7 Tips for Organizing With ADHD: How to Organize Better


ADHD can impact many aspects of a person’s everyday life. It can make it difficult to complete a task in one sitting, pay attention during a conversation with a friend, or keep track of time while on a schedule. One of the most common challenges for people with ADHD is organization.

Organization is a skill that plays a bigger role in your everyday life than you may think. If you’re in school, organizing your backpack makes it easy to find your homework. In the workplace, being organized prevents you from mixing up deadlines. Even in the home, making sure that everything is organized saves you from wasting time while trying to hunt down an important document or your favorite shirt.

We’ll share tips that can help adults and children with ADHD become more organized in every part of their day-to-day lives. We’ll also discuss how ADHD can affect organization and how ADHD and weak Executive Function skills affect organization.

7 strategies that will help people with ADHD become more organized

Struggling to stay organized isn’t an ADHD-exclusive issue. Even those who haven’t been diagnosed with learning or mental health challenges, such as anxiety, can find it difficult to stay organized.

However, the more overwhelming that an organizing task may be, the more likely it is for a person with ADHD to become frazzled by the process and jump to something else. That’s why many of the most effective tips for organizing with ADHD are about taking small steps toward accomplishing the main goal.

Here are seven tips that can help people with ADHD learn how to organize:

  • Handle one task at a time — It’s common for people with ADHD to be in the middle of a task and jump to the beginning of another. A child with ADHD could be cleaning up their clothes and think, “I’d really rather rearrange my bookshelf.” Plan their tasks so that they can complete one in its entirety before turning to another. It brings a sense of accomplishment and motivation. It also improves the quality of each task.
  • Schedule short time frames for organizing — Breaking up organization tasks into smaller chunks is one of the most effective strategies for children with ADHD. Try to schedule short periods of time for cleaning and organizing each day. Completing tasks in 10- to 15-minute chunks can make them feel less intimidating. It also reduces the risk of spending too much time in a hyperfocused mindset. Hyperfocus can interfere with other parts of the schedule.
  • Prioritize your to-do list — ADHD can cause you to hyperfocus on a task that doesn’t hold as much importance as others on your to-do list. For example, a child may prefer to sort through old clothes as opposed to organizing their algebra notes. Prioritize the organizational tasks based on difficulty or time sensitivity. It can reduce the risk of important tasks falling by the wayside.
  • Design zoning systems — There are many different systems that can help keep your child organized, but creating “zones,” or designated areas, can make a significant difference. Possible functions that can be organized by zones for your child include an area for education, such as their desk and bookshelf, and an area for play, such as a corner of the room devoted to building blocks and art.
  • Use clear organization bins — Piggybacking off our previous tip, an effective (and aesthetically pleasing) way to organize your child’s things within the zones is with clear bins. They are able to see everything to reduce the time it takes to find an item, such as a particular type of coloring utensil. It also makes it less likely for things to end up in the wrong place because they can see the proper place very quickly.
  • Designate an area for everyday items — There are many items that your child requires on a daily basis that can be easily misplaced. For young children, they’ll often need items like a backpack and lunchbox. For teens, they will likely need things like a wallet and water bottle. Have a designated area where everyday items are kept for safekeeping so they don’t need to be hunted down while in a rush before leaving the house. This area is likely near the front door or on the kitchen counter.
  • Regularly declutter — One of the ways to become more organized is to be proactive about the issues. Instead of waiting until there’s too much to sort through, regularly monitor the quantity of the items. Have your children place things in “keep,” “sell” or “donate” piles at least once a year. You can also do the same for documents and paperwork that have been piling up, making it harder to find the most important information in a timely manner.


Free resource: ADHD Success Kit

BBS_LeadMagnetPreview_Template-1How ADHD impacts organization

Organizational skills don’t come naturally to everyone, but ADHD adds an additional roadblock to succeeding in Executive Function skills, which are life management skills that we all need in order to be effective in planning, initiating and achieving goals at home, in school and in the workplace. This is because the disorder affects the maturation of the brain’s frontal lobe, which helps people stay neat and organized. For children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, their frontal lobe is likely taking longer to fully develop or it has disrupted connectivity. 

A frontal lobe that has been affected by ADHD can impact a variety of skills that play a role in persistent and effective organization, including:

  • Working memory — Being able to think of information pertaining to placement and categorizing
  • Holding attention — Sustaining focus on a task without being distracted
  • Time estimation — Taking note of a realistic time frame for a task to avoid underestimating the commitment
  • Initiating action — Putting forth the initial effort to start an organizational task
  • Emotional regulation — Being able to manage negative emotions that may develop during a task


Let’s dive into that last point a bit: emotional regulation. Children with ADHD often experience intense emotions that can disrupt the organizational process, especially due to the impulsive symptoms of the disorder. Being aware of the negative emotional and thought patterns that may occur, and learning how to alleviate them, can help with the completion of organizational tasks.

Common overwhelming emotions that may stem from ADHD during organizational tasks include:

  • Boredom
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Shame


Beyond BookSmart will help your child with ADHD learn how to get better organized

Organization is essential for a child’s success in many aspects, from their daily routines at home to their academics. Even though ADHD can make organizational tasks a bit harder, the right strategies and tips can make a world of difference. With small adjustments that can be gradually integrated into organizational routines, your child can overcome their ADHD challenges and be confident in their own Executive Functioning.

Executive Dysfunction refers to cognitive, emotional and behavioral difficulties that can interfere with every facet of someone’s life, including their academic, professional and personal lives. While Executive Dysfunction can affect everyone, it impacts up to 90% of those with ADHD. 

At Beyond BookSmart, we coach students in kindergarten through college to improve the Executive Functions that help them become the best students they can be. This includes everything from organization and time management to emotional regulation and focus. Our Executive Function coaching services provide students with the self-management skills that will serve them well throughout their life.

Executive Function skills are coachable, trainable and can be applied for success. Whether your child has a learning difference, such as ADHD, an emotional challenge, such as anxiety, or they’re just struggling to reach their Executive Function potential, Beyond BookSmart services can help them see what they’re capable of.

Contact our team today to get organization support!

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