10 ADHD Challenges to Organization

September 8, 2023

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can present several challenges when it comes to getting and staying organized. If you have ADHD, then you may often struggle with executive functions, which are the cognitive processes that help us plan, organize, and manage time effectively. Whether you are downsizing, going through menopause, away at college, or helping a kid with ADHD get organized, it’s important to work with ADHD  – and not against it – to organize your life. Here are 10 ADHD challenges to organization and tips to working with your ADHD:

(1) Time Management:

People with ADHD often have a distorted sense of time, making it challenging to estimate how long tasks will take. This can lead you to poor time management and a tendency to underestimate or overestimate the time needed for activities. Setting alarms on your phone or using a reminder app to set alerts can be very helpful with this. These time check-ins can help you stay on track and avoid forgetting important deadlines. Alarms can also help you to fight against hyperfocus which is a big difficulty with time management when you have ADHD. Read more about setting reminders in this ADDITUDE article by Judith Kohlberg, author of Conquering Chronic Disorganization, with tips for  how to get organized with ADHD.

(2) Scheduling:

Using a planner or calendar is the way to work with your ADHD in this case! Write down all the important dates, deadlines, and appointments in your planner or calendar. Consider using a color-coding system to help you quickly identify different types of tasks. If you have children, it can get tricky as they get older to find the balance between helping them learn how to manage time on their own, and managing their time for them. Using tools like calendars, schedules, and checklists is a very effective way to remind your child of their routines, commitments, and tasks.  Check out this Morning_Afternoon Checklist for children.

(3) Forgetfulness:

Forgetfulness is a hallmark symptom of ADHD. If you have ADHD, you might forget important tasks, deadlines, or appointments, which can lead to disorganization and stress. Use visual cues! This tip is in the list of 10 tips for organizing with ADHD. Visual cues should consist of something bright or eye-catching. While there are some great ways to make yourself visual cues, post-it notes are one of the organizing products we love most. Use them for pretty much anything and everything from marking important pages in a book or labeling items in a sort, to reminding you of that upcoming task. They are our go to when we need to remember something and need to use a visual cue to remember it. Kids love them, too – and they are wonderful to use when organizing with kids. Put them any and everywhere to remind you of what you need to remember.

(4) Trouble Leaving Your Home:

If you have ADHD you may be all too familiar with that feeling of not being able to find your sunglasses when you need them, or your purse, or your keys. Don’t let that make you late one more time! A launch pad is a simple and efficient space that helps maintain and contain all that comes in or goes out of your home. We especially find it useful for families. Whether for extracurricular school activities such as sports equipment, or just for getting out the door for an evening walk, a launch pad is the key to helping you get into the habit of leaving home without forgetting anything. 

(5) Prioritizing:

ADHD can make it hard for you to determine which tasks are most important and should be tackled first. This can lead you to having a lack of focus on critical responsibilities and getting carried away with tasks that are not as important. Here are some tips for prioritizing. Make a list of tasks in order of importance. This can help you stay focused on what’s most important and avoid getting sidetracked by less important tasks. Distractions, loss of focus, getting tired, becoming discouraged – and so many more emotions, feelings, and interruptions can stall you from completing a project. Prioritizing tasks will help you work towards completing the goals you set and staying motived to complete those goals. 

(6) Clutter:

Maintaining an organized space can be challenging for individuals with ADHD. If you have ADHD, then “Clutter” may be a very personal struggle out of the list of the 10 ADHD challenges to organization. Clearing out items that you no longer need or use will help reduce clutter and make it easier to stay organized. Research shows that the more decisions you have to make, the less energy you have for doing other things. So get rid of all unnecessary items. This carries over into your family as well. When kids have fewer things to play with, they actually play better! Simplifying choices and reducing distractions allows children to play with what they have for longer periods of time with more focus and creativity. Having less items, means less management of stuff and less time cleaning up. 

(7) Paying Attention:

Sustaining attention on a single task for an extended period can be difficult for if you have ADHD. You are probably very familiar with your “mind-wandering” or having difficulty maintaining concentration.It’s important to give yourself regular breaks throughout the day. This can help you stay focused and avoid burnout. Think outside the box and use your breaks to continue to fuel your progress. If you have children that you are helping complete spring cleaning projects or homework, be creative with how you take breaks. In this blogpost on tips to establish a homework station, snacks are a great way – with any age – to structure breaks . 

(8) Organizing Documents:

Handling paperwork, bills, and other documents can be particularly daunting if you have ADHD. You may avoid dealing with paper because it just seems too overwhelming to organize your documents. Paper clutter can be quite the reoccurring battle, but establishing a routine for your paperwork will help you to maintain organized documents. Keeping your documents organized involves utilizing a filing system that works for you. Here are some tips to assist you with creating a well-organized filing system.  These tips will help you to work with your ADHD to organize, maintain, store, and find your documents

(9) Procrastination:

Procrastination is a common challenge for those with ADHD. You may have difficulty starting tasks, especially if you find them uninteresting or overwhelming, and may delay important activities until the last minute. Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Then make sure you acknowledge small progress benchmarks. This will help you with staying motivated, having fun, and with feeling a sense of accomplishment as you complete each step. This sense of accomplishment is what helps to propel you into the next task needed in order to complete the project. 

(10) Staying Focused:

Last but not least is “Staying Focused” in the list of 10 ADHD challenges to organization. When you have ADHD, you are easily distracted by external stimuli, which can disrupt your ability to stay on task and complete work efficiently. Have you tried fidget toys? Here are some great fidget toys for adults and kids to check out. If you or your child needs to fidget, fidget! There are some really fun fidget toys out there that will help everyone focus. Try playing with one the next time you need to sit, stay focused, and pay attention. They are the best thing ever!⁠

Which of these 10 ADHD challenges to organization hit home for you? To learn more and share your thoughts and helpful tips, be sure to check out our Abundance Declutter Group on Facebook.