He Told Me that He Had ADD and a Lot of Clutter

A few years ago, a man approached me and asked me to help him declutter his garage. He told me that he had ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and a lot of clutter.

We discussed fees and found a date when we could meet. Then I asked for his address.

“Oh!” he said, “I can’t possibly have you come in my place as it is. I am too embarrassed. I was hoping we could meet at a library and I could show you photos.”

I thought this was a peculiar request, since it was a local client. Since I do help people long distance, over the internet, I figured this wouldn’t be too different.

We Get to Work

The first time we met he showed me pictures of his garage. It was indeed very cluttered, but you still could walk through it. This was a good sign.

The worst clutter cases are those where you have to push things aside with your foot to get through them.

He had been diagnosed with ADD many years prior. He took medication for it. Even with the medication, he believed that the main reason he could not declutter and organize was that he could not keep his concentration long enough.

He would go in the garage and pick up one item to put away. Then he would get distracted by another object, and stop to pick it up, while thinking what to do about it. As he reached for the second object, he usually put down the first object, and forgot about it. He could do this for hours, and not get anything accomplished.

After analyzing his photos, I gave him one easy, very manageable, set of tasks. We agreed to meet again in a month.

Report of Progress (or not!)

A month later, I asked him about his progress. He told me had started out with a lot of good energy and positive thoughts, but a few days later forgot about his homework altogether, and didn’t do anything else we had talked about.

I saw this was going to be a challenging case. He asked me if I could give him some time organization tips. He felt his space troubles and time troubles were related (they are). He had been procrastinating on a number of very important tasks, such as having a will drafted, and other items of legal importance, that could have terrible consequences if not handled.

I sent him home with a piece of homework that was easier and simpler than the one for the week before.

The next month his report was the same. The first few days he had some good intentions. Then everything was forgotten.

This kept happening for a few months. At some point I started wondering why he continued to hire me.

Some Progress

We had made progress on 2 points:

He had a business as a “solopreneur” and a very hard time keeping receipts. I convinced him to get a smart phone and take photos of every receipt as soon as he got it, before he did whatever he did with it.

He also had been in the habit of writing ideas on sticky notes and small pieces of paper. Some ended up on his desk, some in his pockets (where they would get washed with his clothes), some stayed in the car. I taught him how to use the voice to text feature on his phone so he could keep all his ideas in the “Notes” app in his phone. Sometimes, he wrote a note on a piece of paper, but immediately took a picture of it with his phone.

His business required him to buy a number of large tools. He kept these tools in the garage when he came back from jobs. Even if the garage got completely decluttered, there would not be room for 2 cars  because of the tools. These could not be left outside, under the weather.

Part of the conflict for him and his wife was that she saw the garage as a place to put cars away — he saw the garage as a workshop. I had learned, while living in Mississippi, that “a man needs a shed,” and “a man cannot be happy without a shed.” I suggested they get an Amish built shed for him to use for his business. They did, and moved the large tools to the shed. This improved conditions in the garage, but it was still a mess.

Lack of Focus Was the Biggest Problem

He still could not focus. His wife was still fussing at him every day about the mess in the garage. He would not allow her to help, because he was afraid she would throw away things that were important to him.

At the six month, I was ready to stop working with him. He asked me to please not lose faith in him. He was not able to do it alone. “I know you can help me,” he said.

I was out of tools to share with him. The advice that had previously worked with every decluttering client, had been useless with him.

As a last resort, I decided to share with him a strategy that I had used to get through the school of Architecture, while working to pay my bills and tuition, while writing short stories, while taking painting lessons, while partying a lot (to keep my sanity).

I had used this strategy instinctively, before I had learned about the power of the Deeper Mind.

A New Strategy – Amazing Results

I planned out the strategy with him, and put it in his phone, with just one very tiny piece of homework to do in the morning and at night.

I expected that the next month he would perhaps have accomplished one of the tasks.

Imagine my surprise, when I asked him if he got ahead with his list, and he told me that he had accomplished everything that was pending.  EVERYTHING!

The will was done, the paperwork was completed, and the garage had been tidied up. At this point I did a double take and asked him to repeat what he had just said. He had tidied up the garage!

He said for the first time ever, his wife offered to help him “the right way.” I asked him what the “right way” was.  He said, “You know, by showing me every item, and letting  me decide what to do with it.”

There are 2 morals to this story:

1 – If you are dealing with a clutterer in your life, do not ever try to take their decision power away from them, as a strategy to deal with their clutter. Decisions are at the crux of why people clutter in the first place!

2 – If you are the clutterer, I have tools that can help you change your ways. These tools have helped people who could have been candidates for those shows on TV about “hoarders.” Click below to register for the live webinar to learn the true reasons that you are not making headway with home organization.

There is no excuse for clutter. Learn how to manage your clutter:

Take a Free Mini-Course on Decluttering:

http://feng-shui-for-us.teachable.com/p/kickstart-your-decluttering

 

 

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4 Comments:

  1. I LOVE this article, Moni (and am wondering if you changed the gender, type of tools, and marital status to protect the GUILTY!) Thank you for all you’ve done to help! Don’t give up on me EITHER! 🙂

    • Thank you Sharon. This one is pretty straight forward. I didn’t change much, since I wasn’t giving a lot of personal details.

  2. This story is hilarious and completely “alien” to me and how I do life. This is not to say that I do not have people in my life that are just like this man. What I find most wonderful is that you just kept offering him help and did not give up on him and, for that you are to be commended. I would be curious to know if he continued with his new paradigm?

    • I kept thinking there had to be a way to help him, but obviously he needed a system that would require no self-discipline or will power. Much of what I learned from this experience influenced the way my Decluttering program was developed. We lost touch in the past year, but for months after I stopped working with him he was still doing great, and his marriage was more loving. They had found new bonds.

      Mahala, have you registered for the webinar? Before the webinar, you will get a handout to explore your clutter element type. I am curious to see which one you identify with. Some clutter types tend to clutter more than others. Some have less tolerance than others. My type has very little tolerance for clutter. I suspect yours does too.

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