3 min read

Cleaning with ADHD

My autistic ADHD brain struggles with organizing and prioritizing care tasks so I created a system that I want to share with you.
Yellow sponge on soapy surface

For some time now I've been following the principles of Struggle Care by KC Davis. The systems I put in place for cleaning with ADHD to make my home (and life) functional have shifted over time. When a system stops working I take a moment to figure out what about it needs to change and ask myself what part of it am I struggling with.

The part I struggle with is when I go to do a deeper reset of a specific area of our home. When I walk into a room my autistic ADHD brain isn’t able to think of, organize, or prioritize care tasks. I get overwhelmed and end up either getting very little done or not doing it at all.

Creating Visual Aids in Canva

So this weekend I created a new system for cleaning with ADHD which has been successful for four days in a row (that’s a victory for me). I took a look at each area of our home and thought about the care tasks that might need to be done in that area. Then I broke those care tasks down into subsections by type (floor, wipe, scrub, etc).

Screenshot of choosing A4 document size on Canva
In Canva click "Create New Design", then choose the A4 Document size.

I headed over to Canva to create a PDF for each section of our home with the lists I made (I chose the A4 Document size). When designing the PDFs I wanted them to be minimalistic while also being visually appealing. For it to work it needed to be as simple and clear as possible so that my brain could easily register it.

Since prioritizing is a struggle when cleaning with ADHD I put a star by the care tasks that I want done weekly (vacuuming, changing bed sheets, scrubbing the toilet, etc). Each section of the home is assigned for a different day of the week. I put the pages in order of what day of the week they fall on.

What's important to note is that this is most definitely not a to-do list! I have permission to do as much or as little as I want.

Using GoodNotes

To make the PDFs most accessible for myself I imported them into GoodNotes and created a page outline so that I can easily jump to the page I need.

To do this, after you've imported your document click the three dots in the top right corner of your notebook in GoodNotes on a page. Then click "add this page to outline".

Cleaning with ADHD using GoodNotes notebook

You can then give your page a name which will be added to the outline.

Cleaning with ADHD using GoodNotes notebook

To access your outline click the four squares in the top left of your GoodNotes notebook.

Cleaning with ADHD using GoodNotes notebook

Click on the Outlines tab. When you click on a page under Outlines it will take you directly to that page in your notebook. If you want to change the order of your pages you can click the Thumbnails tab and click-and-drag the pages in the order you want.

Cleaning with ADHD using GoodNotes notebook

Why this system works for me

When I go reset a room on that room's scheduled day I pull up my PDF, set a timer for 10 minutes, and do what I can in that 10 minutes.

Reflecting on the past several days using this new system to help me cleaning with ADHD I have thoughts on why this system works for me.

  1. I don't get overwhelmed because I have a visual aid which takes the guesswork out of what to do

  2. I can look for one specific thing at a time and don't have to think about what room to focus on

  3. I know it’s only 10 minutes which eliminates the uncertainty of how much time it will take to reset a room

  4. I can enlist help without needing to explain what it is that needs to be done

  5. I can give myself permission to not do it which softens any demand avoidance that comes barging in like the obnoxious turd it is