According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (trusted source), 6.1 million American children are diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). ADHD patients may have difficulty concentrating, have memory problems, or be easily distracted.
You may have noticed if you have ADHD that the cognitive and emotional aspects of your condition affect your physical environment. Some people with ADHD have a hard time keeping their space clean and organised.
You might be wondering: Is this a result of ADHD or just a character trait? Is there anything you can do to help? What we know about ADHD and the tendency to be messy, what causes it, and how you can get organised
A study from 2018 (Trusted Source) revealed that many ADHD children had deficits in working memory. Working memory is part of short-term memory, which allows us to remember recent information in order to complete ongoing tasks. A poor working memory can negatively affect organisational skills. It makes it hard to plan and execute actions towards a goal.
ADHD can have cognitive effects that make it difficult to complete tasks such as scheduling an appointment or completing homework. It can also be tasks related to organising a physical area, such as your bedroom or office. You might have done the laundry but not folded it. It then sits on your floor all week. You might also start a few creative projects, but leave the materials scattered around. This clutters up your room. You might also be constantly losing items.
Disorganisation is closely linked to ADHD. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) by Trusted Source lists that “often forgetting items necessary for tasks or activities” is one of the symptoms that could lead to a diagnosis of ADHD. Not everyone with ADHD is prone to disorganisation or messiness in their home. Certain treatment and management techniques for ADHD can help some people become more organised.
It’s possible to be disorganised without having ADHD. Untidiness is also caused by a busy schedule, stress, mental health issues, and other factors. ADHD is diagnosed by a combination of symptoms, not just being forgetful or disorganised.
ADHD is characterised by a number of symptoms, including being easily distracted, forgetfulness, and difficulty focusing.
ADHD symptoms can also include:
- Having difficulty controlling impulses
- Fidgeting is a sign of difficulty sitting still.
- Interrupting someone while they are talking or working
- Talking excessively
- Being impatient or having difficulty waiting your turn
- Missing details or frequent mistakes
ADHD is often diagnosed in conjunction with other conditions. These include anxiety and depression, as well as certain learning or behavioural disorders.
Socialising can be more difficult for people with ADHD. The chances of them having autism spectrum disorder are also higher.
There are many strategies that you can use if you have ADHD and struggle with organisation.
It can be helpful to young people in:
- Follow a daily routine or schedule.
- Set aside specific areas to store everyday items.
- Use physical planners or organisers to track homework, events, tests, and other important information.
- Parents and teachers should set clear, consistent rules for their children.
- receive positive reinforcement for keeping organised
Adults can also benefit from a routine.
- Always use a calendar, whether it’s a digital or paper one.
- Leave yourself a reminder (or set up reminders on your phone or computer).
- Bills, paperwork, and keys should be placed in specific locations.
- Break large tasks down into smaller steps.
These strategies can provide structure and support to help you manage ADHD. Even people who don’t have ADHD can benefit from a neatly organised calendar and a tidy workspace.
ADHD is not curable, but there are treatments to manage the symptoms. Medication and therapy are two of the most common treatments prescribed for ADHD, often in conjunction.
Both behavioural and talk therapies can help treat ADHD symptoms. You can use therapy to help you deal with overwhelming emotions and experiences, as well as create a safe place for you to vent. It will also help you learn coping skills.
Talk therapy allows an individual to discuss their ADHD and find ways to manage the symptoms. Behavioural therapy is a way to put your understanding of thought patterns and habits into action. There are support groups both online and offline for people with ADHD.
ADHD is treated with stimulants and non-stimulants. CNS stimulants, the most common ADHD medications, work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels. Ritalin, Adderall, and other stimulants can help improve concentration and reduce fatigue.
Non-stimulant medication may be prescribed if stimulants don’t work for you or cause unpleasant side effects. These medications may take longer to act and have a more direct effect on the brain. Strattera, Wellbutrin, and other non-stimulant drugs are examples.
Side effects can occur with medications that are used to treat ADHD. While they may have benefits, such as helping an individual focus or better control their impulses, there can be other side effects. Discuss the pros and cons of any treatment plan with your doctor. Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medication to avoid drug interactions.
You may also want to prioritise or consider lifestyle changes in addition to medication and therapy.
- Get physical activity every day.
- A balanced diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Limiting your own screen time or that of your children
- Practice mindfulness meditation or yoga.
ADHD is characterised by a lack of concentration and forgetfulness. This, along with other factors, may impact your ability to keep your space organised. Manage your ADHD to better adapt to the messiness of your life. Treatment of ADHD can be achieved through therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.
You can also use simple tips that will help you stay on track and promote organisation. Keep a consistent schedule, make notes to yourself, and keep important items at the same location.
You can feel more in control and secure by managing your ADHD, even if you don’t have any issues with clutter or scheduling. Speak to your doctor if your symptoms interfere with your life or you are concerned that you might be suffering from ADHD.