ADD people: how do you manage your stuff?

Discussion in 'Braaaaiiiinnnns...' started by hyrax, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    so i'm 32, but i was only diagnosed with ADD in the past two years. yesterday i was talking to my therapist, complaining about how hard it is for me to keep me (small! one-bedroom!) apartment tidy. like i don't have that much stuff, but i manage to generate an impressive amount of clutter. i'm bad about throwing away things like empty chip bags and wrappers. i'll also do a thing where i set down an object, a bag or something, and think "ok, that bag lives on my kitchen floor now" because i get easily overwhelmed by the notion of putting things away. my therapist commiserated and said that, for people with ADD, managing your stuff can be incredibly difficult. she suggested i would be better off with a low inventory-- minimizing the amount of stuff i have-- but i don't have a ton of stuff to begin with. i do plan on paring some of it down, but it's only a partial solution.

    so, my question is: people with ADD/ADHD, do you have any tips for keeping a handle on your environment? any tips on how to put things away and throw away trash before it piles up? how do you keep your surroundings reasonably neat when your brain is fighting the entire notion?
  2. Jaaaade

    Jaaaade magnoliajades, here!

    I'm not officially diagnosed with it (nor have i visited a therapist yet) but I share the same situation, and experience many other ADD symptoms, so I suspect it's something I have.

    I haven't been the best at managing clutter on my own, and it makes chores my least favorite thing to do because for some reason I just... can't get around to them. What's generally worked for me was.. letting it bother me enough, I guess? It's weird to say but it'd help to remember how important a clean and organized environment is, and make self-care more of a priority. A lower inventory of stuff definitely helps make it less overwhelming (that was my problem earlier in the year) so I can't say what it'd be like for fewer things.

    If you need to, you could just do a little bit at a time? If you have a pile of paper plates stacked together and it starts bothering you that they're making the room less attractive, just throw those out for now, and see how you feel afterwards. Want to pick up a couple more things after that? go for it. You might accidentally get into a cleaning mood. Or if throwing away one thing is enough, throw another thing away once it's presence starts bothering you again.

    Regardless of what you do though, the most reassuring thing is that picking up and throwing away trash usually takes 5 minutes or less, depending on how much there is. It doesn't all have to be done at once if you aren't feeling it, but even just working on a little bit at a time will help make managing it better.
    • Like x 1
  3. applechime

    applechime "well, you know, a very — a very crunchy person."

    i am TERRIBLE at managing my environment but something i find invaluable is an outside influence. if you can get a friend to come over to your place with some regularity, you're more likely to be able to get your shit together and tidy up.

    if you forget/can't find the motivation to do things like take out the trash or put away clutter, set alarms on your phone. make it so that you can't ignore it!! ADHD brains are stubborn but often susceptible to bullying.

    DON'T set yourself up for procrastination -- like, 'oh, I swear I'll do it right after this, or at 3 PM, or first thing tomorrow.' you won't!!! your brain will sabotage you!! if you make a task impossible to ignore, and if you are a harsh taskmaster re: procrastination (or if you can find someone ELSE to be a harsh taskmaster), it gets easier to take that first step and actually Do It, and if you Do It often enough it can EVENTUALLY become a habit. that is the ultimate victory.

    if you can, get someone patient to promise to get on your case, and do your best to be honest with them. like maybe have them ask you once a week what your bedroom looks like. if it looks like shit, tell them it looks like shit. even just acknowledging it to someone makes you more likely to do something about it!!!

    disclaimer: all of this is just stuff that helps me personally!! outside influence is sometimes the ONLY thing that will push me into cleaning and organization. the ADHD brain is a stubborn goddamn mule and sometimes it just will not fucking move until someone else comes along and gives it a smack.
    • Like x 1
  4. spockandawe

    spockandawe soft and woolen and writhing with curiosity

    I find that outside influences are the biggest help for me too! My apartment does nnnnot get cleaned often, unless I know family or friends are going to be seeing it. I also have had some luck with using arbitrary rules for myself, like I have designated clutter areas, so that hopefully the mess stays mostly contained. Like, the foot of my bed is a small disaster zone whenever laundry gets away from me, but the rest of my room is mostly okay, that kind of thing. And every so often, if I have a new podcast or something that I want to listen to, I'm not allowed to listen except while I'm cleaning or doing other chores. If I have something to keep my mind engaged, I can do chores reasonably well, but if I'm bored, it's just... not going to happen. So finding entertainment for while I'm cleaning up is the biggest factor in me actually following through on the chores I plan to do.
    • Like x 1
  5. Mala

    Mala Well-Known Member

    One idea for improving cleaning habits: Focus on improving only one thing at a time! Like, start with taking dishes and food trash out after eating and once that's an established habit, work on putting laundry up when it's clean.

    Trying to improve all the cleaning things at once is overwhelming and exhausting for me but one task at a time isn't so bad and it makes a difference
    • Like x 1
  6. spockandawe

    spockandawe soft and woolen and writhing with curiosity

    Ahh, see, I'm the opposite, I just wander vaguely around doing whatever cleaning task pops up in front of me. If I try to focus on one thing, I'm more inclined to be like that's enough I'm bored I deserve a break, and that break lasts for the rest of the day :P If there are concrete things I need to accomplish, I sometimes make a list, and do whatever thing catches my eye next on the list, but I'm really bad at narrowing my focus.
  7. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    thank you everyone for the input! in particular, "break it down into little chunks" is really helpful-- especially in my tiny apartment, cleaning any one thing doesn't take very long. (the exception being my massive pile of dirty dishes.) remembering this is helpful, i don't need to commit to HOURS of cleaning, just ten minutes at a time.

    one issue that makes it harder for me is that i have a huge issue letting people see my apartment if it's too messy. in particular if the kitchen is full of dirty dishes... which it always is these days. i have weird shame issues where *i* don't care if the flat is messy but i care deeply if other people see it that way. i also don't have a lot of people around IRL to help me. my therapist is actually coming over tomorrow to help me clean!

    honestly, what i really need is a dishwasher, but there's not much room for one and anyway that costs money.
  8. budgie

    budgie not actually a bird

    It's not much help once the sink is already full of dishes, but I find that filling the sink with hot soapy water before I start cooking means I'll actually wash the dishes.
  9. Jaaaade

    Jaaaade magnoliajades, here!

    Washing with hot water has always helped me get through dishwashing too, for some reason. It feels like a nice shower for your hands, and it'll feel satisfying once you're getting it done. The real struggle is starting it. But i'm glad you're getting a little help with cleaning.
  10. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    update: i caved and spent most of my week's pay on a dishwasher. it is amazing, you guys. it's a countertop dishwasher, so it's only slightly larger than my microwave, but it's perfect for one person. and it gets the dishes SO CLEAN!!!

    i'll need to be careful with money for a couple weeks but i can't regret my new kitchen friend, it's already made my life so much easier.
    • Like x 6
  11. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    • Like x 3
  12. Emma

    Emma Your resident resident

    That looks really cool, but how does a counter top dishwasher work? To what it is it connected to get the water, and also how does it drain the water? (Can you tell this is not a thing in the Netherlands? :P)
  13. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    it's got a hose that connects to the faucet, to get the water, and that same hose drains the water into the sink. so you need to keep it pretty close to the sink. it works GREAT, i'm still in love with it despite being totally broke now.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
    • Like x 1
  14. Emma

    Emma Your resident resident

    That sounds awesome. Somewhere in the my next house/houses I definitely want to have a dishwasher. I hate washing dishes.
  15. budgie

    budgie not actually a bird

    I didn't even realise those were a thing, despite having seen mini portable washing machines before. You have inspired me!

    (Well, for when I move out of my parents; I'm fortunate enough to have a dishwasher here.)
    • Like x 1
  16. Everett

    Everett local rats so small, so tiny

    I also had no idea, and I also have a chronic cycle of Help the Sink Is Full Of Dishes And All The Cutlery Is Dirty. i'll have to talk to my landlady about whether it would be ok for the water bill :0 but Dang that would be so helpful and good

    Also i find i can reliably wash ceramic dishes, and spoons and knives, if i wash them while theyre still in my hand (ie they dont get put into the oubliette of the sink and start accumulating... whatever kind of slime happens when you leave peanut butter dishes in the sink for a week with water dripping onto them).

    Plastic containers are harder to do because they seem to stay greasy? And forks have tines so they require more scrubbing.

    For actually keeping things from piling up out of control, i find the smaller amount of clothes i have in my current apartment means laundry can't get to the stage where it's overwhelming. I will run out of clean underwear and shirts and socks and it will still be only one big load of lights and one of darks. I suspect if my dishes were similarily limited the sink pile wouldnt happen either
    • Like x 2
  17. Ryncoon

    Ryncoon Well-Known Member

    I try to bundle some cleaning tasks, like taking dishes to the sink or trash to where it goes, by just bringing along a thing or two whenever I get up for something. Now it's just routine to do a glance for dishes to take up when I go to get more coffee or go to the bathroom or whathaveyou.
    • Like x 4
  18. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    that's really smart, and a habit i should get in! it's a small time commitment and it suits my ADD do-multiple-things-at-once predilections. ESPECIALLY now that i have a dishwasher and can put dishes in there to be washed. just moving a dish from the coffee table to the sink where i'm still not going to wash it for weeks isn't a huge help, after all.

    thanks for the suggestion!
    • Like x 1
  19. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    here's a couple pictures of the dishwasher in action and how it hooks up to the sink, for the curious! it actually doesn't fit on my counter-- it's too tall to go under the cupboards-- so i have the dishwasher on a small wheeled cutting board table.

    please ignore the dishes in my sink. i told you i was bad at keeping my place clean.

    IMG_3808.JPG IMG_3806.JPG
    • Like x 3
  20. Jean

    Jean Let’s stop procrastinating -- tomorrow!

    Caveat that I only have an armchair diagnosis of ADHD (working on that), but I find that it is so much easier to get myself to do things if I put on an audiobook or bouncy music while I'm doing it. It makes it feel less like a chore and lets my mind focus on something else so I don't get bored and just wander off. Which I will do, because when I'm not hyperfocusing I need at least two or three things going on to keep my brain busy/quiet.
    • Like x 2
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