People with ADD/ADHD are no different than other people when it comes to paperwork. A never ending flow of documents arrives into our lives via mail, email, printers, copiers, and of course, paperwork that is simply handed to us. In this blizzard of documents is everything from receipts, to bills, to warranties, to contracts, to instructions, and the list goes on and on and on.
To deal with this avalanche of important papers, many people, including many ADDers create an “important” pile in which they place those pieces of paper that flow into their lives that are meaningful for one reason or another. For some people, this results in some form of organization because at least when they remember the important reason they needed that paperwork, they know right where it will be.
Unfortunately, the same method of organization spells nothing but trouble for many people with ADD. The key element to making the important pile work is remembering what is in it, and then doing something about it. For plenty of men and women with ADHD, the important pile becomes too much like Las Vegas. What’s in the important pile stays in the important pile.
Organization Tip For People With ADD-ADHD
The first step in better organization is understanding where the faults lie in organizing efforts you have made before.
When it comes to the important file, the flaw for many with ADD/ADHD is that the pile encompasses too many things. Receipts are important, so are instruction manuals, children’s immunization records, and bills. But, some of the things in the important pile are important simply because they should not be lost, while other things are important because something needs to be done with them. Mixing the two together spells trouble for those with ADD trying to get organized.
People with ADD are likely to remember again and again that their credit card bill is sitting in the important pile. Unfortunately, most of those times, they will not be in a place where they can do anything about it. Remembering in a restaurant or at a movie theater doesn’t help. Even when they do remember when they are standing right by it, they might be in the middle of doing something else, and just plan on doing it in “just a minute.” Next thing you know, something else is running around the brain, and the credit card bill has been forgotten again.
A technique that can help is to create two important pile. One important pile is for paperwork that has to be kept, either of a specific reason, or “just in case.” The other important pile is for papers that something has to happen with. This includes things like bills, offers, things that require a response, and so on.
Once you’ve created two important piles, it becomes less critical to remember specific elements of the pile. You don’t have to remember your credit card bill is due, all you have to remember is that you have a important to-do pile.
Why It Works for ADD/ADHD People
People with ADD-ADHD are perfectly capable of paying bills, filling out forms, and returning messages and emails. It’s just that other things keep coming up. Those things lead to a response to do it later that gets forgotten about.
However, everyone, whether they have ADD or not, has those times when paying bills or doing paperwork doesn’t sound too bad. In fact, there may be some times when you actually want to do those activities. But, if you walk over to a huge pile of everything important, you might change your mind. Or, worse, you might get half way through, pat yourself on the back for how much paperwork you just took care of, and then not notice that the really important thing that is due in a day or two is two more pieces of paper down. By the time you get back to the stack, it is too late.
Even more treacherous, is going through old paperwork that needs to be filed, has a tendency to create is own distractions. “Oh yeah, I keep meaning to alphabetize these things.” “I can’t do this until I get a new paper shredder. Maybe I should do some research online really quickly.”
But, if you have an important to do something with pile, the dynamic changes. First, the pile will be smaller. Second, such a pile is less likely to distract someone. A Visa bill offers little compelling entertainment. Third, if you do get distracted, at least everything you have done up to that point is something that needed to be done right away, instead of having spent 60% of your time filing.
Try making yourself two important piles and dividing them out. You might just find that you are less prone to miss important deadlines and due dates with things like mail and forms and bills.