Organizing with the A.D.H.D. Brain in Mind

Theresa Cashman
March 22, 2021

Folks with A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. have great difficulty with “executive functioning,” that is, completing the tasks that others find easy and necessary to do in our everyday lives to keep life running smoothly. Things like making a list before going shopping, putting clothes away after washing, or opening the mail are simply not engaging enough for ADD brains to complete effectively. 

For “neuro-typicals,” these tasks are occasionally put-off or challenging, but for ADD brains, the struggle is real. Every. Day. It’s not that these “adulting” actions aren’t also important to the lives of folks with ADHD, but their brains have a much harder time “just doing” them. 

Take my friend Jenn for example. She’s an excellent single mom who works hard to provide for her family and community, but she sometimes struggles with her ADHD. When she called me, her space had gotten to a point where she couldn’t locate everyday items, dishes had piled up, dirty clothes were getting mixed in with clean, and her stack of mail was falling off of her desk. Now, we ALL sometimes get to this point, where things are disorganized and need some special “Saturday morning” tidying attention. 

The difference here was that, try as she might, Jenn couldn’t get herself reorganized. She’d spend a whole morning sorting dirty clothes from clean, only to find she’d confused the piles half-way through, or gotten distracted by the mail and never actually got any laundry in the wash, before she had to run off to pick up her son. 

Frustrated, she resolved herself to completing the task next weekend. She spent the few moments of free time she had during the week to develop a new system of organization to prevent this from happening again. She bought labels and bins for each type of clothing so that it would be easier to manage the laundry this coming weekend. 

Saturday came and, by 3pm, she discovered she’d spent the better part of a day setting up the complicated system of organizing laundry (in between distractions of one sort or another) but the laundry still remained undone.

Sound familiar? Do you know someone like this? (Or perhaps it sounds a bit like how your brain operates?) FEAR NOT! There’s hope! Read about my life hacks here.