How To Deal With Clutter When You Have An ADHD Brain?

Working with someone who has ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyper Activity Disorder), can really add an additional layer of difficulty when helping someone to declutter and organize.  

An individual with ADHD may have difficulties and challenges that cannot be seen so it can be important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.  Perhaps the person has not come forward with these or maybe they don’t even know themselves.

So, this topic has come up for the Professional Organizers Blog Carnival and my partner, Hallie agreed to let me interview her.  She said she was happy to do this, especially if it helps someone else.  

These are some of the questions that were asked of her:  

When were you first diagnosed and what led up to the diagnosis?  

“I believe I was diagnosed in 2007 when I was 43 years old.  I was in College and a Counsellor I had, recognized this in me because she personally lived with this as well.  I was struggling in many areas, conversations with others, staying focused and acting out, often very impulsively.”  

“As a child I often ended up at the office and was labelled “bad”.  In fact, my teacher wrote on my report card one year that I was a leader and not a follower and this was actually written with a negative connotation” 

What happened after you were diagnosed? 

“It was actually very helpful as I then knew why I needed to have the television off in order to study, to talk on the phone, why I interrupted others and why I was often forgetting things or feeling confused about what was going on.”  

“I was very fortunate to have good people in my life who were willing to help me.  I met a friend who became a mentor and I was also able to access counsellors.  I never went on any meds.  I learned many techniques for coping with the symptoms such as Tapping EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which I still use to this day, breathing, and just taking the time to go with the flow through those bad days.”  

What are your challenges with your stuff? 

“Clothes are easy for me because everything has its place.  Maybe, this is something I have worked on because I like to look nice.  I have a place for socks, underwear, shirts, pants, etc. so it works for me.  Even when I had to go to a laundromat, I was able to handle my laundry on a weekly basis.”  

“Other things are more chaotic for me.  Things like books, school books, paper, ugh!!, calendar scheduling (personal and professional), daily planning (I usually can only plan for that day) and stuff in my bedroom.  If I know someone is coming over and needs to stay in my room, I will clean off the whole dresser – you know, into a bag and then later when I come across this bag…….well, I just don’t want to deal with it so the whole bag goes out into the garbage.”

What about other areas that you struggle with in your life?

“I just feel that I am constantly sorting:  which pile to focus on, where is my class, what day/time is it or what assignments should I have done.  My brain is just wired differently.  What others find easy, I find more difficult.  Some days are harder than others and on those days, I really just have to ride it out.  It’s emotionally draining”  

What are your suggestions for others who may be living with this?

  • Find a Mentor or a Counsellor who you trust who can help you to understand that you think differently and to teach you some coping techniques to help you get through each day.
  • Having systems in place can really help with keeping things organized in your space as well as in your life.  
  • Tapping (EFT) can help when having a bad day
  • Recognizing that it is the ADHD and that I just have to go through it.  It has to play out.  I cannot just push it away
  • Not rushing, breathing, taking the time needed to get a task done, planning ahead
  • I have a Smart Pen for school that records my lessons.  When doing homework or studying, I am able to listen to this a second time and it really helps.

Do you have experience with working with someone with ADHD whether personally or professionally?  Please share in the comments below:

If you would like further inspiration and motivation to Declutter Your Life and Mind please join our Facebook group. Accountability will help you to keep on track with your decluttering goals.

Happy Decluttering!

About Kim

I’m Kim, your go-to Professional Organizer and Virtual Coach! I’m beyond excited to embark on this clutter-free adventure with you. With a background in mental health and a passion for transforming spaces, I bring a holistic approach to decluttering. It’s not just about neatening up physical spaces; it’s about fostering a mindset shift that radiates throughout your life. I founded Space For You Clear the Clutter, Heal Your Life and have been working with individuals and groups for about 15 years. I've also trained with Professional Organizers of Canada and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.
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9 Responses to How To Deal With Clutter When You Have An ADHD Brain?

  1. This is very eye-opening! Please thank Hallie for sharing her story with us.

  2. Sue West says:

    Thank you both for sharing, especially Hallie. That can be courageous for some people. I appreciated that you have found ways to manage your ADHD most days without medications. People need to decide that for themselves provided they’ve found other means to manage “life with ADHD,” as you have. The meds question is big: medications, acceptance, conflict with other meds, and the organization required around keeping up with prescriptions and taking them is more than people realize!

    This was great; one person’s true story. Thank you.. ~Sue West

  3. So nice of Hallie to share her story. Having a diagnosis can actually be comforting – it is something to point at and study and understand. I like that she offered a couple of different options for managing. I haven’t heard much about tapping, but find this very interesting.

    • Kimberley says:

      Thanks so much Seana, You are always so supportive. I have learned a lot about the positives around ADHD which are so great to hear about. Tapping is interesting for sure and I know I have read some blogs about how it can help with those who are struggling with clutter issues too. I need to practice it some more as well.

  4. Very interesting, especially for organizers (like me) who haven’t learned all about it in ICD (Institute for Challenging Disorganization). When I have a client with ADHD I notice things they do or say — like Hallie’s statement, “Clothes are easy for me because everything has its place.” — and try to extend existing good habits to other areas. Sometimes, though, I end up referring them to an ICD colleague.

    • Kimberley says:

      Hi Hazel,
      It is so important to work with the client and find out what is going to work for them. Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

  5. What a beautiful, open interview! Thank you, Hallie, (and Kimberly) for sharing this. I love how you’ve discovered all of the strategies that work for you. That’s the key. We’re each unique in how we think and process. What works well for one person, may not work at all for another. You’ve gotten creative about finding what works for you. All of your advice is great. Your idea about finding the right type of support stood out to me. That’s essential. Many of my clients have ADHD. I appreciate being on their team.. I focus on the person- their goals, what works, and what doesn’t to support them in a way that’s most helpful to them.

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