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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. 25

Sarah Jane Keyser : ADHD Coach

Tortoise Organizing for ADHD

Joey and his friends were playing Hide-n-Seek in and out of the
mesquite bushes.

"What's that?" Koko stopped his searching for his hidden companions and
stared. "It's a dinosaur!"

At these words, the gang rushed from their hiding places to see what
Koko had found. Eeyore, the floppy eared Mustang, took a closer look. 

"Don't be silly Koko. It's a tortoise; all the way from the Galapagos
Islands I would say. Howdy stranger you seem to be a long way from
home. I'm Eeyore. Welcome."

"Thank you, thank you, kind sirs. My name is Thomas. I'm a
Pro-fess-ion-al Or-gan-i-zer." Thomas spoke very slowly as befits his
tortoise nature.

Joey looked at Koko who looked at Sammy, "An Organizer??? What are you
doing here?"

Chip and Chap looked at each other and burst out laughing. "You want to
organize  U S ???"

"Organizing is a most important activity for living a happy and
fulfilled life. And I'm here to show you how Thomas' Tortoise
Organizing System can solve all your personal and business needs."

"Can you organize my brain?" asked Grandpa. "I can't seem to find
anything in it. Can't get anything done."

"Excellent, excellent, I like that. Best place to start. Organizing a
brain," Thomas was delighted to find a customer. "Now, what would you
like to start on?"

Grandpa sighed down to his shiny black hooves. "Well, it's like this.
Everyone says I'm rude because I get angry at people, but I think
they're rude and disrespectful to me."

"Great place to start. Conflict is a great disorganizer. Now here's
what you do. The essence of Thomas' Tortoise Organizing is slow and
steady wins the race. For one whole month  you are to spend one minute
a day thinking nice things about your neighbors."

"That's all???"

"Not quite. When you have done your one minute, put a check in a box on
this card so that you can remember that you did it." Thomas produced a
card with 30 numbered boxes. " and say to yourself, 'Bravo, Papa, I'm
proud of you.'"

"I'll be off now to find some more people to organize. I'll come back
in a months time to give you the next small step. And if Mr. Harold
Hare comes around with his speedy efficient, hyper effective organizing
system, you just tell him that you have already bet on a winner."
Thomas moved slowly off down the road.


Tortoise Organizing

"Tortoise Organizing" is about tackling big recalcitrant problems in small steps.

The biggest problem with getting piles of paper in order, losing weight or finishing that favorite project is that like the hare we start big and fast. We make big plans, take out an expensive subscription at the gym, resolve to use a long weekend to clear out the basement, and what happens? We have one or two sessions at the gym, one look at the piles of paper and decide that it's time for a nap.

"Tortoise Organizing" starts with one (1) minute a day. Yes, just 1 minute a day. No, it won't all get done in a day or a weekend, but like the tortoise you will get to the end. Here's how I'm doing it.

  1. I set up a recurring task in Outlook to spend 1 minute a day in the "Art Room". I called it the "Art Room" because that is what it will be, not the "Junk Room" which it is now. When I open the computer, a reminder for the task pops up.

  2. I set a timer for one minute.

  3. Go to the "Art Room" , start the timer and look around, when the timer goes off, I leave the room.

  4. Tell Outlook the task is complete. Outlook generates a new task for the next day.

Easy right? it's so easy that I can do it every day (except Sunday). Even when I'm tired or harassed I do it.

For the first two weeks I just looked to see what was there and imagined what I would do when it was cleared up. Then I began to throw out a few papers, then put some folders away, then.., then...

Progress is visible and continuing. And that is encouraging. It provides momentum.

There is no pressure. If I don't know what to do with something, it can wait, and in the mean time the brain is reviewing possibilities for the next time.

Clicking on task-complete in Outlook provides a secret satisfaction for the inner child like a gold star for drinking a glass of milk. (Gold stars will do just as well- Outlook is just a tool).

Want to try? If you have a task organizer like MS Outlook, that's fine, but if not you can use my "Thomas' Tortoise Organizer Chart" at tortoisechart.xls . Next month, next step.

The inspiration for 1 minute organizing comes from "One Small Step Can Change Your Life, The Kaizen Way" by Robert Maurer.

For more About Sarah Jane

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