A huge problem for people with ADHD (or any neuro-divergent condition or physical disability really) is not knowing where to start. You have this big project in front of you and you have no idea what to do first.
This is a guide based on the years of practice I’ve had learning to clean my room even when my mental illness and chronic fatigue is trying to ruin my life (and failing.) These are the steps I take, what helps me best.
This guide is designed to give you a chance to make a large, effective change in your room that positively helps your mental health. You are not expected to be perfect, you are not expected to do everything if it’s outside of your limitations, just do your best (and don’t push yourself too much… but I never listen to that self-advice, oops.)
Most important step: eat breakfast and take your meds. Trust me when I say this will keep you going, both in the energy and focus departments.
Next, try to recruit a friend or family member to help. By help I mean asking them to keep you company and keep you on track. Talking them will help keep you going, and give you someone who can offer an idea or suggestion if your ADHD gets you stuck.
Calling a friend over the phone is a good substitute if you don’t have someone to be in the room with you today.
Music is a good alternative to keep you moving if that’s all that’s available but trust me when I say having another friend with you helps a lot.
- Trash bags
- Empty hampers
- Ideally access to a nearby washing machine and dryer
- Micro-fiber clothes
- Long duster
Open your curtains (ideally) for the vitamin D and focus. Or turn on a lamp with a light quality/intensity you find comfortable.
Strip your bed. Take pillows, blankets, sheets, and pillow cases off.
Washing sheets and pillow cases is mandatory because 1) it’s sooo so nice to go to bed at the end of the day and smell clean sheets, and 2) clean sheets are good for your skin, especially clean pillowcases if you have problems with acne.
Washing blankets, comforters, and duvet covers are optional. You should do it from time to time, but it’s not a priority like sheets and pillow cases. Some comforters and blankets can only be washed under specific conditions, or possibly only when absolutely necessary (because like, you stilled coffee or soda on it or your pet did something rude on your blankets.) Check wash requirements on the tags.
You can still probably ignore it unless you really want to. Again, this is about making a sizable change that positively affects you, not being perfect.
Put your sheets in the washing machine and put the rest of your bedding back on your bed and leave it there until you’re ready to put the sheet back on.
Next is laundry. Pick up every item of clothing off the floor or on nearby furniture. Every item. Even if you think, “I only wore this for a few hours the other day and there are no stains.” Wash them. 1) they smell like your floor, and that’s not a nice smell, and 2) trying to separate cleanish from definitely dirty is pretty demanding on mental focus spoons.
Just shove all those clothes in a hamper. It’s quicker that way. You’re going to wash them after your sheets.
Next clean up all the trash on your floor. Take a trash bag but don’t put in a trash can. You’re going to be dragging it with you while you work from section to section.
Food trash must go.
Packaging and plastic wrap must go.
Old school work can stay if you’re still taking the class or especially proud of that project, but otherwise just toss it. Find a folder or drawer for what’s left and store it away for now.
Start throwing trash on surfaces like desks, nightstands, dressers, and bookcases away.
Do not try to organize the inside of your drawers unless you’re planning to get really thorough. But that’s not today. Today you’re getting the basics done as efficiently as possible so you can feel better in your environment.
Take glasses, plates, mugs, and silverware into the kitchen.
Start working on cleaning up clutter on your desk and nightstand first. Next is dresser and bookcases.
Use the micro-fiber clothes to pick up dust as you go. It keeps it from piling up, does not brush dust into the air, and goes quick this way. Dust tv and/or computer screens.
Pick non trash or clothing items off the floor. Try to find a permanent spot to either store or display it. If you can’t, maybe find a box to put those items in and revisit this problem later.
By now your sheets should be washed. Throw them in the dryer and wash your blankets if you’re ambitious. If not, wash your clothes next.
Take a break and have a snack, drink some water, maybe have a caffeinated drink.
Look at your room and feel proud, but also a little overwhelmed because it’s not done yet, but it’s getting there. Don’t worry. You can do it, I believe in you.
Procrastinate getting back to work. That’s okay. You have an hour before your sheets are clean, now is a good break time. Set an alarm for when your sheets should be dried and do whatever you want.
Alarm goes off, break over.
Dust the corners and tops of your walls to get rid of cobwebs. Having a taller or sighted person if this task is out of your ability (like it is for me on the eyesight front).
One last check for any dust around your bed. Move drinks away from your bed, nightstand and nearby surfaces.
Sigh, feel tired, and go grab your clean, warm sheets. Move your clothes or blankets from the washer to the dryer.
Come back, push all the blankets onto your (mostly?) cleaned up floor. Put the flat sheet on.
Feel tired and collapse on the covered mattress for a moment. You’re doing so good, and you’re almost there.
Make the rest of your bed.
Be very proud of yourself because you got a fucking lot done and I am sooo so fucking proud of you dude.
Optional things you can after this step:
Fold and put away laundry. This is a little concentration heavy. Make sure your friend/family member is nearby to help you stay on task.
I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s folding method personally, saved me a lot of space in my dresser. Developing a set method for folding clothing makes it a lot easier to fold and put away in the future because your subconscious brain learns the motions and can practice them without you having to think too closely on it.
(She has several videos on YouTube, shorter than five minutes mostly, very visual with clear instructions, so it’s ADHD friendly, though not super blind friendly)
Now that your room looks a lot better, try putting those items that didn’t have a set place before. Your brain is probably seeing it like a whole new room and feeling refreshed.
That’s it, you’re definitely done now. Rest and relax.
Turn on your favorite music, start doing your favorite task if you have the spoons, take a nap if you don’t have the spoons. Feel proud of yourself because you did a good fucking job.
It’s like… midnight now, and I’ve been up for two days, (because my ADHD brain was too loud last night to let me sleep. Mood? Mood.) I’m maybe a little too tired to edit this coherently, but you know writing these guides and posting them with minimal editing is so very on brand for my original posts.
Goodnight guys, I am off to bed!
I hope this helps <3 please leave me a comment in the replies or tags because I love going back to see what you guys left on my posts (believe that that I absolutely do this to my How to Write a Blind/Visually Impaired Character guide any time it gets fresh activity.)
Good luck, take care, and goodnight <3