Circling Back


I’m a naturally messy person and I doubt that’s ever going to change. I can’t eat an ice cream cone without dripping it all over myself. I spill things and stain my clothes on a daily basis and I leave a trail of stuff wherever I go.

You can tell I’m at home because you will see my coat thrown over a chair and my pocketbook and keys on the kitchen table.

If I make myself lunch you can see the evidence of what I prepared all over the counter. I tend to leave out the bread, the mustard, the lettuce and whatever meat I put on my sandwich. When I open a cabinet or drawer there’s a good chance I have forgotten to close it.

It’s the way I roll but I like living in a neat environment and being able to have people over without feeling instant embarrassment. I also like to be able to find my stuff without endlessly searching.

I have a system that I call circling back for dealing with my messiness within a reasonable amount of time, usually no more than an hour or two. I know from personal experience that the longer a mess is ignored the greater the chance it will become entrenched and become part of the landscape.

What does it look like when I circle back? I stand up and stretch, put on some music that makes me want to move my body, usually Disco or Motown to give me a jumpstart and get past my inertia. I at the kitchen sink and load the dishwasher, I return everything to the fridge, shut the drawers, close the  cabinets, and wipe the counter. Then I hang up my coat and put my keys away and hang up my purse and put away anything else I left on the table. Circling back usually takes about ten minutes, about three songs, and never longer than 20 minutes. It’s not a major clean up, just a quick pick up that has a huge return on investment.

After circling back I feel more organized, lighter, focused, in control and totally entitled to make another mess.

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: or email Kathy at

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