Are you, or someone you love, living with ADHD as an adult? Even if you’re undiagnosed but have similar issues to ADD or ADHD, these tips might help. I’m sending this to my husband right now…

Make it as convenient as possible

For most people, going downstairs to file a bill is a simple task. By completing it, their house stays clutter free (at least for paper) and they are able to easily find it later. If you find that you’re not able to complete this task because it seems too difficult, time consuming, or otherwise impossible you’re not alone – but you also have to stop setting yourself up to fail.

In the case of bills, an accordion file right where you open the mail can stop you from making mental excuses to put it away.

Retrain your thinking

Think about issues that plague you day after day. A common one in our house is socks – wearing them out, removing them upon arriving home, and leaving them out “just in case”. If this kind of thinking sounds like you, look into ways to retrain it logically. For socks, instead of taking them off when sitting at the kitchen table, remove them as soon as you arrive home. This, after a few times, becomes a habit. Then place the socks in your shoes.

One of two things will happen: Either they’ll be ready for you when you go out again or they’ll be there day after day because you never actually needed them to be left out in the first place.

Apply this to anything you refuse to return to its home because you “might” need it again some time later.

Lists. Lists. Lists.

What are you always forgetting when you leave the house? Instead of trying, and failing, to remember print out a list of everything you normally need. Then hang it by the door and go over it before you head out.

Other types of lists that can be beneficial include:

  • To do lists (daily and a running one of everything that needs to be done)
  • Gift ideas for family and friends (write it down when they mention it)
  • Shopping lists
  • How to do something specific (if you’re always forgetting)
  • Anything else you need help remembering

If you don’t write these digitally, take a photo with your smartphone for when you inevitably lose the list.

Systems are there for a reason

Just because you don’t feel the need to follow an organizational system in your home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Chances are your brain is just not processing all the reasons why the system is in place. By not hanging your keys up, a job that takes seconds, you might add minutes to a future trip. It might stress you out or make you late. Same with not returning anything to its proper home.

Stop expecting other people to do it for you

Too often I see this happen: One person has taken over all the home organization and cleaning jobs and the other person has been able to coast. When that coaster does help, they often do so in a way that seems lazy to the usual cleaner. This is because for that coaster it’s good enough. The problem lies when both of these people are adults. Even with a mental health issue that makes it difficult to see and understand tasks or do them effectively, you can still learn and understand how your partner needs it done.

Do you ever do the following?

  • Putting children’s toys away wherever instead of their designated bins, knowing your partner is just going to reorganize them?
  • Offer to clean the kitchen but don’t finish the task by wiping down everything or putting everything away?
  • Leave your laundry on the floor, even with good intentions, only for your partner to have to pick it up?
  • Take care to put your own stuff away neatly but not anyone else’s?

Even if it’s unintentional, not completing tasks 100% can feel like emotional manipulation to your partner. It might come across to them that you don’t care about their own feelings, the home, or the family. Take steps to make sure things are done properly and when you ask for direction make sure to pay attention.

Make people feel important

Have you ever forgotten something really important for yourself, your partner, or your children? Do you need constant reminding about upcoming events or appointments, even if they’re a very big deal? How about regularly forgetting birthdays or anniversaries?

Although it may be difficult for you to remember, there are steps you can take to make sure you don’t completely forget about important things in your life.

  1. Active listening. When a partner tells you about something that is clearly a big deal to them, stop trying to multitask and focus on what they’re saying. Even if you think you can do both you probably won’t retain what’s being said.
  2. Write down dates. If you know you won’t remember a specific date, write it down. Add it to your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone. Set yourself up for success.
  3. Ask questions. When someone is telling you something important, ask questions about it to help them feel like it matters to you. Share their enthusaism and show that you care in the moment – it goes a long way.

Understand that what doesn’t bother you causes anxiety in others

This is the most important skill you can learn. Just because something minor doesn’t affect you negatively, that doesn’t mean other people feel the same way. For example, leaving the kitchen cupboard doors open to you is no problem – but to your partner it might make them stressed out. This minuscule change on your part can make a big difference in their lives. Listen to what other people are telling you and try your best to make small changes. Your relationship will improve.