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When ADHD Makes it Hard to Clean – 5 Tips to Help You Get Started and Stay Focused

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When ADHD Makes it Hard to Clean - 5 Tips to Help You Get Started and Stay Focused

First of all let me start by saying that I am neither an expert on cleaning or ADHD. But since I do clean a few houses during the week to make a little extra cash and I’m 99% sure I have ADHD, I can speak from my own personal experience.

5-tips-to-stay-focused-when-cleaning

Cleaning has never been my strong suit. What’s that you say, don’t you clean houses for a living? Why, yes, yes I do, but cleaning for other people is different than cleaning your own space. Plus, no one pays me for cleaning at my house so I’m not as motivated to actually clean it!  

So, like I said, cleaning (my own house) has never been my strong suit and I think it’s due to ADHD. Before I clean, I often feel completely overwhelmed and I have no idea where to begin. Once I do get started, I can get easily sidetracked and begin tackling another project and then never finish the job I set out to do or I get hung up on little details and spend so much time on them that I can’t even finish cleaning one room.

But since getting distracted and not finishing the job isn’t really an option when people are paying me to clean their house, I’ve learned some tips to help me get started and stay focused until the job is done!

Straighten before you clean

Straightening up is not cleaning. Let’s say that again, straightening up is not cleaning. Yes, your house looks cleaner after you straightened, but it isn’t clean yet. This is one of the things I struggle with in cleaning my own house. I might have a few hours to get some cleaning done, but I spend the majority of the time putting legos, headbands, socks, and plates back where they belong so when my cleaning time is up, I’m disappointed in how little cleaning I was able to accomplish. Get the straightening done before you clean.

Enlist Help

If you have free time to clean tomorrow, set the troops to work today! Have all the members of your team do a quick sweep of the house, putting away all the clutter so that you will actually be able to clean tomorrow!

Keep cleaning supplies where you need them.

When my husband and I bought our first house 15 years ago, I stashed all the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink. If I was planning on cleaning the bathroom, I grabbed everything I needed and headed upstairs. But with my ADHD, I usually forgot two or three things, which led to either lots of trips up and down the stairs to get the glass cleaner and the paper towels, or I would just skip cleaning the mirror and hope I would remember the glass cleaner next time.

Cleaning supplies

Give your brain a break; keep cleaning supplies where you need them.

Now I store a tub of each and every single cleaner and tool I need in every bathroom and a tub of general cleaning supplies on each floor. This eliminates a lot of trips up and down the stairs which in turn helps me from getting distracted along the way. Think about your space, how you clean, and what you use for each room then come up with a plan to store your cleaning supplies so you can access them easily.

Don’t get hung up on the details

My brain causes me to get a little carried away while I’m cleaning. I might plan on doing a quick wipe down in the kitchen and the next thing you know I start organizing the junk drawer and then realize I want to move the junk drawer to a different drawer which means I have to rearrange the items in all the drawers to make the switch but before I can do that I really ought to run out to the store to get a few drawer organizers labels so that I can put everything back in the junk drawer in an orderly way and before you know it, the kids are home from school and not only have I not wiped down the kitchen, but I made it messier than when I started!

Chaos in the Stationery Drawer

With ADHD, a quick kitchen wipe down can quickly turn into a junk drawer reorganization.

If this story sounds familiar, this is what I suggest. Have a set list of things that you will clean as a part of your routine clean and do not, I repeat, do not stray from that list. It might not hurt to write this list out and leave it with your cleaning supplies.

For example, here is my routine clean list for my half bath:

Toilet, Sink, Mirror, Faucet, Windowsill, Baseboards, Floor.

And that’s it. That’s all I do. I fight the urge to clean the window because I know that might lead to me deep cleaning the tracks and then maybe all the windows and their tracks and here we go again! Not that there’s anything wrong with cleaning windows, but I’m not working on the window list. I’m just doing the bathroom.

If you see something that needs more attention, replacing the shower curtain or organizing under the sink, write it down and do it another time or as a part of a bigger monthly clean.    

Make a schedule

I hate to even write this as a tip because honestly, I’m not that great at following a schedule. I kind of wish I was. I wish I had a set day to clean bathrooms, a set day to wash my whites, a set day for vacuuming. It seems so lovely and orderly, but I know I just can’t do it. For me, it’s setting the expectations too high, to a standard I will not reach which ultimately results in me feeling bad about myself. But if you can get yourself on a schedule like that, go for it! It makes a lot of sense to know what part of your space you are cleaning each day.

If you are like me, and schedules just go against your very nature and even the word makes your skin bristle, try a different kind of schedule. Maybe just go week by week, see which day you have some free time and block it for cleaning. Add it to your calendar and set a reminder.   

Hope these tips help you stay on track and help you keep your house in order!    

When ADHD Makes it Hard to Clean - 5 Tips to Help You Get Started and Stay Focused

About the author

Anne Metz

Anne Metz is a housecleaner by day and a freelance writer by night. In her free time she follows her four young children around cleaning up their messes! You can follow her on facebook at @4onceuponamom or visit her blog at onceuponamom.net

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