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How to Get Organised With ADHD

Organisation is something that often takes work. Some people are more naturally organised than others, but for a lot of people, a conscious effort has to be made to develop habits that lead to better organisation.
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How to Get Organised With ADHD

14/10/2022
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Organisation is something that often takes work. Some people are more naturally organised than others, but for a lot of people, a conscious effort has to be made to develop habits that lead to better organisation. From time to time, everyone feels like they’re not organised and will end up in situations where disorganisation causes issues, especially during busy times of the year.

That being said, it’s mostly achievable to sustain a certain level of organisation the majority of the time; however people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may find it more challenging to get organised.

If you struggle with organisation and you have ADHD, keep reading as we explain some of the ways you can improve your organisational skills.

How does ADHD affect organisation?

Firstly, let’s look at why ADHD can impair organisation skills. There are several reasons why keeping organised can be challenging for someone with ADHD, with one of the main components being difficulty staying focused. People with ADHD often have lots of thoughts all at once and are easily distracted, meaning that abandoning tasks part of the way through to do something else is common. Like anything, it can be difficult to get back on track if you’re interrupted halfway through; even more so if you don’t note down where you got to, or what you were doing in the first place.

On top of this, motivation can be difficult for people with ADHD, meaning things are often left to the last minute. This can cause feelings of being overwhelmed, which can further deter you from wanting to do something if you’re unsure where to start.

Organisation requires a level of focus, self-discipline, and motivation to keep at it, all of which can be difficult for people with ADHD.

Why organisation is important for people with ADHD

Being organised is something that both adults and children can benefit from and it’s an important part of life, but for people with ADHD, it can actually help to mitigate some of their symptoms. Being an adult with ADHD can be difficult, and it can cause issues in the workplace or at home due to impulsivity and inattention. Finding a good treatment plan and surrounding yourself with people who understand your ADHD and the challenges it presents is essential, but making an effort to try and get more organised is also important in order to maintain a job and happy home life.

For example, a lack of organisation can lead to work projects being late or mismanaged, causing issues with your performance and potentially hampering the progression of your wider team. It may also mean that you’re late to work or meetings, or that you’re not prepared and miss out on key information when presenting your work.

At home, a lack of organisation can lead to things getting messy. On a larger scale, this can cause you to feel overwhelmed and avoid tidying altogether. If you live with someone else, this could put a strain on your relationship if the other person feels like they’re the only one keeping on top of things. If you’re in charge of bills, a lack of organisation could lead you to miss a payment or make a late payment, or not budget effectively for the month. This can, naturally, cause issues later down the line.

Being organised can help you better focus on one thing at a time. For example, if you’re trying to work, you won’t be distracted by mess elsewhere, so it will be easier for you to continue doing the task at hand. You may also feel less overwhelmed if you know exactly what you’re doing and what you need to achieve.

10 Tips for getting organised with ADHD

Getting organised with ADHD doesn’t mean having to make gigantic life changes; oftentimes, small habits can make all the difference. With this in mind, here are some of the smaller ways you can become more organised as someone with ADHD.

1. Remove clutter

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If you have lots of possessions and things, that’s more stuff to organise. By decluttering and getting rid of unnecessary items and impulse purchases, there’s less for you to keep tidy and manage, therefore reducing that overwhelming feeling that often comes with tidying and keeping on top of home stuff.

This doesn’t mean getting rid of your valuable possessions or things that bring you joy; if you notice you haven’t reached for something in a long time or forgot you even had it, this could be categorised as clutter and something to potentially throw away. For example, if you need to organise your wardrobe and come across a number of clothes that you haven’t worn in a long time and that you forgot you had, you could probably get rid of them. Doing so will mean there’s less for you to organise in the future.

2. Make a daily to-do list

Lists are useful for everyone, especially people with ADHD. Lists help you to see what needs to be done and can also ensure you are able to keep track of what you’ve completed. We all have days where lots of unexpected things pop up, and being able to remember them all can be hard, but making a list is the easiest way to remember everything.

Firstly, it’s a good idea to make a list of everything you want to achieve in a day, such as replying to all your emails, finishing a proposal, doing your food shopping, and calling the bank. Then, as more things pop up in the day, you can assess their priority and decide to either put them on your daily to-do list, or on another list that is composed of non-urgent tasks. At the start of every day, you can pick things from your ad hoc list to add to your daily list. Make sure you set reasonable expectations and don’t try to cram three tasks in when you only have time for one task, otherwise you could feel deflated and disappointed when you don’t tick everything off.

This is a good way of ensuring you don’t get distracted or go off track, whilst still being able to work through everything else so nothing gets missed. Making a list is more of a habitual thing that you need to train yourself to do, but buying specialised to-do list notepads can help you to complete tasks without worrying too much about the format.

3. Colour-code things

If you struggle with prioritising tasks as a whole, it’s a good idea to try colour-coding them. For example, if a proposal needs to be finished for work and it’s time-sensitive, highlighting it in red is a good way to remind yourself that this is urgent. If you need to make an appointment at the doctors to get a travel jab before you go on holiday in six months, you can highlight this in orange as it’s not immediately urgent but is still a priority. If you need to buy a new phone case because yours is a bit grubby, this could be highlighted in yellow as a low priority task.

Colour-coding is a bit like project management and is another good way of further organising your to-do lists, giving you more clarity over important tasks.

4. Give things a home

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A big part of keeping organised, especially at home, is to ensure everything has a designated place to live. For example, keeping all your cutlery in one drawer and your kitchen appliances in a specific cupboard. In your bedroom, try to keep nighttime essentials like medication and sleeping aids in your bedside drawer, and other ad hoc items like cables and chargers in another drawer.

By grouping similar items together and putting them in one place, it’ll be much easier for you to find what you need, and it will also reduce the amount of time it takes you to put things away because you’ll know exactly where something goes. For example, you won’t be wondering when your bank statements are because they’ll be with other important documents, reducing the number of loose documents you have laying around.

5. Label things

When you’ve given everything a home, it’s a good idea to label stuff. For example, you might put a label on your wire/cable drawer that says ‘wires/cables’. This is a good technique for if you’re unsure where you’ve put things.

Sometimes, people with ADHD find it easier to have someone help them, and in this case, labelling things can help the person who is helping you. They’ll be able to know where things go, so they can help you get on top of things much quicker and without having to ask you where each individual item goes.

6. Streamline your routines

We all have days where we’re running late, either because we overslept or because everything seems to be going wrong all at once. In these instances, streamlining your routines can make all the difference. For example, every night before you go to bed, it’s a good idea to lay out your clothes for the next morning. Not only does this make it faster to get dressed, but it also means you don’t run the risk of being late because you couldn’t decide what to wear or couldn’t find a matching pair of socks.

You might also find it easier to incorporate batch cooking or meal prepping into your weekend routine so that you’re set for the week ahead. Getting used to cooking bigger meals and freezing portions means your evening routines are streamlined because you can grab a meal and go without having to cook every day.

As part of your nighttime routine, you might choose to make lunch for the next day so you’re not scrambling around in the morning making sandwiches. Small things like this can make all the difference to your time management and overall stress-levels in your daily life.

7. Focus on one thing at a time

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Keeping attention on one thing at a time can be one of the most challenging aspects of ADHD for a lot of people, but there are ways you can manage it. For example, working in a clean, minimalistic room and leaving your phone and other distractions in another room can help you to keep focussed on what’s in front of you.

When it comes to tidying, focus on just one room at a time instead of trying to clean your whole house. Monday might be the day you tidy your living room, Tuesday could be bathroom cleaning day, and Wednesday might be the day you focus on your bedroom. Delegating cleaning tasks this way means you won’t be distracted going from room to room, and it’s less overwhelming only having to do one room than to do several where you might not know where to begin.

8. Set reminders and alarms

Technology can be your biggest distraction or your saving grace, making it something of a double-edged sword. One of its biggest pros is that it can automate things, like reminders and alarms. Setting an alarm every morning is a good idea, as is inputting a reminder for when your car tax is due, or when you book in for a dentist appointment.

Reminders and alarms help you keep on track and see what you’ve got coming up in your calendar, again ensuring that you don’t forget anything important. Make sure to set reminders for appointments a week in advance, especially if they were booked months beforehand.

9. Use organisational apps

There are other ways you can use technology to your advantage beyond just setting alarms and reminders on your phone. You could use apps that have been developed to help with general organisation and that can help with ADHD. Some good options include:

  • SimpleMind Pro – to help you organise your thoughts (a brain-dump app)
  • Remember the Milk – to help with everything, from planning the most efficient route to run errands, to creating lists and tasks
  • Todoist – a virtual to-do list
  • Brain Focus – to manage phone notifications so you aren’t distracted by messages and notifications
  • Habit Tracker – to help you enforce new habits and routines

Some of these apps are paid and others are free with in-app purchases, so always bear this in mind before downloading.

10. Make things more convenient

Everyone does things differently, and if the way other people do things is inconvenient for you, do things your own way. For example, if you get dressed and undressed in the bathroom, it might be more convenient to keep your washing basket in the bathroom as opposed to the laundry room, because this works better for you and ensures you put your dirty clothes where they need to be instead of leaving it for later.

Making things more convenient can go a long way to motivating you and therefore helping you keep on top of things.

Get support for ADHD at The ADHD Centre

ADHD can pose its challenges and lead to a number of feelings and emotions that are sometimes unpleasant and difficult to manage. There is no shame in having ADHD or finding organisational tasks tricky. As mentioned, we all struggle from time to time, but you might find with ADHD, you need a little bit more support to get things in order because otherwise you feel overwhelmed.

At The ADHD Centre, we have a team of specialists who can help you better manage your ADHD and provide advice and support on things you might be struggling with. We work with both adults and children, and provide support for people who have a diagnosis or who are yet to get one at our London and Manchester centres. We also work online if you’re unable to come to our clinics.

If you struggle with organisation or any other of the ADHD symptoms, get in touch with us to see how we can help you. Call 0800 061 4276, or email us at enquiries@adhdcentre.co.uk.

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