Idaho, Iowa, Des Moines
February 3, 2024

5 Ways to Declutter Your ADHD Doom Piles

ADHD doom boxes (also known as ADHD doom piles) are the containers or piles you put all your stuff when you don’t know where else to put it. Doom is actually an acronym and stands for “Didn’t organize, only moved” – and they also end up making the piler feel doomed when they end up looking around their space and seeing piles of stuff everywhere.

Doom piles feel organizational. It’s like a clever trick: you put all your shit into a corner or in a box, and then feel satisfied, like you’ve accomplished something. Hey, at least it’s not spread out all over the floor, right? Doom piles allow you to feel like you’ve actually won the organization game – but as many ADHDers can tell you, they can end up becoming a huge pain in the ass. 

What is an ADHD Doom Box?

ADHD doom boxes can be anything – a contained pile, a junk drawer, a chair, a box. They can end up beneath the bed on the floor, on a shelf in your bedroom, or anywhere in between. If you throw stuff somewhere haphazardly and it ends up getting out of control (looking at you, closet floor) then it’s probably a doom pile.

It’s easy to make doom piles, especially for neurodivergent folks. You think: “I’ll deal with this later!” and shove your shit into the corner. It might seem messy or cluttered to someone else, but this is actually your way of organizing things. You most likely really do care about keeping your space decluttered and organized– but somehow, you always end up staring around at your piles wondering how you got here again. 

ADHD doom boxes

The Link Between ADHD and Doom Piles

ADHDers love things that are easy and feel good. Thanks to the lack of dopamine in your brain, if it doesn’t give you immediate gratification, it can be hard to care about. This impacts lots of areas of life, from building healthy habits to your exercise routine to procrastination.

Executive function deficits are a key piece of ADHD challenges, and they include struggling with things like working memory, impulsivity, time management, distractibility, and organization. Your ADHD brain also struggles with overwhelm, organization, and the ability to hold onto a larger perspective. All this is a perfect storm for ADHD doom piling disaster. But don’t worry, you’re not forever doomed to trip over your doom piles. 

5 Ways to Get Rid of ADHD Doom Piles

Here are 5 tips to help you declutter and de-doom.

  1. Put it back where it belongs

There’s a common refrain that ADHDers can learn from: “Don’t put it down, put it away.” As many of you know, it’s all too easy to just toss something in a pile that you tell yourself you’ll deal with later. Despite your best intentions, though, it just keeps growing and growing. Practice putting stuff back where it belongs right after you’re done using it.

  1. Organize by category

If your stuff doesn’t have a go-to place to go, then make one. That said, don’t just go out and buy a bunch of storage containers if you don’t really need them or won’t use them. (Hello, impulse shopping.) As a general rule, use what you have first. Buying more stuff is not the answer to having too much stuff.

However, storage bins, drawers, cubbies, baskets, and other containers can be your friend. Organize things by category so you know where they are and where to find them – and you can put them back there when you’re done. 

  1. Declutter every day

Declutter your space regularly. Set a timer if that works for you, and then tackle one doom box or pile at a time. The more you take time to declutter, the more likely you are to keep your stacks under control.

  1. Get rid of unneeded items

I’m not saying you should get rid of everything you own. However, owning less stuff will make it harder to clutter up your space. Take inventory of the things you actually need in your home. If it’s been over a year since you’ve worn or used something, it might be a good idea to donate or toss it. Having fewer items can keep the overwhelm at bay and ensure that everything has its own place. 

  1. Reduce your number of ADHD doom piles

Doom piles aren’t a bad thing. There’s no shame in them, although lots of my clients feel ashamed for having them. They can be great for stashing things you might otherwise lose, like keys or your passport. The problem arises when they take over your entire space. You can keep the doom piles to a minimum without abolishing them completely.

Therapy and Coaching Can Help You Banish Your Dreaded Doom Piles

I get how hard it is to live surrounded by ever-growing heaps of stuff. If you want support figuring out how to organize your doom piles in a more sustainable way, I’m here to help. I offer online therapy in Idaho and Iowa and coaching services wherever you’re located for anxious clients who struggle with things like people-pleasing, perfectionism, burnout, overwhelm, and ADHD.

Reach out today and see if we’re a good fit. Let’s start building a better future together.

Meet the author

Danielle Wayne

Danielle is an anxiety therapist and perfectionism coach. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.

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