Anyone that has been diagnosed with ADD-ADHD has tried numerous organizational strategies already. Many of those ideas are based around the ability to schedule and keep appointments. Often, these organization tips come from sources unrelated to ADD and, thus, unfortunately, often end up ultimately failing to provide any better organization for ADHD individuals. However, that doesn’t mean that all organizing methods are doomed to fail for people with ADD.
Examples of ADHD-ADD Organizational Issues and Strategies
Consider a guy named Jeff. Jeff has ADD. Jeff was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and initially found great relief in finally having a name for the chronic problems he always seemed to be dealing with. As most newly diagnosed people with ADD do, Jeff went through several phases of ADHD once he had been diagnosed. First, he was relieved. Then, he wondered what he could do. Next, he went into research mode. Finally, he moved on to acceptance. (Hopefully, he did not continue onto reluctance, self-pity, or hopelessness.)
Somewhere in the what-to-do phase and research phase, Jeff turned, as many ADDers do at one time or another, to electronic time management gadgets. Electronic organizers, or Personal Information Mangers, also known as PIM, like Palm Pilots or Blackberrys have long seemed like the perfect solution to difficulties with organization and planning, for both adults with ADD and for people without ADHD alike. Since Jeff works in an office environment, he also turned to task manager and planning software installed on his computer, such as Microsoft Outlook.
While, everyone with ADHD responds differently to specific organizational tactics and strategies, there is a frequent hiccup for people with ADD trying to use electronic solutions to organization and planning. That issue is that successfully using organizational software for ADHD or using a PDA to help with ADD involves several different steps, each of which must be completed successfully for improving organizational skills. Students with ADD and adults with ADD typically have difficulty initiating or completing one of these critical time management steps.
Using Blackberry, Palm Pilots, iPhones, and Computer Software to Help With ADHD-ADD
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see where the step-by-step organization or steps of time management break down. That leads to frustration. All to often, that frustration ends up causing the entire process to be considered unsuccessful, when in fact, there may be just a single step that needs more focused attention to make the entire process more efficient.
Let’s say that our ADHD worker, Jeff, gets a Blackberry through his company. Most ADDers love trying out new things and Jeff is no exception. Jeff is also a technology buff and good with things like electronics and computers, so he is particularly excited about his new PDA phone. He spends hours setting up his Blackberry and connecting it to the company network and email systems. Ironically, he ends up neglecting other more important, but less interesting tasks. Jeff tells himself that it is all fine, because once he has the Blackberry setup, he will be so much more efficient, that it will be worth any delay caused in getting to important items on his to-do list.
For a few days after Jeff gets his Blackberry programmed with everything he needs to overcome ADHD traits or ADD issues that have plagued him in the past, the Blackberry does as promised. He is more organized, using his time better, and planning and scheduling better. Events are on his calendar and he can see at a glance what he needs to do each day. In short, Jeff feels like he has made a huge stride forward.
Unfortunately, Jeff, like many ADHD-ADD students and adults, has been here before. Often when something is new and novel, the ADD mind pays great attention to it, sometimes too much attention. However, as the newness wears off and the novelty of the new organization tips goes away, something happens. Jeff reverts to old patterns and the Blackberry, new ADD planner, computer software, notebook, note cards, journal, or whatever else is being tried out, fades into the background noise like so many items before it. Soon, Jeff’s Blackberry isn’t helping at all and he decides that the Blackberry is not helping his ADD-ADHD traits. He returns to his old methods, or he seeks out a new "better" way to help manage his time.
Steps For Time Management, Organization, and Planning Success With ADD-ADHD or Not
In order for a time management system, scheduling gadget, or calendar utility to actually help keep Jeff on track for more than a short period of time, he needs to break down the individual steps that go into using the device or program. Then, he can concentrate on which one of the steps is breaking down. Only, then, can he figure out what the real issue is and work on fixing it.
Otherwise, Jeff will be back in his bosses office, office supply store, or department store, in six months looking to buy something to help with ADD-ADHD again. And, chances are, if he buys something new, he will use if for a week and it will stop being helpful.
(I’m going to have to re-write this article to sound like the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. That would be fun. – I’m so proud of myself for not doing it right now instead of moving on to the next critical items on my task list!)