Keeping organised: Top tips for people with ADHD
October is ADHD Awareness Month. ADHD is another form of neurodivergence, or brain difference, along with autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, Tourette’s, epilepsy, etc.
According to research referenced in an article in Spectrum News, ‘an estimated 30 to 80 percent of children with autism also meet the criteria for ADHD and, conversely, 20 to 50 percent of children with ADHD for autism.’
It doesn’t mean that they are part of the same spectrum, but it does mean that some strategies which help autistic people may work for those with ADHD, and vice versa.
I wrote previously about how autistic people can have challenges with executive functioning, where I shared some helpful strategies and workarounds (Part 1 and Part 2). But I do not have ADHD, and some of the challenges can be different, particularly around starting tasks which are not interesting, which can be literally near-impossible for a person with ADHD unless they can figure out a strategy to get the dopamine hit that their brain needs to engage with what they need to do.
We asked one of our supporters, who has ADHD, for some tips on how she keeps herself and her family organised:
A large number of people with ADHD have greater difficulties remembering things which are out of sight, or remembering to do tasks which have no visual prompts. One way to help with this is to use labels. For example, labelling cupboards or boxes with what goes in them.
Another form of visual reminder is a checklist of items to put in the child’s school bag, or a list of what needs to happen on each day in order to get ready for school or for bed. Any process which has multiple steps may well be made easier with the use of lists or visuals.
Easy systems for tidying up
ADHD can make it very difficult to tidy things away, particularly when you have children, and clutter is very difficult to tackle. The job can seem insurmountable, and so making a system which is simple to follow is key. Our supporter explained how her family uses cube units (Kallax from IKEA, but other systems are available!) with labelled boxes, to help her family to know where everything goes. Tidying is simply a case of putting the correct things in the correct boxes. This can work for clothes as well as toys or other items. It makes a room look tidy very quickly without too much effort.
Alarms and notifications
Using alarms and reminders on phones, or Alexa type devices, can make life much easier. ADHD can cause issues with keeping track of time, and so having programmed reminders can be a big help. Our supporter also mentioned that if someone with ADHD struggles with another person telling them what to do, it can work having a device doing the reminders instead as it doesn’t prompt demand avoidance in the same way. After all, you can’t have an argument with Alexa in the same way that you can with another person!
Break large or boring tasks down into smaller chunks
Using alarms to break up a large or boring task really helps to make it seem less overwhelming, as it stops the task seeming never-ending. By doing it in small chunks, progress can be made without it becoming too much. Our supporter explained that to do mundane or big tasks, she sets a timer so she only have to do it for a short or set amount of time. So when the timer goes off, she can leave the task. Doing this often throughout the day or week, depending on the task, will get it finished.
The Rooster App is a way to give children reminders to do chores or other tasks and allows the parent to set a pocket money value for each. Once the task is done, the child can send a photo and mark it as done, and the parent can then authorise the pocket money to be paid.
This gives the child an incentive and also enables the parent to set the frequency of the tasks so that the child knows when they need to do them. Having a reward can really help with motivation.
Please note: NeonDaisy does not endorse any of the products mentioned in this article.
Laura Webb is a director of NeonDaisy