With the holidays upon us, many of us will soon be inundated with stuff from Christmas, Hanukkah and/or Kwanzaa presents. Whatever your holiday traditions may be, your celebrations will be even better if you keep in mind the earth’s resources when making your gift purchases.
Consider Consumables Some of my favorite gifts are consumable products. Tea, soap, candles, olive oil, wine and chocolate are all welcome gifts, and they don’t hang around someone’s house forever taking up space.
Choose Quality If a longer-lasting gift is in order, try to choose quality over quantity. Gifts made from better materials hold up longer, and will ideally have an extended next life if their first owner chooses to let them go.
Avoid Plastic Toys if Possible There are a lot of cool plastic toys, but kids tend to grow out of them quickly. I often help clients get rid of piles of plastic. Yes, you can donate them to the thrift store, but they don’t last forever, and will most likely end up in a landfill one day. Wooden toys, books, art supplies, or clothes from an eco-conscious retailer are good alternatives.
Regear Gifts Is it ok to buy someone a used item? Some will say new is the only option, but in my opinion, if the item is in good condition, why not? There are some great consignment shops with beautiful clothes and, especially in Denver, regear shops with really high-quality outdoor supplies — bikes, tents, hiking poles, etc. If you have time to wait for shipping, Poshmark and similar websites offer quality brands for much less than retail price. Best of all, your gift won’t require new resources and the waste associated with manufacturing. You’ll save money, and save the planet.
Shop Local Of course, it’s always nice if you can support a small business when you make a purchase. Instead of Amazon, try Etsy, a local brick and mortar store, or a holiday market. Shopping is more fun when you can get hot cocoa and a churro, and it feels good to support an artisan who’s made something with care.
Purge Clutter causes undue stress and can interfere with easy living. If you’re allowing new items into your home, it’s a great habit to also let go of some things that you don’t need anymore. Tips from my blog on Marie Kondo-style wisdom can be found here,And for details on where to donate your stuff responsibly, read this post here.
Thanks for reading and best holiday wishes to all!
Adult ADHD challenges focus, attention, and concentration, and when it’s not recognized it will cause frustration when organizing a home. ADHD folks (whether diagnosed or not) are often energetic, creative and enthusiastic people — but they have different ways of processing information. It’s easy to feel discouraged and frustrated when the typical organizational systems that look so pretty on Pinterest just don’t work. It’s a relief to know that those systems aren’t for everyone, and that there ARE ways to get and stay organized with ADHD — it just takes different techniques and strategies.
Organizing Strategies for ADHD
Different methods and strategies for organizing are necessary for folks whose brains are wired differently. These techniques are described and outlined very well in the book, “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD.” And while this book focuses on adults with ADHD, I find that many of the techniques are good for just about anybody. It’s a busy world, we all have more stuff than we need, and it’s easy to get distracted, especially with so many forces vying for our attention. Juggling schedules alone can require the expertise of a professional project manager, not to mention managing all the household tasks such as laundry, meals, self care, home maintenance, pets — the list goes on, and on.
Fighting Distraction with ADHD
ADHD folks, who tend to vibrate on a higher frequency, are easily distracted with so much stimulus. Let’s take an example: the morning shower. You might grab a towel from the linen closet, and glance in the bedroom and see the dog’s brush, which you’d been looking for earlier, so you grab it to put it back in the doggy bin in the kitchen, when you see that the paper towel roll is empty and you’ll need those for packing lunch, so you run downstairs to grab an extra roll where you see a pile of laundry that needs to go in the washer, and then you’re taking a load of clothes out of the dryer… pretty soon it’s 20 minutes later and you’re still not showered!
In this example, we want to eliminate all unnecessary steps to make systems fast, simple and convenient. Keep that towel on a hook next to the tub, with shampoo, conditioner, razor, and anything else needed for a successful shower on open shelves. Open shelving allows you to see everything, which might mean you have “unsightly” shampoo and conditioner bottles on display, but such accommodations are necessary to help an ADHD person get through daily processes with ease and efficiency. The sacrifice of a “pretty” system is well worth the efficiency gained.
A few more takeaways from Organizing for ADHD:
Prioritize ease of stowage over ease of retrieval
Vertical storage is helpful
Store on wall or shelf, never the floor
Only touch it once – do it then, don’t put it in a pile for later
Eliminate duplicate items
Name your cabinets and shelves (plates, sock drawer, etc)
Make “rough storage” areas easy to access and well-lit and ensure there is “flex” room for long-term items and short-term needs
Make sure the item is conveniently located, easy to retrieve, and even easier to put away
More on Rule 1 for Organizing with ADHD (the Golden Rule)
Inventory must conform to storage!
Purging, getting rid of, or letting go of stuff is almost always necessary in order to make sure inventory fits in its designated spot. We live in a culture of stuff, and it’s easy to amass things even when we are not trying. The giveaways, the trinkets, the kitchen implement you bought on impulse at the grocery store that now sits unused in a drawer… we’re encouraged to buy more stuff, all the time. And it takes a mighty force of will and near constant vigilance to stem the tide. Particularly for those with ADHD, too much stuff can cause immense distraction and lead to feelings of overwhelm or even burnout.
The Brutal Purge
In the book, the author calls it the “brutal purge,” meaning, relentless banishment of unnecessary stuff from your house. We’re not talking necessities or occasional luxuries — you obviously need a number of things to survive and you’re allowed to have luxuries too — particularly if they bring you joy. We’re talking about the stuff that finds its way into your house that doesn’t really need to be there, which has stayed because of inertia or a misplaced feeling of duty, guilt or obligation. I enjoy a good purge more than most people probably do, but it’s a particularly helpful, and I’d dare say essential, step for getting organized when you have ADHD.
Sure, with any brutal purge you might let go of something and regret it later but, keeping the big picture in mind, that just means you’re doing it right. Don’t be afraid to let things go and remember that just about anything can be replaced if need be.
Organizing Tip: Make it Easier to Put Away Than to Retrieve
For ADHD folks, it’s easier to start things than to finish, which is why we make sure it’s easier to put things away than to retrieve them. This means you must have room for it where it belongs, which usually means you have to get rid of stuff to ensure there’s a proper place for everything (see Rule #1). Let’s say you have a few minutes and want to pick up the scarf you’re knitting for your niece’s birthday — the crochet supplies live in a basket in a closet which you can easily grab – and when you’re done it’s easy to throw stuff back in the basket, which at some point will be returned to the closet (and it will meantime will stay contained in the basket, not scattered all over the coffee table).
Obvious Placement Means Everyone Can Help!
You don’t want to keep an extra stash of anything down in the basement that you’ll forget about — or that only you know about. Don’t keep extras in some random drawer to be forgotten. Items should be stored where they’re used so they can be stowed in one single motion. In a family household, this allows everyone to help out because it’s obvious where things go, and cleanup is quick and easy.
The “ideal” organized house that you see on The Home Edit isn’t a realistic goal for someone with ADHD or even most “regular” people. So let’s let go of that unrealistic goal, and instead focus on the benefit of a system that works to simplify life, reduce stress, and allow for ease and efficiency with household tasks.
There’s a greater goal at stake here too. Beating the “culture of stuff” — reducing intake and consumption — is better for the environment, saves money, conserves the earth’s valuable resources, and helps us all move towards a more sustainable, happy, stress-free lifestyle. What’s not to like about that?
Ready to purge?
Find out where to donate your stuff responsibly here.
If you have too much stuff in your home, you are not alone! Americans collect stuff like it’s their job, and we’d do well to curb this habit. But our consumerist culture and habits make it easier than not to amass things that we don’t need.
Keep it Out of the Landfill
Decluttering and reducing your load is always a good idea in my book. When you let go of belongings you don’t need, it frees up space and energy for more important things.
And keeping the earth’s limited resources in mind, it’s best to rehome things by reselling or donating. If that’s not possible, try to recycle. If it’s hazardous, make sure it’s disposed of properly. The landfill should be thought of as a last resort.
If you’re ready to say goodbye to a few or many things which no longer serve you, I’ve compiled a list of thrift stores in Denver, consignment shops in Denver, and donation sites in Denver for you to check out. If what you’re looking to unload is not on this list, check here for a more complete list of donation sites in Denver, or get in touch and I will check in with my network to find an answer.
Donate, Resell, or Consign in Denver
Reselling clothes, furniture and gear can put money in your pocket and provide value to someone else for a good price. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great platforms to sell big or small items, as long as there is demand and you have the time and energy for it. Make sure to do some research to price appropriately – just because something cost a lot when you bought it doesn’t mean it’s held its value. Beware of scammers, and know that sometimes people will be flakey on such platforms. I like to gather a few interested parties just in case the first (or second) one doesn’t work out.
Donate items that are usable and still in good shape at your local thrift store. In Denver I like ARC or Goodwill.
Habitat for Humanity’s Restore is my favorite place to donate building materials such as working appliances, a ceiling fan, plywood, drywall sheets or even cinder blocks.
Give things away online if thrift stores won’t take them. Great platforms are Buy Nothing and Freecycle, where you can post and someone will usually come quickly to scoop your free item, saving you the transport. Facebook has local “buy-nothing” groups in nearly every city. I once posted an inflatable kid’s slide that the thrift store wouldn’t take and had it gone in less than a day, with a grateful mom on the other end.
Specialized donation sites include Dress for Success, geared towards helping people get a career wardrobe, and Clothes to Kids, which allows kids to “shop” in a well-stocked store and get new-to-them outfits for school. A more complete list of specialized donation sites can be found here.
Of course, a good purge takes time and effort, especially when you’re being careful about where stuff ends up. It’s not unusual to feel too overwhelmed to start. It can be helpful to call an organizer, not only for help with the physical labor, but also to help motivate and keep the plan in place.
Proper Disposal of Hazardous Materials
Denver provides once-a-year pickups on toxic waste such as bleach, varnish, lawn fertilizers, household chemicals and similar nasty stuff, for just a $15 copay. For a full list of accepted materials and to schedule your hazardous materials pickup, click here.
Recycle Old Paint in Denver
Denver partners with a few paint retailers to recycle paint. Greensheen takes any number of old cans of paint to recycle and turn into new paint. Here’s a list of more retailers that may recycle old paint in Denver.
Donate Scrap Material
Scrap metal is a useful material! Don’t toss it in the landfill. Take it here.
Where to Take Old Medications
Old medications can be dropped off at most any drug store. Head towards the back, near the pharmacy, and there is usually a drop box to dump your expired or no-longer-needed medications safely.
Avoid Landfill to Respect Earth
As an organizer, I help people let go of a lot of unnecessary stuff, which helps them feel better in their spaces. As an environmentally-conscious human, I strive to help them divert as much of that stuff as possible from the landfill. Letting go of stuff responsibly often means extra effort, but it’s the right thing to do to save landfill space and to respect the earth’s valuable resources.
To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose – Marie Kondo
You don’t need to hold onto something just because someone gave it to you.
For many people it’s hard to let go of stuff, period. But gifts are a special category. Oftentimes I can tell that someone doesn’t really like the thing. But they say with resignation, “Oh, I can’t get rid of that, Aunt Martha gave it to me.” Well, I’m here to tell you: You CAN let it go!
Marie Kondo, whose methods started a tidying revolution, says in her book that once a gift is given, its job is done. The gift is meant to give the giver the pleasure of giving. So once Aunt Martha has given you that pine-scented potpourri candle, she’s gotten her joy. You’re not doing yourself or her any favors by burying it in a box and letting it decompose. In fact, the candle likely has a better life out there somewhere, once you release it by donating or giving it away.
Point being, if you are only holding onto something out of a sense of duty or guilt, you’re better off losing the negative vibe by letting it go. And it’s likely better off too when it finds its highest and best use.
While we’re on the subject of gifts – I believe consumables are the best gifts because they’re the least imposing. Chocolate, wine, coffee — even movie tickets, lottery tickets, or plane tickets. These don’t hang around making anyone feel obligated, guilty or annoyed for not liking the thing.