Often the hardest part of organization for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) isn’t getting organized, it’s staying organized, write Abigail Levrini, Ph.D, and Frances Prevatt, Ph.D, in their book Succeeding with Adult ADHD: Daily Strategies to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Manage Your Life.
Staying organized requires daily, weekly and monthly maintenance. That’s because you’ll naturally amass more paperwork, you’ll get more mail every day, your clothes will get dirty, and you’ll need to put away your groceries, among other things.
As such, here are seven valuable tips from Succeeding with Adult ADHD to help you stay organized.
- At the end of each day, take 10 to 15 minutes to pick up around your house or office. Pick up and put away any items that got misplaced.
- Schedule a set day and time for time-consuming tasks. This might include sorting through your mail, doing the laundry, paying bills or filing papers. For instance, the authors give this example: “Every Thursday night before dinner I do laundry.”
- For every item that enters your home, get rid of one item. This helps to prevent additional clutter and makes you stop and consider if you really need that new item in the first place.
- Handle your mail or paperwork once (i.e., the “Handle It Once” rule). When you’re doing your weekly sorting, avoid creating more piles you need to go through in the future. Instead throw away or recycle junk mail immediately. Pay bills right then. And file away important papers.
- Keep small containers in different rooms in your home (and one in your office) to collect items that are out of place. Then put the items back where they belong.
- When you’re trying to stay organized on your computer (or another electronic device), use programs such as Evernote or The Personal Brain. They “allow you to save ideas through pictures, web pages, or handwritten notes and then organize and find them easily.”
- Toss any items you rarely use or items that don’t add to your well-being. Some people are afraid of getting rid of things because they might need them someday. However, clutter “includes those items in your home or office that serve no practical purpose and rarely, if ever, get used. Practical can mean it serves a function such as a can opener might, or it somehow enhances your mental and emotional well-being, like that framed photo of you and your dog camping at the lake.” To help you figure out what to keep and what to toss, Levrini and Prevatt include a worksheet, which you can recreate. Divide a piece of paper into these four columns: item; purpose; last time it was used; and keep or throw. Then go through each item, jot it down on your list, and decide what you’ll do with it.
As the authors note, there will be times when your space isn’t organized, because life happens, extra responsibilities pop up and exhaustion sets in. And that’s okay.
Find the strategies that work best for you and help you stay organized. Incorporate them into your daily routine, which increases the likelihood that you’ll actually do them.