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  • Writer's picturePatty Laushman

Home Organization Tips for People with Executive Functioning Challenges

Updated: May 15

By Patty Laushman


A well-organized home is not just aesthetically pleasing. It can be a sanctuary, a refuge from the outside world's chaos. For people with executive functioning challenges, a well-organized home can provide a base of stability that helps them manage the daily demands of life more smoothly. Unfortunately, people with executive functioning challenges are also the people who tend to struggle with keeping their home organized, which is patently unfair!

a young adult woman unpacking boxes in her home

Executive functioning challenges are linked to our ability to focus attention, organize and plan, juggle multiple tasks successfully, and manage time effectively. These struggles to plan, initiate, and complete tasks can make home organization a significant challenge for those with executive functioning issues.


These struggles are why it is important for people with executive functioning challenges to find ways to make keeping their home organized easier. With this blog post, I share some strategies that will help create a home environment that supports your day-to-day activities, reduces stress, and enhances your quality of life.


Benefits of a Well-Organized Home for People with Executive Functioning Challenges

For individuals grappling with executive functioning challenges, the concept of a perfectly organized home might seem like an unattainable dream. However, having a well-organized living space can bring about numerous benefits that greatly improve daily life and overall well-being.


Reduced Stress and Overwhelm

older adult woman with headphones on and peaceful plants behind her.

A perfectly organized home provides a sense of structure and predictability, reducing the chaos and overwhelming feelings that can often accompany executive functioning challenges. When everything has a designated place and tasks are well-managed, there's less room for the uncertainty and stress that disorganization can bring.


Enhanced Focus and Productivity

A clutter-free and organized environment minimizes distractions and enables better focus on tasks. For individuals with executive functioning challenges, this can be a game-changer. With fewer visual distractions and a clear layout, it becomes easier to initiate tasks and maintain productivity.


Improved Time Management

Executive functioning challenges can make time management a daunting task. However, an organized home helps establish routines and visual cues that assist in managing time more effectively and make executing routines possible. For example, if your routine for leaving the house includes, “Grab keys, phone, water bottle,” but you can’t find your keys, that routine will take longer than expected, and you are likely to be late getting out the door.


Enhanced Self-Care

happy adult man

A clutter-free and organized home encourages better self-care routines. When spaces are tidy and functional, it becomes simpler to prioritize activities like cooking nutritious meals, exercising, and getting adequate sleep – all of which contribute to overall well-being.


Improved Emotional Well-Being

Living in an organized environment can positively impact emotional well-being. Reduced clutter and chaos can lead to a sense of calm and tranquility, supporting better mental health and emotional regulation.


Strengthened Relationships

An organized home can facilitate smoother interactions with family members, friends, and guests. When everything is in its place, individuals with executive functioning challenges can more comfortably host visitors and engage in social activities. And if you share living space with others, having your belongings organized and not infringing in common space reduces conflict among the people who share your living space.


Increased Confidence

woman pinning written tasks on a bulletin board

The ability to create and maintain an organized home can boost self-confidence. It's a tangible reminder that with the right strategies and support, individuals with executive functioning challenges can overcome obstacles and achieve their desired outcomes. And you don’t have to achieve perfection to gain confidence. In fact, perfection is not the goal. The goal is to have a space that is functional, that you feel comfortable in.


Practical Home Organization Tips

If you struggle with executive functioning skills, maintaining a functional living space might seem like an impossible feat. However, with the right strategies and mindset, you can create a more organized and functional living space. Here's a list of tips organized by categories to help you get started.


I recommend trying just one tip at a time and seeing what you can do with it. If you get frustrated, stop and try again later, or try a different tip. If nothing seems to be working for you, read the next section of tips called “Overcoming Potential Roadblocks.”


1. Environment Setup

  • Declutter Regularly: Set aside time each week to go through one area or room in your home and declutter. Start small to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  • Designate Zones for Important Items: Assign specific areas for different tasks or items, such as a designated spot for keys, mail, and shoes.

  • Use Visible Labels: Use clear and visible labels on storage containers and shelves to help you quickly locate items.

  • Limit Visual Clutter: Keep surfaces clear of unnecessary items to reduce sensory overload and make it easier to find things.

2. Time Management

finger tapping an alarm on a phone screen
  • Use Timers: Set timers to remind yourself to start and finish tasks. This can help you stay on track and avoid getting lost in time.

  • Break Tasks Down: Divide larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This makes them less overwhelming and more achievable.

  • Prioritize Tasks: Create a daily to-do list with the most important tasks at the top. Focus on completing those tasks first.

  • Scheduled Maintenance: Dedicate specific times each day to tidying up and organizing. Consistency is key.

3. Planning and Scheduling

  • Digital Tools: Utilize smartphone apps or digital calendars to set reminders for appointments, tasks, and deadlines.

  • Visual Planners: Use visual aids like whiteboards or sticky notes to create visual schedules and plans.

  • Color Coding: Assign different colors to tasks or categories to quickly differentiate between them.

  • Routine Development: Establish a daily routine that includes specific times for meals, work, relaxation, and cleaning.

4. Storage Solutions:

  • Clear Containers: Store items in clear containers to easily see what's inside without having to open them. This includes food containers in the cupboards and refrigerator, and containers for your closet, crawl space, and garage.

  • Vertical Storage: Utilize vertical space by using shelves, hooks, and wall-mounted organizers.

  • Keep Like Items Together: Group similar items together, such as all cleaning supplies, office supplies, or hobby materials. Know where they live in your space. If you don’t already have a space for them, gather them together so you can see how much space you need for groups of items. This will dictate what type of storage container you need and where they can potentially live in your home.

  • Minimalist Approach: Consider adopting a minimalist lifestyle to reduce the amount of stuff you need to organize. Less stuff means less time keeping it organized!

5. Personal Habits:

biracial woman waking up energized in bed
  • Declutter as a Habit: The less stuff you have to organize, the easier it is to organize and the easier it to keep things organized. Look at your belongings and ask yourself, "Is this something I can throw away or donate?" If so, then get rid of it!

  • One-In-One-Out Rule: For every new item you bring into your home, remove one item to avoid unnecessary accumulation.

  • Daily Reset: Spend a few minutes each evening tidying up to start the next day with a clean slate, even if it's just one tiny area of your home.

  • Practice Self-Compassion: Understand that organization challenges are not a reflection of your worth. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories.

  • Ask for Support: Reach out to others for assistance when tackling larger organizational projects. Try body doubling with a friend or schedule a free FocusMate session for shame-free accountability. You can even hire a life coach. I have helped many clients organize their living spaces.

6. Visual Cues:

  • Reminder Notes: Place sticky notes with important reminders in visible spots, such as on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator.

  • Doorway Prompts: Hang a list of tasks or items you need before leaving the house near your front door.

  • Digital Wallpaper: Use your computer or phone wallpaper to display important to-dos or motivational quotes.

7. Flexibility and Adaptation:

  • Embrace Imperfection: Accept that your home won't always be perfectly organized, and that's okay.

  • Regular Check-Ins: Set aside time periodically to assess your organization systems and make adjustments as needed.

  • Trial and Error: Don't be afraid to experiment with different strategies until you find what works best for you.

  • Celebrate Progress: Acknowledge and celebrate even small improvements in your organization efforts.


Remember, organization is a learned skill, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach. The key is to find strategies that align with your unique needs and challenges. By implementing these tips and developing a supportive environment, you can create a more organized and harmonious living space that caters to your executive functioning challenges.

Overcoming Potential Roadblocks

Despite the best of intentions, you may encounter obstacles when trying to organize your home. It's important to remember that this is a common part of the process, and there are ways to overcome these challenges.


Lack of Motivation

demotivated woman sitting in class

Feeling overwhelmed by needing to organize can often lead to a lack of motivation. To counter this, start with small, manageable tasks. Celebrate your achievements along the way, no matter how small they may seem. Gradually, as your space becomes more organized, you're likely to feel a boost in motivation.


Difficulty Maintaining Organization

Sometimes, maintaining the organization can be more challenging than the initial decluttering and organizing. Overcome this hurdle by establishing a routine. Incorporate regular decluttering and tidying into your daily or weekly schedule. Also, remember the "one in, one out" rule to prevent yourself from accumulating items.


Decision-Making Challenges

People with executive functioning challenges may struggle with decision-making. This struggle leads to them being indecisive about where items should go or whether to let go of them. One way to solve this problem is by having a designated place for every item. This takes the guesswork out of where things belong.


If you find yourself having a hard time deciding if an item should be kept or discarded, consider if the item has been used recently, if it will be used in the future, and if it brings joy or value to your life.


Distractions

black man at home looking away from his laptop

Starting a task and seeing it through to completion can be a challenge when distractions arise. Minimize distractions as much as possible when you're organizing. You could set a timer and dedicate that time solely to the task at hand. Break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable ones to make them less overwhelming.


Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. Every step, no matter how small, brings you closer to a more organized home.


Conclusion

Creating a home with a level of organization that works for you requires patience, persistence, and self-compassion. Your optimal level of tidiness and organization will not look like anyone else's. And the process of getting there will not be linear. There will be days when things don't go as planned, you don't get your organizing done, and that's absolutely okay. What matters most is your commitment to making small improvements with persistence and finding strategies that work best for you.


By implementing the tips provided in this blog post, you're taking proactive steps to enhance your daily life. From decluttering and utilizing timers and digital tools, each strategy has the potential to contribute to a more organized and efficient living space. As you experiment with different approaches, keep in mind that you're actively building a toolkit of techniques that will serve you well in the long run. Expeting overnight success is a setup for failure – this is a marathon and not a sprint.


Home organization is not just about having a tidy space; it's about creating an environment that supports your well-being and helps you thrive. In the end, the goal is to create a home that reflects your unique personality and offers you a space to flourish. It's about reclaiming control over your surroundings and finding peace amidst the chaos.


Remember to celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small. Each organized drawer, scheduled task, and decluttered corner is a win worth celebrating. Just try the strategies shared in this post, reflect on how well it worked for you, do more of what works and less of what doesn't, and you'll well on your way to creating your best living space.

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