Clutter is the pile of mail at home calling to you, “What is in there? Am I missing out on something? Is there a bill that is due…?” And as the pile grows so does your stress level. So maybe you just avoid dealing with it.
Clutter is also the stack of papers on your desk taunting you, “What is all this stuff? Do I need it? Am I forgetting to do something?” Maybe you eventually move the papers to another space so you have room to work.
And clutter is the closet, basement, garage etc. filled with so much stuff screaming, “There is no way you can figure out what to with all of this!”
Those who struggle with clutter in whatever form know these voices really well. How about you? Do these voices sound familiar?
Are you ready to change these them?
Why Can’t I Just Get Rid of Stuff I Don’t Use?!
Gaining an understanding of how your clutter builds up is the first step you can take in informing your choice of techniques to minimize it. So, let’s start there.
If you have a hard time getting rid of stuff, it is probably because of one of these 3 main reasons:
- You think you might use the item someday.
- It holds sentimental value.
- You spent a lot of money on it so you think you should keep it even if you haven’t used it in a long time.
And, if you tend to be a compulsive shopper because of your ADHD impulsiveness, the pile just keeps growing bigger and bigger.
But I Really Want to Clear My Clutter! Why Can’t I Make a decision?
Above all, what can make it harder for ADHD Adults to make a decision is having too many thoughts at once and difficulty processing them. If you experience this when trying to figure out what to do with your stuff, you can stay stuck in a seemingly endless loop, like the one below.
I should get rid of some of this paper. But what if I need it later? Maybe I should file it all away. How am I going to file it? Do I even have enough room in the file cabinet? If I don’t, I’ll have to find more space. Maybe I should file some of it and throw some of it out. How do I decide what to file and what to toss? What if I throw away something and then I need it later? I know I’ll totally regret it.
I’ll just figure this out later…
And when you are overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do with your clutter it can start to feel like a game of pinball in your head. Then you might either:
- give up trying to do anything because you don’t know what to do.
- impulsively make a decision — like throwing something out — just to quiet the noise in your head.
But not making a decision or being impulsive doesn’t really help you in the long run, right?
How Clutter Can Create Confusion
Sure, we all have different tolerance levels for the amount of stuff in our environment. But too much clutter, whatever that means to you, can create confusion, especially for ADHD Adults.
Think about how you feel in your physical environment right now. Does your space inspire and energize you or deplete your energy?
If your space is too cluttered, you will have a hard time focusing your attention on what you want to do because there is just too much stuff — stimuli — competing for your attention. And, because of the stimuli overload, you might either have a hard time deciding what to do or just jump from task to task without closing the loop.
Having too much clutter and not knowing what is in the piles may also lead you to worry about what you may be forgetting to do. So, as you scan the piles, in the back of your mind you have this persistent worry and wonder, “What am I not taking care of that I should be?”
Ultimately, the worry and confusion caused by your clutter gets in the way of being intentional and doing what is important to you.
The 2 Ways Clutter Steals From You
The ways in which clutter steals from you can also get in the way of spending your time on your important stuff.
Of course, the most obvious way clutter cost you is in fees for late bills or maybe lost income from missed business opportunities.
But your clutter also robs you of time — time you really can’t afford to lose, right? Think of the time you spend every day:
- looking for misplaced keys, papers, shoes, tools etc.
- trying to muster enough self-control to focus when you are too distracted by the clutter around you.
- spending time dealing with the fall out of situations due to your clutter and lack of organization, like not being ready for a meeting.
- needing to correct mistakes you make when you can’t find something at the right time.
Ok, by now I’m sure you get. Clutter cost you in so many ways.
Figure Out What Good Enough Looks Like For You
The first step to dealing with your clutter is to answer the question, “What do I want my space to look like when it is good enough and works for me?”
Without first answering this question, you may strive to reach some idealized vision of what you think your home or office should look like according to someone else’s standards. And, when you can’t achieve this because it is just not right for you, you may feel even more demoralized about your ability to be organized.
When your space works for you and is good enough you will be able to:
- find what you need when you need it.
- have company over without too much trouble, if that is something you want.
- relax in your home without the stress caused by clutter.
And, when you are clear about the answer to the above question, you will be clear about where you are heading in your efforts to organize your space.
Next Steps You Can Take
After the reading the above post take some time to answer these questions:
- Why do I have so much clutter and why can’t I seem to get rid of it?
- How are my ADHD symptoms possibly part of the problem?
- How does it impact my life?
- What would my space look like if it was good enough for me?
Then check out the next post, 3 Steps to Conquer Your Clutter When You Have ADHD, where I cover strategies you can use to deal with your clutter.