ADHD and Organizing Your Paper Piles

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An important element of having an organized home is to be in control of the paper. Letters, bills, receipts, magazines, newspapers, flyers, catalogs, ATM receipts, post-it notes, are just some of the paper that comes into our homes every day. While paper piles seem to grow effortlessly, organizing paper takes a lot of energy when you have ADHD.

Here are three reasons why:

  • It involves attention to detail; which is known to been challenging when you have ADHD.
  •  A lot of decision-making in a short space of time. Decision-making is also what many adults     with ADHD struggle with.
  • It is demotivating. A piece of paper doesn’t take up much space. You might have been sorting      through a paper pile for an hour, and yet, the pile can still be quite high.

Even though ADHD might make organizing paper hard, there are great rewards to having mastered the paper in your home. For example, anxiously searching for an important document becomes a thing of the past. You save time because you can find anything within minutes. Low-grade anxiety, or worry whenever you look at a paper pile, disappears because you no longer have paper piles! All of which gives you a sense of security and confidence.

Ways to become organized with paper when you have ADHD:

Limit Paper

Become strict about the amount of paper you allow into your home. It is much easier to limit the flow of paper into your home than to sort and organize it once it has arrived.

Here are a few suggestions.

  •  Cancel any magazine subscriptions you don’t read.
  • Cancel your daily newspaper unless you read it every day. Often they can pile up and then you feel guilty for not reading it, so you keep it in case one day you will have time.
  • Contact your service providers and ask for a digital bill rather than ​a paper bill.
  • Stop writing notes to yourself on little pieces of paper! Instead, jot your thoughts down in a notebook. When one notebook gets filled, use another. You could also write notes in your favorite app.
  • If you receive a lot of flyers, why not make a request to stop receiving them? Do a Google search and find out who to contact in your area.
  • If you see an interesting article or recipe on the internet, don’t print it out. Bookmark it instead.


Now that you have limited that amount of new paper coming into your home, the next step is to declutter the paper that is already there. Because decision making is hard when you have ADHD, create some rules for yourself instead. This minimizes the number of decisions you have to make and you won’t lose momentum.  For example, ‘All magazines older than 6 months will be recycled.’ ‘All ATM receipts will be shredded’. Aside from your personal rules, there other rules to allow for as well. Such as keeping tax documents for 7 years. Your rebellious nature might not like rules; however, they are very helpful when you are decluttering paper.


The final step is to store your important papers. Many people with ADHD dislike filing cabinets. Nevertheless, if you set one up, with categories and folders that make sense to you and your life, they are helpful and practical.

Keep Going

Organizing paper is an ongoing process. Once a week, recycle or shred papers that came in that week. Every year, update your filing cabinet. You can reschedule these in your planner.

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