I’ve struggled with this in my kitchen too, so not long after my diagnosis, I got rid of most of my boring, scratched-up dishes, then replaced them with far fewer, much nicer dishes. And I have zero regrets. Fewer plates and bowls means less visual clutter, and it’s also helped me stay (mostly) on top of dirty dishes.
A single-serve coffee maker
Making coffee and cleaning the coffee maker when you’re done sounds easy enough, and for most people, it is. But folks with ADHD often have trouble initiating tasks. Even the simple steps involved in preparing French press coffee can be overwhelming at times—more so if the device didn’t get cleaned the day before. I would be lost in the mornings without my Nespresso, which removes those obstacles and makes it easy for a person with ADHD to enjoy much-needed caffeine first thing in the morning. You can even subscribe for regular shipments of your favorite coffee and espresso pods, so you never have to remember to reorder.
A smart watch
A person with ADHD can never have too many alarms and reminders. Sure, incessant notifications may lead to a little sensory overload at times, but I need constant reminders of when and where I’m expected to be next—even if it’s back in the kitchen after I’ve wandered into another room to talk to my husband or kids. Having a clock and alarm on my wrist means I’ll know exactly when to drain my pasta water, even if I’m no longer within earshot of the smart screen in my ADHD-friendly kitchen.
This cute analog timer works more like an egg timer or old-school clock than the digital devices I’ve recommended. But instead of dials it features a solid disk to help the user visualize time; with every second that passes, more and more of the disk disappears. Though originally intended for small children, the Time Timer regularly helps this geriatric millennial stay on task with little kitchen jobs like wiping down the stovetop—which can often spiral into an hours-long deep clean if I’m not careful. When I set the Time Timer and put it where I can see it, it inspires me to stay focused on completing just one thing at a time.
Pull-out cabinet organizers
Buying food and then forgetting all about it is a common problem for people with ADHD. The joke usually revolves around vegetables rotting in the bottom of the fridge, but many of us also have three bags of sugar in the pantry. “If they can’t easily see everything that’s on a shelf, the person with ADHD is going to forget that something’s in the back,” Dettmer says. “Instead of digging all the way to the back of the pantry for sugar, they’re just going to go buy more sugar.” Since not everyone has the luxury of a well-lit walk-in pantry, and keeping all of your dry goods out in the open is just asking for clutter (and possibly mice), Dettmer says you can still “unhide” shelf-stable food by installing pull-out shelves in your cabinets.
A good system for taking notes
I often joke that I’m an “idea machine,” and while it’s generally good to be the person in the room with lots of ideas, keeping up with them can be exhausting—especially because ADHD brains often have issues with short-term memory. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have an easy system for note-taking. I prefer to jot down thoughts and lists in the Notes app on my phone so I can access them from any device, and some people use a smart speaker or screen for this purpose. But Dettmer recommends also having old-fashioned pen and paper handy at all times, too. “I always recommend having a notepad attached to the fridge so when you have a thought, or run out of something, you have a place to document it,” she says. The “attached to the fridge” part is key, too, because you wouldn’t want to misplace a little notebook full of your amazing ideas. Or, you know, your grocery list. If you’re going the paper route, you’ll also want lots of pens because you’re definitely going to lose some of those.