Getting your life organized can be a tedious process for most people, and if you have ADHD, it might seem even more daunting. But it’s not impossible! Here are some tips to help organize your life in a way that will make it easier to manage your ADHD tendencies.
- Keep ONE planner
Keeping an updated planner is a great way of managing your hectic days. It may seem like another thing to carry around, but for people with ADHD, it can be a lifesaver. Maintain a single notebook to keep track of appointments, update daily to-do lists, compile weekly grocery lists, and more. Keep a monthly calendar with large blocks filled in for an “at-a-glance” rundown for each day; the ideal planner also includes options for you to plan out your daily schedule (with 30 minute blocks) and your weekly routines and goals. Many even find it helpful to have a daily “brain dump” section in their planners where they can record any notes, thoughts, or ideas from the day to look back on.
Set a weekly appointment for yourself to sit down and update your planner every week. Whether you prefer a bullet journal or a desk calendar, take time to organize your upcoming week in your own, creative way, and you’ll find it easier to take on the coming days without feeling overwhelmed.
- Practice time management, ALL the time!
If there’s a task you need to tackle, think about the time you’ll need to put into it. Then add on more— give yourself an extra 5 minutes for everything. And forget your appointment times! If you need to be at the dentist’s office by 3 p.m. and you know it takes 20 minutes to get there, put the 3 o’ clock appointment out of your mind, and focus on leaving the house by 2:30 p.m.
Apply time management skills to your decision-making process as well. People with ADHD can be indecisive about everything, whether it’s picking what to eat for lunch or which car to buy. If you find yourself agonizing over making decisions regularly, give yourself a timeframe to stick to. Want to buy a pair of pants, but you’re stuck between two? Tell yourself that you need to pick a winner by the next day. Determine the most important factors that affect your decision. Style? Price? Material? Debate your options in the time you’ve allotted, and make the best decision you can by your set deadline.
If you can’t clear out your schedule for long periods to finish big projects, don’t beat yourself up. Make the best of the small blocks of time you have in the middle of the day. Sort the laundry while watching TV. Empty the dishwasher while dinner is in the oven. Good time management isn’t just about scheduling your day down to the minute. It’s about making the best use of the wasted minutes in between.
- De-clutter, EXCESSIVELY!
The more things you have lying around to distract you, the harder it will be to stay focused, so it makes sense to start your organizational journey by giving yourself less to organize. Take the Marie Kondo method to the next level! Tackle each room in your home and purge the items that don’t give you joy AND the ones that you don’t use. If you haven’t worn that skirt in over a year, donate it! If you’ve got a cabinet in your kitchen overflowing with Tupperware containers with mismatched lids, get rid of them!
Doing a massive purge is great, but it’s also a good idea to keep your space clutter-free by developing habits to reduce the amount of stuff that accumulates in your home. The newest issue of your magazine subscription came in? Replace the previous one that’s been sitting on your coffee table. Sort your daily mail while standing over the trash can so you don’t have a pile of it lying on the counter. You can even reduce the amount of junk mail you get in the first place by unsubscribing to online newsletters and adding your name to the “Do Not Send” list via the Direct Mail Association.
- Use the buddy system
People with ADHD can have a very difficult time focusing on a task for long periods, making it harder to achieve goals, big and small. But nobody said you have to go at it alone! Get help from friends or family members when you need to get through work that requires focus. Ask a parent or significant other to sit with you while you tackle routine tasks, like paying credit card bills or writing thank you letters. Join a study group and make sure you have a designated buddy who redirects your attention back to studying when they notice you getting distracted.
Joining an ADHD support group is another way to find strength in numbers. While support groups help people talk through and deal with the emotions surrounding ADHD, they can also be a great resource to stay organized. Members in online support groups can remind each other when it’s time to get work done. You can log in and share that you’re about to tackle a mundane task, such as laundry. Agree on a reasonable timeframe in which to finish, and report back to the group when you’re done. Whether it’s commiserating when you get distracted or congratulating when you achieve your goals, the group’s support helps you stay optimistic and keeps you accountable.