Many patients with bipolar disorder (BD) experience debilitating cognitive deficits, with risk of impaired occupational and psychosocial functioning. However, knowledge of how these deficits impact the patients’ ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL), tasks related to self-care and domestic life is limited. We explored the relation between impaired cognitive function and the ability to perform ADL in patients with BD. A total of 42 outpatients (mean age 36 years (range 19.0–58.0 years), 69% women) with BD in remission and with subjective cognitive complaints (≥ 13 on the Cognitive Complaints in Bipolar Disorder Rating Assessment questionnaire (COBRA)) were included. Objective neurocognitive function was evaluated with a short comprehensive cognitive test battery and ADL ability was evaluated with the performance-based Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS) in the homes of the patients. Our findings indicate that low processing speed correlated with decreased ADL ability, and processing speed as measured by the cognitive test battery thus seems to be significantly related to patients’ ability to live independently in the community. Overall, adding a performance based test to assess ADL ability in patients with BD home-surroundings seems to provide new insights regarding the effect of cognitive impairment in patients with BD.