ADHD at Home

I have a bit of an obsession with efficiency and optimization. And nowhere is that more apparent to me and unbelievable to everyone else than at home.

I move a lot. A lot a lot. Since leaving my mom’s house for good at 21 (8 years ago), I have moved 11 times. Actually, between the ages of 18-21, I had officially moved 4 times and lived in (with or without much stuff) 5-6 different places as well, now that I think about it. Dang. In fact, at a year and a half, the apartment I’m in now is by far my record for longest post-childhood-homes residency, though my lease is up at the end of this month and I’ll be moving on yet again.

Anyway, the point is: I’ve lived in a lot of different places, and thus have lived in a lot of different spatial layouts. This has shown me just how sensitive/reactive to the environment my behavior is. In fact, after my undergrad (in City & Regional Planning) I had actually started a PhD program in Urban Design & Human Behavior along these same lines.

I didn’t finish the PhD (for infuriating reasons), but I have… uh… read up on ADHD a lot since then? (Very impressive, I know.) And I’ve learned that we ADHDers are especially behaviorally sensitive to our environment, more than most folks.

Why? For a lot of reasons (which I don’t want to go research right now lest I lose my whole morning), one of which is the fact that we personify the notion of “out of sight, out of mind.” As the book ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life (Kolberg & Nadeau, 2002)¬†points out,

Many people with ADD have a problem with “prospective memory”– memory for tasks that must be completed at a future point in time. They are OosOoms– out of sight is out of mind– without a visual reminder of what they need to do, they often forget. (p. 79)

This is why so many of us have stacks and piles of everything, everywhere. We don’t put it away because we know, correctly, that if we do that, we will never think of the thing again, and bills will go unpaid, RSVPs un-R-ed, etc. So, we keep the things out, so we’ll remember. But that of course, creates total chaos, which stresses out the whole family, especially us! And to top it off, when we decide to try to tackle our mess and get things under control, any successes tend to be very short lived. As Kolberg & Nadeau pointed out “many suggested organizing approaches themselves are ludicrously inappropriate for adults with ADD.” (p. 3)

It’s interesting for me to look back at all the different places I’ve lived, and notice how drastically my levels of clutter/functionality varied. True to form, I never had much luck with most general organizing projects, and even had two non-ADHD-familiar professional organizers try to help in two of my places, yet in certain apartments, clutter was not really much of an issue.. even when I was a single student mom of a toddler!

So, with our upcoming move at the end of this month (and after a year of living in this space which definitely does not work for ADHD brains), I’ve spent the last few days deep diving into all the resources I could easily find, trying to make a plan for our next place. Here are some resources I’ve been reading/watching/listening to, and next time I’ll share some of the specific ideas I have collected/created (or already implemented) so far.

Podcast Episodes:

ADDitude ADHD Experts Podcast – 109 Decluttering Made Easy for ADHD Adults and Kids

ADDitude ADHD Experts Podcast – 17 – ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, Now!

Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast – 292 Spring ADHD Organizing Spectacular!

(I haven’t listened to any of the others yet, but Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast has a bunch more related podcast eps under their “Organizing” category! You can check them out here.)



ORGANIZATION 7 Organizing Tips for People With ADHD (SpareFoot Blog)

33 ADHD-Friendly Ways to Get Organized (ADDitude)

ADHD & Professional Organizers: How They Can Help (adda)

Organization and Time Management (CHADD)


Kolberg, J., & Nadeau, K., G. (2002). ADD-friendly Ways to Organize Your Life. Psychology Press.