Category: ADD

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.


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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, 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.




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.



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.

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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!









Asking for Help


asking for help

Is it not in your nature to ask for help?

Have you asked for help and you heard crickets?

Is it easier to procrastinate about something rather than ask for help?


Let’s admit it, asking for help is hard.  It may seem like it’s a signal about deficiency or weakness. It may be about fear and vulnerability. It may be a lack of a skill or an undeveloped skill.  It could even be about being stubborn. A lot plays into asking for help.  It’s time to acknowledge we are all not good at everything and play to our strengths.


It’s the best way to conquer a tough project though.  It helps you move forward when you are stuck. It saves you time when you are struggling with a task or technology.  Bringing together more hands and ideas can improve your project too.  Is it time for you to assess asking for help?


Start small

The best way to start anything new is to start small.  Ask for help with a small time commitment or piece of the project.  Isolate just one thing that is holding you back on a project.  Ask a trusted resource to help you with that one small task.  If you are not sure what that one small thing is, ask a trusted resource to process the steps in the project to create the series of actions for completing the task.


Asking for help at work

Collaboration is a great strategy for asking for help at work.  Create a team that works well together who create energy and more together.  Find resources for a variety of needs that you have, whether tech, writing, calculations or other needs.  Sweeten the pot with an offer to assist with a strength you have.


Email is your best tool for asking for help.  Be sure to include a specific request with a deadline.  Think of potential solutions as options that your resource can help you with, especially the small simple solutions.  Think about additional resources like coaches, professional organizers, and productivity consultants who can also provide support and increase your productivity.



Asking for help at home

We often think our family is an unreliable source for help.  However, asking for help at home is an important part of family cohesiveness.  Even if you think it’s easier to do whatever yourself, teaching how to help others and team work is worth the extra energy and time.


It’s easiest to ask by starting with a family meeting.  Even if there is a lot of eye rolling, your family will be happy to help with simple, small tasks that can be done quickly.  Use a family chart to keep everyone on track.  Set a time and date for your helpers to complete their work.  If someone is already doing that task, count that.  Find tasks everyone can do at the same time together to get a big job done too.


Finding resources

Have an array of resources at your disposal.

  • My first go to is google and find online resources. Finding answers can be as simple as a few keyboard clicks. It takes a few minutes and already I know new tricks.
  • My next step is to find someone in my inner circle who can respect my request.  There are many colleagues, family and friends who have skills that compliment mine. I return the favor by offering something to help them as well.
  • Finding resources in your community are a great collaboration as well.  In my arena I love having interior decorators who work on color and space design, handymen who repair and hang pictures,  and tech people who help make my computer and smart phone work well.
  • Who would be a bonus to you as a resource?


Not matter the challenge, there is help there for the asking!  Remember to share your gratitude for their help.   It’s not only about how to ask for help, it’s also how to appreciate those helping out too.


Tricks and tips for any organizing or productivity challenge here!



Perfectionism, Procrastination and Organizing

perfectionism, procrastination and organizing



Perfectionism and procrastination sound like opposites but are they really? Do you set incredibly high standards for a project including lots of planning and then don’t get started because it won’t be completed to your satisfaction? Do you put off a project, thinking you will have more time or energy to do it later? More often than you think, perfectionism can be immobilizing you.  Here are some points to think about with perfectionism, procrastination and organizing.


Are you a perfectionist?

Begin by becoming aware of perfectionism in your life. Many people do not realize that they are perfectionists. A home with clutter or incomplete projects can be the home of a perfectionist! Having incredibly high standards that are impossible to reach, whether in taking care of your home, completing a project, or in any thought process, indicate perfectionism. By having the realization of perfectionism, you can begin to evaluate what this is costing you and what’s next.


Focus on balanced goals and completion

Because perfectionism is stopping us from starting, we need to focus on the goals of balance and completion. Simply put, it is that old saying, “If I can’t do it right I am not going to do it at all.” Start by asking yourself, what is “right” to you? A realistic goal balances your personal energy, time and importance of the task. You can do it well and get it done. Donna Smallin, author of Organizing Plain and Simple, notes that “done is perfect.” You can start by using Donna’s saying to help you put things in perspective, create the balance for yourself and get the job done.

Empowering self talk

Another aspect of perfectionism is rigid, black and white thinking. Either a project is perfect or a disaster! Using acknowledging, empowering self talk, including kudos of accomplishment throughout the project, leads to satisfaction with the outcome and completion. Seeing productivity, you will feel successful and feel more like completing the project. It is definitely a circle of work and success that stands out then.


Making projects manageable


We may think that a project is going to take hours and we may not have hours to work on it. It may surprise you how much less time a project takes than we imagined.  We may not start a project until everything else is perfect around it.  Break the tasks into manageable parts. Make it manageable with one or two hour time slots, only taking out a part of the project, or adding in additional resources.  As you work through your project, commit by writing in your calendar slots that take advantage of your best energy times.  You will feel successful as you move forward, instead of putting off and procrastinating.



Standards of excellence instead of perfection make a difference in starting and completing a project. Whether organizing a space or any other task, start with baby steps and practice your imperfection. Work at a comfortable pace, allow for changes as needed and review your work consistently. When others offer to assist, welcome their help and disregard their imperfections as they help you complete a project. With this process, you will be excited by the excellence you created!


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ADHD Bill Paying Solutions



ADHD Bill paying solutions


It’s a struggle to pay your bills.  Anxiety, math phobia, and paperwork challenges all add up to ADHD bill paying problems.  Financial documents are a nightmare because of details, multiple steps and lack of consistency.  Not to mention those awful accruing late fees!  Try one of these ADHD bill paying solutions.


Bill paying center

  • Gather together your bills, a pencil, calculator, stamps, envelopes, checks and manilla envelopes.
  • Open the envelopes of all the bills and mark the date due on each.
  • Divide the bills to pay according to the date due and the income in your checkbook.
  • Keep your bill paying center where you see it every day.
  • Pay your bills either every day or 7 days ahead of due date.

Online bill paying

  • Set up online bill pay using your bank’s services.  You will need one bill from each utility, including your account number.
  • Open your bills each day and write the due date on the envelope.
  • Check your balance weekly.
  • Pay your bills daily and set the due date for payment according to your balance and income.


Money Management Binder

  • Set up your binder with tabbed slash pockets. Label the pockets: To be paid, January, February, March, etc.
  • Use this Monthly Bill Manager to list your bills and how you paid.


Bill Manager List

  • Place all bills in the binder as they arrive.
  • Write checks and pay online once a week. Call the day Money Monday or Financial Friday.  Set a reminder or put post it notes to help you stay on top of your weekly commitment.
  • Keep the binder in the same place all the time so you can drop in bills and keep up with your weekly payments.


Auto debits and other automatic payments

There may be some payments that happen automatically from your account.  Make a list of these payments and the amounts taken out monthly. It creates a visual reminder for you and keeps you on track with your money.

Big Bills to Pay

Even with a great system, big surprises happen.  Make a list of the big bills you pay at different times during the year.  Payments for property tax, insurance, and estimated tax payments occur at random times throughout the year.  Go back through last year’s checkbook and create a list of these expenses.  Add these to your recurring reminders.


What solutions work for your bill paying?


More bill paying ideas here!


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15 ADHD Organizing Tips for 2015

adhd organizing


It’s the new year and time to put our goals into action! Get your home, work space, kids and more in order this year with these 15 ADHD organizing tips for 2015.



  • Apply the ONE in, TWO out rule.   By taking TWO items out, you are gaining on clutter build up.
  • Labeling helps everyone put away stuff.  Label kids drawers, pantry, or anywhere for items to be put back.
  • Set dates to organize. Write in your calendar a one – two hour time, every other week or once a month, you are going to organize. It keeps you committed to your goal.



  • Create a well suited work environment. A less distracting environment is one with less clutter, optimal auditory stimulation and attractive for you.  Decide what is not working in your space and spend time crafting an improved place to work.
  • Create and set up reminders that work for you. If you are highly visual, use a dry erase board and sticky notes on a window. If you are highly auditory, set alarms on your phone.
  • Use one hour power periods to accomplish your work.  Set a power period at your high energy time to get the most out of your time.



  • Partner with your kids to use their planners.  The planner should be the one spot all assignments are written so that nothing slips through the cracks.  Go online to websites, have your kids write in assignments from the class room and consolidate all assignments here.
  • Set up a homework routine with your kids.  Start early, like 4 -5 pm, for homework time. Establish a “get started procedure” like setting up the planner and books on the table.  Homework time ends when all items are back in the back pack and by the door.
  • Use apps that make learning fun.  Quizlet, StudyBlue, Free Audio Books and MindMeister make it easier to digest and incorporate new concepts and vocabulary.



  • Declutter with your kids twice a year, before birthday and holidays.   Its a reset in their rooms so that they keep decluttered.  Work for at least 15 minutes with them, and then continue without them.
  • Cherish your kids artwork with an art gallery or art book. Collect the art together for 2  weeks in a bin.   Have your child choose what to display.  Establish a gallery with frames or string and clothespins.   Take photos of the artwork and create a photo book with it.
  • Help your kids distinguish treasures. Set up a box or bin for them to keep their treasures in their closet.  When the box is full, it’s time to prioritize what is a treasure and what can be let go.


Wellness and Self care

  • Everyone needs a good bed time.  Start earlier than you think by getting ready ahead of time. No blue light for 60 minutes before bed.  Be in bed 30 minutes ahead. Set the temperature cooler in your bedroom.
  • Get out in green space.  Take a short walk, do a little meditation, and spend a little time outdoors exercising. It’s what is best for focus and clarity.  Daily exercise helps you be more productive.
  • Do something fun.  More times than not my clients share that they have no time for what they love.  Spend time being crafty, reading a magazine and doing something for YOU each week.


Learn more about ADHD


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Favorite Blog Posts 2014

It’s almost a wrap! The year 2015 starts this week. Thank you for your commitment to organizing and learning new tools, tips and techniques on Ellen’s Blog this year.  Here are your favorite blog posts for 2014!



organizing your add family

Organizing your ADHD family


3 steps to organize  your desk

3 Steps to Organize your Desk


14 productivity tips

14 Productivity Tips for 2014

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