ADHD at Home
8 ways to get organized
Home may be where the heart is, but it can also be hectic for people with ADHD. An organized household runs on routines, schedules, and good time management—areas that can be sources of ADHD stress. Yet chaos need not rule the roost. Enjoy a little more order with these easy-to-implement tips:
1. Go pro. Hire a professional organizer to help create systems for paper, filing, and storage. Many now specialize in working with ADHD clients. Check out the National Association of Professional Organizers’ website (www.napo.net) to search in your area. Know, though, that you don’t have to overhaul your entire house; even teaming up with an organizer on one small area, such as your home office, can make a difference.
2. Automate. Do you lose your bills? Forget to pay on time? Sign up for your bank’s electronic bill-paying service and cross this monthly chore off your list.
3. Create a communications center. Hang a large dry-erase board in the kitchen or near the front door—someplace where you and your family pass by frequently. Use this space to record and track reminders (“Call plumber”) and post updates (“Plumber coming; call carpet-cleaner”). The result: You’ll stay focused, keep everyone in the loop, and reduce the need for nagging.
4. Get some “bookends.” That is, establish morning and evening routines to “bookend” your day. For example, your morning must-do’s might cover exercise, taking your medication, and reviewing the day’s priorities; your nightly ritual might include tidying up for 10 minutes, meditating, and jotting tomorrow’s list.
5. Post a play-by-play. If you need to get out of the house in an hour each morning but often run late, break down the time into chunks. Then write up a schedule to follow. For example, plan that you’ll shower from 7:00 to 7:15; eat breakfast from 7:15 to 7:30; wake up the kids at 7:30; walk the dog at 7:35 and so on, until you’re on the road at 8:00. Keep this someplace prominent (e.g., the ‘fridge or bathroom mirror) where you’ll be reminded of what you should be doing. Apply this strategy to any situation that demands timeliness.
6. Tap technology. Stick to your schedule with nifty gadgets, such as watches that beep or vibrate when it’s time to leave or change tasks. Set electronic reminders for tasks and commitments, using calendar programs like MS Outlook or Google Calendar. To learn how, go to: http://www.addessories.com/organization/adhd-time-management-trick-outlook
7. Pick a planner. Or a big wall calendar or a PDA—anything that helps you keep track of appointments, map out the “big picture,” and store ideas. The National Resource Center on ADHD has put together a handy how-to on making planners work for you; go to: http://www.help4adhd.org/en/living/organdtime/WWK11
8. Nix the nightmarish schedule. Resist the urge to cram “one more thing” into your day. When your schedule is comfortable, you won’t need to rush. You also won’t grow frustrated when an errand takes more time than expected. Break large chores into 10-minute mini-tasks and allow yourself transition time between jobs. This way, you’ll have a chance to gather your focus—and take a well-deserved breather.
1. E.M. Hallowell (personal communication, January 11, 2008)
2. T. Matlen (personal communication, February 8, 2008)
3. N. Ratey (personal communication, February 8, 2008)
4. Jaffe-Gill, E., Jaffe, J., de Benedictis, T., Segal, R., & Segal, J. (2007, September). Self-help for adult ADD/ADHD: Tips for managing symptoms and getting focused. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_adult_strategies.htm
5. Nadeau, K. (2007). Time management for ADHD adults. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/2495.html
6. Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). (2003). Time management: Learning to use a day planner. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://www.help4adhd.org/en/living/organdtime/WWK11