I was at a friends house for dinner last week and just about every flat surface including the floor was covered with stuff. It took three of us fifteen minutes to clear the dining room table so that we could sit down at it and have dinner. We moved the piles to other areas. Nothing was put away, just haphazardly moved around and added to existing piles.
Because she is one of my best friends and I know her mom has a problem with hoarding, and how much pain that has caused the whole family, I suggested she might be on the train heading to Hoardsville. She was genuinely surprised to hear me say that but it motivated her to reduce some of her stuff by donating and discarding things she didn’t need. She is even working on giving up one of her three storage rooms that she has been paying rent on for twenty years.
Many of us struggle with clutter and don’t know where to start to get it under control. Having too much stuff weighs us down, creates shame, and when we notice it, it is overwhelming. And when an ADHD mind gets overwhelmed it shuts down and when it shuts down, nothing happens and the piles increase until it’s out of control. The stuff prevents us from living comfortably, gets in the way of our relationships and keeps the people who love us away.
If you are ready to work, (and it is work) on clutter and disorganization issues there are options available and you don’t have to go it alone.
Here are some suggestions:
- Hire a professional organizer that is familiar with ADHD. They will come to your house and work with you. You will make immediate and steady progress but it can be expensive and it takes time.
- Hire a coach who is familiar with these issues. They may or may not want to come to your house but will coach you over the phone on dealing with the clutter and will hold you accountable for working on it. Also expensive and takes time.
- Work with a clutter buddy. Find someone else dealing with this problem and partner up to address it. This means talking on the phone several times a week and holding each other accountable for what you are trying to accomplish. If this is something you are interested in please e-mail me and I will match you up with a partner.
- Subscribe to the Fly Lady. This is totally free and she has helped thousands of women, including me. I shine my sink every morning and found so many of her tips useful. Her humor is a little hokey for a New Yorker like me but her message is right on target.
- Go it alone. Start small in one area. There is no right or wrong place to start. Set a timer for fifteen minutes and reduce the clutter. Discard the stuff you don’t need. Commit to having less stuff and not bringing in any more stuff until you can handle the stuff you have. Try getting rid of 5 things a day. Working by yourself is free but you may not make much progress without support.
Remember that change takes place little by little over time. The first step is often the hardest step so make sure it is not too big.
Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach in Brooklyn, NY. She helps teens, college students and adults with ADHD with time management, planning and prioritizing, getting started with and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and improving social skills. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in downtown Brooklyn. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org