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How to set a laundry schedule: the neurodiverse laundry guide (part I)

Laundry…a seemingly simple task that, in reality, is a multi-stage epic requiring more than just washing and drying.


Multiple executive functions like planning, time management, and organization are required. 


  • Do you forget to switch your laundry from the wash to the dryer? 

  • Do you have a pile of clean, unfolded clothes in your bedroom?

  • Do you know how much detergent to use?  

  • Is the task of laundry stressful? 


If so, you are not alone. This blog is the first of a 3 part series about one of the most common adult tasks: laundry. 


Today, we dive into how to set a laundry routine, why it will reduce stress in your life, and how you can stick with it. 


Why is laundry so hard for me? 

Here’s how my laundry routine used to go: 

  1. Phone pings laundry (time to switch to the drier). 

  2. Phone pings again. I place clean clothes on my bed.

  3. Forget about the mountain of clean clothes.


Exhausted by the day, defeat would sweep over me as I remember the mountain of clean clothes on my bed. Too tired to fold, I would toss them onto my desk chair. Something needed to change. 


If you relate, you are alone. One study suggests that 68% of adults dread doing laundry. Based on my own experiences and conversations with my friends and clients, I believe that many adults procrastinate doing laundry.


Here’s why: 


Procrastination is an emotional reaction to a task. If one dreads doing laundry, they are more likely to procrastinate doing it. This is even more common in neurodiverse adults. 


Laundry is especially difficult for adults with ADHD, autism, or executive dysfunction. It requires multiple executive function skills working in tandem.


  • Planning - choosing a day and time to do laundry while ensuring laundry is done before you run out of clean clothes. 

  • Time management - tracking when it is time to switch clothes from the wash to the dryer, and finally folding clean clothes in addition to other to-do’s throughout the day.

  • Organization - separating dirty darks and lights, organizing clean clothes into specific drawers, and maintaining these systems of organization daily. 


white male with long, dark hair, standing in front of a green background, wearing a black jacket

Why should I create a laundry schedule? 

Consistency helps in building a habit and reduces the mental load of deciding when to do laundry. If you're working from home, consider scheduling your laundry during the workday. This can be a productive break from your desk. 


By creating a laundry event on your calendar, you do not need to plan for when you will do laundry. You also do not need to worry about running out of clean clothes thus reducing anxiety. You will experience less stress about having clean clothes for work or wearing that shirt that you love. 


By creating structure in our lives, we create more free time to do the things we enjoy. Structure is freedom. 


How to Set a Laundry Schedule

Establishing a consistent laundry routine can be particularly helpful for everyone. Adults with ADHD and/or autism will benefit from creating structure and predictability in their lives. 


Everyone’s day to day is different so there is no one size fits all approach. However, you can follow these 4 steps to creating a laundry routine that fits your lifestyle. 


Here’s how to set a laundry schedule:

  1. select a specific day or days of the week

  2. choose a block of time (roughly 90 minutes)

  3. add it to your digital calendar as a recurring event

  4. set a reminder to notify you 24 hours, 1 hour, and 5 minutes in advance. 



How do I stick with the schedule? 

Once your laundry schedule is set, you need to make the choice to try it out, adjust your schedule if necessary, and stick with it. This is truly a choice. No one is going to make you do it, but you can make it feel easier. 


For those who use a laundromat, make the experience more enjoyable by bringing a book or downloading a movie. If you do laundry at home, do an enjoyable activity while your clothes are in the wash. Turning laundry time into an enjoyable activity can make it feel less like a chore.


As an adult, we need to parent ourselves by creating agreements and following through. 


Creating agreements, for example, doing laundry on Sundays between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., supports executive function deficits. 


Conclusion 

We might not be able to make laundry “fun” but we can make it easier. Laundry is a complex chore that requires multiple executive functions. This makes laundry especially difficult for the neurodiverse community.


The first step to making laundry feel easier and less stressful is setting a laundry schedule. By intentionally choosing a day and time to do laundry and then adding it to your digital calendar, you will remove the stress of planning to do laundry from your life. 


Setting a schedule is the easy part. Sticking with it is where most people struggle. Make laundry more enjoyable by doing a fun task while clothes are in the wash. Remember, you are in control of your choices. Setting a schedule and following through is a choice. You can do it! 


Have questions? Is this helpful? Leave a comment at the bottom of the blog.


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About the author

Eric Kaufmann, M.Ed is a Professional Educational Therapist and Certified Executive Function Coach. He is the Co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, an online adult executive function coaching company designed to guide adults in overcoming disorganization, procrastination, and productivity roadblocks so they can unlock their potential. Eric is also the founder of Elevate Learning Solutions, an Educational Therapy practice located in San Clemente, CA, that guides students with neurological differences toward becoming independent and confident students and self-leaders.

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About 👋

Upskill Specialists was founded when two former special education teachers turned executive function coaches decided that adults need tools and coaching to improve their workplace skills and feel confident and empowered. Our mission is to ensure every adult with EF challenges has access to high-quality coaching services. 

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