not leaving it until just before bed when you're too tired to move.
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10. Less Is More
If you're going to reduce the items in your home so you can clean up in three minutes, don't bring excess into the house. Make it a rule that nothing is purchased that is not on the shopping list. If you're at the store and think you might need milk, don't buy it if it's not on the list. It saves having excess products, and it encourages your family to be resilient by eating toast instead of cereal. If you are at the store and see a buy one, get one half off deal, don't do it unless you have two on your list. Get out of the habit of tying up your money, space, and effort in a bunch of items you don't need or can't use before their expiration date.
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11. Set a Routine
It's too much to reinvent the wheel every day. Instead, create systems that support your newly organized life. Make Wednesday bill-paying day. It will avoid paper pile-up on your desk, and make it easier to remember. If you forget one week, when the next Wednesday rolls around, you'll have a sense of urgency to do it. And then, you can relax the rest of the week because you'll know you have a set time to pay bills.
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12. Use Supports
Use a timer to help your child clean his room. Hire a neighborhood kid to help you clean the garage. At work, team up with someone who can dot the i's and cross the t's on all of your creative ideas. When you are looking for systems to streamline your home, ask yourself, "Is it efficient? How much work does it take? Can I do it in one step?" Use this guide as a template, and adjust it and customize it to fit your life.