Is there a link between ADHD and clutter? Here's why people with ADHD struggle to maintain a tidy home, and how to create a functional space.

The Link Between Clutter and ADHD and How to Navigate Both

There are countless studies to tell us that a clutter free environment can benefit our mental health and state of mind. This goes double for those individuals who have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). However, people who have ADHD often struggle to find a balance with maintaining clutter. Today we’re going to dive into this important topic and cover some of the ways ADHD and clutter go hand in hand and what you can do to find and create balance that works.

ADHD and our external environment

Because the ADHD brain is very quick to move on from task to task, often without completing tasks, this internal impulsiveness can often can have an effect on the spaces we live in. For example, items being left out, things shifting from room to room, and half-done tasks leading to half-tidy homes.

The important thing to remember with this is that there is no shame in it. So often people who have ADHD see their clutter as a personal failure, or use it as a reason to beat themselves up about their shortcomings. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to accept that little messes like this will happen from time to time. It’s not a big deal, and it doesn’t mean anything about your charecter. Get the Mini Guide to Decluttering with ADHD.

The clutter cycle

As we mentioned earlier, people with ADHD often have a tougher time managing clutter, while being one of the groups of people that benefit the most from a decluttered space.

Because individuals with ADHD already have very busy brains, an overly busy environment can be distracting, and can lead to increased difficulty when it comes to focusing and getting things done.

When our space is in chaos, it can be difficult to find the things we are looking for, making basic every day decisions more challenging. The visual clutter alone can be overstimulating especially in an already stimulated brain. However, the exact opposite can be true…

ADHD and thriving in clutter

It is widely accepted that people with ADHD often tend to be more on the creative side. When using this creativity, having a “cluttered” space can actually be a great sign of productivity. What some might see as a mess, the ADHD brain sees as organized chaos.

Having a creatively cluttered space to paint, sculpt or cook in can be beneficial during the creative process. However, it’s when the creative chaos spills over into other areas of the house that problems may start arising.

Is there a link between ADHD and clutter? Here's why people with ADHD struggle to maintain a tidy home, and how to create a functional space.

Simplifying life’s daily chores

One of the best ways for creatives with ADHD to help maintain their internal peace and hone their focus on the things that matter the most to them, is to simplify life’s daily tasks.

When we put too much time or effort into things like getting dressed, brushing our teeth, or showering, it can start our days with added, unnecessary stress. By simplifying these processes, someone with ADHD could store their energy and put it to better use in the places that matter the most.

Here are some ideas on how to simplify daily routines:

  • Reduce your wardrobe. Having fewer clothing items to choose from can make getting dressed a less taxing process
  • Eliminate complicated makeup and skincare routines. Opt for a more minimalist makeup routine.
  • Be boring with your hygeine. By working to keep products like shampoo, conditioner, perfumes, and hair products minimal, we can speed up and simplify the getting ready process.
  • Creating homes for your most used items. For example, having the car keys in a bowl by the front door makes entering and exiting the house a seamless process.

Some of the greatest minds have worked to simplify daily tasks in their life in order to free up brain power and creativity. This is why people with ADHD benefit from simplifying their daily tasks as well. Get the Mini Guide to Decluttering with ADHD.

Eliminate visual clutter

Our brains naturally look for patterns and familiarity in order to better function. This is why an unorganized space (with few recognizable patterns), can instantly be draining to a person, especially those with ADHD. It makes our brains go into overdrive first thing in the morning.

One of the best “hacks” for avoiding this is by eliminating visual clutter from our lives. This could be as simple as shoving items into drawers, although that would put the drawers in disarray. Working to declutter in order to create more empty flat surfaces in your home is a more sustainable option. Read: How to Keep Clutter Off the Kitchen Counter and Table.

How to reduce visual clutter:

  • Declutter cabinets and drawer to create space
  • Store items in freshly decluttered spaces
  • Keep only essentials on flat surfaces

These are strategies that are shared in the Mini Guide to Decluttering with ADHD and have been proven to help calm the nervous system and make processing easier for the brain.

Is there a link between ADHD and clutter? Here's why people with ADHD struggle to maintain a tidy home, and how to create a functional space.

Simplify your tidy system

One of the biggest struggles of those with ADHD when it comes to cleaning is scatter-cleaning. This is when you begin cleaning one area, only to get distracted and end up in a completely different area of the home.

Scatter-cleaning is what leads to a half-tidied home and multiple little messes all over the place.

In order to avoid this, the Mini Guide to ADHD Decluttering shares a simple 4 Bin Method that has helped countless people avoid scatter cleaning. Here is a quick summary.

What are the 4 bins in the 4 bin system?:

  • Garbage – You know, for garbage
  • Put Back – Items that belong in a different area of your home
  • Donate – Things that you are ready to donate
  • Maybe – Items that you think. you might be ready to let go of but aren’t ready to commit to yet

As you go through your space, put items into each of the bins (you don’t need bins, you can easily create piles, use bags, etc). When you are done with this area, put all of the items away.

Using a Maybe Bin for decluttering

If you’re wondering what the Maybe Bin is, this is also taken from the Mini Guide to Decluttering with ADHD. The Maybe Bin is a method for helping you clear clutter and enjoy a clutter free space, without the commitment of donating.

Once you have filled your Maybe Bin, you can store it away for 6 months or so. Set an alarm in your phone so you remember to check back on the bin. If you haven’t needed anything from the bin in those 6 months, it is officially safe to donate! Simply transfer the box to your car and bring it to the donation center!

Use clear storage

Another issue many people with ADHD have is the out of sight out of mind perspective. In other words, if they don’t see an item, they don’t remember that they have it. This can be especially true for food items.

One way to make sure you know what you have on hand is to avoid layering things behind other items, and to use clear containers. Clear containers will allow you to see everything you own. This helps you find things and prevents you from buying doubles of items thereby avoiding more clutter.

If you want more helpful tips on how to navigate clutter with ADHD, grab the Mini Guide to Decluttering with ADHD.

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Is there a link between ADHD and clutter? Here's why people with ADHD struggle to maintain a tidy home, and how to create a functional space.

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