Getting Organized: How to Put Things Away and Find them Again!

If you are like many people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD) you find getting organized a constant struggle. You push yourself to spend time and energy “cleaning up”, then, within days or hours, it looks like nothing was done and worse it is impossible to find anything. You are right back where you started from.

How do you put something away so that you are able to find it again? How do you put something away so that when you take it out to use it you can put it back where it belongs?

The key to getting organized is to make conscious decisions about where to put things. There are some basic rules to follow:

1. Keep like things with like i.e.: keep all office supplies in one place.
2. Store things you use often close by. Don’t store vitamins that you take everyday in the back of a cabinet. How often do you use the dictionary on your desk? Does it need to be so accessible? Do you want to use something more often? Make sure it is stored conveniently.
3. Keep things that are used together in one place i.e.: shin guards with the soccer balls, calculator near the checkbook.
4. Store things where you use them i.e.: keep reference books where your children do their homework. Keep a deck of cards where you will most likely use them.
5. Store things where you think they belong. Pay attention to what is working today. Trust your instinct.

Rules like these are great but the most important thing is to honor yourself. I was working with a client who was just beginning to get her home organized. As we talked about these basic rules she asked me about her fever thermometer. Her thermometer ended up in a drawer in her living room 10-years ago when she was hurriedly clearing a surface. Now she was concerned because, based on the rules, it “should” be stored in the bathroom. We talked about the rules. Was the thermometer being stored with other things like it? No. Was it kept more conveniently then it needed to be? Probably. Was it with other medical things? No. Was it with things she was likely to use at the same time? No, but keeping it in the living room drawer made sense to her. She knew where it was. It was in the right place for her and we agreed that she needed to listen to her gut and keep it exactly where it was.

So as you go through your things consider the basic rules, especially for things that don’t have homes, but understand yourself too. If you know that regardless of what system you create for mail it is still going to end up on the kitchen counter then respect that habit and work with it. Designate a spot on your counter for mail and always put it there. Maybe get a basket and label it “MAIL ONLY”.

As you assign homes for your things that make sense for how you use them and for who you are you will find it much easier to find things and to put them away.