For most people decluttering is simply a task where you make quick decisions and get it done over the course of up to a few weeks. For someone like me who has ADHD, decluttering isn’t always the best experience. However, as someone who is ADHD and has downsized by getting rid of 80% of their belongings I do have decluttering tips that work great.
I always end up spending way too much time going through old photos, paperwork, and old keepsakes. It takes twice as long and ends up causing a bigger mess.
You see, because I end up creating these nice little organized piles, but then I’ll say to myself, “it’s time for a break.” Then dinner will need to get made. Then I say ok I’ll put these all away tomorrow.
Then tomorrow comes along and I need to do something else but those piles of paper are in my way. So I will quickly stack them all together in their nice and neat pile. Then I will put that pile in the box and shove that box back in the closet.
I of course promise to get back to it never because I will forget about it by the end of the night. Then over the course of several months I will add more paper and more things to this box. Finally, on one particularly motivated day I will decide it’s time to declutter again.
The process starts over and usually ends up the same way over and over again.
I finally figured out how to stop this endless cycle of my ADHD brain and decluttering and it’s a pretty simple method.
People with ADHD will often feel overwhelmed by a task because they are also reminded of all the other tasks that come with it. For me this feeling happens because I see a box of paperwork I need to go through but I also see that I need to organize my linen closet where I store the box.
Don’t ask me why that box was stored in my linen closet for a year, it was much better off in our office closet where it is now.
However, the linen closet then reminded me I needed to go through all the products in the bathroom and throw out what was expired or not being used. Since I’m throwing out expired products I should check our stock of canned and boxed goods to see if there is anything I can donate to the food bank before it expires.
Oh and since I’ll be donating food to the food bank I should declutter our closets and donate old clothes to Goodwill. While I’m there I should probably reorganize our dresser and refold everything cause it’s getting messy in there.
Which reminds me I need to do laundry. That’s going to take all day so I should strip all the beds and wash all the sheets first so we can put clean sheets on our bed before we go to sleep.
Speaking of sleep, I’m really tired with all this work I will have to do, maybe it should just all wait till tomorrow. I’ll relax and rest up today so I can be super motivated to do it all tomorrow.
That my friends is how people with ADHD go from super motivated to completely overwhelmed and nothing gets done. Understanding your overwhelm and learning to manage it is a part of decluttering tip number 1 a little later in this post.
Harness Your Powers Of Hyper Focus
One of the biggest misconceptions about ADHD is that people who have it are unable to focus for long periods of time on a single task. However, we actually have a super power that allows us to hyper focus.
Hyper focus is when we focus so intently on a task that we hardly notice anything else around us. This is why we skip meals, sometimes forget to hydrate, miss appointments, and sometimes forget to go to bed at our bedtime.
We can sometimes harness this laser focus when the conditions are right. For me, I can hyper focus more easily first thing in the morning. My kid is more interested in learning from his tablet, I’ve had my coffee, my husband is still asleep and the house is likely quieter.
I will get into working on something and then before I know it it’s noon, my husbands been awake for an hour or two and I haven’t eaten breakfast yet.
However, for my husband his hyper focus is late at night. I’m in bed, the kid is asleep, and the house is quiet. This is when he hyper focuses on his work and suddenly it’s 4 in the morning and he hasn’t gone to bed yet.
So the conditions for hyper focus are usually when we know we won’t be interrupted. Now all I needed was a trigger for my brain to go into hyper focus. So in the morning I started turning on some music right before I knew I would go into hyper focus.
After a couple weeks of this, I would start turning on music to set the mood for accomplishing other tasks. It worked, my brain started associating music with hyper focus. I get my kid busy working on something, turn on music, and go into hyper focus to complete a task.
Your hyper focus trigger doesn’t need to be music. You can try lighting a scented candle or using a specific essential oil. A specific TV show or YouTube channel could work. Whatever you want to use as your hyper focus trigger just use it right before you normally are likely to go into hyper focus.
If you think you can harness your hyper focus powers into decluttering this post has a bunch of great decluttering tips on how to declutter your house fast.
Removing The Feeling Of Overwhelm
I wish it was as simple as just shoving the feelings of overwhelm down and getting it done. However, for most ADHD people, this just simply isn’t the case. Especially in my case.
This is how I learned to deal with feelings of overwhelm. I gave myself a goal of accomplishing one task each day. So I will go through that box of papers on Monday and that’s all I have to do for decluttering on that day.
On Tuesday I will organize my linen closet. On Wednesday, it’s time to go through the bathroom. On Thursday I will put together my donations for the food pantry. On Friday it’s laundry day which means I will also go through old clothes and get them ready for donations.
By scheduling one task that needs to get done that day I don’t allow myself to be concerned about all the other tasks that are coming up. I have a plan for those tasks and the plan for those tasks is not today. Today is simply about this one task.
Decluttering Tips For ADHD People
Here are my top three decluttering tips when you have ADHD and need to remove clutter and stuff you don’t use from your home.
Create A Master List
Master lists have always helped me to remember all the tasks that I have upcoming for a big project. It helps me to break everything down into manageable tasks over the course of a few days to a month.
To declutter your home you will want to break down each closet, sections in your garage and basements, organizational areas, bathrooms, kitchen, living room, etc. In your master list be as detailed as possible in how you are going to go about decluttering each area in your home.
Having a full on plan is key to organizing your ADHD brain to complete your tasks as efficiently as possible. The master list is your plans for each area of your home.
Putting Your Plan Into Action
Once you have your master list simply schedule out one task a day for as long as you need. When your brain wants to take in the full scope of the project tell yourself, “I only have to do this today, the rest is for another day.”
Then go and do that one task. If you complete that task and continue to feel like you can or want to do more, go do one more task.
Do as many as you want each day but know that you only have to do one each day. So if you did 5 of your tasks on your master list and the next day comes, do the next task.
Give Yourself A Break For A Day
If you completed 5 tasks in one day, but the next day you are just exhausted, then don’t push yourself with that one task. Reschedule it for tomorrow.
Decluttering can sometimes be an emotionally draining experience. Especially if you have things stored that were given to you by loved ones, people you’ve lost, or obtained during a difficult time in your life.
I learned early in my life that what matters are the people I love, not the things that remind me of them. So if something you have isn’t your style anymore, isn’t a part of your daily life, it is ok to let that thing go. You still have the memories and you still have love for that person.
You do not need to hold on to something you don’t need or use just because it belonged to your grandma, mom, or any other important family member. Keep only the things you actually want to use and display proudly with no obligation attached.
Decluttering and ADHD
With your master list of tasks for your decluttering project, a way to trigger your hyper focus, and a plan of action in place, staying on task to declutter your home should be easier now. Of course, this is just my personal experience with decluttering and ADHD and how I worked around it.
As with most things, ADHD is not something that presents itself the same way in all people so there could be a way that is better for you. I hope these decluttering tips help you get your home or space decluttered so you can have a bit of a more peaceful space.
If you have ADHD how do you tackle projects? What steps do you take? Let me know in the comments below. Follow us on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite decluttering boards.