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Cut the Clutter! 7 Simple Steps to a Tidy Space

Updated: Jun 14

Happiness and organization ADHD

As an ADHD coach, I've seen firsthand how overcoming clutter can be a significant challenge for many people with ADHD, myself included. 

One of the biggest obstacles I've faced—and often see in my clients—is the tendency to leave important items out in plain view to remember to stay on top of them. Keeping things visible can feel necessary for those with ADHD because our easily distracted brains struggle with memory—an essential executive function. We have learned through experience that out of sight often means out of mind.

For many of us, this can lead to a cluttered environment filled with unfinished projects and scattered papers. Maintaining organization is a common struggle when you have ADHD, and we beat ourselves up over it.

But there's hope! There are always effective ways to move forward; it just takes experimenting to find the strategies that work for uniquely, you. I'm excited to share seven simple steps that have helped me and many clients manage their clutter and transform their spaces into more organized, calming environments.

First, let's dive into the science behind how clutter and organization affect the ADHD brain.

The Science

Negative Effects of Clutter

  • Distractibility: Clutter forces our brains into multitasking mode, diverting attention from important tasks.

  • Energy Depletion: Our surroundings significantly affect our energy and mood, causing discomfort and unease.

  • Feelings of Low Self-Worth: Our environment influences self-perception, contributing to feelings of shame and inadequacy.

  • Increased Stress: Time spent looking for things causes frustration and lateness, which elevates cortisol levels.

Positive Effects of a Tidy Space

  • Boosts Executive Functioning: Tidiness enhances the skills that help us take action and achieve our goals, such as focus and clarity.

  • Elevates Energy: A tidy space positively impacts mood and energy levels.

  • Increased Self-Worth: A clean environment fosters positive self-perception.

  • Improved Productivity: The positive thoughts derived from a tidy space are fuel for motivation.

7 Keys to a Tidy Space

Woman with ADHD who has an organized home

Step 1. Create a System

Designate specific "homes" for all papers using hanging folders. Use categories that make sense to you and ensure the system is simple and accessible. ADHD brains thrive on easy ways to put things away. Consider where you'd first look for a particular item and organize accordingly.

Step 2. Break it Down

Divide the project into small, manageable tasks. Set a timer for 30 minutes and focus on one piece at a time. This approach makes the task less overwhelming and helps maintain a positive mindset.

Step 3. Incorporate Fun

With ADHD, boring projects can be impossible to start. Make the process engaging by adding elements of fun. Work with a "body double" (someone working alongside you) or listen to music while you work. Click here for more tips on tackling tedious tasks and discover what works best.

Step 4. Clarify Your "Why"

Identify your motivation for staying organized. For me, it's being a role model for my children for creating an organized, calm, and positive home environment. Think about what would make having a tidy space meaningful for you. 

Step 5. Connect to Your Goal

Keep a visual cue in your space that represents your why. For example, I drew a house with a heart on a Post-it note to symbolize the positive home environment I wanted to model and placed it around my house. Visual prompts can be instrumental in helping us stay connected to our future selves–our why–and motivating us toward our goals.

Step 6. Be Mindful

Slow down and notice your inner voice when you're about to leave something out. If you hear, "I'll put it away later," take three deep breaths, pause, and look at your visual prompt to remind yourself of your goal. 

Step 7. Practice Self-Compassion

Expect times when putting things away is difficult, and focus on encouraging self-talk. Being kind to ourselves helps us move forward. Fostering new habits takes time, so be patient and celebrate even the smallest steps forward!

You got this!

Julie Kliers ADHD Coach New York

P.S. Struggling with procrastination? Click HERE to learn easy ways to gain motivation and get started on tedious tasks.

P.P.S. To learn how coaching helps individuals with ADHD live to their full potential and feel more fulfilled, click the link for a FREE 15-minute Coaching Chat with Julie.

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* By clicking this link you will occasionally receive emails from me with more great tips and tools to increase productivity!


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