Commercial Break Cleaning: The ADHD Cleaning Hack That Actually Works

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

If you’re like me, you hate cleaning and you have ADHD.

As far as I can remember, I just could not keep my room clean. I would be constantly told by my parents to clean it up, put things back after I use them, and my favorite “how can you live this? Doesn’t it bother you?”

The truth is it never bothered me. And it still doesn’t.

Now it’s not that I choose to be messy; it’s that my brain literally, rarely can finish a single task at a time. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have ADHD or executive functioning issues, but there’s just something in you that truly is unbothered by things not getting done fully because you found something else in the process. Here’s an example:

I needed to vacuum my bedroom rug. So I moved all the clothes off the floor, put them in a hamper. Started vacuuming. Saw a jumpsuit I never wore and don’t want anymore. Stopped vacuuming. Put the jumpsuit on my couch to put on Poshmark later. Went to the fridge to get something. Remembered I needed to Drano my shower drain. I went into the bathroom and dumped Drano down the shower. Looked in the mirror, decided I needed to wax my eyebrows. Plugged the waxer in to start heating up. Went back to the couch to list the jumpsuit. Responded to a few texts. Napped for an hour. Woke up, rinsed the Drano down. Made dinner. Sat back on the couch, moving the still unlisted jumpsuit to the side, researched how to become a yoga instructor, and then fell into a YouTube binge. Hours later I was ready for bed, went into the bathroom, forgot I plugged the waxer in, was happy I did that hours earlier, waxed my eyebrows, got ready for bed. Got into my bedroom, saw the light was already on, an overflowing hamper was sitting in my path of the bed, and the vacuum still sitting on a mostly dirty rug. “Oh right, I was vacuuming earlier.” Well, that’ll have to wait till tomorrow. At least I got the shower drain unclogged.

This isn’t a made up scenario; this actually is what happened just yesterday.

Photo by No Revisions on Unsplash

But for those of us with ADHD, this is our brain constantly. And while I’ve figured out ways of coping with it for various parts of my life, I still couldn’t get over my messiness. For years I’ve been trying to figure out how to just get things done without hurriedly shoving everything into a closet before having guests over (and then having to deal with that chaos at some point).

After about a year of doing this, I have a found a way to at least get some cleaning done a couple times a week, where the whole point is to not stay in one spot for any real lengthy amount of time. And here it is:

Clean on commercial breaks.

I have gotten far more done in 2 hours of TV commercial breaks than I could ever get done in a full weekend. I believe the reason this works is because you know you only have 2–4 minutes (depending on the commercials), so it doesn’t seem overwhelming and you can easily stay focused on something for just a few minutes.

In 2 hours of commercial break cleaning, I have:

  • Run a full load of dishes in the dishwasher
  • Folded/put away full load of clothes and towels
  • Swept/vacuumed all the floors
  • Wiped down the kitchen counter/table

I can guarantee you that had I not done this while solely on the commercials, I would not even have gotten that much done in a full weekend, let alone a full week. And sure it may not seem like a lot to many of you, I know my fellow ADHD people will understand the enormity of doing that much — and completing it — in that short amount of time.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In my 30+ years of living, there has never been something that has worked so well. I do this typically on Sunday and Monday night TV because I can count on some iteration of 90 Day Fiance on Sunday nights for 2 hours, and either some iteration of The Bachelor or DWTS on Monday nights for 2 hours. This is almost the entirety of when I do my cleaning. Sometimes, when I’m really ahead of the game, I’ll take a commercial break or two to wipe down the baseboards throughout the place or repot one of my plants.

To all my fellow ADHD’ers, please enjoy my commercial break cleaning hack, and let me know how it goes for you.

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