Category: ADD

How to Add Routines to your Schedule

routines and schedules

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Remember those days in kindergarten when your day was brimming with consistency? You knew the day began with Circle Time, followed by Center Time, then Recess and Snack. With each day you anticipated what was expected and you worked hard at each activity. Having a schedule helps us be more productive with our time and energized in our efforts. There are many ways to implement structure in our day.

 

Routines, structure or patterns

“Pattern Planning” is a system recommend by Doctors John Ratey and Ned Hallowell in the book, ADD Friendly Ways to Organize by Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau. Begin with the baby steps of your big goals and then create a pattern for the day with these. This includes a regular wake up time, breakfast, exercise, morning and afternoon work times, dinner preparation and bedtime routine for the evening. This simplified pattern includes all aspects of your life.

  • For families, this is especially important in creating a positive beginning and end to the day. Decide what is most important and then add the steps to incorporate this. Decide what time you need to be out the door, and work backwards allowing plenty of time to get ready and add 10 extra minutes just in case! Create organization around the structure of the day, including a “landing strip” to place and grab back packs to head out the door. An evening routine adds time for homework, pick up, and bedtime routines.
  • For work creating a structure to your week keeps you productive.  If you assign a major theme to each day, you are sure to keep each goal moving forward. If you assign administrative tasks to the same time each day, you keep these from building up.

 

Does consistency lead to boredom?

Add fun to the routines with a new dimension such as music, variety, or partnering.

  • Add music with a play list or a pandora station just for that routine.
  • Add variety in the way you go about the routine, starting and ending with the same task or alternating the start and finish.
  • Create different partnerships for your routine.  It may be different people, a class or a timer that are your start and stop mechanisms.
  • Make it fun and wacky!

It is important to remember that “structure” is not about rigidity, it is about consistency. The pattern should be followed more frequently than not because the schedule honors your priorities rather than your distractions.

 

Writing out your perfect routine

Get started by writing out your “perfect” schedule in a grid, allowing for appropriate time to do each step. There is power in writing.  There’s power in a check list.  Block in times with an arrow for your activities. Post it in a place you will see it regularly and use a timer to help you remember.

 

Your perfect routine may revolve around one activity being the puzzle piece. That center puzzle piece can make the difference.  That’s when other activities fall into place because you have accomplished one task first. If you read, meditate or exercise first in the morning, your other routines may work better as a result. If you do your first Most Important Task early in the day, the rest of the day works better.

 

Add a bit to your existing routine

One of the most successful ways to create a routine is to add a new routine to an existing routine. You may think you have no routines. However there is always something small you can build on.  If you want to do more exercise as a routine, add it on by going to a gym on the way home. If you want to build in better nutrition habit, add in one item to your existing grocery run.  Just adding in one small change to an existing routine makes it easier to find success.

 

 

A routine adds efficiency and effectiveness to our day by helping us focus on a specific activity. But more importantly, consistency makes for peace of mind and positive energy and of course we all want that!

 

More ideas on productivity here on my newsletter!

Why can’t I do this myself?

why cant I do this myself

 

It’s a sentence I hear from many clients.

 

Why can’t I do this myself?

 

What’s behind this question?

 

It takes a new way of thinking to accept help at times.

 

Recently I heard of a perspective shift from a client.  As a single entrepreneur woman, she had a lot on her plate. She also had her cats to think of.  In thinking about how she was trying to do it all herself, she reflected on some tv shows from her youth. There was the Courtship of Eddie’s Father with Mrs. Livingston, there was the show Hazel and there was the Brady Bunch with Alice. It was an aha moment as she realized she needed help!

 

It takes awareness to reach this new perspective and reach out for help.

It takes courage to accept help in your personal space. It’s about a trusting relationship.  It’s about knowing that there is no judgement in working with someone.

 

It’s acknowledging your need for help is not a lack of your skill or lack of determination.  The most commitment need help too.

 

It’s acknowledging that your brain works in a certain way. It’s knowing that having someone else in the space helps your brain work best, helps you process in a way that works best for you and helps get the job you started finished.

 

It’s in finding who is a good fit for your team.

 

There are lots of potential members of your team. It’s  your counselor, Stephen Minister, professional organizer and coach who create all the different successes.  Finding the fit of many different people who can help you is what’s important.

 

There are many answers to why can’t I do this myself.  There may be more than a single reason. Find what works for you and you can move forward with whatever task you are doing.

 

More ideas and resources for your team here.

How to Rock being an ADHD Parent

adhd parent

 

Being a mom or dad is a tough job.  Being an ADHD parent requires more.  Keeping your home organized and beautiful, your children on track with school and well behaved, and prioritizing your own well being are a lot for those with executive function challenges.  Here are some tips to rock your parenting job.

 

Declutter your home

It’s all too much sometimes with all the clothes, toys, electronics and stuff. It’s hard to get control of stuff in your home.  Having less to organize makes it easier to find homes for your stuff.

  • Minimize the clutter by bringing in as little as you can.  Be sure it’s something you must acquire before you purchase it.
  • Assign a function to each room in your home so that you know what belongs in that space.  At times the most difficult task in an ADHD home is where does something belong. It belongs in the space it is going to be used.
  • If you already have too much, set aside an hour once a week to let go of what is unused currently.  Declutter decisively by deciding if you have used it in the last 6 months. If not, be brutal and bring it to a donation spot that afternoon.  You may have one regret for every 10 bags of donations, but it’s a small price to pay for clarity and organization in your home.

 Paper plan

Paper is a major enemy for ADHD parents. There’s too much coming in from the mail and school.  Here’s a simple plan that helps.

  • Open your mail over the recycling bin every day. Keep only what is required not potential papers such as service providers, coupons, or any other just in case papers.
  • Pay bills online through your bank.  Place the bills in a box marked for the year.
  • Set up a command center for your kids’ papers.  Drop in papers regularly and once a month talk about the papers with your kids.  Discretely let go of what’s not “precious.”  Move these remaining papers to a portfolio or make a photo book.

 

 

adhd parent

 

Post important dates to your family calendar

Our busy families have lots of commitments.  Keep track of them with a family calendar.

  • A paper month at a glance calendar can hang by the refrigerator.  Keep a basket or bulletin board for invitations, directions or other date related papers.
  • Try online calendars like Google or Cozi to keep dates digitally, but print a copy for posting in your home.
  • Remember to pencil in white space. Back to back commitments make life stressed.  Down time gives everyone time to recuperate and refresh.  It also gives you time to prioritize and evaluate.

 

Landing strip at your door

It’s easy to be late because of lost keys, homework, shoes or other last minute stuff.  Create a landing strip at your door with hooks, baskets, a bench and a analog clock.  It’s a spot to drop items as you come and go from the house.

 

landing strip

Photo from FiveInTheHive.com

 

The most organized and productive ADHD parents recognize the value of a good night’s rest.  With all these great tips in place, making sure you get to bed earlier than you think will help you rock being an ADHD parent.

 

ADHD Apps and Tools

adhd apps and tools

 

There’s so much new technology that can make life easier to manage.  Take advantage of apps that work across many devices to consolidate information and make tasks easier. Check out these simple to use apps in different categories.

To keep a note

Evernote is the most popular of all apps to keep information.  Create “notebooks” to categorize your information and “tag” it to find it later.

More than a list, Toodledo is the place to write notes, customize lists, and create recurring events.

Love paper?  There’s nothing better than the Arc notebook available at Staples. The unusual, customizable design makes this the place to write notes, organize your thoughts, or keep a list. It’s available in sizes and designs that make you smile too.

 

The most important part of writing stuff down is that you no longer have to take energy from doing a project to remember other stuff. 

 

To keep a budget

Mint helps you pull all your financial information together. It helps you create a budget and know how you are spending your money.

EveryDollar is a free budget tool recommended by Dave Ramsey.

Getting in touch with your money is a very powerful feeling.

 

To keep dates

BlueSky Week at a glance calendars help you organized your year. A week at a glance view creates a streamlined week to plan and execute what needs to be done.

Planner pad calendar consolidates your lists and your appointments. You can categorize lists, prioritize tasks and pull together details of your life.

Cozi is a simple, effective online tools for calendars and tasks. Manage tasks, keep appointments, and create a calendar that brings everything and everyone together.

Having a trusted tool for dates makes it easy to keep from double booking or feeling stressed to remember dates.

To keep information

Dropbox  is a service that keeps your files safe, synced, and easy to share. Bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and never lose a file again.  It’s the best way to work on information on different devices at different locations. It’s also a great way to share photos with family and friends or collaborate on a project with colleagues.

Google Docs is an easy way to share documents, spreadsheets and other information on multiple devices and with others.  Part of google, it’s powerful enough to keep information backed up too while collaborating with others.

Never feel like you have lost a file again!

To manage time

TimeTimer is for everyone who wants to manage time better.  It shows the passage of time and helps you assess how much time you have to complete a task. It helps you get tasks complete.

Analog clock or watch is easier for our brain to connect to the movement and duration of time.

Time is on your side when you manage time.

 

To maintain wellness

Fitbit tracks your activities, sleep and weight to help keep you accountable.  How much you rest and how much you exercise are contributing factors in wellness.  There are wrist and body fitbits for your needs.

Pandora is your personal radio where you set stations.  If you are motivated by music to get things done, you will enjoy having different stations for different types of activities including organizing!

Wellness is key to all of our lives.

 

adhd apps and tools

 

What apps do you use? I have my own list of favorites, as well as student apps and financial apps.   I’d love to learn what works for you!  These ADHD apps and tools make the most of using technology wisely and help us all live well.

How to Make Habits Stick

habits

 

Some of us are creatures of great routine and some of us are not. When it’s hard to make habits stick, it’s easy to get discouraged.  We label ourselves as unable to create or stick with habits.  With ADHD, it’s especially hard to create and stick to habits or routines.  Habits are not always about being more disciplined.  Habits are about finding ways to incorporate small changes that add up.  How do you make habits stick? Here are 5 ways to make habits more consistent in your life.

 

Find your habit success first

Surprisingly most people don’t know what habits are sticking. Start with that awareness. Do you consistently do any one thing? It can be something so small you don’t recognize it.  It can be a personal hygiene routine like brushing your teeth, a family activity like attending church or a time topic like being on time routinely.  Once you know one habit is working, it’s a great way to start a new habit.

 

Start a small actionable habit

Over and over we hear it takes 21 days to create a new habit.  Research shows it is actually longer. However, often we are trying to tackle more than one habit at a time.  Start with something small and specific that you can accomplish.  Find one small part of a new habit you want to create and work just on that small piece.

 

Hook your habit

Now that you know about a successful habit, it’s time to hook onto this. This means you are doing this new habit just after your existing habit. This way you have the bonus of starting off with success. It’s a powerful way to see change.

 

Start today

There’s no time like the present. As Nike says, “Just Do It.”  Starting today means you are committing to change.  End procrastination by saying that today is the day. Start right now.

 

Hold yourself accountable

There are two sides to creating new habits, both procrastination and perfectionism.  We give ourselves the option to just start tomorrow and procrastinate.  We give ourselves permission to call it quits because we haven’t done the task perfectly day in and day out.  Acknowledge both of these and be committed for a 3 month time.  Be accountable with data with apps that help.  Announce your intention to your best friend and have them support you in a loving way.  Create a chart you check off daily to see progress.  If you miss a day, get back on the wagon right away.

 

 

habits

How to make habits stick? Try just one of these tricks or tools for at least a month and see what happens!

 

6 Organizing Survival Strategies

organizing survival strategies

 

 

Organizing can make the difference whether your survive or thrive.  You’ve lost your keys, you’ve lost a check and you have lost your mind!  The more you have going on, the more important organizing can be.  Organizing helps you feel and look put together.  Here are 6 baby steps for organizing to help you go from surviving to thriving.

  • Start with your own organizing first.  It’s easy to see where everyone around you is pulling you down.  It’s that old adage, “put your own oxygen mask on first.”  Your purse is a perfect first step to organizing.  Take stock of what is in there, declutter the junk, create categories with small clear zipper pouches for medicine, makeup, money and receipts.  Empty and refresh your purse weekly.   Apply this same process to your closet and your calendar. 

 

  • Have one spot where all the very important papers go.  The most important papers can be in a basket or box in the office, in an accordion file or in a file bin.  Whatever container your choose, you can group papers together in files or clear pockets.  No more worry about where important papers are and easy to access this way too!

 

  • Edit your closet to keep only what you would buy and wear today.  Items that are too big, too small, too scratchy, or not your style, need to be dropped off at a donation spot or consignment.  If you can go into your closet and choose an item to wear right away,  you will save time and energy.

 

  • Declutter your calendar.  If you are running between activities, don’t have time to put away groceries or other purchases, arrive late at most meetings or church, it’s time to prioritize your commitments.  Take one thing off your plate for 6 months and assess at the end of that time how you felt and how you operated.

 

  • Routines make the difference for daily life.  Set routines for doing the laundry, getting dinner done and heading to the grocery store.  When you have assigned times to these basic tasks, life runs smoother.

 

  • Gather a team to help.  We can’t do it all and we can’t do all of it all the time.  Gather resources to help you get things done.  You know it’s time to use your resources when things get really stressful for you. Use your partners and team members to delegate and make things happen.

 

  • BONUS! Plan your perfectionism.  What holds you back most and creates procrastination is that feeling of having to “do it all perfectly or not at all.”   Create a new mantra of “good enough for now” to push past and get started on your organizing.

Not enough tips still? Check out these habits of organized people.

 

You don’t have to apply all these tips all at once. Just start with one way to make your life more organized.

 

Get a monthly dose of organizing inspiration.  Join my newsletter!

 

 

Back to School and Back to Routines for Everyone

 

back to school and back to routines

Classes have already started in many places and around Houston.  Football season is around the corner.  Knowing its time to get back to routines is part of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall.  Our routines may have faltered during the hot Summer, but these tried and true routines make a difference in easing our stress.   Back to school means back to routines for moms, dads and everyone!

Your Bedtime

It’s easy to get to bed later and later during the Summer.  It stays light late and it is hard to wind down. Get started getting ready for bed earlier so you can get a great night’s rest. Most of us truly need 8 hours of sleep a night to do our best.

 

Your Lists

There seems to be much more on our plate during this time of year. Make it easy with making lists. It takes a lot to keep remembering all that we need to do.  Your list can be digital or paper.  Write stuff down and then prioritize for the day.

 

Organize and take stock

Stuff may get a little chaotic during the Summer.  All of a sudden your closet, your supplies and your pantry are disorganized.  Take a little time during August to get them back to their regular order.  If you have clothes you have not worn all Summer, it’s time to donate them.  Gather your office supplies together.  Do you have  a good routine for putting back your supplies? Simplify your access to items if you have trouble. Straighten items and review what is in your pantry. Create a checklist on paper or with an app to make shopping easier. Just giving each of these areas a little attention will make each day easier.

 

Your Planner

Summer fun is often spontaneous, but Fall has lots and lots of activities coming up.  Get back to the routine of entering dates in your planner as soon as you know them.  Enter all dates from the school calendar, sports calendars, church calendars and any other activities onto your planner so these are all consolidated.  Having all the dates in one spot makes it easy to see and know what is coming up.

 

Check out my Back to School board on pinterest for other Back to School ideas.

5 Tips for ADHD Productivity

5 Tips for ADHD Productivity

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. ~~Paul J. Meyer

Trouble getting started or knowing when to finish up? Easily distracted while working? Easy to do the short term projects but long term projects don’t get started? All these challenges can be part of ADHD. Planning or focus may not be the greatest strength for ADHD, however there are ways to be more productive at work and home.

 

 

Tracking and Reminders

Start with trusted tools to be productive. Use a planner that works with your strengths, whether that’s a paper planner or a digital tool. If you are highly visual, a paper planner is most helpful. If you love technology, a digital planner makes a difference. Track all dates and deadlines for both home and work. Add in reminders that are both visual (dry erase board on the wall or large sticky notes) and auditory (alarms or timer) to help you stay on track. These reminders can be to help you know where you start, where you were interrupted or what is most important to tackle that day. A kitchen timer, Any.do app, or the reminder app on your phone can be ways to stay on track. A single notebook keeps all your tasks together in a single place to find these. Track your 5 most important tasks and check them off at the end of the day. Simple tracking and reminders consolidate this information.

 

Chunk your day and your projects

Long term projects can get lost in the shuffle. A long day without structure can be unproductive. Break your day and your projects into manageable pieces either one hour in time slots or smaller sections of the project. Smaller sections can be just one step forward in a project or several small steps that coordinate together. Structuring your day into parts keeps you from being overwhelmed and less efficient. A typical day can include a morning, early afternoon and late afternoon time frame for work periods. Add in your morning and evening routines at home and you are set up for success.

 

 

Partnerships

Collaboration is the key to success. Working with a partner adds interest and accountability. The interaction and engagement with a partner brings energy to every project. Choose a partner who has different skills and abilities to bring about productivity. Your partner can keep you on track with weekly or bi-weekly deadlines to finish a project on time. The most positive partnerships engage and empower you in your work.

 

Coordination

The most effective plans and projects include meetings for accountability and a time line. Just like when we invite company over, we are faced with an imminent deadline. With deadlines, you will complete tasks and projects timely by that extra surge of energy. Coordination brings this all into being.

 

 

Work from your strengths

Your strengths could be creativity, tech savviness, working well with others, and any number of skills and abilities. If you are unsure of your strengths, ask a colleague to reflect these back to you. Create a plan that includes these strengths. Use your strengths by choosing work aligned with these and not dwelling in negativity. Find ways to bring out your strengths in your work as well by choosing parts of the project that engage your strengths.

 
Get started today! You may be flip flopping between multiple planners. Just choose one and use it for 2 months and assess. It can be difficult to approach your colleagues to get started collaborating and coordinating. However, this difficult step can lead to a rewarding effort that is well worth the effort. Reach out today to start your most productive year ever.

 

Check out more tips on ADHD here on Ellen’s Blog ADD!

 

ADHD, Decision making and Organizing

 

ADHD Decision making and Organizing

 

Decision making is the first step in all organizing projects. And when those decisions become overwhelming is when we become paralyzed.  For ADHD and executive function challenges, decision making can halt organizing progress.  There’s a definite connection between ADHD, decision making and organizing.

 

Too many decisions

It’s overwhelming to think about the number of decisions we make in a day.  Research reveals that when we make decision after decision, we become frustrated, angry or anxious.  Each day we are make decisions about literally thousands of questions or crossroads.  When it comes to decision making, think about limiting choices.  Keep it simple like just 3 -5 options, rather than ten or more.

 

  • When you begin organizing, make decision making simple and easy.  Start with decisions to let go of things that are easy to part with, you have not used or seen in a long time, or without hesitation know your decision.

 

  • When it comes to the stuff in your life, one question can be all you need.  Make decision making easy with one big question to answer: does this make me look or feel fabulous?  If the answer is no, off it goes.

 

  • Use the tournament method.  Compare two items, pick the best.  Use the “winner”  and compare with another item, pick the best.  You can divide items into four piles and use the tournament method too.

 

 Good decisions start with wellness

It’s not surprising how much rest and nutrition play a role in good decision making.  Research shows that a good night’s sleep makes for better decision making, improved retention of information and a better outcome.

 

  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Not only will you feel better on all fronts, it’s easy to make decisions and be productive. Start with an earlier than expected prep time for bedtime. It’s easy to get in bed when you are ready.

 

 

  • Keep protein handy.  We can’t make good decisions with just snacks.  Eating protein regularly helps us think clearly.

 

 

 Resources for decision making

We know we don’t know it all.  But that’s not a problem! We have trust resources to help make decisions.   Our resources include an array of options, including our friends, professionals and the internet.  Build competence and confidence with your resources.

 

  • Start with your easiest way of finding information.  Phone or text a friend or look online are the simplest first steps.  Reading a book or blog can help you find the information you need.  Add in a clutter buddy or paper partner.  They are your trusted friend for decision making; your go to resource for no matter what the question is.  Decide on what’s easiest for you.

 

  • Take the emotion out of your decision.  Think about the decision as if you were making it for someone else.  Take a deep breath, do 10 jumping jacks, call a friend and share why this is so hard.  Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if this decision is not right.  Then get back to that decision.  It’s often not the decision at all that is hard but an emotion associated with it.

 

  • Ask for help.  It’s hard to accept ask for or accept help.  But a partnership can make all the difference.  Ask for help when you find yourself lacking a skill, not sure of how to manage technology or to speed the project along.  Remember that in doubling up with a partner you have more brain and brawn to find solutions.

 

We all get stuck sometime.  Find ways to help yourself with decision making whether it’s paring down, wellness, or resources to make decisions happen.

 

More resources  on my ADD/ADHD pinterest board.

A spark of organizing and productivity energy every month! Join my newsletter here

 

Making Organizing Manageable

chunking organizing

How do you eat an elephant?   …….One bite at a time!

 

Making organizing manageable is all about breaking the tasks into manageable pieces.  When we see a big project it’s often overwhelming.  We think about organizing our entire home, storage or an office and it seems to be an impossible tasks.  There are several ways to chunk down the project and create a manageable plan.

 

Work in time increments

I am a huge fan of using a timer to work on any project.  Even just 15 minutes on any project will help you reach your goal.  But I also like the idea of percolation time and working an hour at a time.  Other ways to use time increments include two or three hour segments with an alarm set for 30 minutes before the end of the time. If you are unsure about how long the project will take, using time increments helps you get started and work in measured units.

 

Use Quadrants

Think about dividing the space you are working in into quadrants of work.  It could be floor space, left wall, center wall, and right wall.   It could be dividing the space into 4 quadrants entirely. Creating a physical delineation of what areas you are working on helps you see change.   There’s hoola hoop organizing.  Drop a hoola hoop on the floor and work on that area to eliminate and organize.  As more space evolves,  you are feeling more capable and less overwhelmed.

 

Use Numbers

Flylady refers to her 27 fling bogie.   Flylady suggests eliminating 27 items a day.   White House Black Shutters recommends 40 bags in 40 days.  Use numbers to help you break through your feeling of being overwhelmed.  You can choose your own number, no matter how large or small.  Whatever your numbers, use these wisely to make your project easy to accomplish.

 

 Work with a team

It’s much easier to work together to achieve more. Make organizing manageable by adding a partner or triad of workers. Not only does having many hands help, you have lots of ideas to get your organizing done.

 

Whatever strategy you use, make organizing manageable in a way that fits your strengths and style. Choose one of these ideas in order to get started and complete a project.

 

 

 

Monthly organizing tips and tweaks.  Join here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ringbinder theme by Themocracy