Ease the Emotional Burden of “Possibility Clutter”

The ADHD brain thrives on stimulation. It generates ideas and excitement about the future — and leaves behind lists, shoe boxes, and myriad Pinterest boards that only contribute to our daily clutter. Here, learn how to simplify without deleting your dreams.

A pile of clothes left over from an unfinished project
Pile of clothes in front of a dresser

The ADHD brain has a fantastic take on the world, motivated by the search for optimal stimulation. Generating ideas and seeing the potential of things produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can keep you mentally engaged when you might otherwise be unmotivated.

You might have this special trait, which I call “possibility enthusiasm,” if you’ve ever said something like…

  • “When I retire, five years from now, I might look into Costa Rica. Let’s hold onto those brochures and travel CDs.”
  • “I have a million ideas about what to do with my old t-shirts. Let’s keep them for now.”
  • “My social media accounts do take up a lot of time. But I might miss something important if I drop some. Let’s arrange my schedule around them.”

Enthusiasm for the possibilities of the future is wonderful and stimulating, but it can also be troublesome. It leads to a clutter of unfinished projects, a trail of unrealized intentions, and a squeeze on the schedule. When I encounter it in my clients’ organizing and time management sessions, I recommend the following strategies:

  1. Practice just-in-time knowledge. Information gets as rotten as bananas if gathered too soon. For the freshest information, give up those older brochures and CDs now, and get fresh apps, DVDs, an online class, or podcasts when you are closer to retirement.
  2. Take a project, any project, and stick a start date for it in your calendar. Voila! Now that t-shirt project is part of an actual schedule, which improves your chances of getting it done by a zillion percent
  3. Avoid FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). It’s true. You might miss something important if you cull your social media activities. You might not. You don’t know. Weigh the odds of missing out against the certainty that subtracting, rather than adding more, media activities will gain you more time in your life.

[Free Resource: 22 Clutter-Busting Strategies]

4 Comments & Reviews

  1. A year ago I moved into a new smaller apartment to solve the cash flow problem of retirement. The Condo I owned was in its last few years of a mortgage and most of my payment was increasing the equity. I lived in a beautiful Apt large 1400 sq feet over looking Large river and Park but within 15 minutes of downtown on a bustling street full of shopping and services. Underground Parking in our nort
    Hern climate and an outdoor swimming pool added greatly to my enjoyment . Unfortunately I lived in a city where housing costs had basically stagnated the 8 years i lived here.
    Although i had moved before organizing had taken me most of the 8 years to finally have a place for everything that worked and gave me definitive space for business and clerical needs that i actually used.( i grew up in a home where my elderly father came home from work to rest and recuperate) work was never done there ( by male family members) Best of all keping it presentable was so easy after years of needing at least a day to clean and hide things before company came.
    This space is taking me just as long to organize and after one year and i am no where near my goal. Recent reorg of the kitchen space has drastically reduced the number of times an open cupboard door takes out my left eye and all the boxes have been opened and much given away or discarded this is only 600sq ft.
    I am an oddity in that organizing tasks and space was an early part of my career so I keep believing that I can do it. Well. Unfortunately not quickly.
    Never mind CDs I still have Tapes lol. And the player that converted them to CDs left with my last wife. S
    So thank you for the reminders and i definitely may get rid of them and even the boom box that plays them….oh no cant its the only CD player I have.
    But I will drop my 4 different mssage apps…..nope grankids all use different ones as do my 3 kids. Soon i promise myself or i will still be doing this when i am 100 never mind now at 75. Aha
    That time honored practise of schedule a time for it in my planner……now that used to work.
    Thank you for all yoour great reminders of what really des work

    1. PS all those great places i visited but mostly the maps and brochures can now safely be discarded. Medical needs will force me to stay home in Canada. Friends ,family and activities chorus and Veterans Snooker are a heck of a lot more interesting and fun. Cheaper too.

  2. I burst out laughing because this is so me!! All of it! I have so many “special” t shirts that I MAY do something with someday and baskets full of papers that I MAY need to look at later. Sometimes I just have to laugh at these things but believe you me…it also drives me nuts. I spend more time thinking about organizing and buying things to organize my life than I do actually organize. Ugh.

  3. Oh Em Gee cleethon ! That’s me. I have more clutter buying things to help me organize my clutter. I am sitting next to boxes of “organizing” items have clutter on top of them…SMH

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