Add and clutter

A Guide for ADHD Adults

Some ADHD experts believe that a cluttered desk, closet, or house reflects a disorganized mind; others take it as a sign of genius. A lot of adults with ADHD, including me, agree with the latter opinion.

Either view can be true, depending on the individual and the degree of his disorganization. Those who are organizationally challenged spend hours — days, even — trying to get things neat. We lose quality time with our kids or a night on the town. “Controlled chaos” might be a better choice for ADHD adults. On the other hand, a mess that is ignored can grow larger, until we feel overwhelmed by it.

How do you distinguish a productive mess from a debilitating mess? Read on…

Messy and Organized

The guiding principle shouldn’t be what others say, but how you feel about clutter and how you function with it. If you’re an adult with ADHD who can perform well with clutter all around — at home or at work — who cares if someone calls you a slob (unless it’s your boss).

Some of the messiest people I know can find the document they’re looking for from a tall stack of papers without missing a beat. That’s what I call organized, messy or not. Living up to your own expectations is more rewarding than forcing yourself to conform to standards set by those to whom sorting comes naturally.

[Self-Test: Is Your Clutter and Disorganization Out of Control?]

Family, friends, and co-workers may make judgments about our clutter and berate us for it. Neatniks assume that we are lazy or disorganized, when neither is necessarily true. If you are in control of your mess, and your mess isn’t controlling you, let the criticism roll off your back.

How do you know whether you are in control? Ask yourself, “Am I wasting time looking for what I need?” and “Am I being pulled off task — and accomplishing little — because of clutter?” If you answer no, you have a mess you can live with.

When I wrote my thesis for my master’s degree, my desk and floor reflected my “messy” mind. Spreading out my ideas and sources — papers and open books — allowed me to survey all of my ideas and put them in together in original ways. No one visiting my office could have seen the method in my mad array of papers, but the seeming chaos helped me develop a thesis that received rave reviews from my professor.

Messy and Dysfunctional

Chances are, ADHD adults may recognize the signs that their messes are controlling them. Here are seven obvious ones:

  • When you have to purchase items to replace those that you can no longer find.
  • When you spend time looking for things that you use routinely.
  • When your spouse or a disgruntled coworker complains about your mess creeping into his space.
  • When the mess on your desk becomes a distraction in itself.
  • When your boss tells you to clean up your cubicle. Most bosses will not intervene unless your disorganization is seriously affecting your performance.
  • When items are not in the right room — dishes in the bedroom, toothbrush in the living room, bedroom slippers in the garage, hairbrush in the kitchen, hiking equipment in the dining room.
  • When a stack of papers becomes so tall that it falls over, or when you find yourself stepping over things to move through a room.

[Free Download: Clean Up and Get Organized in One Weekend]

Don’t Let Clutter Overwhelm You

One of my clients was clearly a slave to his mess. He piled stuff — papers, clothes, sports equipment, unpaid bills — all around the dining-room table, kitchen counters, coffee table, and other shared spaces in the house. His wife picked up, but didn’t know where to put the homeless items. He suggested storing his clutter in his office, which was in the basement. They agreed it wasn’t fair for her to have to run up and down the stairs to get his stuff out of the way.

The solution? They placed a large wicker basket — about the size of a milk crate — in every room. They refer to the baskets as their “designer dumpsters.” Whenever she sees his stuff cluttering up shared space, she deposits it in the basket in that room. He always knows where to find the items that he’s misplaced.

At one point, I sat on the trunk in my office — amid the disarray of books and papers — thinking about giving up on my thesis. My thoughts came so fast that I didn’t think I could capture them in an outline. I took photos of the floor and desk — and of myself atop the trunk — to preserve the moment when I almost gave up. The photo reminds me that I am more than my mess. I am an ADHD coach whose contributions and academic achievements have made a difference in people’s lives.

Look beyond your mess — assuming it’s not messing up a colleague or spouse — and find something about yourself to applaud. I’m already clapping for you.

Clutter Control Tips for ADHD Adults

  • Use baskets/containers without lids for like items (e.g., boot box, gloves/hat/scarves box, kitchen spice box).
  • Place a wastebasket in every room.
  • Place a magazine rack in rooms where you read.
  • Spend 15 minutes a day de-cluttering (throwing and putting things away, filing, if necessary).
  • Designate at least one junk drawer in every room. If you don’t know where an item should go, or if it doesn’t have a home yet, put it in that drawer.

[Free Resource: 22 Strategies to Combat Clutter]

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Is It Clutter or Hoarding? How to Help

 ADHD Weekly 2016-12-01

Join the discussion.

Clutter seems to come along with the experience of ADHD. Organizing belongings, keeping up with housekeeping, and maintaining the flow of family life can get complicated because of ADHD symptoms. Many families accept that clutter is just part of the equation.

But when is clutter not just clutter, and instead the sign of a much bigger problem? In a few situations clutter can evolve into hoarding disorder, placing the health and safety of the affected individual and sometimes the people they live with at risk.

“People with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless,” according to the American Psychiatric Association. “They have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces.”

The American Psychiatric Association estimates that hoarding disorder affects 2 to 5 percent of the general population.

“There are several ‘lookalike’ conditions and circumstances that are commonly mislabeled as hoarding, including collecting, cluttering, and chronic disorganization,” says Debbie Stanley, LPC, NCC, CPO-CD in ADHD and Hoarding: What It Is, Why It Happens, and How to Help without Harming from Attention magazine. “Understanding each of these is crucial to understand how ADHD fits into the hoarding picture.”

“Cluttering is another behavior typical in folks with ADHD. Leaving items out as visual cues is a common way of compensating for an unreliable memory or inadequate time-management system, but to the untrained eye it can resemble hoarding,” she says. Seeking a professional organizer and working with a coach can help address the problem. Unfortunately, and especially due to popular TV shows focusing on hoarding disorder, well-meaning family and friends can misunderstand the problem.

“Chronic disorganization, also common with ADHD, frequently results in cluttering that the person is hard-pressed to correct, further increasing the odds that she or he will be misconstrued as hoarding,” Ms. Stanley says. “In a nutshell, hoarding is not about ‘the stuff;’ it’s about the person’s attachments to the items. With appropriate assistance, a chronically disorganized person who is not burdened with emotional attachments to the belongings can usually participate in the development of an organizing system and choose a meaningful percentage of items to be discarded. Conversely, a person who hoards will often resist large-scale rearrangement of belongings and will have difficulty discarding more than a token number of items, even when, in general, he or she recognizes the excess and wants to reduce it.

Helping a person struggling with ADHD and a hoarding disorder, or either condition separately, is not as simple as throwing away unneeded items or organizing for the person, she warns. Doing so creates even deeper distress.

“If the person has ADHD, the potential for overwhelm during this process is that much higher,” she says. “Developing a clear plan based on the client’s priorities and carrying it out on a realistic schedule (a year, for example, not a weekend) is far more likely to result in lasting change. “

So what can you do to help a friend or loved one struggling with an overwhelming amount of stuff? Read more to learn how to help.

Have you had a friend or family member affected by hoarding? Share your experience. 

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Example of a translated sentence: Well, at that time, we are talking about the 80s, at that time it was fashionable. ↔ Cóż, na tamte czasy, mówimy o latach 80-tych, były bardzo modne.

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Well, at that time, we are talking about 80 's, at that time it was fashionable.

Cóż, na tamte czasy, mówimy o latach 80 -tych, były bardzo modne.


They fired M-8 shells (caliber 82 mm) and M-13 shells (caliber 132 mm).

Strzelały pociskami M–8 (kalibru 82 mm) albo M–13 (kalibru 132 mm).


When the yakuza people saw in 80 how easy it was to take out loans and "make" money, they formed companies and entered into real estate and stock trading.

W latach osiemdziesiątych możliwość dużych zarobków za pożyczone pieniądze skłoniła yakuzę do zakładania przedsiębiorstw i zajęcia się handlem nieruchomościami oraz spekulacjami giełdowymi.


Usually, a connection is made between this ancient city and modern Gaza (Gazza, Azza), located approximately 80 km west-south-west. from Jerusalem.

Starożytna Gaza z reguły jest kojarzona ze współczesnym miastem o tej nazwie (Ghazza, ʽAzza), leżącym ok. 80 km na zach. pd. zach. od Jerozolimy.


While Mike and I were fetching loyal US Postal Service employees, it turned out that 80 was no longer there, and the news we had all been waiting for came in a completely different kind of mail.

Kiedy Mike i ja niepokoiliśmy urzędników poczty, okazało się że to już nie lata


Mrs Smith of Portsmouth, Kimberley Road 80 ... died suddenly in a boarding house in Blackpool.

Mrs Smith z Portsmouth, Kimberley Road 80 ... zmarła nagle w pensjonacie w Blackpool.


In 80 there was a period of time when 25 children died every hour as a result of such conflicts in Africa!

W pewnym okresie lat osiemdziesiątych w takich walkach toczonych na terenie Afryki co godzina ginęło 25 dzieci!


She turned 80 almost on the day of the interview So I'm on stage and she's on stage and I start asking questions and hit a stone wall.

Miała 80 lat.


He still wanted to know how his solution applied to the real world.

Szacuje się, że za cztery lata będzie wart ponad 80 mld dolarów.


It doesn't have to be 200,000 people who give orders and 80 million obey.

Nie można dopuścić, by 200 000 ludzi wydawało rozkazy, a 80 milionów je wykonywało.


Thus, in the United States, with the advent of treatment in the mid-1990s, the number of HIV-infected children decreased by 80 %.

W Stanach Zjednoczonych, od pojawienia się nowych metod leczenia w polowie lat 90. nastąpił 80-procentowy spadek w liczbie dzieci zarażonych HIV.

The poet passed away in 1921, almost 80 years ago, and time continues to move.

Dobson odszedł już prawie 80


He was briefly in the right-wing militia in the mid--80-s.

W połowie lat 80 .


she will be your death,-I am sure of it.' - You marry a rich woman, but she will give you a lot of grief ...

- Zaślubi pan kobietę bogatą - rzekła - ale będzie pan miał przez nią wiele zmartwienia... and includes 80 kilometers of aqueducts, 140 kilometers of conduits and 16 large dams.

W broszurze The Power of Water (Potęga wody) czytamy, że „kompleks zajmuje powierzchnię 3200 kilometrów kwadratowych i składa się z 80 kilometrów akweduktów, 140 kilometrów tuneli i 16 wielkich zapór”.


When will I be 80 .

Jak będę miała 80 lat .


2nd REGULAR: Must be doing a Harry!

STAŁY KLIENT 2: Może się bawi w Harry'ego!


Brought the road train of transported cargo to 80 tons.

Samolot mógł przenosić ładunek o masie do 80 ton.


In total 80 people and two regimental cannons were in this battalion, but several fascist companies were killed in front of its positions.

Batalion ten miał ogółem 80 ludzi i dwie armaty pułkowe, ale przed jego pozycjami poległo kilka niemieckich kompanii.


Across five time zones 80 million Soviet men and women also expressed their joy

0003 Literature

Today it gushes on average every 80 minutes.

Obecnie gejzer wybucha mniej więcej co 80 minut.


This is a clonal colony of aspen poplar growing in Utah and is literally 80 thousand years old.

To kolonia klonalna osiki w Utah, To kolonia klonalna osiki w Utah, ktora ma 80 000 lat.

Of course, we use it, but even after almost 80 years after its invention, the sound still spreads in all directions.

Włączasz głośnik, a po prawie 80 latach od kiedy posiadamy je dźwięk rozprzestrzenia się w każdym kierunku, gdzie tylko chce.

List of the most popular requests: 1k, ~2K, ~3K, ~4K, ~5K, ~5-10K, ~10-20K, ~20-50K, ~50-100K, ~100k-200K, ~200-500K, ~1M

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