How to Get Better Organized When You Have ADHD
Adults with ADHD not only tend to have a particularly difficult time getting and staying organized, but they also often have a strange tendency of wearing this peculiar brand of disorganization as a badge of honor, proudly announcing that they are disorganized and prefer it that way. They may even challenge family, friends and associates to leave their piles of clutter alone, or else they will interfere with a masterful plan of “organized chaos” in which they will no longer be able to function. However, this theory all seems to fall apart when you take into account how often they cannot seem to locate important documents, forget to attend scheduled meetings and appointments and struggle to keep track of files, keys, shoes, phones and all other objects that seem to cause great distress when misplaced. Worse still are the overdue payment notices from debtors and such that start coming in because he or she forgot to pay the bills that are hiding somewhere in the newest mound of oddities piled by the front door.
The first step to getting organized when you have ADHD is to be honest with yourself and others around you that this is a problem for you, and you may need some help in this area. Understandably this can be a difficult step for any adult—we all like to believe that we can handle anything on our own, that we’re independent and can manage our own affairs without any assistance from anyone. The truth is that this boastful stance isn’t true for any of us. We each need help from others, whether we like it or not, often. We are designed to be social creatures with different strengths and skills made to balance out gaps and deficits in a social system. It’s normal to need and to ask for help—in fact, it’s much healthier than thinking you can do it all on your own. Plus, it allows people an opportunity to feel closer to you, needed, wanted and empowered to be helpful in your life, and not asking for help can be insulting and hurtful to those who care about you. So, go ahead and ask your sister, your mother, your friend, your co-worker who seems to have a knack for this organizing this to give you a hand. And, if that still bothers you too much, then hire someone. A professional organizer can work with you to help you develop a system that you can work with and maintain to better keep track of your things, papers, tasks, appointments and your time.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Use an electronic calendar that is simultaneously linked to your phone and computer to keep track of your appointments. This way to can set reminders that go straight to your phone to help you keep up with your schedule—enter everything from birthdays and special events to appointments, meetings, tasks and deadlines. Having reminders that go straight to your phone helps you remember what you need to do.
- Develop To Do lists that you carry around with you at all times. Keep them in your pocket and refer to them often and physically cross off each task as you do them throughout the day.
- Swallow the frog—a weird term for sure, but in short this means to do that thing you want to do least, first. Call that difficult client, send that email bearing the bad news, do the tedious research needed for your project, etc. Whatever it is that you are dreading, get it out of the way. Not only will you be relieved to have it over with, you’ll reduce your stress level throughout your day, helping you focus and have a more enjoyable day because your no longer dreading that thing.
- Ask for help—make sure that the people around you know that you’re not just being careless or thoughtless but that you actually need a little help remembering things and staying organized. You’ll both be relieved when your relationship improves because you’re no longer feeling guilt and shame for being disorganized and forgetful, and they are no longer worrying that you just don’t care or are trying to send some passive aggressive message. Nope, you just forget and get disorganized easily and need a little help to keep it all together. No big deal.