10 Organizing Tips That Make My ADD/ADHD Life Better




I have ADHD and it’s a pain.  Because of it, I have to use a lot of strategies to stay out of trouble.  Here are 10 of them.

  1. Don’t sign up for trials. There are a lot of tempting opportunities to try things out using a 30-day trial.  Unfortunately, in order to do that, you have to sign up AND provide payment information AND remember to cancel before the trial period is up. I don’t do trials because I’m scared I’ll forget and end up paying for something I don’t need.  The only time I’ll consider a trial is if it’s something I’ll probably sign up for anyway.
  1. Leave lights on as a reminder. I get sidetracked easily so sometimes I leave lights on in a room to remind me that something needs done in that room.
  1. Gather stuff as you go. What I mean is this – the grandkids are here quite a bit and they bring lots of stuff with them.  If I wait to gather their stuff until they’re getting ready to go home, I always forget things – sometimes important things like my grandson’s blanket.  Then somebody (usually my son or daughter-in-law) has to make a special trip to get the blanket. Oops.  But if I gather stuff as I go, it’s ready to go when they are.

My daughter does this, too.  She was here today with her baby, Everly.  Everly took a nap on my bed and had a few things with her on the bed.  When Rachel brought Everly down, she brought all her stuff, too.  She said that if she waited until later she’d forget.  Yes, she has ADHD, too.

  1. Use bags or purses with lots of pockets. This may not be necessary for everyone, but it works really well for me.  I always buy structured bags with lots of pockets so I have a designated place for everything.  If I have a designated place, I’m much more likely to put things where they go.  If I have an unstructured bag and everything’s thrown in there, I can’t find anything and there’s no guarantee the thing I’m looking for is even in there.
  1. Include friends and family on to-do lists.  This sounds really bad, but hear me out.  Because those of us with ADD/ADHD have a slippery grasp on time, it’s easy for a lot of time to pass before we realize it.  And if we’re not careful, we can easily neglect our friends and family.  The solution to that problem is including friends and family on to-do lists.  I know that when I include family and friends on my to-do lists, I’m a much better and more attentive friend or family member.
  1. Do something to help yourself remember people’s names. I am TERRIBLE at remembering people’s names.  I can remember lots of details about them, but not their names.  I got tired of having to ask again and again and again so I came up with a way to remember.  It works really well as long as I do it.
  • Listen to them when they say their names (sometimes I zone out – not sure why).
  • Repeat their names over and over in my head.
  • As soon as possible, write their names down. Also write a brief description of what they look like.
  • Come up with some cutesy phrase to help me remember. Sometimes I can do this and sometimes I can’t.  If I can, it helps.
  • Every time I see them, I say their names in my head. “That’s Joe and Mary Smith.”
  1. Have set days for certain tasks. I used to be better about this but my schedule is so crazy now that I’m having a harder time.  But the one task I still have scheduled is paying bills.  If it wasn’t for Saturday being bill paying day, I may or may not remember to pay them.  But always doing the bills every Saturday keeps me on track.  Having a set day works for lots of other things, too.
  1. Keep the house clean and de-cluttered. This may not be an issue for everyone, but it is for me. I get overwhelmed easily so I need my environment to be orderly.  When my environment is messy, so is my mind.  When my environment is in order, my mind has a better chance of being in order, too – notice I said better chance.  It’s not a guarantee but it helps a lot.
  1. Read directions carefully. I am so bad about skimming over directions and missing important parts.  It’s especially bad when I’m reading recipes.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed a recipe for the blog and realized I missed a bunch of steps when I made it.  My recipes and projects all turn out better when I slow down and read carefully.
  1. Read aloud and talk out loud. Again, these two tricks may not work for everyone, but they sure work for me.  Reading out loud helps me focus.  Talking to myself helps me work things out and stay on track.  Have I ever been caught talking to myself?  Oh, yeah.  And I’m usually really embarrassed.  Most of the time the people who catch me say they do it, too.

Those are 10 more ADD/ADHD organizing strategies that work well for me and might work for you, too – even if you don’t have ADD/ADHD.

Do you do any of these?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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16 thoughts on “10 Organizing Tips That Make My ADD/ADHD Life Better

  1. Days…I like to water my house and porch plants every Wednesday. Wednesday is Water Day around here. Works for me and the plants.
    Monday eve is trash out to curb time, trash pick up is Tuesday morning so I do not have much choice in this. MONDAY-TRASH OUT!! ?? I still put this stuff on my side of fridge calendar and my planner and sometimes a big note on front of fridge in sharpie RED! TRASH OUT? I am a visual person and like visual reminders. I have been using the FC Compact Blooms 2 days per day for about 20years. Good luck in your planner quest.

  2. Great post Patti, I think this will also work for those of us that have
    what is called “brain fog.” I find myself doing things as reminders most of the time.
    I also find myself setting items down in a certain spot, as a halfway mark say to the
    laundry room. Then, on my way back pick them up and head to the laundry room.
    I think we all need to do things that work for us, even though it would send some
    mothers into a tail spin!

    1. Absolutely, Mariann! We have to do what works. I hate brain fog! I was dealing with that, too – from perimenopause – but it’s better now. My husband was struggling with it, too, until he went off gluten. Who would have thought!

  3. Thank you for the great tips! I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD but am pretty positive I have it and so I’m always looking for advice and tips that will keep me feel sane.

    One thing I started to do that’s been working very well is leaving a tiny caddy of pens, paper, tape (just big enough to hold only those items) in spots where I find myself needing and using them often. I
    This has been working great.

    Ithe same thing happens to me with peoples names! Great tips!!

  4. Patti, I was with the trials before as you. But now I can do it: as I make it, I write the end to my calendar. Not the exact day, some before! 🙂
    Names: I grew up in Hungary, where you can only say: hi or good morning, I had not too big issues with names. But now I live in Switzerland, where people tells the others name ALWAYS. Good morning Mister XY! I’m not a polite woman any more. It freaks me out so much, once I told my name to a teacher, with “mister” because he was a man…

    1. I did recently do a trial and wrote it down in my planner and cancelled it on time. If I’m on-top of it, I can do them. But they stress me out – knowing I have to remember to cancel.

      That’s very interesting about the names. I had no idea.

  5. Thanks for all of the suggestions, I really need them, especially for number six. I can’t remember anyone’s name. I know I know them, I can even place where I met them, but their name is lost in the fog. It has always been a huge problem for me and very embarrassing at times. I think part of the problem is that I’m very visual in how I learn and the auditory stuff just goes out the window. Maybe writing their name down would help, but sadly, I’d probably have to write it down in front of them or I would never remember to write it in the first place. Ugh! But I’m going to give it a try. Again, thanks for the tips!

    1. I know what you mean about having to write it down in front of them. There were times where I forgot the people’s names by the time I had a chance to write them down. I hate that!!! You just have to do the best you can.

  6. I un-ashamed-ly talk to myself in the grocery store. It helps me feel less flustered (still haven’t learned where everything in the new store is!). And less flustered while out and about is a more than welcome thing, even if I do look a little funny doing it. Plus, I’ve an idea that people may stay farther away from me in the shop if they see me mumbling to myself – which is welcome, ha!
    I also leave lights on to remind myself of things in other rooms. Mainly in the bathrooms – I use plastic grocery bags in the garbage cans, but those bags are kept under the sink in the kitchen. So, I take the garbage out of the bathroom, but will see that darn light on when coming back through the house, reminding me to put a new bag in the garbage can! It doesn’t always work, but it’s better than nothing! 😀

    1. You made me laugh about talking to yourself at the grocery store. It really does help!

      I’m so glad you shared about leaving lights on. I figured I was probably the only person who did that.

  7. I’m right-brained, so I tend not to think sequentially. I always had a horrible time with recipes, compounded by the problem that every recipe assumes you are cooking for a family of four or six or will have lots of leftovers, and I was a solo cook. Most recipes are actually pretty complicated, even the ones that proclaim to be easy. I was always skipping the most important step–the one where you had to do something a specific point. That’s one of the reasons why I like improvised cooking. A lot of times it’s just chop stuff up, throw it into a pan, and stick it in the oven.

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