Organizing the House for ADHD Relief

If you or a loved one lives with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) there are ways to ease the symptoms while in your home. Dr. Mark Haffey, EdD, director of the Haffey Center for Attention and Memory in Amherst MA, offered up good advice for making your house a place of support for those with ADHD.

“There are different systems for different people, but there are some general ideas that are helpful for most everybody,” Haffey said. Haffey said that the “simpler the environment the better.”

“People with ADHD often build in too many distractions such as TVs and music systems. The quieter the better for most people with ADHD,” he said. Haffey added that some people with ADHD need to have low background noise while working or doing homework, others need total silence to perform those types of activities. “If there is background noise, it can’t be a favorite show or song,” said Haffey.

The launching pad

Haffey said that one the most universal techniques for people with ADHD is to have a “launching pad” in the front hallway or by the front door. “People with ADHD frequently lose their keys, wallets, cell phones, day planners, etc. Having a box or basket by the front door puts everything where they need it to be when they launch their day – and that’s where everything is returned when they come home,” said Haffey.

Bill paying kit

One area is designated as the “bill paying area” and is set up with a basket for bills, envelopes, pens, stamps, and other typical items needed for bill paying. Haffey said that people with ADHD often get into trouble with bills because there is frequently some part of the bill paying process that is misplaced or can’t be found.

The three-basket system

Whether used for mail or for other organizational needs, Haffey recommends using three baskets, which can even be color-coded. “You have one basket for things that have to be taken care of immediately, one for things that can wait, and one for things that need to be thrown out,” Haffey said. He added that “people (with ADHD) tend to get stuck trying to figure out what they need to attend to and what they don’t.”

Technology aids

Haffey said that the advent of smart phones has been a boon for people with ADHD. Aside from scheduling appointments, alarms can be set up throughout the day to remind people of things they need to do. For example, Haffey said he knew of someone who found that if they “took a shower at 6 a.m. every day, the rest of their day went better.”

Unfortunately, at this time, Haffey said, there is no type of insurance coverage for technology aides for people with ADHD. However, he added that there are medical groups in the US that are working on creating more sensible solutions for people with ADHD that save money in the long run.

The human element

When starting out working to arrange a home to better support someone with ADHD, Haffey said “it’s best to hire a professional organizer.” Otherwise, he said it’s best to have someone, for example a parent, initiate organizing the home.

If you are trying to help someone with ADHD organize themselves, say in their bedroom, Haffey said that it is always good to have what he calls a body double. “The friend or family member can help, or just spend time with the person. Having someone there is often calming enough to reduce some of the stress of organizing,” said Haffey.

How does color affect people with ADHD?

Haffey said that one of the best colors to paint the house in for someone who has ADHD is blue. “Blue is soothing to people. Science has shown that blue has a very calming affect on the brain waves. People with ADHD need an environment that creates a calmer mood as they tend to be distracted and frazzled,” said Haffey.

So in general, the keys to a helpful living environment for someone with ADHD are organization, personal support, and keeping the house as simple and quiet as possible.

Cris Carl writes about Boston-area flooring and housing issues. Read more like this on Networx.

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Stina E.
Stine F.2 years ago

Good advise!

Karla B.
K B.3 years ago

Thanks for the article .. please sign my petition .. or just type adhd in the search , link is first one below , I appreciate your support

Past Member
Past Member 3 years ago

Not totally sure about those last two, but in general those are great for anyone who needs to slow down and organize. Good advice!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I wish I had known this information when my son was younger. He is 27 now. I will tell him to paint his walls blue. We did have his bedroom painted blue when he was a kid. Maybe that is why he liked being in his room so much. Hmmm....

Brittany Flint
Brittany Flint3 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Alisa B.
Alisa B.3 years ago

Over 12 years of being treated for this and taking meds. to help there are still so many days that I struggle. Any time that I feel over whelmed I go into a dark frame of thinking and mind. So, anything that I can do to help make my days easier I try very hard to do. Thanks for sharing.

Audra W.
Audra W.3 years ago

I think we can all learn to be more organized. Thank you.

Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez3 years ago

thank u

Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg3 years ago


Carol P.
Carol P.3 years ago

Seems that these ideas could help just about anyone.

But another comment about avoiding sugar is probably more important, and not just for those with ADHD.