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The Best Home Organizing Books for Folks with ADHD

Updated on July 18, 2011

With so many organizing products out there, how can you tell which are the best for ADHD?

ADD is a popular topic. With all the books out there -- books about living with ADD, books that promise to help you get organized once and for all -- how can you know which ones are the best books for getting organized with adult ADD?

To complicate matters, organizing is a huge business. There are entire stores selling you peace of mind in the form of shelf systems and plastic containers. Glossy catalogues, with pictures of well-appointed living rooms, tempt you with distressed metal newspaper bins and natural fiber CD baskets. Dozens of books and hundreds of articles promise to teach you the mysteries of the perfect fool-proof organizing system. If you have ADHD, you know that many of these products never quite live up to their promise to deliver you from chaos. In this lens, I will tell you about two books that will help you, one book to avoid, and why those adorable nesting straw baskets from that glossy catalogue are not the answer to your prayers.

Buying storage before you start your organizing project is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Those baskets may be as adorable as a puppy giving a valentine to a baby, but before you buy them you need to know what you're going to put in them, and before you decide what to put in them, you need to know what you have. If you buy them now, you may find that your stuff overflows them -- or worse, that you have no real need for them at all. Save yourself time, energy, and money by waiting until you're at the right point in your project to buy.

When is the right time to buy storage, you ask? The right time is after you've sorted what you have and purged the stuff you don't need anymore. For more information about this process, check out Julie Morgenstern's book Organizing From The Inside Out. For seven things to do before you even start tackling that organizing project, check out my blog post here.

Organizing From The Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern - The single BEST organizing book for ADD

Julie Morgenstern's Organizing From The Inside Out was a revelation to me. By the time I read it I had completely given up on getting organized. Every other book and article I'd ever read about organizing made me feel overwhelmed, anxious, and -- after I'd tried their methods and failed -- hopeless. Morgenstern's book was a dramatic contrast. It's empowering, encouraging, and soothing. While it does not specifically target an ADD audience, I am living proof that it works for people with attention deficit disorder. Hands down, it is the best book I've read for adults with ADD.

Organizing From the Inside Out is a powerful tool because it begins by teaching you that you're already more organized than you think you are, allowing you to start from a place of self confidence. You will also learn the underlying reasons for your messiness (are you a visual person who needs everything out where you can see it? Do your packrat tendencies stem from a psychological need?). Finally, you will learn how you break up your home or office into "activity zones". You will learn how to organize your stuff where you actually use it, not where someone else tells you where it belongs.

In addition to teaching you about your own organizing style, this book offers specific practical tips and suggestions to manage your space. I really can't recommend this book highly enough. It's available in DVD form, and in a version specifically targeting teenagers.

Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life
Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life

The single best organizing resource I have ever read. The author herself was once organizationally challenged, so she knows exactly what it's like to feel overwhelmed by your clutter. She teaches you how to organize yourself based on your own temperment, habits, and needs.

Organizing From the Inside Out
Organizing From the Inside Out

Organizing From The Inside Out is available on DVD! This is a great resource for you visual learners.

Organizing from the Inside Out for Teenagers: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Room, Your Time, and Your Life
Organizing from the Inside Out for Teenagers: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Room, Your Time, and Your Life

Julie Morgenstern gives Organizing From the Inside Out a new spin for a teenage audience. Don't you wish your teen was more organized? Thought so.

SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck
SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck

Another great book by Julie Morgenstern. This one takes her Inside Out philosophy to a deeper level, for those who are dealing with major life changes, like an empty nest or a new career.


ADD-Friendly Ways To Organize Your Life - Another great organizing book for those with attention deficit disorder

Where Julie Morgenstern takes you deep into the theory of organizing -- how you use your space and how you conceptualize what you own -- Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau offer hundreds of ADD-specific organizing tips and strategies. This book is incredibly thorough, with sections on how to work with your attention deficit disorder instead of against it, how to deal with your stuff, how to deal with your time, and how to deal with your paper. By starting with asking yourself how ADD effects your behavior -- how you make decisions, how you manage boredom and hyperfocus -- you are able to see how that behavior in turn effects your organizing efforts.

Each chapter is broken down into different "levels" of solutions. Level 1 Solutions are Ways To Help Yourself, Level 2 Solutions are Help From Friends And Family, and Level 3 Solutions are Help From Professionals. Their ideas are plentiful, creative and you're sure to find something that suits your needs and your space. I'm planning on implementing some of their suggestions as I tackle that last stubborn 10% of my home.

Time Management From The Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern - Even with ADD, you can learn to manage your time well

Julie Morgenstern does it again -- only this time, she's talking about time. My copy of this book is full of post-it markers for the passages I need to remember.

One Amazon reviewer with ADD who liked the book describes herself as "the kind of person who needs tasks plotted out, planned out, written down, broken down, and thoroughly explained to not get overwhelmed and to start AND finish whatever needs to be done." If that sounds like you, maybe this book will help.

... But I have trouble believing that anything in this book tells you will be a permanent solution, because the author tells you what to do, instead of teaching you how to do it. She is very heavy on purging your stuff, telling you to get rid of all but five pieces of tupperware, and to strictly limit the number of cooking pots and utensils that you own. The most likely outcome of this is that you will dutifully get rid of all your tupperware, realize that it was something you actually used and needed, and have to replace it all.

If you're looking for ideas and tips, some of those in this book might work for you. If you want to create your own personalized system that will work for you long term, skip this one.

Got ADD? Got organzing tips? - Leave 'em here!

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    • truorder profile image


      6 years ago

      I do not have ADD, but I would like to suggest people check out CHADD.ORG It is a info and support site for Children and Adults with ADD and ADHD.

    • caffimages profile image


      7 years ago

      My adult son is ADD and you have some great ideas here. I have to echo Chazz's comment and thank you for raising awareness. ADDs are NOT lazy, they struggle tremendously and it takes a lot out of them to do things ordinary people don't have any problem with.

    • chezchazz profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Returned to sprinkle angel dust on your lens. Consider it blessed by a grateful squid angel. Also featuring it on "Wing-ing it," our tribute page to bless-worthy lenses. You can see it at Thanks again.

    • chezchazz profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      My brilliant wife (several masters degrees and a PhD, supermom, author, professor, researcher -- you get the picture) developed some learning disabilities (and other problems) several years ago due to a traumatic brain injury. Adjusting to that for someone who used to be able to multi-task 20 things and excel at all of them is difficult enough now that she struggles to do one at a time, but what really adds insult to injury (literally and figuratively, are the many people (including family members) who dismiss her current difficulties as her fault or laziness or depression or whatever, especially those related to ADD. Thank you for raising awareness about this and other adult disabilities.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      Some useful recommendations here for people with ADD to get organized! I don't have ADD, I'm just naturally messy I think. :) I'm definitely going to look out for a Julie Morgenstern book though as it sounds like it is packed with good advice.

    • Addy Bell profile imageAUTHOR

      Addy Bell 

      9 years ago

      Thanks DeboraR!

    • DeboraR profile image


      9 years ago

      Maybe I have a slight case of ADD too and its not all due to procrastination. That would explain a lot! I liked your lens. I've rated, favored, and lensrolled it.


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