Guest Expert

5 ADD-Friendly Ways to Get Organized in 2014

Judith Kolberg

In some ways, things are not much different in 2014 than in 2013. A parent with ADHD still needs support and encouragement, especially since the chances remain great that they will have a child with ADHD. A child with ADHD still needs parents who can create a home and school experience that readies them for a less-than-ADD-friendly society. The diagnostic criteria have changed a bit, but the ADHD hallmark symptoms still reign in one variety or another: inattention/distractibility and hyperactivity/impulsivity. And these symptoms collide with many aspects of what we call “getting organized,” a mega-skill central to living a life of quality in modern America.

2014 Is The Year of Endless

So what has changed? 2014 is the year of endless. There is no end to the amount of information to solve a problem, answer a question, or satisfy a curiosity. Our train of thought is endlessly interrupted by calls, emails, tweets and texts.  There are endless distractions from the task at hand, like fans and friends and Facebook. There are ceaseless things we can do instead of what we need to be doing.

And then there is endless stuff.  Baby boomers have a lot of stuff, compounded by the inheritance of their parents' stuff. And then there is the electronic stuff from Gen X, Y and Z, driven by their desire to have the latest and greatest device, gadget and gizmo.

So how do you organize in the Year of Endless? Here is the advice I am giving my ADD clients in 2014.

5 Ways to Organize in a World of Endless

1. Create Two Meaning Reservoirs In Your Day

  • Finish something at the start of the day. Make that key phone call or craft that important email message in the morning, rather than checking your new email or retrieving your new phone messages. That sense of accomplishment early in the day can give meaning to the rest of a day filled with half done tasks and unfinished to do lists.
  • And then, finish something again before dinner time. ADD evenings can be very unpredictable with lost homework, unanticipated school projects, and misplaced socks. So make that bank deposit or run that errand before things get crazy.

2. Grab an artifact

ADDers have working memories that can let them down. It is often difficult to hold things in mind and to remember to remember where you left off, especially with distractions and interruptions coming at you from all sides. So if you're doing the laundry, for instance, and you get interrupted, bring a washcloth with you, something you can touch, that will remind you where you left off. Even a blank sticky note stuck on the palm of your hand will joggle your working memory. A tactile artifact is best, but if you are working digitally, use digital sticky notes.

3. Develop a sense of proportionality.

ADDers are particularly vulnerable to the stimulation of the hunt for information and the excitement of learning new things. Put that together with the reality that information is endless, and you've got a real organizing challenge on your hands. My ADD client was dedicating as much time researching a summer camp for her kids as she was finding out how to get grass stains out of their jeans. Instead, set an alarm for one hour, for example, for big consequence information hunts, and set it for a half hour for low consequence information hunts. Use the alarms that are everywhere -- on your phone, your computer, appliances, and most clocks.

4. Capture Flying Information

Non-stop incoming information is key to capture on the run. I believe my ADD clients are better at this than my non-ADD clients. They have taught me several ADD-friendly ways to “write it down” (without writing on your hand!). Say someone tells you about a great blog or you hear about a new omega-3 supplement from a friend:

  • Call it into your voice mail and leave yourself message.
  • Use the recorder in your smartphone.
  • Convert audio information into text using an app like instacorder. Push the record button, make a voice memo, and when you release the button the message is sent to you via email. (Cool, huh?!)

5. De-Acquisition Methods

Excess stuff is visually distracting to ADDers. In 2014, you'll need to a full array of de-acquisition methods to cope with stuff. Use the old stand-bys like yard sales, consignment and charitable giving. And find those experts who can also help you use Freecycle, eBay, Craig's List, and Gazelle to get rid of excess stuff. My neighbor's 17 year-old son sells my used stuff online. Other people who can help you get rid of excess are professional organizers.


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