As adults with ADHD, getting organized is probably one of the top goals that people are aiming for in order to feel in control and successful, both at work and at home.
Today, we’re going to focus on an area that causes a lot of stress and anxiety in many ADHD households: managing clothes! Whether it’s laundry related or simply picking out an outfit that matches, clothing is one of those bottlenecks of clutter. Whether I’m working on-site at someone’s home or on a videoconference with a client, clothing organization is an issue that comes up 90% of the time.
In most homes, there’s clothing pretty much everywhere; piles on chairs, piles on the couch, piles on the dining room table, piles on the floor and LOTS of piles in the laundry room! Some piles are waiting to be washed, some piles are waiting to be folded, some piles are between clean and dirty, and some piles are going moldy after sitting in the washing machine for 3 days.
In most homes I visit, closets and drawers are overflowing, stuffed to the point where they don’t close and yet, all those piles I mentioned earlier are also there.
People keep telling me if only they had a bigger place, everything would be in its place.
In fact, having more closet space seems so important, that in a recent survey, 49% of Americans said they’d be willing to give up sex for 6 months if they could have a bigger closet in their home. Well good news! You don’t need to give up sex.
You DO need to do one of 2 things:
1) cull your collection of clothing, or
2) install some closet helpers to help you maximize the space that you DO have.
So how you make the overwhelming task of going through those piles and figuring out what to keep and what to give away?
Well, because decision-making fatigue is a thing for people with ADHD, I developed a sorting method that dramatically reduces the need to make a decision every time you touch a piece of clothing. I call it the Quik-Pik Method. It’s a technique that’s super easy to use to downsize your piles of clothing. And bonus – you can also use it for other categories of stuff like books, toys and even paperwork.
Here’s how it works.
STEP 1: Take all the piles of clothing that are lying around your house and make one big pile in the middle of your biggest space. For now, just focus on those pieces that aren’t put away in a drawer or closet.
STEP 2: Going through that monster pile, separate what belongs to each person. For example, 1 pile for Mom, 1 for Dad, 1 for kid 1, one for kid 2.
STEP 3: Now take one of those piles & set the others aside. Let’s pretend we’re going through Mom’s pile of clothes. Make a pile for each TYPE or CATEGORY of clothing Mom owns: 1 for dresses, 1 for skirts, 1 for pants, 1 for long sleeved tops, 1 for short sleeved tops. You get the idea. Notice, that you still haven’t made any decision to keep or get rid of anything yet, you’re simply sorting.
STEP 4: Still no need to ask during this step, “Should I keep it or let it go?” From one of those Mom piles, let’s pick the dress pile. Take out the dresses that don’t fit anymore. Usually I recommend one size down. If you manage to lose enough weight to wear 2 sizes smaller in the future, you deserve a new wardrobe! It’s also time to get rid of those outdated fashion items like dresses with shoulder pads from the eighties! Now do the same for the other categories.
STEP 5: Now is the time to turn on your decision-making switch in your brain. Going through each category of Mom’s clothing, have Mom try on those items you’re not sure if they still fit. Keep what you love, or as Marie Kondo would say, keep items that spark joy when you see and touch them. Toss the rest into the give away pile.
The last thing to do, is to wash what needs to be washed and put away what’s already clean. Next, you get you family members to go through their own piles the same way you did. On another day, you can tackle those items that are already in your closet or drawers.
Before you know it, you’ll have bags of stuff to drop off at your favorite charity. With fewer items of clothing to manage, you might be doing laundry more often, but I can guarantee that the number of piles of clothing invading your home will go down dramatically and you will feel more in control with less clutter in your space.
The other way to create more space in your closet is to install a closet organizing system but do so only AFTER you reduce the number of clothing items you own. Investing in some closet helpers like tie or scarf organizers, separators for shelves to keep folded clothes from falling over, or open labelled containers that are the height of the shelf to maximize the space usage can make it easy to see what you have to wear and to access it without having to go on a daily search and rescue mission.
Here’s one last tip to avoid getting into the daily problem of choosing
what to wear when you’re trying to get to work on time in the morning.
Choose your outfit the night before.
Alternatively, you can create a catalog of assembled outfits that include accessories like shoes and jewelry. Then take a picture of it. If you’re old school, print a copy of that picture and put it into a protective plastic sleeve and place it in a binder. If you’re more tech-savvy, apps like Your Closet for Android or StyleBook for iphones can help you make a digital version of your outfit collection. This way, you can avoid having to make decisions early in the morning when your brain still hasn’t revved up to full speed.
So if you can’t attend my session at this year’s International ADHD conference and get your hands on the handout, you can still access my cheat sheet on organizing your clothes (which includes a pictogram of the Quik-Pik Method I talked about earlier) by going to my website to download that list of tips to help you keep your clothing collection in control.
Simply type in your browser: https://www.organizethrivemonetize.com/tadd2019
And while you’re there, why not take the time to download the most complete list of famous people thriving with ADHD? After collecting names for over 3 years, we’ve created a brag list of who’s who in the ADHD world and organized it by profession. You can discover those game changers and movers and shakers who helped shape the world we live in.