The ADHD Homestead

Create the life you want with the mind you have.

Tag: Living Well Spending Less

#LWSLClutterFree: week 2

Week two of 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life (aka #LWSLClutterFree) brought more surprises, more challenges, and more clean corners! I’ve been continually impressed by the impact I’ve made in areas I didn’t think needed work.

For example, my kid doesn’t have an overabundance of toys, but I was able to take our toy area from this:

DSC_3510

to this:

DSC_3539

It wasn’t crazy before, but it looks so much cleaner and calmer now — and not just because R. and his blocks are missing from the “after” picture!

Let’s take a look at this week’s decluttering progress by the numbers:

Days 6-12: Summary

Current projects

 Backlog

Total time and project completion

  • 7/12 current assignments completed (58%)
  • 4:13 total time spent this week (average 36 minutes per day)

Highlight: books and magazines

I spent nearly half of this week’s decluttering time on books and magazines. It’s the only partially completed project and the only one that’s significantly over the time budget.

I don’t think we own more books than the average household, so it’s probably not possible for many people to complete this challenge in one day.

However, my work thus far has been unmedicated and let me tell you, books and magazines are no small organizing feat for the ADHD adult. First of all, look at all the pictures! And the words! I caught myself several times paging through a book to find out if I really wanted to donate it. Cookbooks, especially, provide lots of romantic pictures that beg us not to let go.

#LWSLClutterFree Day 5: books and magazines

I kicked off Day 5 with an insomnia-fueled attack on my cookbook shelf. I’m already loving how easy it is to grab my most-used cookbooks. R. has a collection of board books at the bottom to look at while I cook dinner.

Speaking of cookbooks: letting go of a reference book of any kind means letting go of a project. Sometimes these projects and ambitions feel very special to us, and sometimes they remind us of our countless unrealized dreams. Getting rid of these books can be painful.

For these reasons and more, I think books and magazines have been the most difficult challenge so far. Most ADHD adults will need to work on this one over several days.

If you’re working with multiple ADHD book owners, the picture below illustrates one strategy that worked wonders for me. I knew my husband — already feeling short on time and behind on his own projects — would be overwhelmed if I simply told him, “sort through your books.” Instead, I asked him to take books from the pile on the left one by one, placing each on top of the “keep” or the “give away” paper. Then I left him alone. When I came back into the room, I was pleasantly surprised by how many books he’d put in the “give away” pile!

ADHD-friendly hacks

Conclusions

Project scope became a real issue this week. There are several bottlenecks and ADHD weak points that I’ll be interested to watch over the course of the month.

While I love the daily checklists, the checkboxes aren’t always single actions. To “create dedicated storage space for any specific functions” of my dining room is an admirable goal, but it’s a discrete project of its own, not a checkbox. To do this well, I’d need to:

  • think about what that storage should look like
  • figure out out how it would fit into the room
  • rearrange, eliminate, or acquire any furniture/supplies to make this happen, and
  • actually do it.

For now, I’ve solved this problem by spending a few minutes thinking about it, then adding any necessary storage solutions to my home organizing/decorating shopping list. I also skipped the china cabinet when I decluttered the dining room because it warrants (at least) its own day.

Regardless of my objective success — how many daily challenges I complete — I’ve moved a lot of furniture, cleaned a lot of baseboards, and gotten rid of a lot of stuff I wouldn’t have thought twice about otherwise. That’s a win no matter what!

Want to join me? You still can! Catch up here and start enjoying a calmer, cleaner life.

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#LWSLClutterFree: Week 1

Despite some external setbacks, #LWSLClutterFree started off on a positive note. Family circumstances required us to travel more than we expected to this weekend, so I’ll have to catch up next week, but I’m not discouraged. Learning to create balance and deal with disruptions is part of the process.

One of my biggest apprehensions about the #LWSLClutterFree challenge is that ADHD adults will struggle to keep projects within the 30-60 minute daily time budget. So far, so good, but I’ll have to work hard not to overextend my time or energy resources.

Days 1-5: Summary

  • Day 1 (Wednesday): Ground Rules
  • Day 2 (Thursday): Entryway
    Completed in 1:17 with medication
  • Day 3 (Friday): Mail
    Completed in 0:05 with medication
  • Day 4 (Saturday): Living Room
    On hold (traveling)
  • Day 5 (Sunday): Books & Magazines
    On hold (traveling)

Total time this week: 1:22

I’m excited to get back on the wagon tomorrow (tonight is for unpacking and sleeping), especially because our book situation needs some attention. I’m also thankful for my freebie on Thursday. Our mail system already works pretty well — plus it’s part of the entryway we cleaned on Thursday — so I just added a “to shred” basket to my shopping list.

Work day #1: A case study

When I received my first assignment, I thought my day’s work was done. I’ve already put some thought into this area because it’s where we stage our shoes, coats, keys, and anything that needs to go out the door with us.

However, #LWSLClutterFree is a great opportunity to reexamine spaces we take for granted.

I’m committed to taking 100% honest “before” photos — nothing moved for vanity — so here’s a pre-decluttering shot of our entryway.

Before photo: #LWSLClutterFree Day 2 - Entryway

I began by emptying the entryway corner, even moving the furniture out of the way so I could do a thorough cleaning. To my surprise, I found a lot of stuff that didn’t belong. I eliminated everything in the photo below from our small entryway.

Items decluttered from #LWSLClutterFree Day 2 - Entryway

Even though all I did was remove a few items and clean the floor, baseboards, and door, I was amazed at the change in how the space felt. I hope to continue making our spaces more open, welcoming, and well-considered as #LWSLClutterFree progresses.

As a bonus, I hung a new picture above our coat hooks. The original painting was only there by happenstance: it came in the door with us on moving day and the previous owners left a nail in the wall. When I looked at our entryway objectively, I realized its placement felt illogical. I already had the collage frame filled and waiting for a home, so all I needed to do was install hooks and hang it up. It looks lovely above the coats and reminds me of some of my favorite people.

After photo: #LWSLClutterFree Day 2 - Entryway

After photo: #LWSLClutterFree Day 2 - Entryway

While this assignment exceeded the 30-60 minute budget Rachel told us to expect, hanging the photo frame on the brick wall took 25 minutes. If I remove that from my time (it’s not on Rachel’s checklist), the total goes down to 0:52. This includes getting cleaning supplies out and putting them away, sorting through purged items, and distributing those items to the trash a more appropriate storage place.

My toddler also “helped” the entire time. I just gave him a rag and a pretend dustpan and brush and let him go to town. He only undid some of my sorting piles, and being able to complete a project while he’s awake is a huge plus.

Conclusions

Considering our travel needs, Week 1 was a success, but I haven’t been put to the test yet. The entryway project took me just under an hour, and it was already relatively well-organized. Our books and magazines are less so, but still not a disaster. We’ll see how I fare with them tomorrow. I feel like some spaces in our home — like the kitchen, laundry area, or office — exceed what I can take on in one day. The key to tackling this overwhelm will be dividing it into several days or isolating a high-impact sub-project.

I’m sure I’ll have more ADHD-specific insights on #LWSLClutterFree as Week 2 comes to a close, but my initial impressions are mixed. The checklists are excellent for staying on track and defining a start and end to each project. I appreciate the regular reinforcement of values to remind me of the big picture. However, I’m concerned that 30-60 minutes won’t be enough to conquer some of the problem spots that can develop in the average ADHD homestead. A greater daily commitment may be infeasible for most.

That said, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the challenge. With the right structure and guidance, #LWSLCutterFree might show ADHD adults the tremendous impact they can make with just an hour or less per day. Here’s to another week of cutting the clutter!

Join me this October for 31 Days to a Clutter-Free Life

I’m going to talk a lot about clutter, organizing, and minimalism in the months to come, but why not get started on an active note? A friend recently turned me on to Ruth Soukup’s Living Well, Spending Less blog, and her 31-day challenges immediately caught my eye. Time-bound challenges are great for people with ADHD: they provide social accountability, structure, a concrete finish line, and a quantitative definition of success.

31 Days to a Clutter-Free Life on Living Well, Spending Less

In this case, we’re tackling an overwhelming, often emotionally charged issue for ADHD adults: clutter and organization in our homes.

Perfect for a structured, time-bound challenge.

Will you join me in the Living Well, Spending Less 31 Days to a Clutter-Free Life challenge this October?

I’ll be checking in every Sunday evening to give a brief update on my progress, as well as a review of the challenge itself through the lens of adult ADHD.

Are you in? Let me know in the comments below or use the hashtag #LWSLClutterFree on Twitter and Facebook.

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