Marie Kondo for ADHD


As the Marie Kondo craze sweeps the nation, a group of my favorite brains, ADHD brains, may once again receive messages that cleaning is simple. While the KonMari method appeals to many, this message may cause those with ADHD to feel like failures when they can’t effectively tidy up like on the popular Netflix show. There is hope for these ADHD brains. Here are some ways to adapt the KonMari method so it works for them.

People with ADHD normally need a different organizational style that works for THEIR brains. Small, mundane tasks actually decrease brain activity in the ADHD brain, making it extremely difficult for them to put things back where they belong. Their brains often need to actually see things in order to remember their to-do lists or know where things are.

Therefore, an ADHD brain may be more comfortable with lots of stuff lying around or piled up in a corner or on a desk. However, sometimes they need to tidy up,  either for hosting guests, or if their mess stresses out their partner or roommate.

Let me break down the ways I’ve witnessed ADHD brains try to force their brain to keep things tidy:

  • Crisis—They make doing the dishes a catastrophic event that induces anxiety in themselves and others. (Ex. if I leave this dish out my house will be infested with cockroaches and my partner will leave me!)

  • Big Projects—They begin to “organize” one room and make a complete mess. They then lose interest and leave the space worse off than before.  

  • Disaster Zone—They wait until the place is an absolute disaster AND a real crisis before they start picking up.

Because of these common ADHD cleaning styles, Marie Kondo’s method has the potential to help the ADHD brain, because having fewer items is helpful in general. However, the KonMari method requires some tweaking to work for the ADHD brain.  This is important to know if someone with ADHD is trying to implement the KonMari method.

  • ADHD brains will love the big project idea. However, without a coach or a T.V. show to motivate them to put everything away when they have purged the unwanted items, an ADHD brain may dump all their clothes on the dining room table and leave them there for months.  Ask a friend or hire an organizer to help with the last part. Setting a deadline can also be helpful.

  • ADHD brains do better with less stuff, but tend to struggle to find a good home when attempting to organize their stuff. Using a professional organizer who specializes in ADHD brains can help ADHD brains organize their homes in ways they can remember.

  • Marie Kondo’s sock drawers are beautiful, but folding and storing clothes that way is setting up an ADHD brain for failure. ADHD brains tend to work better with a “dump and search” method of  organizing. Try a sock box or basket instead.

Want more?  Keep an eye on my ADHD Corner for more tips for the ADHD brain.