Ready to declutter with a touch of ADHD flair? Let’s dive into the (somewhat) organized chaos and learn how to declutter with ADHD.
The Challenges of Decluttering with ADHD
Decluttering with ADHD can make things…slow. Well, maybe not slow, but inefficient.
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Distractions When Decluttering with ADHD
The first thing that comes to mind when decluttering with ADHD is the insane level of distractions.
You sit down to sort through your old photographs or greeting cards and the next thing you know you’ve spent four hours going down memory lane, called an old friend, and stalked that girl from high school down on social media.
While all these “distractions” can be fun or even soul-filling, they don’t help with your decluttering progress.
When you have ADHD it often comes with a boatload of unrealistic expectations.
Sure, I can completely declutter this room, change over all my organizational systems and make dinner in the next two hours. No problem. Until it is.
When you want to do ALL the things and do them all right now, it can make it to where you hit decision paralysis and then do nothing.
Or, you start, destroy a room, and become so petrified of the increased mess that you made that you don’t dare try again.
Let’s avoid this.
When you are a great problem solver and out-of-the-box thinker, you can see ALL the solutions. This means you can also feel ALL the overwhelm.
Welcome to decluttering with ADHD.
Don’t let it bring you down though.
Just because you have ADHD doesn’t mean you can’t be successful at decluttering, you just need a unique approach. You need a way to conquer clutter…with ADHD style!
Preparing for the ADHD Decluttering Process
Welcome to the (the sometimes very inefficient) world of decluttering with ADHD!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in the middle of some unrelated project (that’s likely got a deadline of TOMORROW), when you decided the entire house needed to be cleaned or maybe all the furniture needed to be moved around.
Yeah, me either.
The distractions are enough to make you crazy, but the hyper-focus results of your efforts can be INSANE!
That’s the benefit of decluttering with ADHD. if you can harness that hyper-focus, the results can be incredible and you can get off the decluttering rollercoaster of feeling like a failure between bursts of small, very effective wins.
Embrace Your Unique ADHD Decluttering Approach
In order to succeed at decluttering with ADHD, you’re going to have to embrace and even celebrate more unconventional methods that make this a more unique experience.
There will be chaos. There will be laughable moments. There will be wins.
You will have to find the humor in your ADHD decluttering style and out-of-the-box decluttering strategies. Some days, that humor may be all you’ve got to get through the messy middle of it all!
Set Realistic Goals
Create a decluttering strategy for ADHD.
This means you must first set a realistic goal when learning how to declutter your house with ADHD. Your goal is not “I’ll declutter my entire house this weekend.” The weekend declutter option is more for folks that have a pretty clutter-free home and just need a little extra boost.
A realistic goal should be something small.
Ideas may include:
- Declutter your socks drawer
- Declutter in ten 5-minute increments
- Declutter in three 10-minute increments
- Declutter your closet
- Declutter your shoes
- Declutter your books
Keep it small. Keep your goal attainable and realistic.
Simplify Decision-Making Strategies For Decluttering with ADHD
When decluttering with ADHD you want to simplify your decision-making strategies.
KISS. Keep it stupid simple.
Grab yourself 2 boxes and label each one:
Where’s the selling option? OK, it exists, but don’t make this your go-to. You’re on operation get-it-out-of-house!
As you go through your stuff, don’t overthink it. Take a deep breath, make a gut decision, and move on.
If the deep breath method doesn’t work, then take a moment to ask yourself, has it served its purpose? If it has, you can probably let it go.
Letting go of our excess can be hard sometimes. Sometimes we carry deep emotional baggage as it relates to our stuff, but working through this and removing the decision paralysis can be huge for our progress!
If you are feeling stuck, check out this post on decluttering sentimental items.
Seek Support and Accountability
If you get easily distracted, enlist the help of a friend, family member, or sign up for my weekly newsletter so you stay encouraged and accountable.
You can also join ADHD specific support groups or online communities for encouragement, advice, and accountability and to get more tips.
It’s also good to know how ADHD impacts your day to day living. You can see out resources like ADDitude Magazine for ADHD specific guidance.
Time-based Decluttering Techniques for ADHD
Work in small increments of time
First, utilize short bursts of intense focus to tackle specific decluttering tasks.
For example, set a timer for ten minutes and see how much you can get done. No cheating. No scrolling social media. No stopping to walk down memory lane. You can do that when you are done. For now, you are giving ten uninterrupted minutes to decluttering.
Need ideas on where to start your short bursts of time? Here are some 10-minute decluttering tasks.
Chances are, when your timer goes off, you will feel accomplished and even motivated to keep going, rather than get distracted by something else.
Commit to an ADHD Decluttering Power Hour
Ok, it’s now time to get serious. No more procrastinating.
First, place your phone in another room. Tablets too. Basically, anything that might ding and distract you.
Then, pick a single space to work on. Say it out loud if you have to. “I am working on decluttering my bathroom cabinets!” If this is your goal, you are not decluttering your linen closet until this specified space is done.
Next, set a timer on your stove, microwave, or watch for one hour, and start decluttering.
Working in blocks or chunks of time will make decluttering with ADHD seem more manageable and fun. When you are done with your time block, give yourself a small break to keep your motivation up!
Not sure where to start? Download your free decluttering checklist here. It will give you a ton of great ideas!
Gamify the Decluttering Process
People with ADHD do well with specified goals and immediate rewards.
My favorite ADHD decluttering hack is to gamify the process. Yes, turn decluttering into a game.
How does one do this?
First, give yourself a specific goal. Then, name a specific reward for reaching that goal. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Maybe you reward yourself with half an hour of mindless scrolling.
If small rewards aren’t motivating, maybe go for a bigger reward by tracking your progress. Put a visual on your fridge and actually track the number of items you donate, give away, or sell (it all counts if it leaves your home), and then give yourself a much larger reward for “winning” at decluttering.
Need a little help? Download this freebie that helps your track the first 100 items or bags that leave your home, along with a decluttering checklist.
Whatever you do, celebrate your decluttering progress, no matter how small!
Chunk Decluttering Tasks
Anytime you want to work on a larger project when you have ADHD, it’s best to chunk larger tasks into lots of smaller ones.
Chunking gives you a checklist of completed goals, or small wins, along the way.
It all comes back to keeping your expectations for a single work period realistic.
If you want to plan out decluttering an entire room, do it! Write down all the smaller areas you could work on.
For example, if you wanted to declutter your bedroom, you might divide your smaller tasks into the following:
- Bed linens and pillows
- Under the bed
- Dresser top
- Bedroom floor
- Closet – shirts
- Closet – pants
By dividing up a large space into smaller chunks, you’ve all of a sudden given yourself much more manageable and winnable tasks.
Work Consistently on Your Decluttering Tasks
According to Susan Pinsky, author of Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, you must work on your home daily to keep it maintained and the tasks manageable.
Sure, it seems overwhelming right now, but it won’t always.
Need a guide to help you break down your tasks into small, daily ones? Check out this decluttering maintenance checklist.
The Art of Distraction
Let’s face it, it’s hard staying on track with ADHD decluttering. So what do you do when this happens?
First, don’t get distraught about it. It’s OK. You aren’t a failure. We all get distracted!
This is where having a plan works. If you walk into a room and say, “I’m going to declutter this entire room today!” you will be setting yourself up for feeling like a failure.
Remember to work on small spaces and in small, hyper-focused increments of time.
If you come across something that sends you down memory lane or motivates you to start a completely new project before finishing this one, then put it aside in a “decluttering homework box”.
What’s a decluttering homework box?
A decluttering homework box is your distractions box or maybe your indecisions box. It’s the box you go through once your timer goes off but not a second before then.
Because the items in that box are a distraction to decluttering and your goal is to not be distracted and get some crazy progress.
So if you come across an item that you want to spend more time with, then set it aside and do that…later.
Other ADHD decluttering distraction strategies
Keep a notebook handy
If you don’t have something to set aside but have a great idea or wish to do something else, track that fleeting idea in a notebook.
I say use a notebook and not your phone because your phone is a distraction!
Got a great idea? Awesome. Write it down.
Know the next best thing you should be working on? Fantastic. Write it down to do…after your timer goes off.
So often those decluttering with ADHD have soooo many great ideas in their head, and the idea of letting those great ideas go seems like a waste. Don’t let those ideas slip away, but don’t get distracted from your current project either.
Harness Your ADHD Superpowers When Decluttering
Decluttering with ADHD doesn’t have to be this awful task you are taking on.
Beat the overwhelm by harnessing your ADHD superpowers.
ADHD has its strengths.
Those with ADHD are often creative. Use those creative powers to find fun ways to get rid of your excess.
People with ADHD are often great problem solvers, thinking out of the box. Use these skills to take a step back and think of creative organization systems that work for you.
Grab hold to your hyper-focus moments and make progress by gamifyjng the process or by working in short bursts.
ADHD decluttering doesn’t have to be this uphill battle. You can do it!
Want even more help with your unique ADHD decluttering style? Join the waitlist for The Big Declutter, a course that communicates with you every single week and gives you a specific task to complete. No more wondering where to start next or getting distracted!
So ignore the squirrel distractions and conquer that clutter…ADHD style!