5 Little Tricks That Make Living in My Apartment with ADHD So Much Easier

published Jul 18, 2022
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Without, say, cleaning crews and personal assistants, ADHD and apartment living go together like a pair of lost keys. Distracting work-from-home environments and overdue garbage runs are a few common conundrums that may resonate.

The good news is that there are solutions, from tips and tricks to inexpensive upgrades, that can make a huge difference in your daily life. Here are the five ways I make apartment living a little easier, ADHD and all.

Place everything front and center.

The “out of sight, out of mind” trope is real for ADHDers. I’ll forget tasks in my daily routine if the solution hides behind a cabinet door.

Try labeling drawers, using transparent stacking containers, and storing things in clear mason jars. Then, organize your fridge to put everything in plain sight, like this TikToker did.

Think of it like retail displays with products visible at a glance. You’ll never again wonder which closet tote hides your passport and which stores winter clothes.

Try physical push notifications.

If you’ve ever enthusiastically purchased a salad mix only to forget it exists, this one’s for you.

I’ll sometimes realize my bread goes bad in a few days. Instead of fooling myself into believing I’ll remember it for tomorrow’s lunch, I put that loaf in an oddly conspicuous spot on the counter.

A single jar of pasta sauce on the table? Oh, that’s right — if I don’t use those mushrooms today, they’re sure to go bad. What’s for dinner tonight? Spaghetti, reduced waste, and one fewer moment of indecision. Also consider putting reminders in places where discovery is incentivized, like the brilliant spot where one mom keeps her to-do list.

Automate little things that are big distractors.

Most people experience the doorway effect, when it feels like you forget something after passing through a doorway, but context shifts can do more than close the door on thought processes. For me, getting up to turn off a light in another room can turn into watering plants and emptying the dishwasher. An hour passes by, and I’m just in another room with a different set of “wrong” lights on.

Your tech ecosystem likely has compatible smart switches and bulbs, which can be a real game-changer. Thermostats can automatically adjust to the weather, and lights can turn off as your phone’s location signals that you’re away.

Sometimes we get lost in hyperfocus and have a loose sense of time. One bright idea is to time your lights to fade to specific colors, signaling an end to the workday or time for bed. Sensor lights are an inexpensive, low-tech alternative great for lighting a closet or path to the restroom at night.

Organize your space for how it works, not how it looks.

Theoretically, at least, I prefer clutter-free surfaces. Putting random objects on surfaces rather than in cute containers had its aesthetic downsides, but reducing friction was worth the compromise.

Do I like having a plastic pill organizer in my workspace? Not really, but when I’m in the middle of a project and see a reminder to take my meds, not getting up from the computer and heading to the medicine cabinet to… you know what (doesn’t happen) next.

In priority areas, I’ve arranged sets of frequently used items like chapstick, glasses cleaner, and fidget devices. It feels like having mini toiletry bags scattered about, though it helps to reduce focus-breaking moments.

This is not to say you can’t have a stylish home, but some design choices can be ADHD-unfriendly. Is the furniture you’re eyeing practical, or does it make cleaning more difficult? Sometimes we have to trade design for usability. Often, we can manage a little of both.

Find your focus.

For all the traits we share, experiences will differ for inattentive to hyperactive ADHD and every type between. Would a natural light lamp help boost your mood? How about a solution for your ‘clothes chair’?

Maybe you’ll come up with some inspired solutions of your own. I’d love to hear them.