Organization, Stress Relief, and ADHD: Tips for Wellbeing

Disorganization and clutter are not just about aesthetics; they deeply influence our mental and emotional state. How can you reap the benefits of an organized living or work space if your ADHD seems to stop you in your tracks? Discover helpful ADHD Organization Tips for Wellbeing.

To help mitigate the challenges of ADHD regarding keeping a tidy living or workspace:

  1. Start small.
  2. Complete a straightforward task with no pressure to clean an entire area.
  3. Use an alarm to remind you to do a quick tidy-up ritual.
  4. Make sure each thing you own has a designated spot.
  5. Watch as small, consistent effort creates a significant positive change in your space!

For most, a messy room might mean a minor inconvenience. Still, for others, particularly those with ADHD, it can trigger overwhelming stress. This isn’t about being a “clean freak” but about the peace a neat space provides.

Continue reading for a deeper dive into organizing your space, even with ADHD.

The ADHD Connection

ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is characterized by difficulties with attention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. But how does this relate to clutter? 

Picture this: Emma, a freelance designer with ADHD, constantly surrounds herself with mugs, scattered papers, and clothing. Each item acts as a visual stimulus, vying for her attention and dragging her away from her tasks. Over time, this disarray hinders her productivity and exacerbates feelings of overwhelm, leading to complete shutdowns.

The Psychology of Organization and Well-being

An organized space does more than look good. Cognitive effects include a sharpened focus, better decision-making, and heightened productivity. When your surroundings are in order, it’s easier for your mind to be too. Emotionally, a tidy environment boosts mood, reduces feelings of anxiety, and instills a sense of achievement. It’s as if each cleared surface reflects a clearer, more focused mental state.

Starting Small: The Key to Sustainable Organization

As with any journey, the first step is often the most critical. But when it comes to organizing, especially if you’re overwhelmed, thinking big can be counterproductive. Large tasks can seem insurmountable. 

Instead, embracing the concept of “small wins” can change the game. Achieving these tiny goals gives an immediate sense of accomplishment. It builds momentum, making the next task feel that much more achievable.

Simple Steps to Begin With

So, where should one start? Here are some straightforward tasks to consider:

1. Glasses and Mugs Tour: Dedicate a few minutes to walk through your home, collecting any used glasses or mugs. It’s a simple task but can instantly make a space feel cleaner.

2. Clothes Round-up: Instead of feeling daunted by laundry, fold a few items on the chair or pick up clothes off the floor. This small act can transform a room’s appearance.

3. Kitchen Quick-fix: Even if you don’t tackle all the dishes, washing a few or wiping down the counters can bring a sense of order and cleanliness to a central space in your home.

The Snowball Effect: How Small Actions Lead to Larger Results

Let’s revisit Emma. Inspired, she began with a tiny daily task. One day it was gathering mugs; the next, it was tidying her workspace. Over time, these daily habits snowballed. Not only did her space remain consistently tidy, but she also reported increased focus and significantly fewer overwhelming moments.

Tips for Sustaining Organization, Especially for ADHD Individuals

Maintaining a tidy environment can be challenging, particularly for those with ADHD. Here are some sustainable strategies:

1. Use Reminders: Setting alarms or reminders can be beneficial when you’re engrossed in a task and time slips away.

2. Designated Spots: Reduce the chances of misplacing belongings by having specific places for regularly used items. 

3. Daily Tidy Ritual: Dedicate a few minutes daily, perhaps before bed, to a quick tidy-up. This strategy ensures that messes don’t accumulate.

4. Involve Others: If you live with others, involve them in the tidying process. Make it a communal effort, and it becomes a shared responsibility. You may even create a game out of it or play mutually agreed-upon music to make it enjoyable.

What other strategies can individuals with ADHD use to maintain organization?

Individuals with ADHD often face unique challenges when it comes to organization. Still, they can foster better habits and create a more structured environment by employing specific strategies. Here are some additional methods:

1. Time Management Tools: Utilize tools like planners, calendars, or digital apps to help schedule tasks, set reminders, and monitor deadlines. These tools can be beneficial in visualizing time commitments and ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.

2. Break Tasks Into Manageable Steps: Instead of seeing a task as one big chore, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. This process reduces overwhelm and makes the task seem more achievable.

What does this look like? Instead of cleaning the living room, choose one task at a time. First, collect all dirty dishes and bring them to the kitchen sink or counter. Then, gather all trash or items to be discarded. Next, put miss-placed things back in their designated spots. Continue focusing on only one task at a time, marking it complete before moving on. 

3. Declutter Regularly: Make it a habit to go through your belongings routinely. Get rid of items you don’t need and organize the ones you do. A minimalist approach can reduce distractions and make it easier to keep things tidy.

4. Use Labels: Whether it’s files, bins, or containers, labels can serve as visual reminders of where items belong. Labeling systems can be handy for those who need help remembering where they’ve placed things.

5. Prioritize Tasks: Some tasks hold different levels of importance. Use the “Eisenhower Box” or “Urgent-Important Matrix” to categorize tasks and decide what needs immediate attention, what can be scheduled, what can be delegated, and what can be eliminated.

6. Establish Routines: Consistency is critical. Establishing set routines, like consistently placing keys in the same spot or doing laundry on a particular day, becomes second nature over time.

7. Create Dedicated Workspaces: If you have similar tasks, dedicate specific areas for them. For instance, have a dedicated workspace for studying or working, separate from where you relax. 

Not only will this help with the overall organization by not having to move your belongings from place to place, but it will help you settle into work mode and relax mode more readily as your mind begins to associate the space with its function immediately.

8. Visual Organizers: Consider using visual organizers like corkboards, whiteboards, or chalkboards to jot down to-do lists, important dates, or reminders. Having a visual representation can be more effective than just relying on memory. 

By getting these things out of your mind and onto an organizer, your mind will be less cluttered and more free to organize your physical surroundings. 

9. Avoid Multitasking: While it might seem efficient, multitasking can be incredibly challenging for those with ADHD. Focus on one task at a time, complete it, and then move on to the next. 

Studies have shown that multitasking is usually an illusion anyway. The person who thinks they are getting many things done at once is shifting their focus back and forth from one thing to the next repeatedly, ultimately wasting time. 

10. Enlist Help: If you struggle with organization, consider working with a professional organizer, therapist, or coach specializing in ADHD. They can provide tailored strategies and offer support.

11. Reinforce Positive Behavior: Reward yourself whenever you maintain organization or complete tasks efficiently. Positive reinforcement can motivate you to keep up the good habits.

Make sure that the rewards you choose are healthy. For example, enjoy fresh blueberries or dark chocolate instead of candy, or relax in a bath with Epsom salts instead of relaxing with an adult beverage. To learn more about self-care and healthy rewards, read this blog post.

12. Physical Activity: Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine. Exercise can help enhance focus and reduce impulsivity, which can aid in organization.

Remember, while these strategies can be beneficial, it’s essential to recognize that everyone is different. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. It’s all about trial and error, figuring out what’s best for the individual.

Organization, ADHD, and Well-being

A tidy space is more than just a visual pleasure; it’s a sanctuary for the mind, especially for those with ADHD. While the challenges of maintaining such a space can be amplified for ADHD individuals, with the right approach, they often thrive in the serenity it provides. The mantra is simple: start small, be consistent, and watch as your space transforms along with your mental well-being.


Autistic Perspectives is dedicated to giving first-hand accounts of life and useful tips through an autistic perspective.

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