5 Smart Ways to Tweak Your Cleaning Routine If You Have ADHD

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For neuro-divergent folks, like people with ADHD, the thought of maintaining a tidying or organizing routine can feel overwhelming. But it’s possible to reap the benefits of a tidy space without totally wearing yourself out. You just need to create a routine that works for you.

We talked to KC Davis, founder of Struggle Care, which is dedicated to helping people who have functional barriers accomplish tasks — like cleaning. Here are her best tips for making cleaning easier if you have ADHD. 

1. Create rituals, but be flexible.

Building rituals into daily life is a simple way to stay on top of all the things you want to get done. That said, it’s not always easy to keep up with habits when other needs feel more pressing. If you have ADHD, Davis suggests making rituals that both create momentum and honor your “right now” needs. 

For example, if you make a cleaning schedule and Tuesday is the bathrooms, instead of trying to clean the whole bathroom every Tuesday, just try to clean something in the bathroom every Tuesday. Some Tuesdays it may be all you can do to wipe toothpaste out of the sink with some toilet paper. Other Tuesdays you may get in the zone and tackle the whole thing. “Every degree of effort in between a little and a lot is valid,” she says.

2. Clean when you’re already on your feet.

Because folks with ADHD often struggle with transitions and task initiation, Davis says it can be helpful to plan chores when you know you’ll already be on your feet. “It’s much easier to unload the dishwasher when you first walk into the house than to try and make yourself get up off the couch at 8 p.m. after you’ve already been sitting down for a while,” she says.

3. Make chores as easy as possible.

Feeling overwhelmed can quickly zap any shred of motivation you’ve got, so do yourself a favor by making chores as easy as possible. If getting your vacuum cleaner out of the downstairs closet is what is keeping you from vacuuming your rug, then Davis suggests keeping your vacuum out where it’s easy to get to. Saying to yourself, “I might as well vacuum a little since it’s already here” is much easier than trying to push through the extra steps of going to get the vacuum. 

Do you ever finally get around to doing a task you’ve put off and kick yourself when you realize it only took four minutes? “We tend to overestimate how long some things take and then dread doing them,” Davis says. “If you can tell yourself, ‘I’m just going to clean for five minutes’ and set a timer, it’s much easier to get your brain and body moving.”

5. Try the “five things” hack.

When you feel overwhelmed by how cluttered your space is, try Davis’ go-to “five things” tidying hack. In any room, tell yourself there are only five things: trash, dishes, laundry, things that have a place, and things that don’t have a place. Take each category at a time until you’re done — and then pat yourself on the back for taking the hard-but-worthwhile steps toward creating a space you feel more at home in.

Ashley Abramson

Contributor

Ashley Abramson is a writer-mom hybrid in Minneapolis, MN. Her work, mostly focused on health, psychology, and parenting, has been featured in the Washington Post, New York Times, Allure, and more. She lives in the Minneapolis suburbs with her husband and two young sons.

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