The ADDer’s Guide to Spring Cleaning


April 30th, 2013

By Leslie Rouder, LCSW

It’s that time of the year to consider those spring cleaning projects.  Clean out your closet?  Maybe it’s the garage or attic that needs to be cleaned?   Or perhaps it’s just all those dresser or kitchen drawers that seem to have accumulated mounds of clutter.  Where does all that STUFF in my night table come from anyway? 

When I consider all the possibilities, it might seem like an Adder’s biggest nightmare.  But in truth, it really doesn’t have to be.  There are several ways that one can go about successfully tackling spring cleaning projects, despite having ADD.  This article explores some of those ways to be consistently more productive and to get those spring projects done.

Get Motivated.   Without motivation, many projects or tasks may seem difficult to even start, no less finish.  Consider all the reasons why this particular spring cleaning project is important.  Do you need to make more room for something you cherish in your garage or closet for example?  Or maybe the idea of having more order to your life reminds you that you can save a lot of time looking for items that are buried under mounds of clutter.  Get clear about the value of completing these projects and how it will positively affect your life.  And keep those reasons in your mind.  You might even consider making a list of all the benefits and posting it somewhere near the project location so that you will be reminded of the benefits. 

Know your engagement threshold and use it to your advantage!  What does this mean exactly?   Your engagement threshold is the longest amount of time you can consistently work, while staying focused on a particular project without being distracted or losing interest.  In addition, you will need to be able to evaluate how long you will actually need to accomplish the project being considered.  Since individuals with ADD often have difficulty estimating how long a project will take, try adding a cushion of about 50% more time than you think just in case, to cover yourself.  If the task takes less time, than you may be delighted to find you have a bit of unexpected extra time for yourself at the end of the project. 

Make an action plan.   How specifically will you accomplish this goal?  What are your specific action  steps?  For example, if cleaning out your closet, it might look like this;

  • Empty the entire closet    (30 minutes)                                                                                                                              
  • Separate items by type of clothing ( 1 hour)
  • Have 4  boxes ready to sort all items
    • One box for donating to charity
    • One box for shoes and bags
    • One box for clothing
    • One box for items that you may want to discard
    • Re- hang all remaining clothing items by type and color ( 1 hour)
    • Re-fold and place clothing on shelves (1 hour)
    • Organize placement of shoes and hand bags on shelves ( 30 minutes)

 

Schedule the time to do it.  Here’s an important piece of information for you to think about.  I know that many individuals with ADD think that the only way to get something done is to break it down into small action steps.  Maybe I will do 30 minutes here and another 30 minutes there.  This is true for some smaller projects but here’s the thing you need to consider.  Every time you transition in and out of a particular activity, you lose A LOT of time, which means you lose a lot of productivity.  For this reason, it is important to know the limits of your upper most threshold and set aside the time that most reflects that threshold.  If you only have 30 minutes here- and- there, you will never start those larger projects that require sustained attention and effort over a longer period of time, because you already know that you will never get enough done to make any difference.  So why even bother to start?   In addition, if you only have 30 minutes here and there, you will most likely end up checking e mails, going on Facebook and surfing the web, since not much else can be done in such short amount of time.  Those are actually appropriate actions to take in a 30 minute window, but they will never provide you with what you need to get those larger projects done.  

So, that having been said, knowing your engagement threshold, make sure to set aside the appropriate amount of time to get a good chunk of the project completed.  Consider those times that you have the most energy and ability to focus.  If you know that your Adderall wears off at 6:00 PM, don’t start that project at 5:00 PM just because that’s the time you get home from work.   If you are a morning person, don’t start that project in the afternoon. 

Work with your schedule and block it off your calendar.  If you don’t make an appointment with yourself, you may possibly procrastinate and put off starting the project all together.  Sound familiar?  

Don’t Be a Perfectionist.  Many people with ADD get caught in doing such a perfect job that they lose sight of the big picture.  So make a point of not getting stuck in the tiny minutia.  Do as much as you can as quickly as possible until the job is complete.  You can always go back AFTER it is finished to make it EVEN better, if you so desire.   It’s more important to complete the project in a timely fashion.  So work quickly and continue working till completion.  

Work with a Body Double or Professional Organizer.   For many people with ADD, having someone there to work with them, while keeping them on track can be extremely helpful.  Find a friend or family member who would be willing to assist.  Or, if you desire (or can) hire a professional organizer to work with you on the project.

Avoid Distractions.  Turn off the phone, television, or any other distraction that could interfere with your completing your project.  Once you get started, have a “ DO NOT DISTURB” sign placed outside the door of where you are, and unless there’s an emergency, tell your family, not to disturb you for your allotted amount of time.  Take this commitment seriously and other’s will too. 

Make It Fun and Interesting   Have fun music playing or have your friends come over and help.  Discover ways to make it interesting by using timers, or creating some kind of challenge that keeps it interesting. Provide yourself with a special reward when you have completed the project.    Bet your partner or a friend that you will complete the project by a certain time or else………. (You get the idea)

And one last thing, after you read this article, don’t just put it down and consider the ideas.  Take the time to actually write down and plan your spring cleaning project, as you follow each step above.  Imagine that it is already completed and see it in your mind’s eye.   Envision yourself having completed the task and imagine and enjoy the feelings of having accomplished your goal. Then, take action and do exactly as you have planned and envisioned.   As the great Tony Robbins once said, “In life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action”.  

 

Leslie is an ADD coach and therapist in South Florida.  To read more of her articles or to sign up for her free Newsletter, you may go to www.ADDadults.net.

 

 

 

 

 


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November Tip of the Month


October 30th, 2012

Ever forget where you park your vehicle?  Well, there’s a great APP called “Take Me To My Car”, which is available for your iPhone that will solve this problem.  This APP was developed by a graduate student at Stanford University, who frequently forgot where he parked his car.  It is super easy to use and allows you to save your current parking position with 2 taps and to find your car with only one.  If remembering where you parked your car is a problem, try downloading “Take Me to My Car”.  I’m sure you will love it!


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October Tip of the Month


October 3rd, 2012

 

Looking for a Fun, Fast, User Friendly  to-do List?  

Check out the app for iPhone named CLEAR !  This is bar none the easiest, most efficient to-do list app I ever seen.  It uses an “all -gesture” interface that allows you to swipe, pinch and pull down on-screen elements, without the use of any cumbersome buttons.   (more…)


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September Tip of the Month


September 4th, 2012

Having problems getting a good night’s sleep? 

There’s a great App that’s available for iphone (and across the Apple IOS) that provides individuals a great tool to monitor and otpimize their sleep patterns by the name Lark.  You can find it at Lark.com or at the Apple Store web site. (more…)


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August Tip Of The Month


August 3rd, 2012

Make Sure Storage Areas are Convenient

If you are one of those people who have difficulty
putting things away, make sure that you set up
conveniently located (visible) storage areas that are
accessible.  I say visible because (for us folks with ADD)
if it is out of sight, it very often is out of mind and if you
must get up on a ladder to reach it or go to a different
room to access it, you may never actually use it.
Therefore, as professional organizer Julie Morgenstern
suggests, “Store things where you use them to make
them easily accessible. For example, if you do your
bills in the kitchen, store your financial files and
calculator there, not in the spare bedroom upstairs.
Look for where your piles are and create storage there.

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If you want more help with ADHD, sign up for my free newsletter on my website and get your free tips to Overcoming Procrastination and Achieving Your Goals.  Go to: www.addadults.net

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July Tip of the Month


July 5th, 2012

Find ways to keep your life as clutter free as possible by trying the following:

When purchasing something new for your home or wardrobe, get into the habit of eliminating something in its place.    

For example, when you buy a new garment or pair of shoes, make sure to give or throw away at least one garment or pair of shoes that you no longer or rarely wear.  

When getting a new magazine, throw away one from the bottom of the magazine basket.  This will help keep your life clutter free and your closet and living space easy to organize. 

—–

If you want more help with ADHD, sign up for my free newsletter on my website and get your free tips to Overcoming Procrastination and Achieving Your Goals.  Go to: www.addadults.net


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June Tip Of The Month


June 4th, 2012

Develop the Habit of Breaking Down Your Big Projects 

 

Get into the habit of breaking down your projects into smaller pieces.  For example, if you need to clean the kitchens (or an any room) start by dividing the room into separate areas.   Figure out which area to tackle first and then move to the next area until you have completed the task.    (more…)


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May Tip of the Month


May 3rd, 2012

 

 

Consider setting up an area near your front door that is exclusively designed to launch you into your day. Try using a basket, shelf and/ or hooks to place your keys, cell phone, wallet, sunglasses, umbrella, brief case, etc. near your front door so that you will have whatever you need before leaving home. (more…)


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3 Clutter-Clearing Tips for the Holidays


November 9th, 2011

By Leslie Rouder, LCSW, CHt. 

Is the thought of getting ready for the holidays causing you stress or overwhelm? Are you feeling like you don’t know where to start? Keeping your home clutter-free and organized, especially around holiday time, can help alleviate some of the stress and overwhelm you may be feeling, especially when you have ADD. 

I put together a list of 3 important things you can do to keep your home clutter-free for the holidays, as well as all year round.

1.  Set up 4 different boxes and label each box with the following labels:

  • Throw Away– these are items that are no longer needed.  This includes trash, but may also include things that are broken (and cannot be repaired) or items that no longer have any worth to you.
  • Give Away– these are those items that can be re-cycled to someone that you know might enjoy having them, or donated to your favorite charity.
  • Short term storage –these are those items that just need to be put back in their place in your home.  They are used often and have a location that is easy to find.
  • Long term storage –these are those items that you use infrequently and need to store somewhere out of the way.  This could be in closets, attics, or garages.  Make sure to label each box so that when you need these items, they are easy to locate. (more…)

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