October is ADHD Awareness Month!

One Good Reason Why You May be Disorganized

Does it make you crazy that some people have no difficulty at all holding it together, while you consider it a bonus if you have clean clothes to put on in the morning?

For many people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), even daily routines can pose a challenge. What happens in the ADHD brain is that the activities of the pre-frontal cortex – the area behind the forehead – are impaired. This is the activity centre responsible for things like decision-making, time awareness, focus, detail, organization, transitioning attention, self-control, emotions and inhibition. Whew! That’s a lot. Can you imagine how easy it is for your day to go off track if there is a communication breakdown in the pre-frontal cortex?

The transfer of information between the parts of the ADHD brain that is untreated (i.e. the person is not taking medication for their ADHD) can be unreliable. This is why you forget what was said to you yesterday, or forget to complete a task that was interrupted. A lot of what happens in any given moment can be lost and therefore not transferred to long-term memory where it can be recalled and serve you at a future date.

Now, the big mystery to many is “How can anyone forget to do repeated tasks?” The answer: those tasks don’t provide enough stimulation to engage the ADHD brain. If there is not an immediate benefit, the person with ADHD will focus their attention elsewhere, to something that will give immediate satisfaction or some kind of instant rush. Putting away laundry is way too boring compared to online gaming. That clean underwear will only be a priority when you open your drawer on Monday morning and discover you’ve got less than 5 minutes to put together clothes for the day and bound out the door.

But having ADHD doesn’t mean you are destined to live a life of chaos. It means recognizing that you may need some extra supports to get through the stuff that bores you to tears. And that support could be something as simple as arranging to have someone call you when it’s time to get off the couch and start getting ready for the family celebration, or putting a Post-it® Note at the door so you remember to take the present with you to the party. Other things you could try include:

  • Visual/auditory timers, like the Time Timer
  • Scheduling your day in your smart phone with an audible notification reminder
  • Keeping Post-it® Notes in your car to capture those important thoughts that come to you at the wrong time: jot it down on a Post-it® Note and stick it on your steering wheel. When you get home, take the note in with you and stick it in a visible place, so you will be sure to act on it.


Now, not everyone who is disorganized has ADHD. But since October is ADHD Awareness Month, I wanted to share a bit of information on the topic and let you know that there are very real reasons why some people to struggle with chronic disorganization. ADHD is one of those reasons. So if you or someone you know seems to always be struggling with organization, it’s not necessarily because of laziness or an inability to be organized. It’s simply a matter of learning what kind of supports you need to be organized, and bringing those supports into your life.