7 Organization Tips for People with ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects about 9 percent of children and 4 percent of adults in the United States. Individuals with ADHD often find it difficult to keep focused on one task for an extended period of time and may also struggle with hyperactivity and impulsivity. While male children are most commonly diagnosed with ADHD, it can affect anyone of any age.

Because many of the symptoms of ADHD are related to concentration, attention to detail and discipline, staying organized is often a challenge for those diagnosed with the disorder. For example, individuals with ADHD may have trouble with punctuality, maintaining an orderly living space, and time management. The organizational tactics and strategies that work for a neurotypical person may not be effective for those diagnosed with ADHD. This can ultimately lead to frustration, self-judgement and even a feeling of defeat if not acknowledged and addressed.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, here are 7 tips that may help you stay more organized and feel in control of your time and environment.

  1. Set a timer.Setting an allotted amount of time for a task or a decision can help things feel more manageable and create a clear structure for individuals with ADHD. If you have a lot of trouble focusing on one thing at a time, start with a short amount of time, such as five minutes, and gradually work your way up.
  2. Start small. It can be overwhelming to think about cleaning the entire house or accomplishing a long to-do list in one sitting. Instead of waiting for a big, uninterrupted chunk of time to complete tasks, start small. Dedicate 10 or 15 minutes to important projects each day so that they don’t pile up and start to cause issues.
  3. Ask for a “shadow.”. Having a friend or family member sit alongside you as you complete a mundane chore or administrative task can help keep you focused. Even if they don’t assist you with the task itself, their presence can keep you from getting distracted.
  4. Try minimalism. It is harder to clutter your space when you don’t own many items in the first place. By developing a system to prevent the accumulation of tangible possessions, you will have an easier time cleaning and organizing. Consider investing in experiences instead of objects, throwing away receipts and junk mail immediately, and limiting the amount of new things you purchase every month.
  5. Limit distractions.Sounds, lights, technology, animals and other people can all be distractions for individuals with ADHD and make it virtually impossible to concentrate. You’ll have your best shot at staying organized if you create an environment free from distractions that sets you up for success.
  6. Create a consistent schedule. By having a clear, consistent schedule each day, individuals with ADHD have an easier time finding a rhythm and staying focused. Post the schedule or calendar in a visible location and check it every morning to establish healthy patterns.
  7. Go easy on yourself.. People diagnosed with ADHD should have compassion for themselves when they don’t meet the organizational standards of neurotypical people. Self-criticism will only make it harder to stay on task.

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