Stop Making Yourself Smaller with Cara Steinmann
You’ve probably been told that because you’re neurodivergent, you’ll struggle with being organized. Because it’s all so overwhelming to deal with “stuff.” As someone who is both neurodivergent and incredibly organized, I call bullshit.

It’s not about one or the other, it’s about finding the systems that work for you.

This week on the podcast, professional organizer and declutter coach Wendy Zanders is taking on the critics who think that neurodivergent business owners are doomed to be unorganized for life. She shares her own story of an ADD diagnosis and how she’s created systems that work for her and her family.

Wendy’s clients have been successful in maintaining their spaces because she listens to them and takes their family dynamics into consideration when decluttering with them. Because what might work for my family and me might not work at all for yours. Every home and office needs a system designed specifically for the people who will use and maintain them.

Listen in for Wendy’s tips and tricks as well as permission to let some things go, depending on what season you’re in right now.

About Wendy Zanders:
Wendy Zanders is a professional organizer, declutter coach, and special needs mama who is passionate about helping the special needs community take their homes and lives FROM Overwhelmed TO Simplified. An underperformer in grade school due to undiagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADD), Wendy worked hard and surpassed the expectations of everyone around her. Early in her career, she found that she had a knack for systems and organizing, but found herself living in a totally disorganized home after several episodes of depression. She helps the special needs community get organized by helping them identify what has created the disorder in their lives, and by helping them create systems so they can get back in control of their possessions and homes.

Links & Resources:

Time Stamps:

[1:06] – Organization from the neurodivergent brain
[3:55] – More about Wendy
[7:16] – Sometimes you have to find your own way
[8:50] – You didn’t fail; you need to figure out how you learn
[10:17] – Neurotypical organizers don’t work well with neurodiverse people
[17:51] – Just because you’re ADHD doesn’t mean you’ll be disorganized
[22:44] – Sometimes you find money when you declutter
[24:25] – The house isn’t a priority when you’re taking care of family members
[26:50] – It’s hard to ask for help –
[29:20] – Find ways to divide and conquer using body doubling
[31:06] – Using music to get kids to clean their rooms
[32:55] – Tips for dealing with business paperwork
[34:45] – Organizing yearly statements and receipts
[36:30] – To digitize or keep physical copies of paperwork
[38:14] – The papers hold memories
[40:15] – It might be difficult to let go of things in the special needs community because of what’s important to the kids
[42:30] – How to make the Marie Kondo method work for you


Amber Hawley 0:01
Business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type aways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur and as dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional care for entation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelm perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you.

Amber Hawley 0:41
Hello, hello, welcome back to the podcast. Today, I have a friend and super special guests who I think you’re going to love the wonderful Wendy Zander’s, who is a professional organizer and declutter coach for Neuro divergent people. And that is like, that’s like, I always say organization is my porn. And it’s like organization, all my favorite things, and you have an understanding of how the neurodivergent brain works. We love this. We love this. So welcome, Wendy to the podcast.

Wendy Zanders 1:17
Thank you so much for having me. Amber. I’m so excited to be here.

Amber Hawley 1:21
Yes, I know, I’m and for those of you listening, this is I had this awareness today, I was like, this is a great week, because you were our guest expert training this week in our, in the inner circle, where you helped people go through some paperwork, and you actually did some co working with them, which was really lovely. And then I’m interviewing today, even though this is going to come out in a few, you know, few weeks later. And then I realized this is very fortuitous, because tomorrow is Veterans Day. And you are a veteran. So thank you for your service. Let’s find your husband because your husband as well.

Wendy Zanders 1:58
Yeah. Our pleasure to serve.

Amber Hawley 2:02
My husband is a veteran as well. So I of course have a lot of respect for the people who who vote well volunteer, it is really in sacrifice for the country like that. So thank you,

Wendy Zanders 2:15
I have been a, I’ve been a military spouse, and I’ve been a service member. And being a service member is a lot easier to me. I think being a service member and waiting for the phone calls and all those things that was hard already, and you are a service member as well. So being the spouse just sitting back and waiting for information that was so much harder. So kudos to you and your family.

Amber Hawley 2:40
That was tough. I will say my husband was in Iraq at the very beginning, before there was a lot of communication established. So like we went months, and I tend to skew a little, like paranoid negative sometimes. And so yeah, I was that I was. So it was so stressful. And unfortunately, he was in like a major incidents. There’s even a book written about it. So I was like, Oh, my gosh, that was really, really hard. But obviously being there. And going through it was tough, but I appreciate that because it is it is there just it’s there’s different levels and varying levels of hard, right.

Wendy Zanders 3:18
That is so true. And no two people experiences are the same.

Amber Hawley 3:22
Exactly, exactly. So, so yeah, I thought oh, this is so fortuitous, even though it wasn’t like intentionally planned. I was like, this is your week, Wednesday. So Happy Wednesday week. For the for all of us easily distracted entrepreneurs. I love it. So before we get into talking about you know, organizing and all decluttering and all those wonderful things that are so can be so challenging for us people are US neurodivergent people, why don’t you tell us just a little bit more about yourself?

Wendy Zanders 3:56
Yeah, so I graduated high school at an age at 18. But I joined the military at 17. So even though I served it, I think that joining the military was one of the grown up things to do one of the best decisions I’ve made and you know, I joined for the military for the for the money for college when the recruiters were able to come into the high school in the cafeteria and talk you off about college and what are you going to do with your life. And I joined for the money for college. But the experiences even in my everyday life, I am still using my military experience. So it has been an overarching experience when I’ve been observed. I met my husband the first day of service in basic training in what’s in in South Carolina. We have two wonderful children and we are all neurodivergent all shows up differently for all of us. So absolutely. My nine year old daughter, she’s a reminder like if you say we’re going to the beach tomorrow She will remind you, and my son has his own way of. I mean, it’s amazing how our brains work. We’re all just so different.

Amber Hawley 5:08
I know it is interesting, because, yeah, I see the same. I don’t know about my youngest, like, I haven’t seen things yet. But definitely my older two children, myself and my husband, like, he’s got ADHD and, and all of our shows up very differently. Right. And I, I’ve talked about on the podcast, like I follow and do trainings with Dr. Ayman, and he talks about the seven types of ADD. And I have like the over focus type. And so I’m the reminder person, which my oldest daughter is that person as well. Like, she will not let you forget things, which is really lovely. Whereas my husband has kind of classic, like, you know, distracted ADHD, and he cannot remember anything like literally, literally, I came home from a trip last night. And we were talking and the kids were already asleep. And I said, Well, I guess technically it’s 915. So it makes sense that they fell asleep before because I got home at 815. And he’s like, What do you mean? I said, well, because we fell back on Sunday. And he’s like, What? He’s like, No, it’s not this weekend. I was like, Dude, it just happened. No, now to his defense. He was sick. So he was sick last week. But I’m like, Are you kidding me? I said, you at one point did know, I said your phone automatically updates. But at one point, you changed the microwave and stove. You don’t remember doing that this week? I mean, it’s only it was only Wednesday. So that was what three? In the last three days. Do you remember change the clock? And he said, I don’t remember those. But downstairs, he’s like, What is going on? All these clocks are off, I think we need to get new batteries in them. That all shows up differently. Right?

Wendy Zanders 6:49
When I was in the military, I didn’t even realize that I had ADHD until my son was diagnosed. And I was in my early 30s. So that’s kind of looking back over my life. And I’m like, Oh, this makes so much sense now, you know, in basic training, like learning my general orders and learning the ranks, and I’m like, why am I not getting this? And instead of following my friends and how we were studying, I’m like, You know what, I gotta find my own way. So I was able to like, okay, he memorized and just have pictures assigned to things. But it was crazy. Looking back on how I was managing my ad my undiagnosed ADHD and creating those systems for myself. It’s absolutely amazing.

Amber Hawley 7:31
I know. And, you know, well, so that’s actually very, that’s a very common scenario that moms do not get diagnosed until their kids get diagnosed. And we see that in the 30s and 40s. Also, in general, women tend to miss diagnosis, because it doesn’t show up as like, being problematic in the class, besides maybe being talkative. And and of course, there are men that don’t get diagnosed either, like there are exceptions. But in general, that’s the majority that we see. And so it is really interesting. And I it’s the same thing when I look back, because I was diagnosed at like, 4041. And when I look back and think, oh, my gosh, but we’re so good at getting creative solutions to so that we can function so that we can get there. But of course, it takes so much more energy and effort than if we knew and had like specific strategies for ourselves. Right? Absolutely. Yeah, it’s so intriguing. It’s so fascinating. But, and that’s the hard part is so many people that are left, like feeling, oh, I’m not smart enough or good enough, or there’s something wrong with me. And really, like most of the people I know, are so smart. It’s just that we work differently, right? So

Wendy Zanders 8:41
find those strategies for themselves to say, Okay, this system didn’t work, or even if even then I’m gonna, we’re gonna get into the decluttering and organizing, but even in life, you know, it’s like, oh, I failed at this. We didn’t fail. You just have to find your own way, on changing up how you learn. And it’s about how you learn and taking information to, you know, it’s not one way of learning something. So people always think, Oh, well, I failed at that. No, you didn’t fail just to find your way of learning something.

Amber Hawley 9:09
Yeah, I love that you say that, especially even that you said, My friends were doing it one way. And I realized I need to do it different. So there wasn’t even a judgment there. It’s like, I just need to figure out my way. And I think that’s so good. Because often, again, people are beating themselves up. And it’s like, finding your own path. I think and having acceptance about that as a huge piece of like feeling better and making peace with your brain working differently. And then and then when you enhance when you really embrace that it can be amazing, right?

Wendy Zanders 9:39
And loving our brains because sometimes you’re like, Oh, I hate my ADHD or I hate my brain. And it’s like, no, let’s love your brain. And let’s find that solution that works for you. Instead of seeing I’m broken, my brain is broken, my family’s broken and then trying to find you away so then you can teach your kids because your kids are like mine. Kids are a mess, because I’m a mess, you know. So it kind of trickles down to the kids to

Amber Hawley 10:04
100%. And I, you know, I particularly love, like, you know, I’ve talked about, there are many productivity people out there, there are many organizers out there. And I have come across like really wonderful ones. And then I’ve come across some people who, like are neurotypical, and they don’t have any understanding. And so they can be really judgmental. And I think that people have that bad experience. So I love that you became a professional organizer, because we know that like executive functioning and organization can be a challenge for many, although, again, it shows a different, like, I love organization, but it’s, it’s all or nothing. It’s either perfectly labeled and color coded, or it’s a complete shit show, right?

Wendy Zanders 10:47
There’s no gray, it’s off the charts. Yes, no,

Amber Hawley 10:49
in between no in between. And so I love that, because sometimes people think like, oh, well, you can be a professional organizer, if you have ADHD, or I have clients who are like accountants and people think, Oh, well, there’s no way you know, because some people struggle with that stuff. And I’m like, Yeah, but it’s about what you love what you’re into, like, you can do anything. It’s just about personally, what’s your, what works for you. And so clearly, you have found the thing that works for you.

Wendy Zanders 11:18
I have worked with clients that have had me come in after they’ve worked with someone, and they will like, I don’t know where to put my stuff. Or they created a file system that they implemented. And I’m like, Well, how do you recall? You know, if you bank with Bank of America, and you know that and you identify your bank statements by the logo, I always ask how do you how would you recall, because I don’t want you to call me at two in the morning, say, hey, where did you find myself? So I always incorporate the client and say, how will you recall your bank statements? Would you want it under B for bank? Or would you want to under, you know, see for Comerica Bank, you know, so how would you recall the filing system and you create it for that. So not every system is the same. You can’t say, This is my system, and everybody has to that’s not how everybody works. Now there are some clients will be like, Oh, I love that. And that’s fine. But every, every family will be different. You do not want people coming back and saying, Where did you put my stuff? You know, my brain implementing it, you want to incorporate with the client with the person with the family in mind.

Amber Hawley 12:28
Yeah, and that’s such a great point. Because I’ve, I’ve worked you know, back in the day before, when I was going back to college, to go from world into becoming a therapist. I was working like temp jobs. And I worked like as people’s like assistants and stuff, because I am really good at those things. But I didn’t organize the files in a way that was so logical for me. And then she came one time when I was like God, and was like, what the because, you know, I guess she was expecting like alphabetical or something. And I was like, oh, no, this first section is based on how much I use it slash importance. The second section Yeah, it’s like It’s true, though, right? We all have to have our own system.

Wendy Zanders 13:14
And if you’re working with I was an executive assistant to and my boss, he did not have ADHD, was a doctor PhD. He was in his zone of genius. And I loved that he trusted me to implement systems for him. And I was like, This is my jam. Or I’ll, if I look at the FDA, or there’ll be a, an office full of like office furniture, and they needed to clear it out, put more desks and cubicles setups, and now I’m like, I’ll do it. So before even knowing that I was going to be an organizer, I was like, Give me that. That’s what I want. You want something cleaned out? I’ll do it. Nobody wants to volunteer. I’m like, it was like a party have fun. But on my jams decluttering at the FDA, okay.

Amber Hawley 13:56
Oh my God, that’s hilarious. See, and I love that it’s so weird, because that’s I talked about it a lot, where I’m like, God, I really, I would love to be like a professional organizer. I say that until I’ve seen, you know, I’ve seen things and I’m like, I don’t want to I don’t want to deal with mice or anything like that, you know, but I love the idea of it. Because I too love that there’s such a sense of satisfaction. And because I think I have that, like, you know, it’s called over focused, but I call it obsessive. Like I love everything to have organization and I feel like peace and it brings me peace and so many people. You know, I kind of want that. But like you said, they don’t create it in a sustainable way. So then they just feel bad. But I know organizing is great because it’s so tangible. You know, there’s so many things we do in business that looks like we don’t see the results right away or it’s like that, like we’re playing the long game or we’re waiting. But when you like when you bring an organized something, it’s sometimes I just go back and like, I’ll re stare at my closet. I’m like, Oh, good. I take pictures of it. It’s I’m telling Yeah, it’s like porn. I’m like, I could just do this all day.

Wendy Zanders 15:04
Because everything is perfect. Don’t touch it. Nobody can live here.

Amber Hawley 15:09
I have fantasies of Yeah, like having like, my house, and then the the like, and then the house that people can live in that I don’t go into. So that gosh, I mean, I’m telling you, and I don’t want to say bad things. But I will tell you my house was so clean and organized while my husband was in Iraq. Agreed. Bless his heart. Bless his heart. You know? That was three kids, right? That was pre kids. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So then I realized, I’m not the problem. Yes.

Wendy Zanders 15:39
But you know, when my husband was in Iraq, I kept myself busy. It was just me in our two bedroom, two bath condo. And every time I was with my dad, he’s like, You got to go home and clean your house, aren’t you? Because I had to keep busy. Because I’m waiting for that phone call. Three days later, I need to make sure that my phone is fully charged. I don’t have a Wi Fi because I can wait. I’m waiting for the phone call. And while I clean, so my house was spotless, and then my son came along and was like, No, lady. No, I’m gonna go into your cabinets. I’m gonna pull up all your pots or pans. No, he was like, we’re not doing this is not how I’m going to live. So everybody’s house is perfect until you have children or you know how to raise kids, but you don’t have kids, you know, so everybody wants to give you their opinion, but they don’t have the children yet. You know, so

Amber Hawley 16:30
you have that strength of forethought, though, because I was like, mine was clean. Because I put things I just put things back where they belong. But I always had that room. Or that bought that tub of crap that I would just pour in. Because again, all or nothing, right? Like so I would always have that space that was always disorganized. It’s almost like I had to keep that. Because then it’s like, or something like Yeah, it’s like there has to be one shit show or everything will be to perfect which you know then foreboding joy all the shit. But yours like so thought like I I went, Yeah, I stayed busy, but in different ways. Like I was more into other things. But yes, I can remember after having my first Hannah. And then she never slept. And in her and I slept in, in the guest room. Because Mark was a UPS driver, my husband. And like he needed to sleep like it would be very dangerous for him not to be sleeping. So for the first like six months, we slept separately. And I remember one day, like I’m so sleep deprived. And I started crying because I was like, Why did I organize my file cabinet before I had my baby, because now it’ll never be organized. And I was like trying to go through stuff. I’m like, oh, good lord, woman like different priorities right once you have the children. Oh, I love it. I love it. Yeah, it seems like you this. That’s what I love. This is why I love your story. Because I think again, I mean, I’ve heard it all because I see therapy clients who are neurodiverse I have coaching clients who are neurodiverse good friends and myself, like everyone around me, right? I surrounded myself with exceptional people. And I’ve heard so many stories about like, just a lot of condescending stuff that people get thrown at them. Because it’s like, because they work differently. And I can imagine people being like, well, you She can’t be a good organizer, because she has ADHD, because they have that one person in their life. That is a shitshow organizationally. And they’re out there. That’s okay.

Wendy Zanders 18:31
Yeah, that that mindset, when I started doing my business, I’m like, there was no way other people have even said, Wait, you have ADHD, and you’re an organizer? And I was like, How can I do this? You know, I felt like, I was a fraud. How can I be an organizer when I have ADHD? How can I help other people? Because I have ADHD. And just because you have ADHD doesn’t mean that you’re disorganized. You have to find a system that works for you. Again, you can be an accountant and be like, your numbers are precise. Yes, that’s your jam. You know, and there’s so many people, even on in Facebook groups where people will post and said I had an organizer come in to help me. And they walked in and they were like, nope, and they shamed them and they wouldn’t work with them. And that does break my heart. If you are a professional organizer out there. And you are working with the neurodiverse community or maybe you need to have a better screening process on who you will work with us won’t work with. But you signed up to help. So there are people that will say Wendy, I’ve been following you for a year. Now I’m ready for you to come in because they wanted to make sure that I really was non judgmental of that error. So embarrassing for somebody to let somebody into their home they already embarrassed. They need help. And the person comes in and shames them. So people are living in silence. People are like, not seeking help or trying to do it on their own and they keep failing. links do just keep spiraling. So it’s so important if this is the career for you, people have got to be compassionate and non judgmental.

Amber Hawley 20:08
Yes. And that’s the thing, like so many. That’s what I mean. Like so many people have been shamed either for their career or their home. And, and yeah, there’s nothing I think it’s so deeply personal, like someone’s coming into your home to feel like somehow you’re like a failure, which I think we interpret as, like, I’m, yeah, I’m a failure as a person. I’m not a good parent, because I have this, you know, mess or whatever. And I’m constantly like, supporting clients in No, hire somebody like good people do not judge just like I’m encouraging people for bookkeepers. I’m like, I get it, because I’ve had my money shames stuff of like, it’s so disorganized, or, you know, like I had debt or this or that and you think you’re gonna be judged? I said, could people do not good people at their job, neurotypical neurodivergent, whatever, do not judge you. They love I said, they love coming in and fixing it and making it great. Like it’s their passion, right? And it takes a while for, you know, to get my clients on board with that, but I highly encourage it. And, you know, I’ve always said like, I’m, I’m naturally really good at organizing. And I love it. Like, that’s, like, I can spend a weekend. And I think it’s well spent to organize my I love it. But I finally like hired a professional and had her come. And she actually stayed with me. And to help me because when we moved to North Carolina, it was like I was so exhausted and burnt out. And I had everything unpacked and put away within like three weeks, except for our downstairs like playroom was a shitshow and my office in this corner, I had a giant boxes of paperwork and crap, because it was the paperwork, it was so overwhelming, right? Because I would when you go through paperwork, and this is why I wanted you to come into the membership and train because when you go through your paperwork, I would go, Oh my fucking god, like, here’s the thing that I didn’t do when like I needed to pay or, you know, like some random thing not like a regular bill, or like, oh, like a parking ticket that I forgot about. Or I would then and then I feel the shame of it. So going through paperwork can bring it so much shame. Or I saw, like, I remember going through and saying, oh, like if you see like a ticket or some all of those have been taken care of like, I just never opened them. So don’t worry, like they’re all good, but, but it’s embarrassing, right? But I was like, I’m just it is what it is. And then there was like jury summons. I’m like, fuck, like, you know, prime on the lam right now, for all I knew. I didn’t do you know, things like that? Or even like, there were checks that didn’t get cashed or

Wendy Zanders 22:42
ones? Yeah. Claim your money. Cash is pouring out checks. And it’s sometimes you find money when you’re decluttering. And it’s okay. You know, this is a to do list for you to call that company and say, Hey, can you be issuing the check? I’m so sorry. I didn’t catch that check. Of course, I want my money. Who knows? You know, so yeah, just put those things on the to do list and it’s no shame be like, you kind of inviting somebody into like, I don’t know, not watching you on dress but into like your private space.

Amber Hawley 23:15
Yes, it is. It is like getting naked. It’s emotionally naked. It’s vulnerable. It Yeah, really vulnerable. So yeah, it’s having that person you do trust or trusting the process like, and it was easy because I actually found it easier. Because there was some stuff I could pass off. So if I didn’t have to see it, and then I was like, Okay, so let me know, you know, and then I can go through in one little stripe and not have to like be traumatized, re traumatized re traumatize, you know, she could bring me all of the things that potentially could be a problem. And so yeah, you’re and even if it’s just like silly things, like missed opportunities, or I found birthday cards that I thought I had mailed, like shit like that, where you’re like, oh, my gosh, and so it is hard, right? And I’m and again, I’m saying this as someone who I am extremely organized. And there are just times where life gets overwhelming, right? So I love that you help people with this. And I especially I actually think it’s such an asset that you are so accepting and understanding. I think that actually makes you better at what you do.

Wendy Zanders 24:16
I work with them. neurodivergent and a special needs community. So autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome. And the thing is, it’s like if you have a child that is in another hospital because it’s not. Sometimes it’s not always constant. It can be a phase like these past two months, I was in the hospital with my son or my daughter. The house is not your priority. And sometimes giving permission on a lot of my posts on social media is permission granted, not to make your bed permission granted not to do the extra load of laundry matter of fact, if you if you have 10 loads of laundry, and your kids are not walking around naked, it’s time to declutter your clothes. So I say funny things like that. And you’re like yes That means you have more than enough clothes. Now if you told me your kids are walking around naked still permission granted like in your underwear, it is okay and nice inside.

Amber Hawley 25:11
But well it is hot in Florida. Let’s face it. I mean aren’t swimsuits basically underwear Come on?

Wendy Zanders 25:20
Right. So granted, I do a lot of those mission granted to, you know, declutter your clothes closet, declutter the kids clothes, a lot of times the kids we have, they have sensory issues. So if you don’t have that they’re only weighing three types of shirts, or only three shirts, get rid of the rest, don’t only buy maybe it’s the type, maybe it’s the texture, find those and let them just wear those. It is okay for people to think I know your kids, I’m wearing three shirts, who cares? They didn’t know, okay, these are sensory kids. They’re not naked. Not okay. That’s a win, claim it and it’s okay. And I love that that we give them permission to toss that item and take care of your family that is most important. I tell people, I can fail in business. I can feel it other things in my life. But I cannot fail at being a mother. And a lot of times you give them the permission to say take care of your children. You don’t want to say well, I can’t go to the hospital and stay overnight. Because I’m doing laundry. That’s not important. And then once your child is better, then let’s reset your home. But in the meantime, or try to get help. When somebody’s saying hey, how can I support you? Tell them what you need? It is okay to say hey, would you mind coming in? And you know watching the kids? Or would you mind scrubbing a bathroom for me? Or I would like to collect some money to get a house cleaner or something like that we are so bad at asking for help. Yes, we would just figure it out on our own even mean that one is like I give myself permission. But it’s hard. It is hard to ask for help. But when they know that you are dealing with a sick child in the hospital, and they’re seriously asking you how can I help? Tell them what you need? And it’s okay, exactly.

Amber Hawley 27:07
I know. And again, it brings up the shame like I’m not doing it good enough or like you know how things will be embarrassing. But yeah, I am glad because under neuro divergence, I’m glad you mentioned it, like I have a lot of clients who are you know, are autistic as well, like, and I’ve talked a little bit about, like, I’ve started to see some qualities in myself, because sometimes we’re not. We’re human, right. So we’re not like, you fall in only this camp. Like there’s, like I say there’s some OCD stuff for me, but also some autistic stuff, which I noticed because my son does it right. Like he has more of that. And like you said, there’s food stuff, there’s clothing stuff. And I think like when you let go Yeah, like I’m supposed to, I don’t want people to think he only has three shirts, right? But if like you if you get rid of all that extra clutter, it actually makes your life so much easier. So that you know, like it’s it just because that’s one of those things like I do this twice a year where I go through all my kids clothes and like get rid of the ones that are the wrong size and or you know, and then donate them as they refuse to wear. Oh, exactly. Well, this is why I now they have to shop with me because I’m like, there is no from a very young age. I was like there’s no way I’m going to spend 60 bucks on something and then you don’t wear it like I hate that. You know or and this this is the My husband will he does our laundry for all the kids and I only have to do mine thank God because I hate it. I rather clean a toilet. But he will mix up their clothes and put like the switch the daughter’s clothes once once now 13 The others ate. And so then they grow out of it. And I was like furious. I was like I spent so much money and they didn’t wear that thing because it wasn’t in their room. You know, like things like that make me nuts, but But yeah, like streamlining and making it easier. I own eight of the same dress that I bought on Amazon, like two black ones to blue because those were my favorites. I like a purple, green and something like I own a whole bunch, right? Because it’s like, it’s super comfortable, like you said doesn’t have any like, I texturally like, matters to me that sensory stuff. And it makes your life so easy. And I don’t like to deal I do laundry like once a month.

Wendy Zanders 29:19
You know, you mentioned that you would rather clean a toilet than do laundry. In our home. We do by the billing, we and I encourage people to do by the doctor like like if somebody likes laundry, you do dishes and divide and conquer and just have a list of all the chores and let people pick what they like to do. And then the things that you don’t like to do try to hire it out or something like that, but it should not be all over painful. Find the things that you love. Maybe your spouse would like something totally different. And you divide and conquer you know do what together if it’s something that nobody really wants to do divide and conquer and do it together. You know it’s so it there are different tips and ways that You know, I help families divide and conquer these tips.

Amber Hawley 30:03
Yeah, I love that. Because it’s true that, like, there’s, you know, obviously, it’s nice to have knowledge of how to, like, take care of yourself in your home. And you know, but I’m a big fan of if you can hire it out, because and just focus on the kids will actually have a much easier time of doing something they actually are behind than trying to do something that they don’t this is why I also don’t do dishes. I don’t like things that are always repetitive, like constant like dishes and laundry, it feels like it’s a never ending. And that is so depressing to me. Right? Like I would rather and you know, my husband can’t organize. So I would rather do something where at the end, I’m like, Yes. And it stays that way for a hot minute.

Wendy Zanders 30:45
At least longer than a day, right? Where it’s like, I’m like,

Amber Hawley 30:50
yeah, that’s my fantasy. That’s my fantasy man. But no. So I love that you say that. And I think it is about like, yeah, utilizing body doubling. I think I talked about this on a different episode where my husband is really great at this. He’s the patient one I’m not. And he like he says he has the kids, like he’ll go into their rooms now. Do they? Or do they clean them? Does he and then clean their rooms away? I would No, not to my level. But he will say Okay, pick three songs. And they play the songs. And they clean during that time. And they get so much done, because they’re in that moment. And they know there’s an endpoint, right. And it’s amazing what they can get done.

Wendy Zanders 30:50
You know, and you have to make it fun. And I love hockey game of pies. And you know, he makes it fun. Because if it’s just Okay, let’s pick up. I love that. So he does have a level of organizing there. So I give him some credit for that.

Amber Hawley 31:41
No, this is I attribute this to the military. He is He is it’s about being neat, not clean. Like it’s not Oregon. If I showed I wish I had video of this when you would die. In our old playroom in California, it was our garage that we converted into a proper room, he would get the giant you know those giant brooms that like janitors, like the outside rooms, he would literally broom all of the toys to a corner. And that was his way of cleaning. And I was like, they never play with anything then because they can’t find it. And that looks like crap. It looks like junk or garbage. So like I would go and it would take me all day and I would work it out. But he would literally do the head. I’m like the cordon off a table top. And then he’s like, I’m done. So I think it’s about there’s neat, and then there’s organized. Visually, he could he could look in one direction and be okay with his life. Okay, love it. Well, um, so yeah, if we’re, I mean, I know like, you’re a wealth of knowledge for all of those creative ways, like you said, gamifying and kind of changing it up. And so when it comes to I just want to touch on it. And I know you talked about it more in the training. But when it comes to paperwork, because this is the thing with business owners, right, it’s like, we have the thing that we do that maybe we open our business because we’re therapists or professional organizers, or we’re you know, CPAs or lawyers, and we have the thing that we know how to do then there’s all the other stuff you have to do for your business. And then inevitably, it’s like the shitshow piles of paperwork. Do you have any tips for how either to tackle that or just like a way of approaching that that makes it feel a little more manageable?

Unknown Speaker 33:25
Yeah, you know, when it comes to papers, I like physical papers, I’m trying to go digital in 2023. But my mind I have to open it, put the paid stamp on it and write the date saying okay, this is paid and either shred it or file it. And that’s how I do it. So if you’re looking at your desk, and there’s just stuff everywhere. And also with ADHD, you want to be able to come part you can’t compartmentalize everything in your life. But when you’re trying to focus, compartmentalize like your bills, your social media stuff this or that. So when you’re doing the desk, I like to sort it out in categories. So if I’m focusing on bills, then that’s just what I’m focusing on. Whether I go in and I pay that bill right then and there or I write it on my calendar, I have a paper calendar that I use, it’s the it’s the add a glance. So it gives me like the month but every day there’s also a couple page a couple lines where I can write my tasks in there. If you can automate the bills, that’s great too but if you need to, you know maybe wait for money to come in to pay it. You can do it as well that way but I compartmentalize and then I file if I don’t need it for tax time I get rid of it. I don’t even keep it. The other approach that I’ve I’ve done in the past I had a the tabs that January to December and I’ve put it in there so when the next January come around, then I get rid of that January statement. So if you want if you want to keep stuck with a year you don’t know what to keep, you’re now starting your business and you don’t know what we need for tax purposes. That’s how I’ve done it in the past as well. Other types of papers, I like to just have files, I have a file in my desk. But I don’t like to put things away in like a file cabinet or far away because out of sight, out of mind, so I have to be able to open up this drawer, if it’s active, like how you were doing it for that, that for the assistant job, it’s like things that I use all the time was right in this file, but everything else was out in the file cabinet. Right? And really didn’t need it. A lot of the times.

Amber Hawley 35:28
Yeah, no, that’s a great point. Yeah, cuz it’s, I agree with you that active stuff that needs to be visually like in front of me, or I will just forget about it. And that’s always the worry, I think with people who are, you know, with ADHD, it’s like, if I don’t see it, I’m gonna forget about it. And so it’s like, you need to keep it there. But there’s, there’s that balance, like for me, like aesthetics matter. And so then you’re like, ah, but if I put it away, I will not remember it. Right. In my, my filing cabinet. The it’s the only things that are in there are those things that like, you know, like, health care stuff for the kids or tax, like you said, past tax stuff, or we keep one manila envelope upstairs, where Mark does it to put anything that comes in? That’s like tax related. And then eventually I take it downstairs and I take care of all you know, and then give it to the CPA, but But yeah,

Wendy Zanders 36:21
it’s military records. I don’t know what like, Oh, yeah. Oh, gosh, file cabinet drawer, my husband has a drawer. So we’re trying to like flow like, Okay, what do we must carry, digitize this, DD 214. You know, you need to keep that as a physical copy, ultimate digital copy. So every bit, again, every family is different if the family doesn’t have military, or maybe there’s another type of service, where you’re like, I have to keep all these things. And then you create that structure around that. But for business, all those business documents, have a digital copy and have a physical copy as well. Because if you need to evacuate, and you may not be able to get to those physical documents, at least you have a digital version of that. So it’s so important for that.

Amber Hawley 37:03
Exactly. And I think like scheduling, that time to digitize stuff is really important. Because like you said, there’s I think, you know, we went like post Iraq, and then post my son’s accident, we were in this place of wanting to be prepared, right. And so we really did a good job of those documents, like your deed, your house, your you know, your copies of your social security card, your even your driver’s license, and things like cars, you know, like, I remember hearing things from like people in Katrina, where they had no way to prove who they were, you know, that kind of stuff where, so it’s like, those kinds of stuff. And then yeah, like my husband’s military. Well, he’s retired now, like, he retired with, like, 26 years. And you used to have a giant file cabinet. And then he was like, down, down, down. And now it’s, it’s in one of these, like Class B things like this big, and it’s hitting hits, like you organize it your way, because I won’t be the way that I do it. So he has said that, but like you said, you need that stuff, right. Like it’s, and you know, and then we have like, the fire safe, you know, and important things, but, but having it digitized I think is really important as well.

Wendy Zanders 38:13
And you know, a lot of times to the paper, it’s just, it’s the memories, right? Like, right now, our entire file cabinet is like, what I want to see my two mile run and how many pushups I did when I was 18. And so I have those things, because I don’t need the space right now. But next year, it’s like, okay, we need to go through when do I really need to keep my whole physical, you know, record, you know, and to digitize it, it’s okay, so you know, you’re not completely getting rid of it, because it’s your memories. But it doesn’t have to be paper. So if you need to evacuate, you just have a little bit and everything else is digitized.

Amber Hawley 38:49
Right. And I love that strategy. There’s two things like the way our brains work, right? One is, if you’re forcing yourself to let go before you’re ready, like it’s makes it so painful. And I think like, yeah, digitizing allows you to say okay, I can keep this without having excessive stuff. So it’s that helps like declutter, physically. But the other piece is, I think it’s like a muscle, right? So there are things that when I and I organize probably, I like to do a big thing in my house, like twice a year, like I said, usually, and it’s like, every time I go back, I’m like, now willing to let go of something. It was like no problem. Like there’s just because I’m building that muscle of like, I really don’t need this, like you said all that, you know, stuff and like, I saw this funny meme where parents, you know, my mom sent like this giant bin of like memorabilia crap. So then I had to go through it, which really sucked because I had three young kids but I like gave my I gave myself the opportunity to go through and like, oh, wow, remember this and like, show my husband or show my kids who didn’t care. You know what? I mean? Like, oh, and I remember once my mom was like, You got rid of all that. It was like, Yes, I’m not like dad. I like to be minimalist ish. You know? But but there were some things that you do end up keeping, right? Because it’s it didn’t. And I think you would say probably like, anything that’s like, not memorabilia. But sentimental is always the hardest to let go of, because that’s not replaceable.

Wendy Zanders 40:13
And especially with the special needs community, you will have children that want to keep, you know, 10 Stuffed animals I have I currently worked with a an adult male who had autism, he was 19 that loved the Marie Kondo method with the folding of the T shirts that that process, he loved it. So he sat on the floor, and he bought his shirts while I was doing everything else around him. But he loved it. So she was like, he loved this process. I’m like, let’s keep it if that’s how he’s going to recall the shirts. Let’s have him do that. But he also loved he didn’t love the weighted blankets, but he loves 11 blankets on his bed. So because he wanted the weight of it, and I’m like it is okay, so the mom was like, Can you help him get rid of some blankets, I’m like, if he loves the blankets, I suggest keeping those all 11 blankets. But what we did is not having 11 on the bed. We had maybe three on the bed and the rest we had an a quarter folded in, in a basket for him. Because he loved the weighted blanket feels maybe there might be a weighted blanket out there that he may love eventually, but it’s okay to keep them on blankets. Like I will never tell them like oh, no, you shouldn’t we have to. Yeah, but no, the family can say I’m willing to get rid of nine and keep two, you know, so and sometimes two after I’m done working with a client, they want to keep you know, empty water bottles or whatever that thing is. But then the next week, they will say when do you know that thing that I’ve been holding on to? I got rid of it?

Amber Hawley 41:47
Yes. Because because you’re not forcing them. And that’s the other thing like like you said, I mean as a parent because I can remember being like, Okay, pick 10 of these you want to keep you know, like stuffed animals it was the stuffed animals thing. Yeah. And but but like as somebody coming in, I think it is respecting people’s process. First of all, I also friggin hate weighted blankets. I I’m so it’s so interesting to hear that because I do like that weight, but they are so friggin heavy. Like I find it oppressive. I do and yeah, but it isn’t interesting though. And by the way, I’ve been doing Marie Kondo folding for like eight years, it is transformational. I highly, like Google that shit, watch it on YouTube, it it’s changed your life,

Wendy Zanders 42:29
I love some of her approaches, I don’t like all of them with all the books and put them in the middle of the floor. Mike, please do not do that. Because with ADHD, that is all the brainpower you took to put it on the floor. And now you want me to declutter it, you’re gonna want those books for months. So I always say, take one shelf of books, take 10 books, take five, take two and just start a process. Because when you run out of steam, or again, we talked about before, we started about riding the wave of hyper focus, right, because once that hyper focus is gone, at least you have a stopping point versus a, you know, a whole bunch of books on your floor that you’re trying to press. So I always try to do those mini steps of a process. If you’re cleaning out your closet, take out five items from your closet, don’t take everything out and put it on the bed, because you’re gonna run out of steam. And now you’re sleeping on the couch because your bed is full of clothes.

Amber Hawley 43:27
I know so many people feel seen in that right now. I love it. I love that

Wendy Zanders 43:32
steps at a time, break it down into small bite sized pieces. And I have anxiety as well. So even in my own life, I always say how can I take this big task and break it down into small bite sized pieces. So that’s my approach when I work with myself when I work with clients when I work with kids as well and families.

Amber Hawley 43:52
I love that and it’s so good to hear. And that’s where like understanding that’s the difference of understanding like theory and bigger picture of how everyone can work differently as opposed to what works for you. Because so many people will be like, well, this works for me. So it should work for you. Because I am one of those people although you are right like there are times where I will have that big pile like sitting there for a long time depending on what it is. But I love taking out all the clothes. But you do you have to be really caffeinated man because you do lose. But that wouldn’t I agree with you and I think about all the people Yeah, that talk about that. Or I or that’s what I ended up with those boxes and then they sit there for months because I’m like, I don’t have the energy for that shit right

Wendy Zanders 44:35
to get back to it. Right? Yeah, made a big mess. Or you doing this, oh, I have all this energy. And then you’re like, three, four hours in. You’re like, oh my gosh, this is so much worse than when I started. Yeah. So and that’s why I always say you want to look back if I’m doing a three hour session with a client. We stay in one area. It’s kind of like I bring my military into it where we like cleaning the room. We do one wall, the next wall next wall for you know, bed, but you pick one space and do it to completion. Because when you will at a steam, you can look at the bed and say My bed is clear. So that’s what my energy went. But if you’re picking, you’re going to the whole house picking up 30 cups, and you just but then you’re like I’m running out of steam. What did I get done? You can you can’t you don’t remember, you have no idea. But if you focus on one space at a time, and you run out of steam, you can actually see your process.

Amber Hawley 45:31
Yeah. And you see the you see the results of your efforts. Right. Like that’s the I think that’s so great. I think it’s fantastic. Well, I know we talked about, oh, well, we’ll just we’ll try to keep this to 30 minutes. And now we’re already at the top of the hour. So gosh, I this I we should have known. I mean, maybe we’ll have to do a part a part two sometime. Because I mean, I think it’s a really important topic. And also I think I always love hearing people’s stories and hearing kind of like how you work and your background. Like I think it’s so wonderful for people to hear this to have like, we’re all so different. Our brains work so differently, and but there is help out there for you. So if people will, and of course they should want to come follow you or if they want to find you and find out more information about you and the work you do. Where Where can they go?

Unknown Speaker 46:19
Yes. So you can find me on social media at yourdeclutterCoach, you can Google it, and I’m sure I’m all over. But my website is And I also my as part of my membership, I’m offering a free trial. A lot of times it’s would this work for me? I don’t know, I don’t want to join something and it doesn’t work. So I do have a free trial and you can go to And I’ll continue to link to as well Amber. But yeah, join us we meet on Friday afternoons for 90 minutes. It’s a community of people. And I will say you know, what are you working on this session and you declare what you’re going to work on. Everybody’s working on something different, their emails, their laundry, some people that are folding laundry while talking with us. Also, you can turn off your camera, you can turn off your your mic, and just work silently or you can join us it’s, it’s amazing. We get so much done in 90 minutes.

Amber Hawley 47:16
Oh, I love that. I’m such a huge fan of co working because it is the body doubling thing, right? So all of those links will be in the show notes so that if you you know you’re doing something else and you didn’t catch it, it’ll be there for you. But thank you again, Wendy for coming on.

Wendy Zanders 47:31
Yes, it was a pleasure. Thank you so much Amber.

Transcribed by

The Inner Circle

a unique membership for ADHD {and ADHD-ish} biz owners who live in Distraction City, with shiny object syndrome, and live life with other tendencies that keep us from doing our best work.

You want a sustainable life. A work/home/school/family stability that WORKS, functions on good habits, systems, and approaches that set us up for immeasurable success both personally and professionally.

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join The My Biz Bestie Community today: