How to get tidier with ADHD – a guest blog by Sarah Bickers

smiling lady in blue top

Sarah Bickers, our guest blogger, is a Professional Organiser based in South East London who has a particular interest in helping people who have always been disorganised. She often works with clients with ADHD to help create systems which work for them and reduce their overwhelm.

Having ADHD may have landed you the label of being messy. Is it time to lose that label?

What is the dictionary definition of mess?

  • A dirty or untidy state of things, or of a place. 
  • A situation that is confused and full of problems.

ADHD and messiness

ADHD is characterised by three main elements:

  1. 1
    Difficulty focusing (forgetting what you were doing or getting distracted by other tasks)
  2. 2
    Impulsivity (perhaps taking on new tasks without thinking through the implications)
  3. 3
    Hyperactivity (difficulty sitting down to tackle boring tasks)

Becoming tidier

Slow down and finish the job


As a tidy friend once told me: “The only difference between a messy person and a tidy person is that a tidy person finishes the job.”

 

ADHD brains are often racing onto the next job. You rush in through the front door already thinking about unpacking the shopping, running to the loo, or taking your child to their next activity. With your brain busy of course you forget about putting the key back on its hook, putting your shoes away tidily or hanging up your coat. 

Slowing down really helps you to focus or stay present in the task you’re doing. (Mindfulness training is great for addressing this.)

Don't procrastinate


If you have ADHD you might leave things out as a reminder to take action. However, if those things  are hurriedly ‘tidied away’ in a drawer out of sight it may feel like they cease to exist (out of sight, out of mind). On the other hand, once something has sat somewhere long enough (the stairs?!) it becomes invisible anyway - so find strategies which help you take action.

A place for everything


When people don’t know where to put things, or put them away in the wrong place it causes frustration looking for things plus a tendency to repeat buy when you can’t find it.

 

Having a place for everything is a key way to help you become tidier. The place should fit the task and make sense. So keep your shoe cleaning kit near to where you keep shoes or where you’d clean them. (That’s called ‘zoning’ in the professional organising community). Yes of course you still have to put things away, but knowing where they belong makes the job quicker and saves time searching later.


Believe you can become tidier


Start by being kinder to yourself about the way things are. And instead of beating yourself up about being messy (a fixed mindset) remind yourself you can become tidier. Develop a habit of tidying for 10 minutes each day rather than putting it off until you can do the job perfectly. You don’t need to be ‘Homes & Gardens perfect’ so watch out for any ‘all or nothing’ perfectionist tendencies.


Take responsibility


Have you noticed you’re more driven by other people’s needs than your own? Do you just tidy when you have friends coming round? Making your bed is a great way of being kind to your future self!

 

Alongside your own mess you may have to live with other people’s clutter. Or you may be the messiest in the house.  We all need to take ownership of our own belongings - tidying up for others doesn’t fix the problem. If mess spills into communal areas just collect it and put it back by the owner’s room. 


Taking a bit of extra time to maintain a tidier home reduces your stress and overwhelm - and remember, the less you have, the less there is to tidy!


Sarah Bickers, our guest blogger, is a Professional Organiser in South East London. You can find out all about Sarah at Free Your Space and you will find her on social media on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Beth says:

    Having asked Sarah to come and help me get organised, I can say that her top tips work! Her advice and coaching made an enormous difference to me.
    So, if you have ADHD (or even just recognise in yourself something of Sarah’s description) then do try these techniques out.

    “Be kind to your future self!” is now my mantra.

  • Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

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