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ADHD Clutter Anxiety is a THING, ya’ll. We can get so overwhelmed with stuff – be it physical, mental or digital. So if you struggle with clutter anxiety in any capacity, today’s blog post will help you understand the “why” behind this issue, and how to avoid it going forward.
Listen to this Post on the Podcast
Trying to Solve Clutter Anxiety By Adding More
I was listening to a podcast this week about a couple, who decided to buy a big lake house in their midwestern hometown (they live on the west coast), because they wanted to spend summers there with their family.
They had a very, romantic idea of how this was going to look and feel – time with family and friends and a drastically reduced workload.
Sadly it didn’t turnout that way. Instead of more time with friends and family, they were spending all their time, getting the house in order (contractors, furnishings, etc). They also didn’t have reduced workloads because the house required tons of work.
This is a perfect example of why less is more.
It illustrates our human tendency to immediately think about what needs to be added to a situation to solve for a need or want, rather than first exploring what could be taken away or reduced. The couple wanted to reduce their work load and spend time with their families, so they decided to buy a place to facilitate that goal, but in reality, it was a a time and energy drain.
Why Less Clutter = Less Anxiety
When we add more stuff to environment, it takes up more real estate in our head. We have to make room for it, maintain it, and remember that it’s there, which is tricky when you have ADHD.
All of that takes time and energy and that accumulates into the sense of overwhelm that a lot of us end up feeling because we try to solve things by accumulating more.
Clutter Begets Clutter
When you declutter and get rid of things, it makes what you keep more accessible and organized. As we know, organizing requires a great deal of executive function, which we don’t always have available to us. By owning less, there’s less to keep organized, and everything becomes more visible.
That is a huge thing for those of us with ADHD, because when we don’t remember that we have things, we just tend to accumulate more of it.
So clutter begets clutter because we don’t even know what clutter we have in the first place.
For example, I did a pantry declutter last week, as I was feeling a little overwhelmed with lots of anxiety. I know it sounds very strange, but it give me a sense of control and peace in my life when I clear spaces.
So I pulled everything out of my pantry and got rid of the stuff that was expired or that we would never use. I think I got rid of about 50% of the stuff that was in the pantry, and I can’t tell you how amazing that space feels to me now.
It was such a great project for changing up my mental state and bringing me back to a place of clarity and peace.
Overcoming Time Clutter – Your Day Planner Isn’t the Answer
Very often, we assume that if we could just find the right productivity system or planner, we would be able to get organized and caught up on everything. So we buy the planner books with stickers or sign up for another digital planner system and think – this is it! The answer to my epic overwhelm.
But 2 weeks later, you can’t even remember where you put the planner, or the password to your productivity software.
Why does this keep happening??? Here’s the truth – getting organized is not about the tools you use. It’s about getter real with yourself about how much time, energy and resources you have available to you to meet your obligations.
Are you being realistic with your expectations of yourself? This is something I see. with so many of my ADHD audience. We don’t take time to reflect on how hard we’re working and how much we’re doing because we’re so hyper focused on what hasn’t been achieved yet.
Very often, I find that clients need help setting realistic expectations about what can be done in a certain amount of time because we tend to struggle with time blindness – not knowing how long things will take.
ADHD Tips for Decluttering Your Mind + Schedule
If you relate to the struggles I mentioned above, I recommend spending some time thinking about what’s most important to you in this season of life. Are there commitments you can start removing from your schedule? Very often we struggle with prioritization because we’re multi-passionate and easily distracted.
Remember, when solving the issue of clutter anxiety, rather than adding more, think about how you can do or commit to less. Freeing up your time will give you the head space and energy to focus on the areas of your life that need your attention the most.
When tacking physical decluttering projects, I recommend starting with small areas, like a single closet or drawer, instead of full rooms. This can get too overwhelming, and that’s the opposite of what we’re aiming for. Remember – less is more.
Pay attention to how you feel as you declutter. Do you feel lighter and more optimistic, or even more overwhelmed? If it’s the ladder, I recommend enlisting help from a friend or organizer. Alternatively, having a body double either on Zoom or in your space with you can help keep you focused.
Need help clarifying what’s most important to you?
I love helping clients get crystal clear about their vision and goals so they can create a sustainable plan of action to achieve anything they can dream up. Learn more about my ADHD Life Coaching here and feel free to reach out if you have questions.