Organization is a common challenge for folks with ADHD. We might find ourselves wishing there were a magic fix. That’s not likely, but if there were we wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow or be creative! Here are a few thoughts based on my experience:
Be compassionate with yourself! (Actually that’s the number one recommendation pretty much across the board, not just with regard to organization!) Without self-compassion and lifting of self-judgment, you won’t be able to make lasting changes. You’ll just be angry and fighting within yourself. Since we know how stubborn we ADHDers can be, we know that’s a fight we aren’t likely to win. A big part of us doesn’t want to be told what to do, not even by another part of us, and not even if it’s for our own good.
So take a big breath, sit back, and take the pressure off yourself to be as organized as you think you “should” be. Your model of brain didn’t arrive with “organized” as one of its factory installed features. It’s going to have to be a custom add-on! Instead of judging yourself, try being curious about how you work successfully and apply that knowledge to the organization challenge.
Your version of being organized will be unique to you. Your challenge and creative opportunity will be to discover what type of organization your brain works best with.
Some people actually work best with piles on their desks. They know what is in each pile and can get items when needed. It might make those people uncomfortable to have those papers hidden away somewhere.
Others of us have piles because we drop things with no plan. As a result we have no idea where anything is. One possible reason we do that is because we haven’t created a designated “home” for each item and it’s too much trouble to decide in the moment where to put it.
If we even give a thought to the object we drop, we might figure we’ll come back and put it away later. How often does that happen? The fact is, it can’t ever happen unless we have thought about appropriate homes for items we need to keep – some where we can access them regularly and some where we’ve archived them for future use.
To begin to get our stuff under control, we need to be curious about ourselves. Do I work better with folders that are clear so I can see what’s in them or will that just distract me? Do I like colors to help me quickly see where something goes – colored tabs, colored folders, colored boxes? Do I want things hidden in drawers or visible in upright folders sitting on my desk or some combination? There’s a lot of experimentation involved, and a lot of creativity – which ADHDers have in abundance!
If we don’t have the time that seems necessary to get our lives in order, we may need to find help – from a family member, a friend, a coach, a professional organizer. We frequently hire people to help with other tasks we aren’t good at (car repair, home remodeling, plumbing, to name a few), so why not organization? Nobody is good at everything!
Feel free to start a conversation beneath this blog if you would like to share techniques that have worked for you – or to ask others for suggestions.