10 ADHD-Friendly Cleaning and Organizing Tips
Household tasks can feel overwhelming for people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It’s one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders of our generation, affecting around 5% of America’s adult population.
People with ADHD tend to have difficulty maintaining concentration and controlling impulses. Many also experience a crippling sense of overwhelm called “task paralysis” that prevents them from completing assignments. These struggles can lead to feelings of helplessness and fatigue, especially when it comes to managing a home.
I have worked with several clients who have ADHD, and more than a few have admitted that their current setup was doing little to help them overcome their anxiety. Their living space didn’t reflect their natural thought processes or habits, so their home— the place they should feel safest in— felt like a confusing, triggering mess they couldn’t escape.
As someone who has always believed in customizing homes to specific lifestyles, this has never sat well with me. Every individual is unique, with different needs and patterns of behavior. I believe that the only things that should determine your organizing and cleaning strategies should be: Does this method help me and my productivity, or does it hurt me? and Is this method sustainable? If you answer “yes” to both, then there’s no reason to feel ashamed for doing it that way.
With all of this being said, I wanted to compile some of the neurodivergent-friendly organizing and cleaning tips I’ve come across in my work. So if you or someone you live with has ADHD, I hope that this list helps you cope better with your day-to-day life— or at least, makes you feel a little more understood.
Store Produce on the Door of Your Fridge. This way, you’ll see what produce you have and how quickly it’s spoiling, rather than having it hidden away in a drawer to rot. Keeping it out of the produce bin may make it go bad faster, but that might encourage you to eat it sooner! In the meantime, try putting your condiments in theproduce bins instead: they expire slower than fruits and veggies, so they can be left out of sight a lot longer without it affecting them much.
Invest in Clear Bins and Containers. No more guesswork— you’ll be able to find what you need a lot easier, and you can group similar items together. Finally, you can know what’s in your fridge, closet, or cabinets at a moment’s glance!
Buy More Hampers. And then scatter them around your apartment! I especially recommend having one by the front door, one in the bathroom, and one in the bedroom. This way, wherever you’re taking your dirty clothes off, they will have a specific place to call home.
Set a Consistent “Chore Day”. It’ll be easier to complete your chores when you get in the habit of doing them on a certain day every week. Set a day that gives you plenty of time to get what you need done.
Have a “Clean Laundry” Bin/Hamper. Does folding laundry feel like an exhausting, useless task? Then why not just stop folding stuff altogether? If you’re constantly leaving clean clothes on chairs or the floor, then you likely don’t care much about wrinkles already. This way, you won’t stress about laundry piles, you won't have to wonder what is and isn’t dirty, and you’ll have a place to dump your clean clothes that doesn’t take up space in your room.
Try Labeling. It’s easier to put things back where they go when you know exactly where it’s supposed to be. Make labels of bins, shelves, cupboards, or anything else to ensure you know where something goes.
Switch It Up Every 15 Mins. If you hate the idea of sitting down to do one task for an hour straight, try setting a timer for 15 mins. Once it goes off, start doing a different household task and set the timer again. It’ll keep your brain on its toes and away from distractions.
Take Your Tools Out First. Whatever you’re planning to do, collect the equipment you’ll need first. That way, you won’t be stopping and starting your work-flow whenever you need another pencil or a measuring tape.
Avoid Over-Cluttering Your Surfaces. It’s convenient to place random objects you’re done using on kitchen tables, nightstands, and bookshelves. Try to do a sweep of your home once per week to clear off these larger surfaces— it’ll offer you peace of mind and more storage space.
Be Forgiving. Be gentle with yourself as you try to implement habits that will improve your mood and productivity. It’s hard to maintain a home, whether you have ADHD or not. So try and remember that even though you’re not perfect and you might stumble, you’re doing your best.
What are some of your favorite ADHD-friendly cleaning and organizing tips? Have you tried any of these before? Did they work out for you? Let me know in the comments so I can learn even more about how to be an accessible and open-minded organizer!