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Lack of organization, time, energy and motivation means struggling with finding an ADHD cleaning schedule. Here’s how to set a routine that works for you.
Routine is key when setting an ADHD cleaning schedule, and working in short increments commonly works better for ADHD brains. Avoid thinking of house cleaning as a large project that has an end – there is no end. You just need to take one simple action every day that will have a compounding effect.
Step 1: Find Time For Your ADHD Cleaning Schedule
Grab a piece of paper and write down what a typical day looks like for you. If your weekends are different from your weekday, do two separate lists. For example, here’s what my Monday through Thursday looks like in broad strokes:
7 a.m. – Wake up, take medicine & get ready for the day.
9 a.m. – Start work day.
2:45 p.m. – Pick up daughter from child care.
3 p.m. – Entertain daughter until it’s time to make dinner (this could mean ANYTHING. She’s usually very hyper during this time and quickly needs to move from one activity to another. A typical afternoon means cartoons, Play-Doh, tricycle rides, etc. etc. until around 5 or 6.
6 p.m. – Cook and eat dinner.
7 p.m. – Give daughter a bath and do the whole bedtime routine thing.
After eyeballing this, it looks like the best time for me is between the 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. window. That’s such a big window because I never know when I’m going to wake up since I sometimes struggle with sleeplessness.
But, for the sake of this exercise, let’s say I consistently find a way to wake up and get moving by 8 a.m. There are definitely 15 minutes I can squeeze in before work to do a quick sweep of the home.
I wouldn’t dare try this after tucking in my daughter. Firstly, she requires a lot of cuddles and I am honestly exhausted and falling asleep myself when it’s all done. The last thing I want to do is a sweep around the house.
So now with Monday through Thursday covered, let’s look at the weekend. My Fridays through Sundays look like this:
But there are some things that are a constant: we wake up and we go to sleep. We eat meals in between there. Napping isn’t a constant in our home, so that’s out. Basically from the time we’ve woken up until it’s time for dinner and bedtime, it’s all about keeping the daughter entertained.
I’m lucky in the sense that she loves to “help” cleaning. So for me, I can make this one of our activities. I can set the timer for 15 minutes, do my thing and let her “help” me. I’m also going to be using these days for weekly tasks such as wrapping up any undone laundry, running a Swifter across the floors and wiping down all the surfaces with a Clorox wipe.
Step 2: Identify The Needed Tasks for Your ADHD Cleaning Schedule
Next, you’ll want to take inventory of what you need to accomplish daily, weekly and monthly. Since my husband does dishes and trash, you won’t see any of those items on my list. Instead, I’ll be focused on laundry, meals (not included here) and mopping/wiping down surfaces. Full disclosure: for deep cleaning, I outsource on a monthly basis. However, if you will be doing deep cleaning yourself, here’s a list where you can get some inspiration for what to add to your monthly tasks.
Another side note: which tasks you select and the frequency you assign are entirely up to you. Find something that works with your lifestyle, not something you think you should be doing.
Here’s what I’ll be adding to my daily and weekly schedule:
- Daily Zoning – 15 minutes of circulating from room to room and carrying around a bag for trashing/recycling. Depending on the condition of the room, I’m either putting random clutter in its correct clear, plastic bin or, if there’s a full bin, I’m putting the stuff where it belongs.
- Weekly Laundry Wrap-Up – I’m typically throwing in laundry throughout the week, so I’m going to count that under the daily zoning. However, I typically end up with a bunch of clean clothes that need to be folded and put away. That’s what this task is.
- Weekly Wipe Down – A quick sweep of the floors (most of the floors are hardwood laminate), a quick sweep with the Swiffer, then a wipedown of all surfaces with Clorox wipes.
- Garage Decluttering (weekly) – A bonus project that’s been nagging at me for some time. On weekends, I will give myself daily 15-minute chunks to chop away at this.
Step 3: Decide Where To Stage Tasks/Cross Them Off
Okay, so now that you’ve committed your typical day to paper, you can see where to fit in your little cleaning jam, right? Not so fast – where will you track this to ensure you do it? I am an uber geek for Basecamp Personal, so this is where I will stage my tasks. You can also try Todoist, Wunderlist, Google Calendar, pen and paper, a whiteboard, a poster and marker — whatever it takes to work for you. There are no right or wrong answers here!
Also know that this one may take some trial and error. Or, you may find something that works really well, but then your brain gets too used to it and you need to change it up. The ADHD brain craves novelty!
Storage Containers Are Your Friend
For room-level organization, consider purchasing clear plastic storage bins that you can label. These are great for daily sweeps, where you can just drop the item in its correct box. Once the box is full, during your next sweep you can put everything away.
When purchasing storage containers for organizing your home, it can help to first review your common clutter problems and make a list of categories from there. You also may need to customize the size of the storage container based on the objects that it will contain.
Make Your Own Laundry Rules
When doing laundry, if you forget to get the clothes out of the dryer right away, they may get wrinkled. I’m not a fan of ironing, so this is definitely something I need to be reminded of. They also have stronger dryer sheets that are wrinkle resistant and anti-wrinkle spray you can apply to clothes to get a crisper look (I also use hot air from the blow dryer after I spray on the anti-wrinkle solution).
I don’t know why, but I enjoy rolling more than folding clothes. I also get excited about putting them in little boxes that fit in my cabinets (h/t, Marie Kondo). While I’m not a Kon Mari devotee by any means, this is one little thing I borrowed and adapted for myself. And, yes, I only keep clothes that spark joy.
Test & Iterate, Rinse & Repeat
Give your new schedule at least a month, then look at what’s working and what’s not. Then adapt and try again. If you find that 15-minute increments aren’t enough to get the job done, feel free to bump up to 20 or 30 minutes. Just take care not to overload yourself; the idea is to come up with something you can stick to.
More ADHD Cleaning Schedule Tips
How do you stay focused when cleaning the house?
While everyone’s different, I find that listening to a podcast or audiobook while cleaning keeps me in the zone. Here’s why: for tasks that don’t interest me, I will quickly find something else to do. However, if there’s something enticing in my earbuds, I can zone out on the boring task and enjoy what I’m listening to instead.
How does ADHD affect home organization?
Most commonly, it’s our lack of motivation and inability to focus. Many of us are super tired after battling an entire day of ADHD obstacles, so when we come home to our house it’s tempting to put our heads in the sand and procrastinate.
How do I stop procrastinating and cleaning my house?
There needs to be some sort of motivation. When I’m starting a new habit, for example, walking, the endorphin release and fresh air were so rewarding I wanted to keep doing it. Others enjoy the feeling of crossing off the items on their list, which also can give you a feel-good rush. Finally, some people find accountability to other people to be the most helpful. (Pssst …. We have a group for that.)