Adult ADD is more than occasionally misplacing the car keys or missing a deadline at work. It is a chronic procrastination, being constantly disorganized, taking on more responsibilities than you can handle, lacking money management skills. Conventional organization ideas don’t work well for adults with ADD because of difficulties with time management, distractions and forgetfulness.
People with ADD have problems with organization. Simple daily tasks can frustrate and overwhelm the person with ADD. The key to managing the symptoms of ADD can be controlled through medications; however, some people are leery of using stimulant medications. Many people find that behavior modification controls the symptoms of ADD well enough to manage on a day-to-day basis.
I have found these tips to be effective in my journey with ADD. I struggle with organization and get overwhelmed very easily. I find the more choices I have, my brain struggles to organize a plan of attack, get overwhelmed and nothing gets done.
Color Code Your World
Have different colored post it notes on hand for each member of the family. When my husband wants to leave me a note, he writes on my colored notepad and I do the same for him. If it is on my notepad, it is my responsibility and my only concern is what is on my notepad. I also have color coded folders for organizing bills, college-related paperwork, and even miscellaneous paperwork. You stop associating items by the paper and associate it by the color folder where it belongs.
Eat An Elephant One Bite At a Time
Instead of trying to conquer an entire project, break it down into smaller bites. Set an egg timer for a certain amount of time and stop working when the timer goes off. Working around the egg timer will prevent getting overwhelmed by the complexity of the task, getting stuck on simple details, and wasting time working on one project when other projects need attention. Another problem with organizing, especially when you get overwhelmed, is micromanaging. An example of micromanaging is organizing a bookshelf when the living room still remains cluttered and unorganized.
Coming Out of the Closet
Simplify your closet. Hang clothing in the closet by outfits. This eliminates wasting time looking and assembling outfits when you are in a rush in the morning. It takes the thought and stress out of planning an outfit when you are busy in the morning. Having an organized closet eliminates the feeling of being overwhelmed each time you open the door. With many different items like shoe trees, baskets, and colored hangers, you can breathe easily every time you enter the closet when you eliminate the clutter and disorganization.
It is critically to make lots of notes and to keep a day planner. It is easy to forget an important appointment when struggling with ADD. Making a “to-do” list helps manage the items that need attention throughout the day. Cross off items as they are completed. Crossing off items will also give an important sense that you are accomplishing goals everyday. A day planner is another method for keeping track of long range projects. But it is important to remember that even the best notes do not work if you do not utilize them throughout the day. I find that I am late to appointments, work and even church because I didn’t allow myself enough time to get to the location. This problem can be managed by penciling in an appointment time that is ten or fifteen minutes earlier than when you actually have to arrive.
People with ADD find that they are constantly overcommitted. Breaking promises and forgetting obligations is a symptom of the ADD. These people don’t break obligations out of spite – they have trouble staying organized and they aren’t able to communicate well with others about their schedules and obligations. For people with ADD, a conversation can turn into a monologue or a conversation can be plagued with interruptions. Be sure to focus throughout the conversation and listen for the points that grab your attention. Remember that saying “no” is not the end of the world; no one ever turned into a superhero by the number of obligations in their day planner.
The Curse of Managing Money
I struggle with money management more than anything. I do not keep a checkbook register and I do not keep track of receipts. I rely on internet banking to keep me on track financially, as do many others with ADD. For me, paying bills online is the most effective way to make sure bills are paid on time and most online services with individual websites allow you to pay the bill on the same day. I have gone from mailing every bill to mailing only one or two bills each month. Impulsive shopping can also derail the person with ADD; every purchase seems like a necessity and it is difficult to distinguish between wants and needs. When you go shopping, go with a list and do not deviate around the store just “browsing”. An important part of managing money comes through delayed gratification and learning to say no to the wants. Managing money means making and sticking to a budget, keeping track on a daily basis of spending, and saving some money each paycheck. Mastering those three categories will help with being impulsive and forgetful; you’ll see more green in the bank and less red on the checkbook register.
Having Adult ADD can cause problems for many adults because of more responsibilities. ADD does not have to ruin your personal and profession lives. The biggest tip for managing symptoms is to realize your own weaknesses and find a way to turn that into strength. ADD can be managed without medication if you are willing to work on modifying the behaviors that cause you to struggle in everyday life.