The ADHD Homestead

Building a good life with ADHD.

Tag: minimalism

Organizing & ADHD: what’s in my library?

A reader recently asked: do you have any resources for decluttering or journaling with ADHD?

What a wonderful question to be asked! I write often about organizing because I find cluttered, messy spaces stressful and overstimulating. A chaotic environment begets a chaotic mind, and vice versa. I suspect I’m in good company among people with ADHD.

Along the way, I’ve written about everything from note-taking on my bathroom mirror to reducing my junk mail, from participating in an online decluttering challenge to getting my visual-thinker husband to put his stuff away.

Of course, I’m a writer, and I’ve kept a notebook since the seventh grade. I’ve shared a peek inside my Bullet Journal once, and I’ll probably do it again.

What I’m reading now & what I’ve read along the way

My journey has been populated with life-changing writing from other people — that’s the reason I have so much to write about! I’ve read a few books about organizing and ADHD, and a few books about organizing in general. I also check in with some favorite minimalism-focused blogs when I need to re-center.

ADHD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life was my first ADHD-specific organizing book. I read it years ago, and I recall it being especially useful for visual thinkers. I’m not a highly visual thinker, but I’m married to one, and I’ve had to learn a whole new world of organizing strategies to combat “out of sight, out of mind” anxiety. Many people with ADHD share this problem. There’s also a book called Organizing Solutions for People With Attention Deficit Disorder, which I know I got from the library several years ago but can’t remember much about. Rather than breaking strategies out by category, it has a section for each room in the house. It’s written by a professional organizer who works with ADHD clients, while ADHD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life is co-written by a professional organizer and a renowned ADHD expert. If you can only get one, I’d recommend ADHD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life.

As for general organizing books, I got a lot out of Unclutter Your Life in One Week. I received the author’s follow-up, Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter, for Christmas, and I’m psyched to read it. If you can’t snag the book, the accompanying Unclutterer website has lots of tips, too.

Speaking of blogs, I keep a few in my list to catch up on from time to time. My favorites are Becoming Minimalist and Be More With Less.

If you struggle with emotional attachments to things, or if typical organizing literature feels cold and unapproachable, I recommend Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up . Some of Kondo’s advice feels like a stretch, especially for adults with ADHD, but it’s definitely worth a read. It helped me navigate my own feelings of guilt and attachment around stuff I don’t use or enjoy anymore.

And now, for what I consider the bookends of my ADHD journey. Many years ago, I read a book called It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys. It changed my life. It doesn’t focus on ADHD, though the author does mention it. The writing exercises spoke to me through my love of journaling and writing things down. As I progressed through the book, the text guided me through an inventory of everything my disorganization was costing me — emotionally, physically, and financially. It was a sobering moment, and the beginning of my realization that I needed help. Later, when I sought diagnosis and medication for my ADHD, this quantification of how it affected my life proved invaluable. It’s Hard to Make a Difference also taught me, then a recent BFA graduate, that extreme disorganization wasn’t an indicator of creativity. I could be a creative person without living in chaos, and I could be happier and more productive.

Finally, I owe the biggest debt to David Allen’s Getting Things Done. If It’s Hard to Make a Difference turned on the lights, Getting Things Done showed me the way out.

Enough from my library. What are your top life-changing reads about getting organized with ADHD?

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Decluttering, ADHD, & the hidden cost of selling unwanted stuff

When I declutter, I’m always tempted to sell unwanted stuff. The prospect of a few bucks in my pocket clouds my judgement. Sometimes I forget my goal: to simplify my life. To lower my stress and anxiety.

Money is great, but be careful about selling too much. Sometimes it costs more than the stuff is worth. The trick is to know when to sell and when to give away — and when your ADHD might tip the scales.

selling stuff ADHD

Closing the sale: ADHD hyperfocus strikes again

Last month, I wrote about decluttering our video games, and how I hoped to make money in the process. Even though our Guitar Hero equipment was outdated, I thought I could get $60 for it. I listed it on several local websites, finally getting a few bites on Craigslist.

It had been sitting in our storage room for a few years. The buyer wanted to test everything before giving me cash. He asked if I might bring the equipment to him — an hour away.

I almost said yes. Then I stopped mid-text message and reminded myself: my time is valuable. I’ve already spent time texting with this guy and writing for-sale posts.

It’s easy to hyperfocus on pieces of the decluttering process, especially when we think we can make an extra buck. My brain zeroed in on one goal — selling this stuff and getting the task out of my stack — and blocked out everything else. I almost forgot to stop and look at the big picture.

The big picture, as in: I was considering spending two hours in the car to sell game controllers for $60. In many ways, my time is priceless. If I’m putting a number on writing alone, an hour is worth $70-$150. The math doesn’t add up.

When to sell & when to donate or give away?

Of course, how much you need the money will tip these scales. We all value a dollar (or 10) differently at various points in our lives. These guidelines keep me sane while I’m simplifying and paring down. Tweak them until they work for you.

  • First, ask yourself how much you can get for the item. A quick search on Craigslist should give you an idea. Keep this in mind always. Something you can sell for $500 is worth a lot more effort than a collection of $10-$20 items.
  • Then, set a deadline to sell it. Promise yourself you’ll donate the item or give it away if it hasn’t sold within a few weeks.
  • Create boundaries before you list something for sale. Examples from my life: I only communicate via text or email (no calls). I won’t drive more than 10 minutes to meet someone. If plans to meet fall through, I’ll consider rescheduling once — but not after that. Most of all, I use my intuition. If someone feels difficult to schedule or communicate with, I remind myself I don’t owe them anything and move on.

Never forget the value of an hour (or minute)

Our time and energy are valuable. People with ADHD struggle to budget these resources, and often shortchange our true priorities. All the more reason to think twice before selling tchotchkes on the internet or elsewhere.

The reality is, ADHD makes the extra step — selling rather than tossing into a donation box — more difficult. We should accept that fact without judgement, then make choices that work for us. Simplifying and decluttering extends to our energy and obligations, not just our homes and physical stuff.

Sometimes the wisest choice is boxing it all up and scheduling a charity pickup — even if it might be worth a little something.

Have you faced similar choices while paring down your clutter? How do you decide the fate of unwanted items that may have value?

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