5 Tips for Getting Organized in 2020

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

The start of a new year, a holiday season’s worth of clutter, and stores offering deals on every kind of bin and container imaginable is inspiring many of us to get our homes organized. It’s no secret that getting and staying organized is a challenge for kids with ADHD and for many of their parents. Unfortunately, the same executive functioning challenges that make it difficult to get organized also make it harder for kids with ADHD to function in a disorganized space. When a home is more organized and less cluttered kids with ADHD lose things less often, have an easier time making decisions about what to wear or what to bring to school, are better able to follow through on their routines in the morning and before bed, and can get homework done with fewer distractions. While it’s important to teach kids with ADHD organizational skills, the first step in helping your kids stay organized is to first become more organized yourself.

If this sounds easier said than done your not alone. While most parents of kids with ADHD want to create an organized environment, following through and actually creating and maintaining organization at home is a challenge that can sometimes feel out of reach. In fact, staying organized when you have a child with ADHD is hard! Why? Well, many parents of kids with ADHD have at least some symptoms of ADHD themselves, and difficulty with organization may be one of those symptoms. On top of this, having a child with ADHD puts extra pressure on parents, often leaving them without the time or energy needed to maintain a complicated organization system. And keeping up with extra clutter and mess that a child with ADHD might create at home can wreak havoc on even the most organized among us.

While your home may never look like the cover of a home organization magazine, it is possible to create and maintain an “organized enough” home even when your family is affected by ADHD.

Here are 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Start small and go slowly. Resist the urge to do everything at once, and view getting organized as something that will happen slowly, in chunks of time spaced out over weeks or months. Tackle one area of your home at a time – this may mean starting with one corner of a room, or one drawer in a dresser. Really, no area is too small as long as it feels manageable.
  2. Assess your stuff. Resist the urge to run out and buy the bins and organizers that are tempting (or taunting) you in the stores. Instead, start by pulling everything out of the space you plan to organize and assess what you have. Group similar items together in piles and throw away anything that you don’t absolutely need.
  3. Buy storage containers and organizers that are a good match for your stuff and your needs. You will probably need to purchase a few bins or drawer organizers if you want to stay organized long term. So, make sure the things you buy will actually fit the stuff you have. Focus on organizers that will help you keep the things you use every day accessible and will allow you to store the things you use rarely out of the way in labeled bins or boxes.
  4. Keep the solutions simple. The best organization systems are the ones that you and your family can maintain quickly and easily. So, keep it simple and choose function over appearances. Little things can make a big difference, like storing frequently used items in open bins on a floor or bench instead of in bins with lids stacked in a closet. Why? Kids (and adults) will ADHD often struggle to follow-through on anything that requires multiple steps. Using our bins with lids example, a bin stacked in a closet represents a 5-step solution that requires your child to: (1) get the bin out of the closet, (2) take off the lid, (3) drop the item in, (4) replace the lid, and (5) put the bin back in the closet. Instead, if the frequently used item is stored in an open bin on the floor or a bench, your child will simply need to complete 1 step and drop the item in the bin. So, the lidded bin in the closet may look more organized at first, but it’s not something that will be maintained long-term.  
  5. Spend a few minutes each day maintaining the solution. Even simple solutions take some time to maintain. Fortunately, most organization solutions can be maintained in just a few minutes each day. During this time replace misplaced items and make adjustments to the system if there’s room for improvement.

Getting and staying organized may feel like a challenge when your family is affected by ADHD. But if you start small, take it one step at a time, and keep it simple you will end up with a home that functions and works well for your family.



Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.

This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.

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