I was talking with a friend online who was in the middle of clearing off the major clutter on her desk. For those without ADD, that seems like a simple enough task. But those if us with ADD, it is a monumental endeavor. Where do you start? Where do you put stuff? Save? File? File where?

Decisions, decisions. What if I throw it away and find I need it someday?

What if I put it away and can’t find it?

How did this problem start, anyway?

Often times, clutter happens because of one of three situations:

  1. You don’t have time to put it away, so you dump it…somewhere.
  2. You have no idea where to put it because it doesn’t have a home.
  3. You figure you’ll do it later because there are more interesting things to be doing than putting something away.

Then before you know it, you’ve got piles. And more piles, and they grow each day, until you get completely overwhelmed.

Yet, with most people I know, including myself, we’re somehow able to find whatever it is we’re looking for, somewhere in the pile. Unless it’s something super important, like your tax form.

What to do? What to do?

When I hired a professional organizer many years ago to help me set up my home office, the first thing she taught me was to make a home for everything. Photographs, bills, receipts, etc etc.

Here’s what she did:

She held up one item at a time and asked me: where is the logical place for this to be? Filing cabinet? Linen closet? Office supplies closet? So little by little, we began setting up homes.

That made it a LOT easier to get things put away where they belong. But it didn’t solve the clutter issue because of the other two situations I mention above: You’re in a rush so put it off or you don’t want to be bothered with a boring task.

So let’s get down to the dirty truth that few ADD experts talk about:

You can get your stuff under control, but it’s might hard to KEEP it under control. And then we spin and spin, anguished over the piles we create shortly after having eliminated them. And that, my friend, can assault our self-esteem, make family angry with us and put us straight into a stinking depression, even.

Here are some tips to help you deal with the magical piles that keep re-appearing no matter what you do to tame them:

  1. Do your best to tame things as best as possible but do NOT expect perfection. Say it again: DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION.
  1. Do not let your clutter define you in a bad way. It’s a microcosm of your brain, which is usually splaying thoughts and ideas all day (and unfortunately, all night for many of us). The thoughts, plans, poetry, inventions, worries, obsessive thoughts and more…swirling throughout your brain, plop down on your counters, dining room tables and more. It’s simply a symptom of how your brain works.
  1. Every time you enter the area that is upsetting you, put away 5 things. Or 3 if you don’t have enough time.
  1. Invite a friend or family member (one who’s totally non-judgmental) to help you. Or buddy with you: they can be paying their bills while you are filing yours.
  1. What I do when I get overwhelmed with a tableful of clutter is throw everything in one big box so that the surface is now less horrifying to look at. Then I choose a time to begin going through the box to put things away.
  1. Make a date with the clutter. Mark it on your calendar or planner. Then spend 15 minutes only on it. If you find you have the energy to continue, go for it!
  1. Take a before/after photo of your space. Tape it to the wall so you can remember that you CAN do it and also to remember how GREAT it feels once it’s done.

Purging is frightening for many. We hold our identities, our special memories in “things” so that it’s hard to part with them. For me, I have the toughest time throwing away purses or shoes because they’ve been so much a part of me for a long time. Try taking a photograph of something you know you need to get rid of, but can’t.

Lastly, think about how you feel when you see the piles and replace that thought and feeling with: HOW would I feel if that space was cleared out? Let that thought guide you into getting started.

You can do it!

Want more help? Join the Queens of Distraction so I, along with your fellow Queens, can help you stay on track all while cheering you on and offering support and strategies: www.QueensOfDistraction.com

What areas are the hardest for you to keep tidy? Have you found tips and strategies that work for you?

Please share below in the Comment section.