Decluttering with ADHD: The Out Box


I’ve been decluttering lately. Having less stuff is helping me manage my ADHD. I just don’t get as overwhelmed when there are fewer objects in the house: objects that need cleaning and putting away and managing. Less stuff means more blank spaces in our house. More blank space in our house means I have room to think. I’m not constantly surrounded by distractions. It’s the difference between sitting down at a clean desk and sitting down at one full of last week’s projects.

But I’ve also realized that the process of getting rid of things we don’t need is difficult for someone with ADHD. It’s a longterm project and the rewards are far off. It can be hard to see how much you’ve accomplished because we notice presence of objects more than the absence of things we’ve gotten rid of. But the benefits are worth the effort.

So as I go through this work for my own house, I’ll share things I’m learning along the way. 

First, the out box. I have box in our hall closet specifically for things we don’t need anymore.

Whenever I come across something we don’t need any more — say a spare can opener — I can drop it into the out box. I don’t have to decide in the moment if I’m going to sell or donate it. All I have to do is put it in the out box. Then it’s off my mind until the box is full. Without the out box, I would try to make a mental note to remember to give the can opener away next time I’m donating stuff. In other words, we would have a spare can opener in perpetuity. 

 When the box is full (or more likely overflowing) I can take 15 minutes and make decisions about what to do with each item, no mental notes required. 

I find that because I have an outbox, I tend to notice more things that we can get rid of. It’s a positive feedback loop. 

 Having an outbox is by far the easiest way I have found to declutter. It’s not a vlog worthy before and after transformation, but by preparing my space with an out box, I’ve made consistent progress on decluttering our home.