Dr. Umesh Jain
is now exclusively responsible
for TotallyADD.com
and its content
Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

The Forums Forums Tools, Techniques & Treatments Organizing & De-Cluttering My ADDled Brain – Why Can't I Just Clean My House Already!?!

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  • lailamoon786

    Hello Y’All,

    It’s been several months since my last posting – I’m guessing that’s just the ADDer way, engage and then disengage? 😉  Well, it’s good to be back!  I’ve missed ya!

    I need your help!!!  Every day … every … single … day … I make the intention to clean my house.  I always plan to make small steps so that I don’t feel overwhelmed:  start with one room and go from there, day by day, until it’s all done.  YAY!  Right?  Right???  Nope!!!  I come home from work with this intention/goal in mind, and the minute I open the door, I feel totally and utterly overwhelmed … every … single … day … (sigh).

    How do I get out of this ridiculous, frustrating, overwhelming, disorganized and dizzying vicious circle???

    ~ Laila



    I hear ya Laila! Do  I ever wish I had advice but I that would be like the blind leading the blind. I have big dreams of being that minimalist who purges herself of all clutter and has a spot for every item and has gleaming surfaces surrounding me. I have visions of being on an intervention show where experts come in and blissfully fix up my place once and for all and I learn my lesson and never resort to living in a chaotic pig pen again! I dream that my European relatives come over to admire my house and approve of my domestic capabilities at last! But no such luck…and definitely NO judgement of you coming from me. You’re not alone. Take care my friend 🙂


    Yup. Don’t get me started. I’m unemployed (due to previously undiagnosed adhd, partly) and even still I can’t motivate myself to clean the house. Doc says that once we find the right meds this should change but I am skeptical…


    One room might be too much to start with if you’re still feeling overwhelmed. Maybe try one BOX at a time, or one corner, or set a 30 minute timer and only do that 30 minutes after work each day.

    The other thing to do is get a cleaning buddy to come help. Maybe instead of tackling it after work when you’re tired get a friend to come on Saturday, put on a pot of coffee and do that one room, when you’re done the one room you go out for a treat together (which could be an ice cream or hitting the garden center or whatever turns your crank as a treat with a friend 🙂 ) Pick a different room the next week, or maybe help them with some job at their house the next week. It doesn’t feel as much like you’re *imposing* for help if you reciprocate (a friend and I do this a lot! She’ll help me tackle the kitchen then I help her take a load of yard waste to the dump) many hands make light the work 🙂


    I go through cycles of being able to keep my house clean. I agree with wiredonjava’s comments and with koishi’s comments. For me anyway, getting over that initial mountain of inertia is the trick. There is nothing worse than your eyeballs telling you the house is a mess, the left side of your brain says it’s simple to clean and the right side of your brain laughs it’s ass off when you can’t manage to get the dishes into the dishwasher.

    I have one trick that sometimes works. You remember the line out of the Last Samurai, “Too many mind? No mind!” Stated another way, thinking screws me up when it comes to cleaning. If you can’t clear your mind of thought then fill it with pictures of squirrels and, while thinking only of squirrels, put that first dish in the dishwasher or that first sock in the washer. That first one may weigh 800 pounds but each subsequent one gets lighter.


    Meds or not, I’m not sure if we do get out of it.

    I am fortunate to have several ways of helping the situation, but…

    My wonderful bride of nearly 40 years has her subtle ways of making sure that I keep up my part in keeping the main part of the house, my closet and dresser tops, the decks and yard, the inside of my car, and our garage.  She has learned how to do it without nagging — which I know is not easy for everyone.

    Next are my helpers.  Since I retired three years ago, I’ve had helpers here on the farm one or two days a week.  Many times it is just for a half day.  The best one is a neighbor who is also retired.  One of the very best things about him is that he won’t go home if we don’t clean up and put all the tools away, even if we’ll need them the next day.  He has really helped me clean out clutter in my tractor barn, two of my sheds, and the basement.  Each one has usually been a multi day event that looks like a sheriff’s eviction.  We have completely emptied the out buildings.  In two cases we pressure washed the interior, and then painted everything white on the inside.  We built shelves and tool hangers.  Only about half of every thing that came out went back in.

    In recent years I’ve also had my teenage grandkids, and my daughter-in-law spend a day or more  with me doing cleaning and organizing.

    Yes, it costs a little bit of money to do this.  But it is worth it.  It is a never ending project with me.  It has really helped however.  Partly by embarrassment.  Once we get it neatened, I feel compelled to keep it somewhat organized so that I don’t get “the look” when these individuals visit.

    It’s not perfect, but it helps.  I just wish I could keep the inside of my truck clean.


    Three months ago, I moved.  By that I mean I had the movers move my stuff in.  I haven’t completely unpacked because the whole place needs to be painted.  I am doing it myself because 1) I really do like to paint and 2) I can’t afford to hire painters.  I procrastinated (of course) and when I finally did start, I had a problem with the paint, finally went to the paint store for a change of paint and haven’t been able to make any more progress.  I had the entire day today free and I did nothing that would help me get this place together except shop for filing cabinets and other furniture online (didn’t buy, just looked).  Besides the house, there’s a whole lot of other things I need to be doing, such as looking for a part-time job.  The inertia is starting to scare me.  Today, I started to wonder if the medication is exacerbating the problem.  I’ve only been diagnosed and on meds for about 2 years (and I’m 64!).  They really help when I am actually working on something and they calm me down, but they also enable me to spend hours focusing on things I do not need to be focusing on.  I guess restlessness has its place.  So, I, too, am thinking about going off the medication for awhile.  I tend to be tired when I don’t take it, but that could be because I stay up way too late and don’t get nearly enough sleep.  Maybe without the medication, I will need to rely on better lifestyle routines to help me.  Right now, I’m in a rut and need to get back up on the road.

    Patte Rosebank

    @Maclimber, I’ve been stuck in that rut of ennui and lack of motivation for a long time too. And I’m now having my first depressive episode in about 10 years.

    Going off meds won’t help; it’ll only make us even more scattered and less able to cope. Being on meds can give us the focus we need, but it’s up to us to choose what to focus on, and to take the first step…and the subsequent steps. That’s the hard part.

    I just posted about the psychology of hyperfocus and slot machines, in another thread. It explains the four things needed to engage hyperfocus. It might help you (and me!) to find both our motivation and our activation.

    I actually wrote a blog about this years ago haha


    It it is a struggle and a complete mustering up of motivation and energy and anxiety blocking to start doing anything haha. But once started you can get on a roll. I find just focusing on one room at a time and doing that one room really really well helps. It doesn’t make it so overwhelming!! Instead of vacuuming the whole house or dusting or whatever at one time…you can just do the vacuuming and dusting of that one room. Breaks everything up tinier cleaning spurts!


    Thanks, Larynxa.  I believe you are right.  I am dealing with less externally imposed structure than I have ever had in my life and I am having trouble creating my own.  Going off meds right now would probably be exactly the wrong thing to do.  I know I just have to make myself start (again) and the satisfaction of progress will keep me going provided I can manage to ignore the distractions that inevitably come up.  I hate this struggle.




    I went through a real bad period of that during this past January through mid-April.  My psychiatrist took me off the Ritalin in early April, and had me keep a fairly extensive log of how I was feeling.  I crashed even further for about the first two weeks of being off the Ritalin. For about the last three weeks I’ve been doing pretty well, and feel a lot better being off of it.  However, I spend an awful lot of time looking for things I’ve just used.

    I’ve been on Zolft for a number of years, and I have Xanax, but I am down to two or three a week.  I don’t figure I’ll ever be off those two.  I’m 68.

    Probably the biggest help to me is what I posted above about having a helper.  However, I’m able to I pay my helper.  I a!so help him, but I don’t charge him.  Presently we spend 3-4 hours together two or three days a week.  We wernt able to do that during my real down time mentioned above, due to his his health issues and his wife’s.

    Spring weather has helped a lot too.  I just don’t have the will to do as much as I want to. When I met with my therapist last week, she suggested a mindfulness class that meets once a week.  I’ll give it a try.


    LOL 😀

    I just decided to take a quick look at the forums, before settling in to watch TV for the rest of the night, instead of cleaning up like I was planning to… And this is the first thread I come across.

    I always had the same problem when I came home from work. And now that I’m not working I still have the problem, except it’s all day instead of just in the evening.

    I make lists. Lots of lists. I make a to do list before I go to bed. Then I get up in the morning and either completely forget the list or start modifying it, or change my mind and make a whole new list, which I then set aside because I don’t feel like starting just yet and I think I’ll just read a book for a bit while I have my breakfast…. And that takes me up to noon, when I make a new list because I don’t have enough time left to do everything on the list I made in the morning….

    So I can’t really help you. I have to read the other comments and see if there is anything here that can help me.

    The one thing I did think of when I read your original post is that you need to break it down in even smaller chunks. Don’t try to start with one room. Start with one corner of one room. What I do, when I do clean is make a list of the individual jobs in the room I’m cleaning. So, for example, the living room would be divided into 4 jobs: remove clutter, vacuum, dust, clean tables.

    It’s the first step that’s a doozy, and usually where I get stuck. It’s hard to remove clutter when there is no where to remove it to because everywhere you look there’s more clutter. 🙄

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