Clutter gathers. Clutter accumulates. Clutter hides. Clutter overwhelms. Clutter controls. Harmless at first – one item carelessly flung on a table, bench, dresser, or any surface. As the pile grows, my mind shuts out the clutter, and I no longer consciously see it. Eventually, my eyes open to see the chaos of clutter. The physical clutter that I create at work and home overwhelm me, clouding my thoughts. Oh, the dread when I have an unexpected visitor at work or home; I subtly sneak around trying to hide the piles. My goal in the Clutter-Free with ADHD program is to develop consistent habits and routines to get rid of clutter so my mind is clearer, my actions are more deliberate, and guests are always welcome.
This week after listening to the first module of Dana Rayburn’s Clutter-Free with ADHD Program, I began my homework of getting rid of clutter by completing a 27 Thing Fling. A 27 Thing Fling is a system developed by the FlyLady and fine-tuned for ADHD by Dana Rayburn. You get rid of clutter by focusing on the number of things to get rid of instead of what the thing is.
As I looked around the house for where to start, I thought of a place that would definitely have 27 things that I could throw away — my dresser of doom.
I quickly went through the junk on my dresser and grabbed things and threw them in my box. I counted each item: 1-gum wrapper, 2-clothing tag, 3-clothing tag, 4-sock without a mate, 5-old receipt, 6-jewelry bag . . . As I counted, the task was easy. When I stopped to consider the importance of a random sticker or gift box or to rearrange things, I was less effective.
What I Love About Getting Rid of Clutter
What I love about getting rid of clutter is I can immediately feel how the decluttered environment creates a sort of peaceful, relaxed feeling in my mind and helps me work more efficiently. Of course, as a teacher, I know firsthand the impact of environment on thinking and learning. In my classroom, I have a place where I consistently write on the board — targets, vocabulary, and assignments as well as a consistent place to turn in and return assignments. However, sometimes I can’t resist the attraction of the classroom clutter magnets (desks, tables, crates). In those moments, when I toss down handouts, papers, and supplies, the clutter builds and my mental acuity wanes.
When the physical and mental clutter builds, I lose both clarity and confidence. In those moments, I retrace my steps, look for what’s missing, beat myself up, and hope to maintain mental clarity. My thoughts are something like this:
Where are those student handouts? Why didn’t I put them in the right place? Ugh, this room is a cluttered mess — I can’t find a thing. I can’t keep up with anything — why are all these papers everywhere? When will I learn?
I hate the feeling of not having my act together even for the briefest of moments — especially with a class of 14-year-olds waiting for my next move — 20 seconds of “where did that go” can lead to much more lost time. Oh, and when I have one of those “where is that paper moments” with a visitor or evaluator in my room, I feel totally inept. Granted these moments are short, but in my mind they last an eternity. And, of course, the effects of those moments don’t seem to ever go away.
There is a certain level of mental acuity I long to achieve, and on good days, I can visualize myself getting there and even take steps in the right direction. Achieving mental acuity is contingent on consistent habits and routines to make homes to keep what I need as well as developing the proclivity to get rid of clutter.