ADHD Organization: Problems And Solutions

Reviewed by Laura Angers, LPC

Published 12/10/2020

Organization is a fundamental part of life. Everybody needs some organization, whether for clothes, grocery shopping, appointments, a social life, or odds and ends. By becoming critically disorganized, many people can suffer. 

People who deal with ADHD are much more likely to have trouble with organization. By reading this article, you can go through some common causes and solutions for ADHD organization.


Woman in Brown T-shirt Standing in Front of Books


What Is ADHD?

ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a mental condition that revolves around the symptoms of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness. Symptoms show in many ways, but some of the most common difficulties include time management, organization, and employment and relationship issues. 

ADHD can be present at any age, and people with ADHD may deal with various issues. Yet, many people can lead full, productive, and rewarding lives despite their ADHD diagnosis. 

If you or a loved one wants to learn more about ADHD, consider taking a free and confidential diagnostic test: You may be able to learn more to take the first steps toward getting the help you deserve. 

ADHD And Executive Functioning

Difficulties with executive functioning are the root of the ADHD person’s trouble with the organization. Suppose you have troubles with organization due to ADHD. In that case, it probably has something to do with executive functioning, and you may have related difficulties with areas like self-control, working memory, following directions, focusing, emotional health, and setting and attaining goals. 

The good news is that by working on one problem, you can help the other. For example, becoming more organized may indirectly help something else like setting and attaining goals. Or, you may find it easier to follow directions when you have the directions themselves well organized.

While difficulties with executive functioning are sometimes reported to be the most challenging aspect of ADHD, working on organizational skills makes a major difference in the problem’s umbrella. 

If you have ADHD and wonder why you struggle to organize, look no further than executive functioning. The rest of the article is devoted to tips for ADHD organizations.

Make Schedules And Have Them Ready

The first tip is to make a ton of schedules and reminders. You can keep them on your cloud or in a notebook. Wherever it goes, make sure your schedules and reminders are ready for you to review. 

Many people have daily goals and tasks to quickly add notes for appointments that may be weeks or months ahead. People without ADHD may remember appointments without trouble, but people with ADHD often have trouble with working memory. In one ear, out the other. It is not a fault of character, just a quirk of the mind.

Accommodate yourself by always having something to write or type with. As soon as you schedule or are invited to something, make sure to record it. 

Crop young woman writing schedule in diary on sofa


Make New Lists Often

A wonderful habit for ADHD organizations is to make new lists every day. See organization as an ongoing duty instead of an intermittent task. You can make to-do lists on organization every day. Like the schedules, you can update your to-do list when the time arises throughout the day. Many people find lists, particularly crossing things out, to be rewarding. 

By making and updating lists frequently, you can develop the habit of constant renewal. After all, organization requires upkeep more than anything else. 

Set A Timer On Indecisiveness And Decision Making

Many people with ADHD can spend days agonizing over simple decisions. Some people can decide the same issue in a matter of minutes, especially if it is a small matter such as “Should I go to that party next month?” Someone with ADHD could think about that every day, including the day of the party. 

This indecisiveness can seriously hurt your ability to stay organized and it goes along with the umbrella problem of difficulties with executive functioning. How can you plan your day, week, or month if you cannot make up your mind on where you will be, what you will be doing, or who you are doing it with? This can be a major part of disorganization.

One tip is to set a timer, and there are two ways of doing this. First, you can set a timer when you have to decide. With a deadline set by you, you can establish that your decision is final after a set point. This caps the worrying process.

The second way is to set a timer for when you are allowed to be indecisive. For example, let’s say you are indecisive about going to a party this weekend. You could set a rule that you can think and fret for 10 minutes, starting at 5:02 pm every day. By allotting a specific time, you can keep the intrusive indecisiveness out of your head. This tip is most often used on repetitive thoughts or emotions, such as worry, anger, or grief, and it works just as well on indecisiveness.

Use Organizational Tools

If you have a garage, use the shelves and hangers in the garage. If you have a bedroom, use the dressers, hangers, and drawers in the room. Other examples can be spaces for dishes, bowls for keys, or mats for shoes. Try to give everything a place and then stick with putting things in their place. By utilizing the given tools, the organization is much easier. If you are having trouble using them, try making it a daily habit. 

Try To Declutter

A great way to stay organized is simply to have less stuff. If you can declutter successfully, you will have a much easier time organizing. It is very hard to stuff ten gallons of water into a five-gallon bucket. Part of your organizational problems may be that you have too much to organize. If you are just a regular person with one too many pairs of shoes, pillows, or sets of dishware, decluttering may open a door into an organized life. 

Stack of Towels on Rack

The trashcan may be your best friend. For example, some people throw mail off to the side to be examined at a later date. Your organizational skills will better thrive if you can look at your mail every day. Try looking at it with a trashcan nearby so that you can throw out junk and decided mail at once. 

However, this may be easier said than done for some people. If you have significant problems with hoarding materials, consider seeking help. Excessively holding onto materials can be a difficult disorder on its own.

Ask A Friend Or Family Member For Help

In pursuing healthy habits, especially new ones, many people seek help from friends and family members. Many people have their quitting, food, or workout buddy in areas like quitting smoking, starting a diet, or beginning to work out. If you live with someone, try to reach out and organize a time to clean and organize shared space.

Furthermore, you could ask someone to help with accountability by being there when you clean and organize your own space. Perhaps your closet is a mess. Ask a friend to come over to go through what should be kept and given away. You may be surprised; it could be fun. 

Find An ADHD Support Group

In line with the suggestion above, try to find a group of people who manage ADHD. Not only can they empathize and commiserate about the difficulties of organization, but people with ADHD can also share suggestions about what works for them. An ADHD support group may be a great way to find support, and you may be able to help someone else too. 

Work On Goal Setting

Goal setting is a separate issue of executive functioning, but it is heavily connected with organizational skills. Oftentimes people with ADHD will pursue all or nothing thinking with organization. That is, everything has to be organized and perfect, or it is not even worth beginning to try according to the ADHD mind. This perfectionism can be extremely damaging to an organizer’s skill set. 

Organization is often on a spectrum. For example, sure, an hour every day on organizing would be great, and everything would be in a row, but if ten minutes is all you can do, that is good enough. People with ADHD can struggle to live the truth behind trying to be average. 

Pen on to Do List Paper

This is where goal setting can come in. Let’s say your kitchen is a disaster: plates everywhere, the dishwasher and sink are full, cabinets are in disarray, and the oven, refrigerator, and microwave all need a wash. People with ADHD can sometimes struggle to pursue “Ten Minutes a Day.” Instead, they can put unnecessary pressure on themselves to clean for four hours on the weekend.

The ability to set small, manageable, and more successful goals can be crucial to an organization. Organization is about setting and completing these types of goals on a daily basis. 


As you know, there are always a million suggestions to be had. The important thing is to just try your best. Your best is good enough! At the very least, this article allowed some background information, as well as a few tried and true tips for ADHD organization.