How tidy you keep your desk can be a tell-tale sign about your ADHD.
While you may have a job in which a messy desk is part of the charm, it can just as easily suggest that you are less effective due to your poor ADHD related organizational skills.
A recent study showed that a majority of human resources managers don’t think negatively of employees who have messy desks, and some even see a cluttered desk as a sign of a creative person. Clutter + Creativity = ADHD?
While the cleanliness of your desk might not leave everyone important with a bad impression, keeping it organized can improve your productivity, said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam.
How do feel about having a cluttered desk? Most of us with ADHD find it immensely frustrating if we can’t keep our work space organized because we lose time searching for things and the mess makes it harder to think clearly. We often feel embarrassed by the chaos but hopeless to change it. We can either focus on creativity or keeping things orderly but it’s tricky to do both.
To help my brothers and sisters with ADHD get their workspaces in order here are seven common desk organization mistakes and how to correct them:
- Having too many piles: Instead of dropping every document you receive onto your desk for later sorting, establish specific places for documents to go and don’t let go of a document until it is in the specified spot. The rest go into recycling or the shredder. If you have ADHD, don’t allow co-workers to dump stuff on our desk while you are busy focusing on something else. Make them wait until you can give them your full attention and file the document in its place.
- Not keeping items contained: The old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place” is particularly helpful to remember for those of us with ADHD. We would like to put an item away properly but have often never thought about where that place is. Make a place! Try to keep different items in their own containers, so you know where things are when you need them. Use pencil cups, have individual trays in a drawer for envelopes, paper and sticky notes, arrange a book shelf with attractive labelled boxes for odds and ends and standing books.
- Hoarding supplies: Us ADHDers can be out-of-control hoarders. If you must accumulate every possibly-useful-someday item, keep supplies you access most often within reach, and the rest out of sight. A good rule is that if you haven’t touched something in at least a year, it likely doesn’t need to be on your desk.
- Not embracing technology: A plethora of organizational apps is amassing quickly at an app store near you, including those for managing documents that can help you stay organized. Going paperless is a good way to help you reduce clutter and find information more quickly. Geeky ADHDers will have this sorted before anyone else but the rest of us may have to ask around for recommendations and need a hand getting things set up.
- Having too many accessories: Or too few. We ADHDers might not have the brain space to bother with considering the décor of our work space or may want to limit distractions in our field of vision, but it’s good to find a balance. Brighten up your workspace with some calming art, but avoid going overboard.
- Leaving crumbs behind: In fact, just don’t eat at your desk. Taking regular ADHD brain break is essential. If you’re ready for a snack walk away from your work and stretch your legs. Go to the common area and say hello or gaze out of a window. Then toss out the cup and wrapper before returning to work. If you do eat at your desk, be sure to clear your desk of food wrappers, empty coffee cups and dirty plates, and wipe off your desk before getting back to work.
- Not cleaning regularly: The best way to avoid ADHD related clutter is making it a habit to organize your desk every day. Decide when it is most likely a good time for a daily desk organizing and then make it a habit. Will it be first thing upon arriving or the last thing you do at the end of the day? Rather than doing one or two major desk overhauls a year, spend a few minutes straightening up your workspace, so you can feel good about controlling ADHD chaos.