Organization can be a real challenge for the ADD individual. Here are some simple tips that can help:
1. Organize for reasons that matter to you. Don't try to adopt someone else's organizing values. If being “tidy" or “organized" has negative connotations for you (tedious, boring, uptight, perfectionist), motivate yourself by organizing according to your own values.
2. Determine the goal. First decide on the specific task you want to tackle. Then prioritize. When things get busy, the adult ADD person often loses perspective. PS: Transitions can be difficult, and mini-breaks can help ease the transition.
3. Notice how and where you work best. Let yourself work under whatever conditions are best for you. If necessary, eliminate distracting noise with headphones or a noise machine.
4. One bite at a time! When you have a big job looming break the chore down into manageable “bites. " List every part of the job, no matter how small, so you can get a feeling of accomplishment at crossing things off and seeing that you’re really getting somewhere! PS: Set a timer to go off in 15 minutes and stay with the task for those 15 minutes. Don’t drift off and do something else. And reward yourself after it is over.
5. Don’t rely on memory alone; you run the risk of letting tasks fall through the cracks. Use a notebook/planner to stay on track and keep it close by at all times. Write down any intrusive ideas or thoughts so you can get back to the task at hand. You won’t forget what you were thinking about and can act on it later. PS: Notebooks are more difficult to lose than scraps of paper!
6. Leave time between engagements to gather your thoughts. PS: Allow more time than you think you’ll need for a task. Keep a comfortable margin for the unexpected.
7. Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) like Palm Pilots are a big help. A program for PDAs called “Handyshop” lets you organize lists for different stores, items you need, coupons, quantity and aisle. It takes a little time to put items into the categories but once it’s there you can use just check off which items you need and use the program over and over. Another Palm Pilot tip is called “Bug Me!”. It lets you write notes to yourself and set alarms throughout the day or week at regular times. Great for medication reminders and appointments. PS: Some PDAs have the added benefit of a word processor, which is perfect for school, since many ADDers have difficulty listening and writing legibly at the same time. Taking notes on the optional keyboard can be a tremendous help: faster, easier to read and edit later than hand written notes.
8. An answering machine is a great reminder tool. Do you have something important you have to do later in the day, or when you get home? Call your phone number and leave a reminder message. When you get home and see the message light you’ll remember your chore.
9. Many people with ADD are visually oriented. Virtually anything can be made more memorable and attention-getting with color.
10. Don’t end the day without putting stuff away. Take time to put things back where they belong. Try to put things back immediately after you’re finished with them or set up time at the end of the day to do so. PS: It’s important to de-clutter your mind. Get plenty of rest; eat a healthy diet; exercise; relax; meditate. Learn to enjoy silence.
One more thing: check out the “WatchMinder”. It’s a training and reminder system invented by a licensed Child Psychologist. Because the WatchMinder is a vibrating, silent alarm and reminder system, it can be worn with minimal disruption to the user or those around him. Check it out at www.watchminder.com .
Rosemary Chieppo has been a professional organizer, writer and public speaker since 1999. The costs of not being organized are enormous: time, money and stress. Organizing is the greatest gift people can give themselves; it clears the path to life’s more important destinations! Visit Rosemary's website at http://www.borntoorganize.com .