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  • Neyir Urminsky

Rang-er - the ADHD hack for being tidy & organized

When you have ADHD staying tidy & organized can be a challenge so I was super excited when I discovered this tidying hack for ADHD which I call Rang-er.

Blue office with desk & plant

I initially came to the concept about 6 months ago when I was reading Susan C Pinsky’s ‘Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, 3rd edition’, I am always learning, researching and expanding my knowledge of the intersection between ADHD and home. As I read through the pages I found Pinsky was putting into words things that I either knew instinctively or had figured out over the years, one particular line in her book literally stopped me in my tracks. Essentially Pinsky says that for the ADHDer the ease of ‘putting away’ is always paramount. Since then I have spent a lot of time reflecting, experimenting and formulating and discovered the most perfect name for the concept;

Tall cabine filled with Tupperware’s of Lego
Rang-er Lego storage


Rang-er (pronounced like this) comes from the french verb ranger which can mean everything from putting away, tidying, organizing, storing, putting back etc!  It is the most fabulous verb!

Rang-er - Easy Away

So when we think of Rang-er we are looking for the absolute easiest way to put something away.  I mean a system that a 1 year old could follow.  Think of it this way, ADHDers are super creative, brilliant and amazing problem solvers but we generally highly dislike things that are repetitive, and struggle to do things we don’t want to do and we often may be busy thinking or doing something else when we are tidying/organizing.  We also often have deficits in different areas of Executive Function which may mean that needing to stop and think through ‘how’ to put something back or away is not only more difficult for us but may be energy zapping. 

Why Rang-er?

Having less things is super helpful, I believe that is why minimalism is often ‘prescribed’ as the all encompassing ‘solution’ to ADHD organization.  While it has a part to play, I think pure minimalism misses the mark. It often implies a certain design style and that we pare down in every category, rather I am a proponent of Selective Minimalism which incorporates colour, pattern, and minimalism in many but not all situations.

How to Rang-er for ADHD to be tidy & organized?

I’m working through an example below but start by thinking of an area in your home that is dysfunctional.  You know where these are, it’s an area that is supposed to store something, function in some way but it just doesn’t.  You may avoid this area or try to spend as little time interacting with it as possible.  Odds are it doesn’t make you feel good and might make you angry.  

Caveat, we aren’t looking for flat surfaces collect things, those are transition areas and are a different category.  However, problem areas will often have transition areas close by because we get items close to where they are meant to be ‘put away’ but stop because the Rang-er system isn’t working!  

Wallpaper nook with hooks & baskets
The Vestibule, styled & pretty

Rang-er in 6 steps

So let’s start with an example, I'm using my entry vestibule.

We ask the following questions;

  1. What does this area actually need to do? Really try and drill down, not what is it doing now (ie storing everyone’s sports equipment, outerwear etc) but what it actually needs to do.

In our vestibule we needed functional not storage space for 2 coats, 2 pairs boots/shoes per person, plus backpacks, plus snowpants plus all the hats, mittens and gloves and in season sports equipment.  Also I needed a place to drop mail and a flex zone for things going in and out of the house (ie donations, returns)

2. Does the function of the area need to change?

Sometimes during this process you discover an area isn’t doing what you need, remember homes shift.  In our current home initially the dinning room was a playroom and we ate in the kitchen.  This worked beautifully for 4 years (sadly the playroom was always a mess because I didn’t incorporate Rang-er, haha) then it didn’t. We outgrew the kitchen at the same time as the kids no longer needed a dedicated playroom. Still as I started planning the new dinning room I spent a lot of time thinking playroom functions we needed to keep, ie a homework area.

3. Selective Minimalism

Now you can start going through things and decide what to keep, move/store and get rid of.  In an ideal world I would have storage for all the off season items in the vestibule but I don’t and following this solid organizing principal (keep things where you use them) would not work because it would violate Rang-er.

Rang-er is ALWAYS the first principle in organizing with ADHD

Instead I developed a simple large tupperware system that I can use at the change of the seasons.  All spring/fall things go in one tupperware (rainboots, raincoats, umbrellas etc.)  This is where I incorporate minimalism, everyone only has 1 of those things.  When the seasons are changing I make peace with having that tupperware in the hallway close to the vestibule for a few weeks as the season shifts. Then it gets filled with all the winter stuff.  I have a similar tupperware for all the summer stuff including the unexpired sunscreens.

4. Rang-er

Now that you know 1. What you need, 2. The real function, 3. What is staying, we can look at Rang-er.  How do you design it so things are as easy to put away as possibile or AEAP. Think max 2 steps, this means if you have to open a drawer, door, push aside a curtain you have already used 1 step and you have 1 left.  That means your items need to be able to hook, drop etc into their storage area, anything else will cause frustration and avoidance.  

Wallpapered closet with coats and baskets
Fully functioning Vestibule on a winter’s day

In our vestibule that meant I took out the closet entirely, now we essentially walk through the closet.  I added tons of hooks, including lower hooks for the littler kids, for all the coats, snowpants and bags, a shelf for the big kids sports equipment and things coming in and out.  I have cubbies with pull out baskets for hats, scarves and gloves in the winter & duplicate baskets for sunscreen, hats & swim items in the summer.  I have 2 sets of baskets that are stored filled with (mitts, unexpired sunscreen etc) in the tupperwares. 

5. Easy see, easy away

Avoid stacking or putting things in front of one another, once you have to move one thing to put another thing away it is no longer fast and easy.  Think storage with minimal depth, (likely only fits 1 of something), use height when possible and get things onto the walls, this can be really helpful with toy storage (though be sure it is safely attached).

6. Rang-er First, Use Second

You’ve probably noticed by now that I haven’t talked too much about the ease of use.  Other than making sure that we are storing things, for the most part, where we are using them Rang-er focusses on ease of away first.  That’s just the way our brains work, we are more likely to deal with some minimal frustration in using something than in putting it away. Once you have gone through the steps above then you can think about ease of use. 

I’m a huge fan of clear storage, of being able to see an entire category of things at one time and of surrounding ourselves with the colours, textures and patterns that we love. 

I’ll be getting into that more in other posts!

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