Organizing for ADHD

Does ADHD Affect Organization?

The National Library of Medicine has published a study finding that adults living with ADHD presented with fewer organizational skills when compared to adults without ADHD – with one exception. Those with ADHD demonstrate similar use of new strategies to stay organized and retain information.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at what could be driving these scores and how people with ADHD can use the findings of the study to better understand how it affects organizational skills and behaviors.

Why is It Hard to Stay Organized With ADHD?

If people with ADHD use new strategies to help them stay organized like their non-ADHD counterparts, why do they score lower on all other organizational skills measured in the study? One explanation could be increased difficulty in people with ADHD to effectively use their strategies consistently over a long enough period to see a positive return on their efforts.

Can People With ADHD Be Hyper Organized?

The ability to achieve a state of hyper focus is often said to be a “superpower” of ADHD. The way it works is simple – when the conditions are just right, some people with ADHD will find themselves fully immersed in a task which can help them accomplish more in less time or quickly learn new things. But with great hyper focus comes great dopamine deficiency. Hyper focusing on designing a presentation for work might be a great use of time, but hyper focusing on TikTok for hours when you’re supposed to be sleeping is not.

To help facilitate more periods of intense focus, we recommend thinking carefully about the role of your environment, particularly your immediate surroundings, in sustaining your next hyper focus session.

Organizing for the ADHD Hyperfocus Superpower

Sure, entering a state of hyperfocus at will would be nice, but that’s usually not the way it goes. Instead, these moments can happen anytime – whether you’re ready for them or not. So, before your next hyperfocus super-session, follow these simple suggestions to create an ideal environment for intentional intense focus.

Clear off your desk or workspace. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Whether you’re a person with ADHD or not, excessive clutter – yes, including your miniature Zen Garden – can be more of a distraction than anything else. Keep your desk as empty as possible by storing your tchotchkes and knickknacks in drawers, cabinets, or shelves. This will help limit the temptation to fidget around endlessly with whatever is in reach. It will also ensure you have the space you need to “sprawl” out when the time comes.

Create a designated “sprawl zone.” Think of a sprawl zone as an area of controlled chaos. It’s a safe space where you’re not only allowed to follow your muse wherever it leads, but you’re also encouraged. A sprawl zone can help you contain your ideas without limiting your creative freedom. When you’re ready to move on from your sprawl session, scoop up your materials and stick them in a container – like a file folder, for example. Just remember to clearly label the container so you’ll know where to look for all those awesome ideas the next time you need them. For even more about creating and using a sprawl zone for ADHD, check out additional insight from the experts at ADDitudeMag.com.

Get a Clutter Buddy. Getting the ball rolling on a more organized workspace can be difficult, especially if you suffer from clutter-blindness. It’s a common phenomenon with ADHD adults and can make it easier for clutter to build up to a critical mass. Asking a roommate or family member to gently remind you to clear your desk or table can help you keep the mass from building to a critical state. If it does build up, not to worry – your clutter buddy can help you stay focused on tidying up.

Control auditory clutter. Distractions come in all forms, including unwanted noise bleeding into your workspace from the next room over, the conversation in the hallway, or for those of us working from home, a noisy washing machine. For a quick fix without the need to spend lots of money on sound treatment materials for your office, consider noise-canceling earbuds or even hearing protection “earmuffs” which are available at your nearest hardware store.

Storage to Help With organizing for ADHD

Thanks to the study by the National Library of Medicine referenced at the top of this article, we now have scientific data that shows why people with ADHD underperform compared to neurotypical adults in most organizational skills. If ADHD hyperfocus is your superpower and persistence is your kryptonite, these simple suggestions may offer a Fortress of Solitude. For even more great ideas, check out our article, How to Create and Arrange a Home Office You Love.

And if you need help making room for your ideal workspace, we’re here for you with clean, well-lit storage units available in a range of sizes to fit all needs and budgets. Check out our Self Storage Calculator, then find the perfect unit near you.