Why you must be organized with ADHD

Being organized and having ADHD sometimes feels like oil and water.

Being organized and having ADHD sometimes feels like oil and water.

ADHD is characterized by forgetfulness, lack of focus, impulsivity, poor time management, and poor prioritization. You won’t find these under the dictionary definition for organized.

But being organized is key for my having been able to manage my ADHD over the last 45 years (well, okay, more like 25 years).

Here’s my office. It’s where I spend many hours each week.

Where are all the stacks of paper? Why isn’t the floor cluttered? Where are all the dirty dishes and snack wrappers?

It doesn’t look like a desk of an ADHD person, or what one might think is the desk of an ADHD person.

Here are a couple images of what my computer looks like:

Here’s my Google Drive workspace: just 4 main folders.

And of course, each of those is organized with sub folders and sub sub folders.

And my file cabinet. Again with the folder and subfolders.

And so on.

Actually, ask my family. I’m pretty anal about being organized. I have to have everything in the right place. The plates must be stacked in a certain order in the cupboard. My T-shirts must be stacked in the order I wear them (the one on top is worn today, the next one tomorrow, etc). My keys are alway put away in the same place.

I keep my surroundings organized because I know that if I don’t, I’d be lost. In fact, that’s how I used to live my life. Everything used to be cluttered and messy. Then something clicked when I was 18 or 19, and all of a sudden, I cleaned my room excessively, and it became extraordinarily neat. And I’ve been that way—more or less—since then, especially in my own personal spaces, less so in spaces I share.

When I’m not organized, I lose things. Or I break things because I’m distracted and don’t notice objects teetering on the edge of a surface.

Staying organized helps me remember tasks, follow up with clients, stay on track with project timelines, and find old records.

Now, in full disclosure, it’s not perfect. I have forgotten some things. But I know that without an organizational system, things would be far worse.

How do you stay organized with ADHD? Let me know your tips in the comments below.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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