Decluttering can be a daunting task for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for neurodivergent people. Because of your unique way of processing information and sensory input, it can be overwhelming to decide what to keep and what to let go of. However, decluttering can have a significant impact on mental health and overall well-being.
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If you are neurodivergent and struggling with decluttering, there are several tips and strategies that can help. First, you need to understand your own unique way of processing information and sensory input. This can help you determine what items are truly necessary and which ones are just cluttering your space. Additionally, breaking down the decluttering process into manageable tasks can make it less overwhelming and more achievable.
Organizing your space can have a positive impact on your mental health. When your environment is cluttered and disorganized, it can lead to increased stress and anxiety. By implementing simple organizational systems, you can create a more calming and stress-free environment. Overall, decluttering and organizing can be a powerful tool for improving mental health and well-being, especially for neurodivergent people.
Understanding Neurodivergence and Clutter
If you are neurodivergent, you may experience challenges when it comes to decluttering and organizing your living space. Neurodivergence refers to conditions such as ADHD and autism, which can impact the way you process information and interact with the world around you. Clutter can exacerbate these challenges and make it difficult to function in your daily life.
Impact of Clutter
For neurodivergent people, clutter can cause significant stress and overwhelm. It can be difficult to focus on tasks or complete them efficiently when there is clutter in your environment.
Clutter can also trigger sensory overload, leading to feelings of anxiety and discomfort. Additionally, clutter can make it challenging to find important items, leading to frustration and wasted time.
When you can't find what you need or want, you might buy another, leaving you in a situation where you own multiples of the same things. So in addition to the frustration and wasted time, you now also have wasted money.
Common Challenges in Organizing
Organizing can be a daunting task for anyone, but this can be especially true if you're neurodivergent. Some common challenges include difficulty with decision-making, difficulty with prioritizing tasks, and difficulty with creating and sticking to a routine. It can also be challenging to know where to start and how to break down tasks into manageable steps.
To overcome these challenges, it can be helpful to create a plan and break down tasks into smaller steps. It may also be helpful to seek support from a friend, family member, or professional organizer. Incorporating sensory-friendly organizing tools, such as color-coding or labeling, can help make the process more manageable.
By understanding the impact of clutter, you can develop strategies to overcome these obstacles and create a more functional living space.
Strategies for Effective Decluttering
Decluttering can be a lot for many of you. But with the right strategies, you can make the process less overwhelming and more manageable. Here are some effective decluttering strategies that you can use:
Decluttering with a Timer
One of the most effective ways to declutter is to set a timer for a specific amount of time and focus on decluttering for that duration. This technique is called the Pomodoro Technique, and it involves working for 25 minutes and taking a five-minute break. Repeat this cycle four times, and then take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. This technique helps you stay focused and motivated while decluttering.
If you have ADHD, keep in mind that the time block you use should fit your personal attention span. You might not be able to focus on the task for 25 minutes. You might use time blocks of only 15 minutes.
If you are on the ASD spectrum or are hyperfocusing with your ADHD, it's still really important to take a break when the timer goes off. I know your inclination is to think, “But I'm being so productive!” But if you don't take breaks, you risk burning out, and then you'll be left with a huge mess and no motivation to finish.
Using a Chore Chart
A chore chart is a great tool to help you stay organized and on track with your decluttering goals. You can create a chart that outlines the tasks you need to complete each day, week, or month. This will help you stay accountable and ensure that you are making progress towards your goals. You can also use the chart to track your progress and celebrate your successes.
Chore charts might feel childish, but they work. It's a visual reminder of what you needs to happen. And if you're living with other people, the chore chart will keep everyone on track. It can allow you to rotate tasks and help you so that you're not in charge of what everyone should be doing.
Incorporating Decluttering Habits
Incorporating decluttering habits into your daily routine can help you maintain a clutter-free space. For example, you can make it a habit to put things away after you use them, or to spend 10 minutes each day decluttering a specific area of your home. By incorporating these habits into your routine, you can make decluttering a part of your lifestyle and maintain a clutter-free space.
These routines don't have to be daunting or boring. Put on a favorite song or two and blast it. Dance around the room as you put things away. There's a reason kids' shows always have some sort of clean-up song. It feels less like a task.
Overall, decluttering can be challenging, but with the right strategies, it can be a manageable and rewarding experience.
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Creating an Organized Space
When it comes to decluttering, creating an organized space is key. This can be especially important for neurodivergent people who struggle with sensory overload or difficulty focusing in a cluttered environment. Here are some tips to help you create an organized space that works for you.
Zoning Your Space
One effective way to create an organized space is to zone it. This means dividing your space into different areas based on their function. For example, you could have a designated area for work, a separate area for relaxation, and another area for storage. This can help you stay focused and avoid distractions.
I work from home for most of my jobs. But trying to do all of them from one desk and laptop was overwhelming. I invested in a desktop computer that I use for my blogging and book marketing/business tasks. My laptop is used for my editing day job and the one college class I teach.
Furthermore, I try to avoid doing any of my husband's construction company paperwork in my office at all. We have a setup in another room for that. Unfortunately, I'm not always successful with that because he routinely comes by my office and hands me pieces of paper. 🙁
I know I'm privileged to be able to do that. You might not even have your own home office. But dividing space and time doesn't have to be a whole room situation. What small changes can you make to divide or zone your space? Maybe you work at the kitchen table, but do social media from your couch.
To zone your space, start by thinking about how you use your space and what activities you do in each area. Then, use furniture, rugs, or other visual cues to create distinct zones. You may also want to consider using storage solutions, such as shelves or baskets, to keep items in their designated areas.
The Importance of Labeling
Labeling is a key aspect of creating an organized space. By labeling items, you can easily find what you need and avoid clutter. This can be especially helpful for neurodivergent people who struggle with executive function or memory. And if you have ADHD, often, out of sight means out of mind — literally. You won't remember that you even own an item if you don't see it. Labeling can help.
To label your items, you can use a variety of methods, such as sticky notes, labels, or color-coding. Be sure to choose a labeling system that works for you and is easy to maintain. If you need to see things, use picture labels. Or, you may also want to consider using clear storage containers, so you can easily see what's inside.
Overall, creating an organized space can be a helpful way to reduce stress and improve focus.
Dealing with Emotional Challenges
Overcoming Guilt and Shame
Decluttering can be an emotional process. It is common to feel guilty or ashamed about the amount of clutter you have accumulated. However, it is important to remember that clutter is not a reflection of your worth as a person.
Don't buy into comparison-itis. I remember when I was a young mother and I would drop one of my kids off at someone's house for a playdate. I'd look around and see a near-spotless space. No toys scattered on the floor, no clutter on tables, no papers sitting on the counters. To this day, I can't wrap my head around that.
Their spaces look almost as if no one lived there. My house is definitely lived in. Yes, sometimes I get irritated by people who just drop random piles of stuff on my dining room table. But I've also accepted that I'm never going to live in a model home.
You have to decide what level of clutter and clean you're comfortable with. It doesn't matter what other people think. This is about your level of comfort and well being.
To overcome feelings of guilt and shame, try to focus on the benefits of decluttering. Think about how it will improve your living space, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Remind yourself that letting go of unnecessary items is a positive step towards a healthier and happier life.
Addressing Decision Fatigue
Making decisions can be overwhelming. And let's face it, decluttering is nothing but decisions. What do I keep? What do I get rid of? Where do I put the stuff I'm keeping? When decluttering, it is important to address decision fatigue and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
To reduce decision fatigue, start small and work in short bursts. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes and focus on decluttering one small area. This will help you avoid becoming overwhelmed and make the process more manageable.
Try to make decisions quickly and avoid overthinking. If you haven't used an item in the past year, consider donating or discarding it. Remember that decluttering is about simplifying your life and letting go of unnecessary items.
Finally, be kind to yourself throughout the process. Decluttering can be challenging, but it is important to remember that progress is more important than perfection. Celebrate small victories and focus on the positive changes that come with decluttering.
Selecting What to Keep and What to Discard
When it comes to decluttering, selecting what to keep and what to discard can be a daunting task, especially for neurodivergent people. Here are some tips to make the process easier.
The Art of Letting Go
One of the biggest challenges of decluttering is letting go of items that hold sentimental value. Neurodivergent people may find it harder to part with such items due to emotional attachment or sensory issues. However, it's important to remember that holding onto too many possessions can lead to clutter and stress.
One way to make the process easier is to set a limit on the number of sentimental items you keep. For example, you could decide to keep only five items that hold sentimental value. This will help you prioritize and choose the most important ones.
If you're torn about getting rid of something because of sentimental value, put it aside. Later, flip a coin. Heads you get rid of it; tails you keep it. Regardless of the coin toss outcome, your gut will tell you what to do. You'll feel relieved that the decision is over and you're getting rid of it, or you'll want to clutch it and know you really want it.
Another helpful technique is to take a photo of the item before discarding it. This allows you to keep the memory without the physical clutter.
You also need to get rid of duplicates (or triplicates!) of things. Once your space is organized, you won't need to have multiples because you'll know where to find your things. And don't save things because you might need it “one day.” While that's true, if you haven't needed it yet, you probably won't. Unless the item is not easily replaceable, get rid of it.
Donating vs. Throwing Away
When deciding what to do with items you no longer need, you have two options: donate or throw away. It's important to make an informed decision based on the condition of the item and its usefulness to others.
Items that are in good condition and can be used by others should be donated. This not only helps others in need but also reduces waste. However, items that are broken, stained, or unusable should be thrown away.
Remember that it's okay to discard items that no longer serve a purpose in your life. Giving yourself permission to let go can be liberating and help you create a more organized and stress-free living space.
Time Management and Productivity
Setting Clear Deadlines
One of the most important aspects of time management is setting clear deadlines. As a neurodivergent person, you may struggle with time perception, making it difficult to accurately estimate how long a task will take. To combat this, it's important to break down larger tasks into smaller ones and assign specific deadlines to each.
Do not set a deadline for an entire, HUGE task. You're only setting yourself up for disappointment. Set the deadline for the smaller steps. Those will be easier to judge. Maybe do one or two of the tasks and record how long they actually take. Then, you'll have a basis for deciding on deadlines for the rest of the steps.
Creating a visual timeline or calendar can also help you stay on track and ensure that you're meeting your deadlines. This can be done using a physical planner or a digital tool such as Google Calendar. By setting clear deadlines and tracking your progress, you'll be able to stay focused and motivated, ultimately increasing your productivity.
Building Efficient Systems
In addition to setting clear deadlines, building efficient systems is another key component of productivity. As a neurodivergent person, you may struggle with organization and maintaining focus. To combat this, it's important to create systems that work for you. This goes back to creating routines and habits, like a daily pick-up time.
This may include creating a to-do list or using a task management tool such as Trello to keep track of your tasks and deadlines.
It's also important to take breaks and give yourself time to recharge. By building efficient systems and taking care of yourself, you'll be able to increase your productivity and achieve your goals.
Maintaining Decluttered Spaces
Regular Cleaning Schedules
Once you have decluttered your space, it's important to maintain it. One way to do this is by setting up a regular cleaning schedule. This can help you stay on top of household chores and prevent clutter from building up again.
To create a cleaning schedule, start by making a list of all the tasks that need to be done on a regular basis, such as sweeping, dusting, and laundry. Then, assign each task to a specific day or time of the week. You can use a calendar or a cleaning app like Sweepy to help you stay organized and keep track of your progress.
If sticking to a routine of cleaning is hard, you might want to try body doubling. Invite a friend over. Ask them to just hang out with you while you do your chores. Having another person there often will motivate you to do the work. Plus, having a friend around is fun.
The Role of Self-Care
Maintaining a decluttered space can be a form of self-care. When your environment is clean and organized, it can help you feel more relaxed and less stressed.
To make the most of your decluttered space, consider incorporating other self-care practices into your routine. This could include things like taking a relaxing bath, practicing meditation, or getting a good night's sleep.
Remember to be kind to yourself as you work to maintain your decluttered space. It's okay if you miss a cleaning task or if things get a little messy from time to time. The important thing is to keep working at it and to celebrate your progress along the way.
When to Seek Professional Help
If you are feeling overwhelmed with decluttering, it may be time to seek help from a professional. This is especially true if you have an ADHD brain or executive dysfunction, which can make it difficult to stay focused and organized.
Consulting a Professional Organizer
A professional organizer can help you create a plan for decluttering and organizing your space. They can also provide guidance on how to break down the process into manageable steps and help you stay on track.
When choosing a professional organizer, look for someone who has experience working with neurodivergent people. They should be patient and understanding, and able to adapt their approach to meet your specific needs.
Keep in mind that hiring a professional organizer can be expensive, so it's important to weigh the cost against the potential benefits. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to make progress on your own, it may be worth the investment.
Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Don't be afraid to reach out for support when you need it.
If hiring someone isn't feasible for you, you might want to consider just asking a trusted friend. Someone who knows you well and who you will be willing to listen to might be able to help.
The most important thing to keep in mind when embarking on the process to declutter your space is that you need to find what works best for you. Just because minimalism might be a cool idea, it doesn't mean it's right for you. Decluttering doesn't have to mean getting rid of all your stuff. It's about making your life more comfortable and stress free. Take your time and focus on the progress you make.