Cluttered Desk

Clutter is Postponed Decisions

adhd Apr 07, 2023

"Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions." - Barbara Hemphill

This quote changed my life.

It's real talk.

And it's what led me to become a Certified Productive Environment Specialist with Barbara, the paper tiger lady.

Even before I became a certified neurodiversity coach.

I got into coaching because I realized that it's not enough to just organize.

But let's get back to you, [FIRST NAME GOES HERE].


Clutter really IS postponed decisions.

Whether it's the fat pants or the vase Grandma gave you that you hate but are too embarrassed to give away or that fifth pile of papers on your desk, all are decisions looming in your life.

You think you don't see that stuff any more.

But they drain the heck out of your energy.

And if you have ADHD, clutter can really mess with your focus.

Simplification is the ADHD brain's friend, [FIRST NAME GOES HERE].

So where do you start?

One corner, one baby step, one pile, one surface or closet at a time.

Which can be kind of weird for our all or nothing ADHD brains, because we think we're not successful until we've finished it all.

Sad fact but no one finishes it all.

Not even Mari Kondo.

So take a deep breath or sigh of relief and know that you are not alone and there's nothing wrong with you.

You've entered the judgment free zone.

First of all, most of us ADHDers find organizing stick pins in our eyes booooorrrrrinnnnnnnggggg.

So crank on some music, set a timer for 15 minutes, and/or grab a buddy who can sort with you or check in with you via text or phone.

Accountability is a huge help.

A little extrinsic motivation goes a long way for our ADHD brains.

Ok now you're ready, [FIRST NAME GOES HERE].

Pick a pile of papers.

Sort them into 3 piles:

File - Act - Toss

I call this FAT like a fat inbox or a fat pile.


All the papers that you need to file go into the File pile.

Don't file them now because you'll lose momentum.

You're only goal right now is to get this pile sorted.


Any paperwork that has an action attached to it, can be put in the Act pile.

This might be a bill you need to pay or a report you need to give to a co-worker or a note about a phone call you need to make.

Don't act on these yet.

Just pop them in the pile.


All the Toss papers can go into a pile or you can just go straight to the circular file (your trash bin) or recycle bin.

If there's private information on the papers, you'll need to pile them up for the shredder.

And always remember the number one rule of organizing - when in doubt, don't throw it out.

If you're not sure then ask your manager or accountant or lawyer or operations manager if it's ok to let that piece of paper go.

Next week, we'll talk about next steps with those piles.

Check out more strategies at the HerBrain Summit on April 14 and 15.
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