Being stressed because you can’t find your car keys and you’re late for work is a relatable human experience. But when it happens weekly, or even daily, the frustration can build up to have a negative impact on your life. Then, when the missing keys are later found to be in your hand or pocket, you might end up getting angry at yourself. If you relate to this story, you might be suffering from ADHD object permanence issues.
For ADHDers, “out of sight, out of mind” isn’t just a saying, it’s a very real struggle. Lets peel back the layers on this concept that is simple but profound in its everyday impact. Object permanence and its effect on ADHD brains can make “here today, gone tomorrow” a recurring theme – and problem – in our lives.
The Puzzle of Object Permanence in ADHD
Object permanence is the understanding that things continue to exist even when they can’t be seen, heard, or sensed. This concept is typically associated with infants, but its implications run deep for adults, especially those with ADHD. For the neurodivergent, the absence of visual cues can turn tasks and objects into distant memories. Why does this happen?
Imagine your brain as a juggler, each ball representing a thought, a task, a to-do item. For the ADHD brain, the balls are often translucent. If they aren’t actively being juggled, they can vanish. This isn’t a deficiency; it’s a different neural wiring. When objects or tasks move out of the direct line of sight or immediate attention, the ADHD quickly shifts focus to the things that are more concrete, sometimes forgetting they exist at all.
Harnessing Visibility: Tools & Methods to Remember
Luckily for us neurodivergent people, there are methods and tools available to help us keep the most important things from vanishing from our consciousness. Try a few of these out to keep object permanence from getting in your way:
Instead of saying you’ll do the dishes “later,” specify a time. “I’ll do the dishes at 7:15 PM,” followed by setting an alarm, cements the task in your time-space continuum.
Example: “I’ll respond to that email after lunch.” Fast-forward past lunch, and the email is a distant memory, just like the hoagie you ate.. Solution? Set a specific time and use a task manager app to remind you.
Clear organizer bins can be a godsend. Instead of tucking your bills into a drawer, you can keep them in a transparent file on your desk to keep them on your visual radar. Clear refrigerator bins can help you to keep fresh foods top-of-mind, so you can eat more of your produce before it goes bad.
Example: We’ve all placed something in a drawer for ‘safekeeping’ only to forget its existence. Often this is because we just locked the item completely out of our field of vision. A transparent storage solution can help maintain awareness of your hidden treasures.
Ever tied a string around your finger as a child to remember something? This tactile approach can be modernized — wearable tech, like smartwatches, can nudge you with vibrations for tasks.
Use sticky notes in strategic places. A note on the bathroom mirror to remind you to email your colleague or a post-it on the door to take out the trash as you leave for work can work wonders. There are even location-based reminders you can set on your phone.
Example: A whiteboard right by the door to the garage with reminders of what you need to get when you go out can be a lifesaver.
No Two Neurodivergent Minds are the Same
The journey to efficient organization and task management is highly personal, especially in the neurodivergent community. It’s essential to experiment with different methods to find what resonates with your mind!
Whether it’s sticky notes, clear bins, digital nudges, or even that good old-fashioned string around your finger, the goal is to make the invisible, visible. Play with different methods and discover the joy in the act of remembering. The Neurospicy Shop is here to help you through this exploration with tools, support, and a community that gets it. Because in the brilliant mosaic of the neurodiverse mind, every piece deserves to be seen and celebrated.