Helpful ADHD Tips: It’s Not You, It’s the Room – How to Tell When Your Space Needs a Makeover
As ADHD people, we are natural clutter bugs. We like piles and we like to keep stuff out where it’s visible. (We think this will help us remember, but it has like a 5% success rate depending on who you ask…) So it’s no surprise that our houses are often disasters. We know what the space is supposed to look like and what it’s supposed to be used for, but no one else would.
Everyone – neurotypical and ADHD alike – thinks their house is a disaster. The difference is that when we say it, we aren’t doing so with fake humility or ill-rooted insecurity. It’s more like blunt honesty. And no, we aren’t proud of it, but if you can’t be friends with us regardless, then we probably aren’t a great match anyway.
That said, dear ADHD friends, it’s not all on you to keep your home organized.
Sometimes it’s not you; it’s the space.
This past weekend, I was cleaning our “workroom” (that is, my husband’s office, my office, and our kids school room all rolled into one…) and it occurred to me that, like me, some of you might be fighting with some broken spaces.
By “broken” I mean that the space isn’t working with you or for you. It needs a makeover.
Our workroom is one of those spaces. It’s no surprise considering it houses two office spaces and a school room all in one. Luckily, there are three easy steps to determining if your space needs a makeover!
How to Identify a Broken Space:
1. Is It Easy to Keep Liveable?
– If it takes about 2 seconds for the room to become a total disaster, that’s a good sign that you’ve got more than a couple broken systems in place. When things aren’t getting put away, the spaces underneath that clutter aren’t going to get clean either.
If you’re like our family, you’re working with more than one or two ADHD people in a single space. It can be tricky to figure out what works for everyone. But for some starter tips, check out my post on organization.
Organizing a room to fit your family might involve moving some furniture around, getting rid of things that aren’t being utilized or repurposing items that were initially meant for something else. Get creative. Use Pinterest for inspiration if you have to but NEVER commit to a system just because it’s pretty! You need to be totally honest with yourself about what you and your family are inclined to use. And what you aren’t.
2. Are You Using It for Its Intended Purpose?
– If you aren’t using the room the way it’s supposed to be used, then it’s either not set up well for the intended activity, or the hi-jacking activity does not have a proper space of its own.
When this is the case you have a few options:
- Adapt the space to include both activities (so that the second doesn’t prevent the first).
- Abandon the original intended activity in lieu of the new one.
- Create a new space for the hijacking activity and restore the original space for the intended activity.
Whichever option you choose, make sure to take some time and figure out why you’re doing the activities you’re doing in certain spaces. Think about what feels natural and how you can lean into that. If your new set-up isn’t natural, it won’t stick.
3. Does It Make You Happy? –
Who wants to be in a bummer space? If going into the room makes you depressed or irritable, it’s time to give it a makeover.
What’s the reason behind the negative feelings? Is it always a mess? Is the décor an issue? How about the colors? You don’t need to spend a ton of money to lighten up a room. Sometimes it’s as simple as just a touch of color or soft bath rug under your chair. (Just because it says “bath” doesn’t mean it has to go in the bathroom!)
What’s the Verdict?
If you answered “no” to any or all of the questions above, your space could use a make-over.
I know our workroom is broken because the kids don’t do school in it.I don’t work at my desk (because it is too short and not comfortable to sit at). There is constant clutter from things not being put away (and I loathe putting things away – it’s confusing and makes me irritable. This is another good indicator that it’s broken.). And the only thing we use it for these days is watching NCIS reruns on my husband’s tablet while he plays Fall Out.
It can be really overwhelming to set out to re-do a space. Just start by walking through the room and making some observations. What’s where? Identify the key problem areas? Where is storage needed? What has storage but isn’t using it?
I’m not a professional organizer or anything, but I have spent a lot of time and money figuring out different systems that do and don’t work for my ADHD family. If you need help getting started on your spaces or identifying what your core issues might be, feel free to contact me! I’d be happy to give you some personalized advice.
With Love and Best Wishes,