December 15

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ADHD Hacks for Adults: 6 Ways to Wrangle Your Messy House

If you’re constantly stressed about your messy house, these ultra-easy ADHD hacks for adults will change your life.


If, like me, you clawed yourself a significant distance into adulthood before you learned that your brain isn’t exactly typical, get ready to have your mind blown.

Since my ADHD diagnosis at the ripe young age of 38, I’ve been collecting survival hacks like I used to collect shoes in my living room floor. Only I don’t trip over these hacks.

Here are six super-simple ADHD coping strategies that have literally changed my life.

Laptop and Work Tray: ADHD Hacks for Adults

#1: The Work Tray

Like many neurodivergent people, I prefer to work remote. I get way more done when I’m not trying to tune out an office-full of delightful chit-chat that my brain desperately wants to partake in.

The problem?

I don’t have a proper office. There just isn’t space for that in my home, and, to be honest, I can’t sit at a desk like a normal person, anyway.

This means I wind up with work-ish stuff spread all over… wherever I happened to work that day. Papers, pens, to-go napkins, an assortment of cups, cables and adaptors, my makeup bag, my passport (my passport?): they’re all chaotically strewn about.

I hate it.

So I got myself a Work Tray.

It’s an oversized, wooden tray from Target that cost more than I wanted to spend; but it was worth its weight in crunchy snacks.

At the end of my work day, I dump all my work chaos onto that tray.

Then I put my Work Tray somewhere unobtrusive, like under my sofa because I never decided where said unobtrusive spot would actually be. But under the sofa is totally fine.

At least the mess is contained.

Clean Clothes Basket: ADHD Hacks for Adults

#2: The Clean Clothes Basket

We’re all familiar with the dirty clothes basket. But have you heard of the Clean Clothes Basket?

That’s right: I keep a basket explicitly for clean clothes.

Some might confuse this with a failure to put away my clean laundry—but NO! Because this basket was obtained for the express purpose of containing my clean laundry, any clean clothes that go into that basket are, by definition, put away.

Are they rumpled? Yes. Do I have to dig deep to find that one shirt? Absolutely. Do I ever fold or hang the clothes in my Clean Clothes Basket? Occasionally.

Items like socks and undies are easy enough to sort out and stuff in a drawer, but everything else is whitelisted to live in the Clean Clothes Basket forever.

I’m at peace with it. My clothes are, too.

Shoes go in The Shoe Basket: ADHD Hacks for Adults

#3: The Shoe Basket

Lots of folks have a Shoe Basket by their door. This isn’t particularly ingenious, but I had to include it in case the concept had sidestepped you somehow.

Get a basket. Put your shoes in it.

Better yet, have a Front Door Shoe Basket and a Bedroom Shoe Basket and maybe even a Back Door Shoe Basket.

I do have a shoe shelf in my closet, but it’s primarily relegated to shoes I wear only twice a year but can’t bring myself to get rid of.

Bed & Nightstand Tray: ADHD Hacks for Adults

#4: The Nightstand Tray

If a stranger broke into my home, wandered into my bedroom, and took a look at my nightstand, they’d assume I’m a sickly old lady—a sickly old lady with a skincare obsession, to be exact.

My Nightstand Tray acts as a cozy little vacation home for items such as medication bottles, tissues, lotions, serums, every lip balm known to humanity, and a stick that my dog sneaked into the house.

Add to that the book I’m currently reading, the book I used to be currently reading, and the book I plan to currently read whenever I’m done with the book I’m currently reading on my phone, and you have my Nightstand Tray.

I try to straighten and sort my Nightstand Tray every morning, which typically translates to a couple times a week.

Trash goes in the trashcan, medications go back in the drawer or medicine cabinet, and everything else gets neatly placed back in the Nightstand Tray. Because I definitely need all seven of those lip balms.

Electronics Bin: ADHD Hacks for Adults

#5: The Electronics Bin

This is one of those biiiiiiig, low-profile, plastic bins that’s made to fit under the bed. I think most people put their winter sweaters inside. I use mine for All The Electronics.

Cables. Cords. Adaptors. Plugs. The iPhone tripod and the other iPhone tripod and the selfie stick and the ring light thingy that attached to the selfie stick. Chargers. Batteries. Camera stuff. Flash cards. Hard drives.

Basically, if it’s on the smaller side and has anything to do with technology, it goes in the Electronics Bin.

Nothing is organized. But it’s all in one place!

Trash Can: ADHD Hacks for Adults

#6: Tiny Trash Cans

My hyperactive husband disagrees with me on this: I believe there should be a Tiny Trash Can in every room of your house.

A plethora of Trash Cans is the only reason my home isn’t littered with used tissues, scraps of dental floss, junk mail, and socks with unintended toe-holes.

The more accessible the trash receptacle, the more likely I am to actually throw away things that need to be thrown away.

If these hacks are obvious to you, you’re probably neurotypical.

I was in awe the day someone suggested that I keep all my sewing stuff in one place instead of stored in various forgettable cubbies all over my house.

Genious!

Brilliant!

Give that person the Nobel Peace Prize!

Apparently these solutions come naturally to people whose brains uninhibitedly dish out dopamine and norepinephrine; but to me (and other ADHDers), they were grand revelations.

Maybe it’s because practical problem solving feels mundane in the moment. Or maybe it’s because we’re too busy moving on to the next thing to think, “Why did I just dump all my freshly cleaned clothes on the dog’s bed?” And of course it’s also possible that the mere thought of buying the bin or procuring the tray throws us into Freeze Mode.

(Freeze Mode is insidious, and there’s a special place in hell for it.)

So don’t overthink it.

Hop online and order some containers from Amazon or Target or WalMart. They don’t need to be fancy. They can even be cheap. They just need to serve a purpose.

Or if you like to physically shop, I recommend HomeGoods or HomeSense. I’ve found beautiful trays and baskets there, as well as perfectly functional trash bins.

Now tell me your ADHD hacks for adults.

Organization tips, time management strategies, prioritization skills… I’ll take ’em all!

Lord knows: I need all the help I can get.


Photo by Becca Tapert


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