Got ADHD? The Life Changing Magic of Tidying is more like dark magic for ADHD adults. Setting you up for another round of disappointment. Another round of organizing failure.
Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing expert. Her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, hit the bestseller list a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve often been asked if the book’s organizing techniques will work for people with ADHD.
I’ve avoided writing this blog. Marie seems so genuine. So well-intentioned. I’ve resisted saying less than positive things about another organizing expert’s techniques.
But, three clients have asked me about this in just the past few days. Wondering if they should follow Kondo’s advice for organizing ADHD. It’s time I speak up.
I do need to say that I am not an expert in Japanese culture. Perhaps, if you live in Japan The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up would work wonders. I also think the techniques would be more successful for someone who doesn’t have ADHD.
But before you try an organizing technique you have to face the realities of living with ADHD. Our challenge of finishing what we start. Our need for things to be easy for us to do.
That’s where the The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and ADHD problems start.
You see, Kondo wants us to clear clutter by category. Focusing on one category at a time. On only clothes or books or kitchen gadgets. This part could actually work.
The next step is where I start to get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. She says if you don’t look at everything you own in a category at one time you won’t thoroughly clear the clutter.
The Life Changing Magic’s clutter clearing system goes like this:
- Pick a category (all books for example)
- Gather everything you own in that category into a pile.
- Then sort it by getting rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy for you.
Yes, that’s right. Make a big pile of all the books you own in the middle of the floor and then sort it.
Every card-carrying ADHD adult I know would gather all the books in a pile. Get bored and go do something else.
The pile of books would remain in the middle of the floor for months. Chances are you’d never sort them. Someday, probably before company visits, you’d cram the books back on the shelf. Maybe hide them in a closet.
Ms. Kondo also suggests other organizing strategies that wouldn’t work for ADHD adults. They wouldn’t cause such a mess though. They’re just unrealistic and you wouldn’t maintain them.
Like her multi-step approach to folding clothes. I tried it for my sock drawer. Stuck with it for about three days. If something takes too many steps to do someone with ADHD won’t do it. Period.
I do think Kondo’s approach to keeping only things that spark joy has some merit. But I suggest a more gentle approach than getting rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy in you at one time. You might need those scissors or that laundry detergent.
Bottom-line? If you have ADHD The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up won’t work for you. It’s just not realistic for how you rock and roll in this world.