July / Organized Space Works: ADHD / ADD?

Hope your summer is going well and you are staying cool and organized.

Time is On Your Side

For those of you who have challenges with time (and who doesn't) I recently recorded a new podcast called "Time is On Your Side" on a site called "It's All About Women." It's just as relevant to men as well. This amazing site features therapists and other professionals giving support, inspiration and guidance. Let me know how you like the podcast. Here's a link:


Our feature today focuses on an important topic that affects many people:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

A number of my clients have been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD and many more say they have it but have not been diagnosed. In this feature, I will call this condition ADD. ADD is a neurobiological disorder which affects the neurotransmitter activity of the brain. People with ADD display certain behaviors: distractibilty, impulsivity and sometimes hyperactivity. 

Not to diminish the serious nature of this condition, many of us all feel as though we suffer from ADD – but it's not ADD at all. Actually only about 4-6% of the population has ADD. What many experience is actually a symptom of the unmanageable pace of modern life, combined with sleep deprivation, experience greed and technology overload. These tips may also be helpful to anyone who suffers from perfectionism, procrastination and disorganization as well as those with ADD.

Some of you may recall a video I cited called "Age-Activated Attention Deficit Disorder." I'm sending this link again because it's worth watching again. This doesn't just happen with age. Often, it occurs because we have far too many demands on our attention. Here it is.


What is ADHD/ADD?

I've been fortunate recently to attend trainings offered by a number of noted experts in this field as part of my certifications at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). I want to share some of the ideas I've garnered:

People with ADD are often creative but have challenges with executive function, the higher skills of self regulation that help close the gap between intention and action. This impacts the ability to plan, follow through, sequence, prioritize, manage emotions, and use their strengths in an organized way. It creates problems with time and space management as well as struggles with distractibility, detail management and multiple task coordination. These issues may result in negative feelings because of their high expectations and idealized sense of what they can accomplish. 

Managing Life With or Without ADD ... 

Aside from treatment, there are many everyday strategies for productivity and routines for memory support to help fill in the gaps. Having good systems in place creates better outcomes. Being organized helps us stay on track to have a bigger life. 

Here are some strategies and ideas:

•  Life is messy. Imperfection is the natural state of things. We are always cleaning up. Once you get organized, focus on daily, weekly, monthly maintenance. Many tasks take only seconds during our day but save hours in the long run.

• People with ADD have trouble organizing time, things, thoughts and data. Building structure and simple systems into your environments and work will reduce stress and add productivity. 

• Create simple organization systems. A hook on the wall near the door or a bowl on a table makes a handy place to keep your keys as you enter. It takes 30 days to create a new habit so be patient with yourself. 

•  Build on your strengths. Spend time doing things you are good at. Don't define success by other's standards.

• Define one space for work. Keep all your tools there. Just being there will help focus your attention.  

• Don't work, work, work until you are exhausted. Take a break or switch tasks. Transitions are often difficult so you get stuck in doing or hyperfocusing, hung up in the weeds, thinking time, attention and energy are infinite resources.

• Challenge your beliefs. They may not be based on hard evidence but on patterns of behavior played out for so long that they've become limiting ideas. In those cases, you may need to untangle your thoughts and modify your thinking to move forward. A cognitive reframe helps to manage our emotions. 

• Don't rely on your memory. The brain is a big-picture tool. It's not good at remembering and reminding. Keep a notebook with you at all times to capture notes, tasks and reminders.

• Having a lot of ideas is a gift but this talent can also defuse your energy and distract you from getting things done. Use your notebook as a parking lot to store your ideas so they aren't lost or top of mind. Then move on with the immediate tasks at hand. 

• Slow down, simplify, eliminate. Your brain may be turbo-charged and your biology may be wired for roller coaster rides – but slow and steady often wins the race. Focus on what's essential and important. Underschedule: buffer time decreases stress. Create a game plan to avoid filling your time with trivial pursuits. 

• Create a simple bedtime routine so you can wind down. Regular sleep and waking hours promotes good sleep patterns. Working or eating just before bed do not support restful sleep.

• Manufacture motivation. Don't just wait until you are in the mood to do all those unappealing jobs. It probably won't happen.  It's ok to feel uncomfortable. Face the tasks with easier steps to warm up. Often just getting started primes us to get engaged. Try setting a time limit. "I only have to do this for 30 minutes." Shrinking formidable tasks into tiny steps can help us reach even the most ambitious goals. 

If you like this article, or have something to share on the topic, please post a comment!