In this increasingly complex world of ours, where we all have succumbed to a lesser or greater degree of materialism (i.e. acquiring things), ‘keeping it simple’ is not so easy to do. But, for us ADDers, making our lives simpler is probably one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.

When I speak about simplicity, I don’t mean we must go back to nature and lead the simple life away from modernity (although I think many of may have a secret longing for that kind of life, at least some of the time when life just gets a bit too much). Simplicity is about living your life and managing your time, activities and belongings in a way that is more efficient and convenient. Simplicity means less time and effort doing (the often mundane) things and more time for the things you really enjoy. It is something that I aim for in my life, and which has made a great difference in working positively with my ADD.

Here are some basic principles for simplifying how you manage your stuff at home:

1. Reduce your stuff - As the saying goes, ‘less is more’. The more you have, the more complicated and even overwhelming, it is to manage. Several of my clients are ‘drowning’ in their stuff, struggling with where to put it all and how to access it easily. Reduce your stuff to what you really need, use and love. This is even more important if you live in a relatively small home, such as an apartment with limited storage space.

2. Don’t overfill your storage. Especially in the ADHD home, your belongings must not fill your storage space. Don’t overcrowd your cupboards and drawers. This means getting rid of unnecessary items and also acquiring less, which will require a bit of a mind shift.

3. Make your items easy to access and put away. This links to the previous point. If your cupboards are filled to the brim, it is hard to get to things. If there is little space in a cupboard or drawer you are less likely to put things away. A key point here is to put the items that you use frequently in the most accessible spaces (at the front of the space and where it is easy to reach). Items used less frequently can go lower down, higher up or at the back of a storage space.

4. Give every item a home – Clutter builds up when you don’t know where to put something. Name your storage spaces to remind yourself what is stored there. Don’t worry, I am not suggesting that you get overly perfectionist and label everything! But it is good to get into the habit of naming storage, such as the sock drawer, the medicine cabinet, or the Tupperware cupboard. Share the names with the rest of your family to encourage them to get into the habit of returning items to their homes.

5. Keep things where you use them – By keeping items in the space where they are used, they are more likely to stay there, e.g. homework stationery supplies. Duplicate items if necessary. Have a pair of scissors in every area where you need and use them. Keep pens in handy places.

6. Don’t keep too many duplicates – While it is useful to have duplicates of certain types of supplies, it is not necessary to have too many of other types of items. This can be a particular problem in the kitchen. After all, how many casserole dishes, dinner or tea services do you really need? Sometimes we hold onto things that have sentimental value but which we never use. Rather reserve your space for those items that you are using on a regular basis.

7. Be practical – We all want our homes to be attractive, but at times our efforts at beautifying our homes become a hindrance to getting through the day in a simple and efficient way. A key example is the bedroom. Current bedroom décor favours layers of throws and a multitude of cushions. It all looks very beautiful, but it is a massive challenge for an ADDer to reassemble the bed into its perfect state every morning! Chances are that the bed will not get made. So, be practical. It is possible to decorate in a way that looks attractive but is also easy to manage and maintain.

In my next blogs I will look at some practical ways to simplify how specific rooms in your home are organised. But in the meantime, perhaps think about how you can apply these principles to your own home situation.

Contact Vicky Sim for help with de-cluttering your life.