The Worst ADHD Organizing Advice I’ve Ever Heard

 In Organizing ADHD

worst ADHD organizing adviceThey’re at it again, those ADHD organizing experts who I often think just need to keep their ideas to themselves. I recently heard this recommendation by someone who helps people learn to manage ADHD.

How to organize a closet: Remove everything from the closet. What?

Remove everything from the closet? NO!

This has to be the worst ADHD organizing advice I’ve ever heard.

Worst ADHD Organizing Advice

If someone with ADHD tried to organize their closet this way, here’s what would happen…

She would look at every thing from the closet piled on the bedroom floor – the true definition of a ‘floordrobe’. She would try to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. She would give a shot at deciding the best way to reorganize everything back in the closet. In about a half an hour, totally overwhelmed and frustrated, she would probably walk away, leaving the room cluttered with all the stuff that once was in the closet. Sure, she would intend to come back and finish the job in a few minutes.

Do you really think that someone with ADHD is going to come back in a few minutes and tackle the rest of this incredibly huge, overwhelming job? No way!

The piles of stuff that were once in the closet will probably stay in the middle of the floor and get stepped over for a few days. Of course, she’d get dressed out of the mess because all her clothes would be in that pile. Eventually she’d shove everything into the corner of the room. Then, company will be coming over and everything will get jammed back in the closet. It might be months before the job ever gets done. IF it ever gets done.

Yes on face value, removing everything from the closet in order to get it organized may sound like a logical step if you have ADHD. In reality it isn’t, it’s just leaving the door open for clutter and mayhem.

So what advice is helpful for people with ADHD?

The Better Way to Organize with ADHD

I suggest you break the project up into smaller steps

Start at one end of your closet – maybe the top left corner -and work your way from left to right through everything you own. Don’t expect to tackle the whole job all in one day. Remember your overall goal: you like and actually wear everything in your closet. If you don’t love it or use it, get rid of it!

The key to getting organized if you have ADHD is to do it in small bits. Manageable steps. Sure you won’t do this whole project fast, but at least it won’t add more clutter while you’re waiting to finish it and you will get the job done eventually. Remember, schedule a little bit of time maybe once a week or a few minutes every single day to tackle the job – and make sure you have a ‘to charity’ box handy so you can easily fill it up as you go.

Interested in even more practical ideas to get you organized so you stay organized? Join the hundreds of satisfied customers who have purchased my step-by-step organizing eBook, Organized for Life!

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Showing 8 comments
  • Rita Chisum
    Reply

    More Proof of how well you know the ADHD Mind, Dana! Thanks for a very readable (short & sweet) article that holds insightful and useful info! Still lovin’ ya from afar. 😊

    • Dana Rayburn
      Reply

      Rita! The ADHD Success Club and I miss you! Truly, another member mentioned you last week. Hope you’re well. Love, Dana

  • Alyssa
    Reply

    Hey Dana! I have ADHD and tried the Marie Kondo method. It has drastically changed the way I clean my room, get dressed, do laundry, etc. Yes, it was tough with the overwhelm of seeing all my clothes on my bed at once but I believe it is an amazing opportunity and lesson for those that have ADHD. The whole point of dumping all of your clothes on your bed is to see how many clothes you actually have and that you don’t really need all of them. It also really makes us think about the big picture (which is hard to do as you know). I am also extremely visual and I can now see all of my clothing options at once which is another game changer! Anyways, I just wanted to say that this way of sorting and organizing my clothes has actually been super life-changing for me and I don’t believe it should be totally discounted!

    • Dana Rayburn
      Reply

      Hi Alyssa, I’m glad to hear Marie Kondo’s method worked so well for you. EVERYONE PAY ATTENTION: Most people with ADHD can’t follow through or finish a project of this size. Some can. ADHD hits everyone differently. Don’t set yourself up for failure by starting enthusiastically and then leaving the project undone. Small steps!! Dana

      • Ann Hall
        Reply

        Hi Dana, what I liked about Marie K’s method was that each step was easy. Dump everything on bed. Boom! DONE! EASY! Also kind of got that Shinny new thing feeling looking at the empty closet.

        Next step, make two piles: love and keep or toss . Again … Boom … Easy, cause the piles don’t need to be neat or tidy, just piles.

        Next step, sruffing give away stuff in big garbage bags. SUPER EASY and very satisfying.

        Then … putting stuff on hangers and putting in empty closet got the “shiny new thing” juices going. Was pretty cool. I had to keep my mind on how pretty my closet was and away from the pile, in order to keep overwhelm away (also had to use my 5 minute timer trick).

        When I started getting bored hanging, I switched to folding dresser items. NOT putting them away, NOT thinking about where they should go … just making neat little stacks. Making stacks, simple and easy … combining that with putting away, very hard and overwhelming.

        Too keep away overwhelm and distraction, everytime my 5 min. timer went off, I’d focus on how much I had gotten done during the past 5 minutes, and make a VERY DELIBERATE attempt to focus my mind away from the existing pile. Focusing on what I had done and NOT what I still had to do.

        After about 45 min. or an hour, I had everything either hung or in folded piles on my bed.

        Last step: looking at neat like-item piles on my bed, and deciding where they should go didn’t feel overwhelming, IT FELT EASY!! I started with the pile I get at most … underwear … and put it in the most convenient drawer. Next most used item … socks … next most convenient spot. Then … I was done!!!

        What made it easy is that it was broken down into so many steps, that each step is EASY.

        If I just opened one of my messy drawers and told myself … organize it … I would experience overwhelm, shut the drawer and leave it a mess! However, I am capable of scopping everything out of it and throwing it on the bed! Lol

        • Dana Rayburn
          Reply

          Ann, Good for you! I glad you found Marie Kondo’s technique easy. And, still my ADHD reality red flags go up. I look at all those steps and my overwhelm monitor starts to rise. Especially, your second step – decide what to keep and toss? Those kinds of decisions are anything but easy for MOST people with ADHD. The bottomline? KNOW YOURSELF and what you are capable of. The last thing we want is for that closet to be empty. Clothes piled on the bed and remaining there because it’s too hard to take the project to the last step. Baby steps. Small bites. Most people with ADHD respond better to that.

  • Deborah
    Reply

    Funny you should mention this… I watched a couple of the Netflix episodes and thought that it would never work for me to pull everything out and dump it onto a pile for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I was slightly stressed just looking at the piles on Netflix, lol!

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