If you have ADHD, you may have trouble keeping track of your belongings. These tips may help you hold onto the things you need most.
No matter how hard we try, some of us can’t seem to hang onto our stuff.
If we’re not searching for our keys, we’re looking for our cellphones or wracking our brains trying to remember the last time we used our debit cards.
Even when we have the best intentions, our stuff always seems to disappear.
Chronic disorganization can be one of the symptoms you experience when you live with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). So, keeping track of your stuff can seem even more challenging.
But there are things you can do to help you stay organized and remember where you put your things.
Everyday tasks such as keeping track of a wallet may come easily to some but can be a challenge for those living with ADHD.
There are three reasons people with ADHD tend to lose things, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Paying attention and staying organized tend to be harder for folks with ADHD, so it might take time and patience to improve in these areas.
Not being naturally skilled at organization isn’t a bad thing. It could just be the way your brain works.
Differences in the frontal lobe can also affect your memory.
If you live with ADHD, you might have trouble staying organized and remembering where you put things. But with small changes and some trial and error, you can learn to keep track of your things.
Here are some strategies you can try. Consider trying each one to see what works best for you.
Double-checking is fine for some, but checking three times may be better when you live with ADHD.
When getting ready to leave the house (work, school, etc.), consider checking to ensure that you have your most important and commonly misplaced things, such as your:
- school or work ID
- bus or subway pass
Consider checking again once you’ve gathered all your things and are ready to head out. Then once you’re about to unlock the door or leave your desk or school for the day, consider checking one final time.
Getting easily distracted isn’t uncommon when you live with ADHD. You might absentmindedly put down your keys or phone to send that last email or take that final bathroom break.
Triple checking covers all your bases so that you can confidently walk out the door knowing that you have everything you need.
A place for everything and everything in its place
Sometimes your things aren’t lost as in “gone forever,” but lost as in “I have no idea where they are.”
If you spend a little time finding a place for all your important things, you’ll know where to start looking when you need them.
Organizing and decluttering can be overwhelming when you live with ADHD. A fancy label maker or color-coded storage bins aren’t needed to stay organized — just a consistent place for each item to live.
It doesn’t have to be complicated.
You could stick your most important documents — such as your Social Security card, insurance info, and W2s — in a manilla envelope (or two) and pin it to the wall by your desk. This way, you’ll know where those documents are when you need them.
It doesn’t have to be neat and orderly either. As long as your stuff is in a place where you can find it when you need it, it’s OK.
Your favorite shoes can “live” on the floor if that’s the place that makes sense to you (and it’s OK with your roommate or partner, of course).
Your system has to work for you — it doesn’t have to make sense to others.
5 minutes of decluttering
Once you’ve assigned a place for your most-used things, try to actually put those things in that place.
Devoting just 5 minutes a day to decluttering and putting things away can help you settle in to this new routine.
Consider setting a timer for 5 minutes. Then do everything you can until the timer goes off.
Try to start with your daily items, such as your keys and wallet. Then work on any other clutter such as putting dirty clothes in the hamper, dishes in the dishwasher, clean clothes in the closet, etc.
When the timer goes off, you can stop.
Try to choose a consistent time each day and consider tying it to another task to help you remember. This could be brushing your teeth, setting wake-up alarms, or feeding your pet.
Clear and transparent storage
For many folks living with ADHD, when it comes to their stuff: Out of sight, out of mind.
You might fall into accidentally purchasing duplicate items because you’ve forgotten or misplaced the other one.
Being able to see your belongings with a glance around the room can help. This can be accomplished with bookshelves, open-top baskets, or transparent storage containers and drawers.
For example, you can store your toiletries and craft supplies in transparent shoe organizers on the back of closet doors.
Clear, plastic containers on your work desk or at school may not look stylish, but they’ll easily help you see your items.
Find my phone app
Losing a cellphone is easy to do, and most people have done it at one time or another. You might set your phone down in a bathroom to wash your hands or lay it down while paying for a meal at a restaurant.
You might leave your phone right where you placed it when you walk away.
Many of us have wasted several hours digging through couch cushions, tearing through our purses or pockets, and even scrounging through trash cans for our phones.
Most phones have the “find my phone” feature. It can turn hours of searching into the minutes it takes to use the app.
If you don’t have this feature on your cellphone, ask a friend to call you and hope you didn’t leave it on vibrate.
If you can invest a little money in hanging onto your belongings, consider Bluetooth tracking devices such as Apple AirTags or Tile.
You simply clip or attach the tracker to your most important belongings, such as your keys, TV remote, wallet, or anything you often misplace. When you can’t find one of your tracked items, you can signal your tracker to play a sound via a remote or an app.
AirTags and Tile can be expensive, but you can find more affordable options.
Writing stuff down takes the burden off your brain to remember. Each time you’re going somewhere, consider making a list of everything you need to take with you.
If you’re going on a weeklong vacation, a packing list reduces the chances of forgetting anything. But vacations aren’t the only times when lists come in handy — mini packing lists for each trip out of the house or office can also be helpful.
Consider jotting down your list on a brightly colored Post-it note and sticking it on your doorknob so that you can’t miss it. Or you can put your list into a reminder on your cellphone and set it to go off a few minutes before you leave.
Constantly losing your stuff can be frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive. These techniques and others can help you keep track of your most treasured things.
With a little effort and dedication, you can build a routine to help you better manage your belongings. Consider trying each one until you find the ones that best fit you and your lifestyle.