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As a crafter living with ADHD, I have struggled for a long time with organization. My mom used to refer to my bedroom as “organized chaos.” I could tell you where my fabric was, under the piles of drawings and books and sheet music.
As I have gotten older, it hasn’t improved.
I was officially diagnosed with ADHD at the start of this year. The diagnosis brought focus to many issues – the inability to focus and remember appointments among the most important.
I live in a cluttered mess – clutter is EVERYWHERE. There is truth in the idea that a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind. Facing the reality of my situation pointed towards the need for reorganization. Given that I am on temporary disability, and earning considerably less than I did last year, it had to be on the cheap. The following presents how I am reorganizing myself on the cheap – the first in a series.
Organizating on the Cheap
Part 1: Planning to Plan and Focusing on Focus.
I have decided to break this into a series of posts, because I realized half way into it that it was just too much for one post. This first post will discuss how to keep yourself on schedule and in focus.
The first part of getting organized is getting your brain to stay on the TASK of getting organized. Which, when you have ADHD, is a bit of a big task in and of itself.
The Problem with ADHD…
One of the big problems when you have ADHD is that you are either REALLY engaged – to the part of ignoring everything else, like people, phones, and even food – on a task or you are unable to focus on for more than… well, some days it’s about a nanosecond. At least for me.
So naturally, there are a few tips and tricks out there for how to deal with these problems. I mean, I definitely not the FIRST person to struggle with a mind that races itself around an unknown race track. And those who have paved the track have come up with some tried and true methods. I’m going to discuss three that have helped me focus better: using a planner, setting a schedule, and taking frequent breaks.
Planners – What I use
- I use an Avery 8.5″ x 5.5″ Binder in a 1″ width. A clear pouch was added to hold pens and other necessary items, as well as dividers that I used to devide the binder into sections – Day timer, Work notes, Whatever Works notes, Personal Notes, Finances, and a brain dump area.
- I found some printables that I really liked, and stuck to those, along with some blank pages, inside the binder. These are the Simplistic Undated Planner set and the Budget Planner set from the Polka Dot Posie on Etsy. while the ones I chose I DID pay for, there are plenty of freebies out there in Google Land. And finally, I used this adorable little Beauty and the Beast calendar from the Cottage Market (which IS free!).
Planners – WHY I use one
Having a good planner is essential. It allows me to write down any dates IMMEDIATELY. This is very important – I keep the planner with me at all times, and having this resource available allows me to know if I’m about to double book myself. The planner is also a great way to look back on my year, see what I have accomplished, where I struggled, and help with improving myself.
I admit – this is the first year I have managed to get past the first month in a personal planner. At work, I had a desk calendar that I used to record all meetings, information from telephone conversations, to do lists, and more. As such, I could not live without it. I am hoping the personal planner will do the same for me this year, and for many years to come.
If you decide to start using a planner or bullet journal, there are a TON of resources out there. Check out my Pinterest Board “Organize Yourself Dammit” for a great start off point. There are so many great ideas out there, you should be able to find SOMETHING that will tickle your fancy. I went with a binder, because they are easily adjusted. And remember, it’s your planner – on one else is going to see it (unless you let them) and you won’t be graded on it. Change it as needed!
Planners are great, because they allow you to record things. Schedules flow nicely from planners – they let you take all the things that you need to do and go from there. You can work around important meetings and appointments, make sure you think about food at some point, and generally have a clue of what you are doing throughout the day!
A schedule does help you to focus on what needs to be done. However, there are caveats.
- Schedules are NEVER written in stone. Be prepared for someone – your teacher, your boss, your mom, or even your guinea pig – to throw some huge monkey wrenches into your day. Something missed? Revisit it later.
- You’re not going to be able to guess exactly how long something will take at the start. People with ADHD really SUCK at recognizing time. Today I had “blogging” blocked for 3 hours. It’s probably going to be closer to four – 4 or 4.5 hours in the end – not including revision and correcting layout problems. That’s ok. As you go through, you’ll learn to better estimate your time. Or so I hope. Because I suck at it. Horribly.
- What works for one person may not work for you. I started this week with a bunch of different ideas for each day. My ADHD brain has hated that. Next week, I will attempt blocking – setting one or two tasks for the day – which I think will work better with my scatter-brain-ed-ness. (Yes brain-ed-ness is totally a word. See? It’s RIGHT THERE, in PRINT. Totally legit.)
Give it a try, and see what works for you. You may find a system that works for you. Or you may hunt me down, intent on shoving my schedule down my throat! (What? It could happen!)
I know, I know. I have ADHD. Wouldn’t taking breaks be the OPPOSITE of what I need?
In short, the answer is “no”. See, the longer I work on something, the more focused I become. The risk is forgetting everything aside from the task in front of me.
So, I started following a 27/3 minute rotation. This means that you set a timer for 27 minutes. When it sounds, go for a walk, get a drink, use the bathroom. Rinse and repeat. This method is based on several posts that discuss how to manage your ADHD. What it does for me is keeps me on track – I don’t lose myself in what I am doing, or, if I’m having troubles staying focused, it allows me to take a breather and get back on track.
This is how I begun my frugal attempt at organizing myself. Really, all you need is some paper, a pen, and a folder or paperclip. Everything else is just window dressing.