Are You Organizing the Same Things Over and Over?
And if so, why?
The short answer is probably because you have ADHD.
In theory, you organize something and you do it once. You shouldn’t have to organize it over and over.
And yet, that’s what we end up doing.
So what does our ADHD have to do with it?
Oh, pretty much everything.
ADHD and Organizing (Over and Over)
A reader asked The Organizing Coach at Additude Magazine why she seemed to be reinventing the wheel, so to speak, when it came to organizing her home.
While what the coach said was correct, I think she sidestepped the real problem completely.
She said that you need a home for everything and enough space to store what you have. She also suggested having furniture pieces that provide storage in addition to their primary function; sort of like my coffee table with multiple drawers and shelves.
Those are great ideas, but they still don’t address the real problem: if we already organized it, why are we doing it again?
Let’s think about your ADHD symptoms for a minute:
- Our brains do not work in a logical, linear fashion. What we think of as our brain jumping all over the place is normal for us; nonlinear, to say the least.
- We are easily bored and easily distracted.
- We sometimes fail to see what’s right in front of us.
- We are forgetful.
How Do Our ADHD Symptoms Contribute to Our Organizing Problem?
So how does that particular list of symptoms lead to organizing the same stuff over and over?
Let’s take a look:
- Organizing is a logical, linear task. Sure we can do it, but it’s not something we do naturally without thinking about it. So when we take something out, putting it back where it belongs isn’t necessarily natural behavior either. It’s something we have to develop – the good habit of putting things back where they belong.
- Being easily bored and distracted are two different things, but they go together at times. We often work hard to put a system together – for organizing, keeping the house clean, keeping track of the bills, etc. And the system works – because it’s new and shiny. But then we get bored, distracted by the next shiny object, and the system falls apart.
- Sometimes we see the details and not the big picture, but there are other times when we see the whole but not it’s parts. After a while, the clutter in our homes ceases to register, and we don’t realize how disorganized it is. If we had a system, by this time, it has fallen apart.
- Being forgetful can mean we are organizing the same stuff over and over: we forgot the system we set up (probably because it was more complicated than it needed to be), we forgot that the basket we’re using for something else was once part of the system we set up, we forgot that we organized at all.
This makes us sound like we’re pretty goofy and dumb, but the reality is that we have busy complex lives, and for those of us with ADHD, even a simple life is more complicated for us than it is for others.
So How Can We Do This Once and For All?
The truth is that there will always be some things that you will have to organize, and yes, some of them will be things you have already organized in the past.
If you’re a voracious reader, you’re going to have a lot of books, and as you collect more, you will need to readjust how you store and organize them.
The same is true for anything that you’re interested in.
Sometimes you may set up a system that just doesn’t work. In that case, you’ll need to keep trying different things until it does.
My best advice?
- Approach it one thing at a time, starting with whatever is causing the most aggravation.
- Go slowly, and realize that you may have to try more than one thing until you get to the right solution. Keep it simple.
- Remember to make it easier to put things away than to take them out.
And at some point, maybe you can learn to let it go and just shut the door when people are over.
In the meantime, you might want to check this out.