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Zebra Stripes for ADHD

A monthly newsletter of stories tips and news for those concerned with ADHD, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, No. 21

Sarah Jane Keyser : ADHD Coach

Organizing Moraines wih ADHD

ADHD clutter has a lot in common with icebergs. It accumulates like falling snow. It stays for centuries even eons. But in the due course of time it melts. Melting Icebergs are very much in the news these days. It seems that icebergs in Greenland are melting so fast that map makers can't keep up with the newly uncovered islands which are appearing.

I have developed systems to deal with the bulk of all that ice, I mean paper. I have a place for bills to be paid which is 99% effective. (No I'm not perfect, that's not the objective). I have a drawer for bank statements, a slot between the mixer and microwave for documents for big projects which are waiting for something to happen, a shelf behind my work table for in-use material including binders, books and papers which I need frequently or for current projects. There are boxes lined up along the wall of the living room behind the chairs for magazines which I haven't quite decided to throw out, but if you want to visit, the chairs are free to sit on.

It all sounds crazy, but it works for me and that's the important thing. The bulk of stuff melts into the environment. It's accessible and findable when necessary.

What's left are the moraines. A moraine is a mound or ridge of unsorted, unstratified sediment deposited by an iceberg as it melts. That seems to be a pretty good definition of what is left on my kitchen table-desk, in corners of bookcase shelves, here and there on chairs or the floor, little piles of sediment which remain after a foray of organizing.

To deal with the moraines, I decided on a four step process:

  1. Make an inventory of the stuff on the table.
  2. Group items into categories
  3. Decide where and how to house each category
  4. Distribute items accordingly.

A. The Inventory

I started with an inventory of all the items in a pile. I picked up the top item, gave it a name, like insurance form, and a number, wrote it on the list, and placed it on a bare space on the table. The second item, name, write on list and place on top of the first item and so on.

Several times I found an interesting item to read, but I resisted the temptation to stop and read. I kept repeating "inventory", "inventory, just write it down" until I got to the end of the pile.

Now I had one pile, bottom up, and a numbered list of everything in that pile. That was the pile on the left of the table.

I did the same with the right hand pile.

Now I had two piles, one with 47 items and one with 29 items.

Good girl! Bravo!

B. Categorizing

The next step was to review all the items and decide on the categories I needed.

The first item was "to be thrown away" so that's category 1. No I did not throw the item away immediately; the task is to categorize not to process. The next item was for category 2, "drafts and ideas for writing". For each item on the list I decided the category and wrote the number of the category on the inventory list.

I finished with 13 categories and all items on both lists had a category assigned.

Hooray, I'm on my way.!

C. Containers and Place per Category

Now that I know what categories I have and an idea of how many items are in each category, I have to decide ( and that's difficult, isn't it?) what to store the items in and where each category should live.

Some categories like "to be filed" and "articles to be filed" already have places and can be dispatched directly.

Many of the things are on the table because they need or will need some action and if I put them out of sight they will be forgotten so I have to think really hard about using recognizable containers and putting them where I can see them even stumble over them.

For the "To Do Now" category I bought a cardboard folder which closes with elastics in bright green: green for go, go, go. An old vegetable rack hanging under the shelf in my "In-use" cupboard makes a suitable In-box for the "To-do" folder and also for another category "What am I going to do about this?" which includes brochures about interesting ideas; one is e-banking do I want to use it?

Other things like books and papers are on the table because I am using them for on-going projects, returning them to the shelves where they belong in the office just won't happen if I think I will want them soon.

For these materials I have cleared out more of the surplus kitchen gear on the "in-use" shelf behind the table. They are within easy reach of my chair and scooping them off the table into the cupboard at the end of the day is almost easy.

D. Distribution

The last step goes very quickly. I just distribute the items in both piles as I've decided for each category. Now I can throw away the "To be thrown" category but I did not do the "To Do"'s or stop to read the articles or I would never have got to the end.

With all that done I do have more space on the kitchen table. It's not perfect but that was never the expectation. There are still smaller moraines here and there, but with my new category list they can be disposed of when I get there.

Three cheers for me. Hip Hip Hooray!

Zebra Fun :

You know you have ADHD when you start to clean out a closet and eight hours later it is more disorganized than when you began.

For more about me, Sarah Jane Keyser, About Sarah Jane

Do you need a safe place to talk?   email me today for a free coaching session.

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