The Value of Transition Time

 

Transitions are a part of every day life. There’s big transitions, like going on vacation.  As well there are little transitions all day with text alerts, or changing the laundry while making dinner or working on a project and answering a phone call. Whether it is coming and going to work or school or starting or ending a vacation, these times can be especially challenging with ADHD. It’s not easy to switch between tasks.  Set-switching, the official name for transitions, is an aspect of self regulation, intertwined with time awareness, hyper focus, indecision and procrastination.  The value of transition time, the time between tasks, meetings and family, gives you time to reset and get ready for what’s coming next. For people with ADHD, this is especially valuable.

 

Build in and write in transition time

Take your awareness of the need for transition time to the next level by building this time into your schedule. You can do this by adding slots of time into your planner. Think through the time needed to transition as it is not all the same. To transition after a meeting, add 10 minutes between meetings and your next task. Add 30 minutes if you want to finalize notes and organize your action plan. For zoom meetings plan on logging on 10 minutes early. Write in the travel time between in person appointments and add a cushion. That means that you will likely be on time or possibly early. Adding in this time lowers your stress too.

 

Create transition rituals

We can use physical rituals that happen during transitions. No matter if the meeting is in person or zoom, we need time to reset after a meeting. Make it a habit to walk around the office of your work from home office to reset your thoughts and give yourself a physical break.

Movement and breathing can be physical ways to transition. Stretching and deep breathing give us a lift as we move to the next activity.

You can pair a ritual with a transition.  If you always have tea with your task, you can pair up to ease the transition.

 

Use technology to create a buffer

Technology can helping us prepare and transition to the next activity.  We can use the “Countdown Method” with multiple reminders set to alert to transition. Setting multiple reminders on your smart devices and home digital assistants reminds you a transition is about to happen.

 

Add structure

Giving yourself permission to stay on a task for a duration of time is a strategy too.  If you have assigned a single task to a day, such as Financial Friday, then you have permission to keep on that task all day.

Time blocking adds structure to your transition as well. This happens when you set aside to do specific work at a specific time. By deciding ahead of time the assignment, you can transition in another time block without making an additional decision. You are freed up to do the work rather than decide what is the next transition.

 

 

Work from home tips

While we are currently working from home, you need stronger transitions to help you work productively and create a boundary between home and work. Here are a few suggestions to create a transition time during your work from home time.

  • Walk the dog
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Add analog clocks to important transition locations
  • Create work boundaries with alarms to end the day

 

Incorporating transition time is a work in progress. Keep it in mind as you start these new strategies.

How I use the Notes App

How I use the notes app

 

Of all the apps that are on our phones, the Notes app is frequently our default app to use.  Most of my clients have used the Notes app to capture thoughts, ideas, information and passwords.  There is tons of information in this app.  However we can add a level of organization to using Notes app that will give it more function and organization.  There are many ways to use this app for lists, routines and notes.  Here is how I use the Notes app.

 

General information about Notes app

  • As you enter the first line, that line because the name of the list. It is in bold font for this reason.
  • Notes app has a search function and you can find your list this way with the name of the list on the top line.
  • Notes app is cloud based and can be accessed by all your devices for free.
  • Note app can be shared with others to create and use lists together.
  • Notes can be printed, shared by email or text, and locked for privacy.
  • Photos can be pasted into individual notes or as a note.
  • If you press lightly inside a note, a pop up with font options appears.

Lists

The Notes app is easy to use for lists.  Add lists would you like to have with you all the time. General lists include shopping, grocery, kids’ clothing and shoe sizes, Christmas list, air filter dimensions, medication list or any list you want to reference while out shopping, at a meeting, at a doctor’s office or away from home base. The lists I use most frequently are for business. There is a consignment list for that three month time, action lists for particular clients and a list of favorite products I share frequently with clients.

 

Routines and Reminders

Notes app can be a daily routines and reminders list with check lists.  Add a list of routines with a check circle starting each item of your list.  (Find that check circle on the bottom right of your device while working in the Notes app.) Create the list of what you want your routine to include or a series of reminders for a specific task.  As you check off, you won’t forget tasks.  Un-check the circles at the end of your work or when you have completed this series of routines.  Repeat and use again and again.

 

Notes

Depending on your typing ability, Notes app is a great choice to take notes during for personal reference, during meetings and to capture ideas.

  • Notes app can be used to reference materials of all types.  Gathering information and consolidating it can be done here.  Be sure you add a title as the top line to find your information. My clients are information seekers and like to have access to this.
  • Meeting notes are easy to find and review.  When I meet with clients, I listen, take notes in this app and share these with clients.  At the top of the note I add the name, date and session number of our meeting. It helps us track our actions and remain accountable to planning.
  • Wonder where to keep your big ideas?  It’s here within this app. I love that as you add information, the cloud keeps this updated.
  • Each year I highlight my big accomplishments. The list is named 2020 Highlights. I add to this list throughout the year and check it at the end of the year. It’s fun to see this from previous years too.

 

Over the years as I have used the Notes app more strategically. The more I use it, the more I love it!

Celebrating ADHD Awareness Month

 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting both children and adults around the globe with executive function, planning, initiation and other challenges. There are more and more ways to “celebrate” this month and I especially appreciate learning as the optimal way to celebrate. Take time this month to check out these resources for ADHD and celebrate neurodiversity.

 

Websites

These websites offer tips, tech and more about ADHD solutions.

ADHD Awareness Month 

ADDitudemag.com

CHADD.org

ADDA-SR.org

Understood.org

 

Podcasts

Podcasts tell the stories of people with ADHD.

Faster Than Normal

Take Control

More Attention, Less Deficit

ADHD reWired

Translating ADHD

 

Books

Books are a gateway to knowledge. Most of these are available on kindle and audiobook. 

ADD Friendly Ways to Organize

The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps 

What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew: Working Together to Empower Kids for Success in School and Life 

 

Blogs

Blogs are personal accounts and information about ADHD.

Professional-Organizer.com

Totally ADD

ADD Consults

Order Out of Chaos

Impact ADHD

Black Girl, Lost Keys

 

Education is a cornerstone of living a thriving life.  The more educated you are about ADHD, the more you can move forward in all you do!

 

10 Things I am Learning from Home, Home School and Work from Home

learning at home home school and work from home

 

This year we are all officially back to school in many ways. We are learning from each other, learning at home from our family, learning from colleagues at work, and learning about work from home.  Here are 10 important things I have learned this fall during back to school.

  1. Manage expectations of you and your family.  It is going to be a fall of uncertainty. Managing what you expect of yourself and your students will help you keep everyone and everything calm and moving forward.
  2. Take the time to be together. This is the great “gift” of the fall. We are together learning and hopefully laughing. If you or your students need a pause, get outside and enjoy the fall (and hopefully cooler weather soon.)
  3. Set up independence with structure for you and your students.  Kids may need more than one practice at setting an analog alarm clock or getting online. They are quick at technology. Give them an opportunity to learn responsibility under your guidance.
  4. Set up specific work stations for everyone. Everyone having this structure gives a sense of a real classroom. Assigned seats work. Use a cart to access supplies nearby. That cart keeps home school organized.
  5. Recharge yourself, your student and your devices nightly.  Everything works better when it is unplugged. A common charging station helps families get a good night sleep.
  6. Teaming up has meant more and more.  That team work can be home responsibilities and school tutoring. Partner to cook and clean up after meals, get laundry complete and organize your home.  Have an older sibling or Aunt tutor a school subject, use Khan Academy or use online study apps as learning aids.
  7. Recess rocks. We all need breaks from work and school.  Set a timer and practice the pomodoro method to be productive.
  8. Use technology as much as you can. Artificial intelligence can motivate your student and keep you from one more recitation of responsibilities.
  9. Set boundaries for work. While it is uncomfortable to feel unproductive at times, stepping away from work each evening will help you build more rapport with your family and reset your perspective.
  10. Get organized and edit your stuff. With everyone in a shared space, edit out what is not used and not loved. Less stuff gives you more space.

I am sure everyone has learned so much this year. I look forward to hearing all your comments.

Work from Home and Virtual School Fall Edition

4 tips for work from home and virtual school

 

We started work from home and virtual school this spring. Now it’s Fall and we are continuing to cocoon at home.  While we were surprised by these changes, now we can be certain that these work stations are a necessity for awhile longer.  Here are some tips for improving your productivity and surviving all the togetherness.

 

Design your ideal space

Start with the end in mind. This applies to designing your spaces to work for you and your students.  Look at what has worked well and assess obstacles.  See where your home has potential to add work space for the short and long term. Use your design skills to approach this with a fresh perspective. Assess your furniture and learn what you can repurpose. Are there opportunities to change up your furniture needs inexpensively? Cute counts when it comes to organizing.

 

Organize your work and school spaces

  • Stuff has built up in our spaces since we began our work from home.  Declutter and edit what you have experienced to be weighing you down.
  • Everyone needs a designated work space, including you and your students. With cooler weather outside, this can be a chair and table in your backyard (as long as your wifi connects where.) Separate spaces are great for everyone to work without distractions.
  • Set up easy access storage for materials and resources.  Carts move to where you and your students are located. Each person needs their own storage area for school supplies and related materials.  Use an accordion file or file box for papers you are printing for your students. Label the sections with the names of each subject.  Your student can file these papers each day to keep organized.
  • Zoom and video meetings continue to be requirement of work and school life right now.  Getting the right set up and lighting, as well as background enhance your meeting.  As you are establishing everyone’s work space, think about what others are seeing and eliminate background clutter.

 

Update your technology

Get your tech set.  Technology happens! Nothing is more frustrating than inadequate internet speed or coverage. Update and increase your internet speed by adding both range extenders and a mesh network system to provide coverage throughout your home.

Technology happens in a not good way too.  It’s very important to set boundaries on technology.  Have a common charging spot for all devices and computers overnight. You will be completely charged both on your devices and physically from an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Use technology smartly.  Have a great set of headphone or air pods for everyone in your family. Label them with each person’s name so when these get lost, these are easily returned to their owner.

 

Set up routines supporting organization

The best systems require good routines. An organized work space is best supported with an end of work routine.  Model how to finish up your work day and your student’s school day with a closing routine. Reset all books and supplies to their places, tidy up your area with trash and push in your chair at your space.  Host a discussion on what your end of work routine includes so that everyone knows the value.

 

Setting up a great work space takes a little time, energy and creativity. Your newly updated space will help you be more organized, in control and less anxious.

 

 

 

 

What to Organize Now Fall Organizing

fall organizing

 

Start fall out with a plan of what to organize now. In the uncertainty around us, we want to create a calm, organized space at home, at work, for family and for ourselves.  That’s the biggest benefit of organizing. We feel in control, make decisions and see positive changes in our space.  Here are 5 tips of what to do right now for Fall Organizing.

 

Edit and reset your closet

Make every day better by editing and resetting your closet for fall.  Now you know what you did not wear this summer so grab a shopping bag and start decluttering.  Your closet editing will lead to resetting for fall.  Bring in items from other closets and rearrange fall colors to the front of your closet. It’s fun to see your new fall wardrobe this way.

 

Pantry prep

Starbucks is heralding pumpkin spice and it’s time to spice up your pantry. Check for expired items from spring’s surplus buying.  Re-organize what has gotten out of order.  Bring in your fall favorites for winter weather like apple pie filling and canned pumpkin.

 

Get ahead of the holidays

Holidays are going to look different this year. Now is the time to start conversations with your family.  Start with your family plan on gathering and gift giving.  Assess what is in your gift closet now, make a list and take stock of what you will be giving this year.  Get head with your holiday lists. It will be joyful to think ahead.

 

Structure your schedule

Schedules offer us sanity in uncertainty.  It is about work flow for our both our personal and professional life. Our schedules include routines which help us thrive.  Review your morning and evening routines.  Talk through homework, dinner and bedtime and what to improve on getting your routine consistent.  Drill down to a simple, easy to follow schedule for you and your family.

 

Declutter your home and office

The pandemic has set us in motion to make big changes. Families are moving, individuals are seeing new work opportunities and relationships are taking off. Decluttering is important. You can let go of more than you think and thrive. Place a donation bag at an easy access location to drop items in regularly. When the bag fills, drop it a your local philanthropy.  Letting go will always be what to do now for getting organized.

 

Fall is a favorite season for many of us with cooler weather and getting back to routines. Follow your intuition and use this time to get organized and gain clarity.

 

5 Simple Productivity Strategies

5 simple productivity strategies

 

We are energized by getting stuff done and being productive.  It’s central to who we are and what we want both personally and professionally. There are many ways to find your happy place in being productive by syncing with a strategy that uses your strengths and your style.  Here are 5 strategies to help you be your most productive.

Get Organized

Organizing is a foundation for productivity.

In a 2008 NAPO survey of 400 consumers nationwide: 27% said they feel disorganized at work, and of those, 91 percent said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace was better organized. 28% said they would save over an hour per day. 27% said they would save 31 to 60 minutes each day.

That was in 2008 and the need for organizing is even greater now.  How do you start organizing to be more productive?  Start with your desk and your digital desk top.  Paper management and digital file organizing are often the biggest challenges.  Set up systems for incoming information, documents to reference to and file, and archive information for longer use.  Incorporating files into Word and Excel systematically gives you quick access, rather than your computer desktop.  Set a time each week to do some organizing to reset your space and gain control of your files.  Getting your physical space organized makes it easier to do your work.

 

Time Blocking

People with ADHD tell me that unproductive time occurs when there are too many choices of what to do and too many priorities.  That indecision leads to procrastination and slow productivity.  Time blocking assigns a task to a time so that there is little or no decision to make. Start with prioritizing to know what is of highest impact and value.  Assign that project or task to a high energy time of day.  Be sure that time is well protected for that assignment.  In this same way, assign self care time as a time block.  Often self care falls to the bottom of the list and there is no time do exercise, eat healthy or reset.  Having both your highest priority and your self care assigned times through time blocking help you stay productive.

Teamwork

Teamwork can be implemented with many different strategies.

  • Be open to expanding your team with those who have time, skill or talent you need. Add team members who do shopping, cleaning, tutoring, child care or tech knowledge.
  • Tag team with those in your home. Your partner and you can determine schedules for who does what responsibility when, such as managing online learning or bedtime tuck in.
  • Partnering with a team member can be motivating.  My best work is partnering with a colleague to work on presentations or work in a client’s space. You and a family member can partner to make dinner together, organize together or clean together.

 

Getting Things Done (GTD)

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of tasks and projects. We have lots of great ideas, however we can’t do it all at the same time.  That is where GTD excels.

  • Capture all your information in a list or list with categories.
  • Host a Weekly Planning time to prioritize, then assign next steps of tasks and projects to time during a week.
  • Review the successes of the week and think big about what you want in work and life.

 

The Pomodoro Method

There are many distractions and you want to be sure to focus during your work times. This method uses a timer set in intervals of 25 -45 minutes alternating with short 5 -1 0 minute breaks between work.

  • Research shows the value of timers. Setting a timer helps you get started and complete tasks for a duration that works well with your strengths.
  • Adding up the series of intervals, you have completed sustained work for a long time.
  • Taking breaks add momentum to your work.

 

Pick one of these strategies that aligns with your personal strengths and style. It’s a matter of which of these strategies is a good fit for you. It will enhance how much you accomplish and how efficient you are!

Frequently Asked Organizing Questions and Professional Answers (FAQs for Organizing)

In over 20 years of organizing, I get asked a LOT of organizing questions. Most of these questions focus on organizing homes, organizing papers and being productive at home and at work. It’s always a pleasure to be an expert and share my ideas and answers, especially questions from people with ADHD.

 

Q: I am completely overwhelmed in my home and there is a lot of clutter. I want to get organized and want to know where do I start?

A: Start small

If you are overwhelmed, you are paralyzed. It appears that everywhere needs organizing and everything is equally important to organize. I recommend starting small. A small start can be in a small space, such as a drawer, the floor of your closet, or your medicine cabinet. When you start with a small space, there is a defined boundary for organizing. You conquer this space and you feel more confident to challenge a bigger space. You can also start with just a bag to declutter. Take a bag and place it where you can drop items to donate as you feel the urge to declutter. That can be a bag in your closet where you drop clothes you no longer love or wear. A donate bag can be placed in your laundry room to drop items throughout the house as you let go of toys or household items. By editing as you go, you are starting to get organized.

 

Q: I have a lot of paperwork. I hate filing and I don’t know what to keep. What is the best way to file papers?

A: Keep it simple sweetie

There is no perfect filing system and there are no perfect filing methods. Filing can be simplified to make it easier.

  • The best reference for what to keep is the ABCs of Important Papers. This comprehensive list guides you through what’s most important. Remember that the most important documents to keep are related to your finances.
  • Simple filing starts with broad categories and big slots to file. The simplest system is a box for the current year. The next simplest is categorizing by home/auto, financial and personal. The financial category includes anything to do with money. The personal category includes anything to do with the living things in your home. Move to hanging file folders with this system.
  • Keep a basket for To Be Filed papers. Decide how big your basket should be depending on how often you want to file and how many papers fit into the basket. Once that basket is full, it is time to file.
  • Really hate filing? Begin with scanning and going paperless.

 

Q: What do I do with my kids’ artwork, my mom’s cards from her funeral and fortune cookie saying I love?

A: Honor and respect your precious keepsakes

It is especially hard to edit these items so I recommending that you create a keepsake box for each of your family. That box holds ticket stubs, handwritten notes, and any other small items. The box size depends on creating a place for the keepsakes as well as a boundary for how much you keep. Some of my clients have a kiddo box for keepsakes, a box for art, and a box for photos. The boxes can be stored in the top of each person’s closet. Gather all these up in your To Be Filed paper area. A precious keepsake belongs in a space of honor and respect.

 

Q: Why do I need to ask for help? Why can’t I get started on my own to organize?

A: Team up

There’s two topics here to think about. Asking for help is a good thing! If you needed help with your computer or a clogged drain, you would call a professional. Make organizing a team effort and take a team approach. Body doubling is having another person in your space to help you stay focused and create momentum. In any task, having someone else tether you to the task helps you get started and finished, makes decision making easier and adds fun. Your team can be your family, a trusted friend, a professional organizer or any one who is a good listener. Set a date with that person and get started.

 

Q: I need a routine. I don’t do anything consistently including getting up in the morning, going to bed or working on paper management. How can I get started?

A: Build from your strengths

Everyone of us has organizing strengths, even if you think not. Most of us are highly visual so we need visual reminders of our plan. In this case, create a routine that has a visual list. Write that list and post it where you see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Some of us are highly auditory so bells and chimes remind us of our routine. Set reminders on your devices or create a routine with your Alexa or Google home. Whatever you start, start small with a short list to build momentum. Choose the most important, most impactful start for your routine so you can immediately feel the success.

 

Have an organizing or productivity question? Send me your question here or by social media!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q:

How to Capture, Store and Incorporate Big Ideas

capture store and incorporate big ideas

Big ideas come to us at different times. We might be driving or in the shower. We might be taking time off for a short get away or take a long drive to our destination. Our mind goes to big personal and professional growth and time to dream big. How we do capture, store and incorporate these big ideas? How do we move from idea to action? Here are three steps that make your ideas come to life.

 

Capture

A friend gives you the name of a perfect little house in Galveston. You are thinking of the pivot you want to make professionally. You might want to own a series of beach houses. Or maybe you want to start a service cleaning rental homes or delivering groceries to rental homes.  The first step is to capture your ideas, especially if you are a prolific idea generator. Capture is to write it down or keep it digitally. Your capture tool should be consistent and simple. Where do we capture this information?

  • Paper is easy to use.  Just grab a pad and pencil.  Many of us use post it notes. My favorite capture tool is an TUL notebook.
  • We can use Google docs, Siri or Alexa to add to your list. Our digital list can be One Note, Notes or any other digital app on a device. Using these digital tools you can search your notes to find specific information.
  • Be sure you have your capture tool with you as ideas spontaneously bubble up.
  • Use just one capture tool to keep all your information together.

 

Store

You are not necessarily acting on this information immediately so you need to store this information to find it later. Your information needs to move from capture to storage.

  • Use your weekly planning time to store information for retrieval. As part of Getting Things Done (GTD), there is “someday/maybe” as the place to store your ideas.
  • File folders, pocket folders and plastic envelopes can store your paper.  Remember to set up categories for your ideas. Be prepared for multiple folders, one for each idea.
  • Evernote notebooks, Notes folders and One Note give you the digital place to add your list. From here you can flush out more information as you research.
  • Edit these folders as your ideas come and go.

Incorporate

Strategic planning time is a routine that connects your stored ideas and incorporating these to create an action plan. You can retrieve your ideas and determine if you are ready to act or edit. This intentional kind of planning can happen monthly, semi-annually or yearly. Most naturally is occurs at New Year’s or Back to School when we think about change. A summer strategic planning time might be even better as this aligns with preparing for the fall.

Incorporating a new idea, big or small, is best accomplished with structure. Structure is setting your month, week and day up for research, tasks or projects with your new goal. Assigning a time to do this work helps you gain momentum and keep focused on the outcome.  If you have a full schedule, in order for this new work to be incorporated, something else must be edited.

 

 

Here are examples of big goals that I have seen happen with this work flow starting with capture to incorporate.  A family decides to turn their home into a rental and move to their previous rental. Another family visits Galveston each summer and after many years decides to purchase a beach home. A new entrepreneur begins a small business that grows to include all of her family working for her. Your personal and professional dreams can happen with a process to move forward with capturing, storing and incorporating big ideas.

How to Organize the Tools You Use

 

How to organize tools

With the uptick of home maintenance and repair, organizing your tools is becoming an important topic. There are a variety of tools to use regularly, as well as a variety of storage methods.

 

Assess your tools

Tools are a part of family memories. My husband owns tools handed down from his dad and grand dad, and passes these to our grand kids. That means there are many of the same tools and multiple tools doing the same job in our home.  I recommend grouping your tools together by use to know what you have and how many. We sorted these tools into what to keep and what to sell. Tools are a popular item to sell online. Now that these are grouped you are ready to think about how to store your items.

 

Quick Assess Storage: Tool Drawer

We want to tap a nail into the wall to hang a picture or unscrew a batter compartment quickly.  Having a tool drawer in your kitchen or laundry room would be the spot to store these tools.  The tools stored here are a hammer, two kinds of screw drivers of multiple size heads, and other frequently used tools.  Having a drawer organizer helps keep items together and organized. (Note: the pencil space is where I would store the tools.)

 

Container Store drawer organizer

 

Mobile Assess: Tool box

Mobile assess to multiple tools helps you complete a home repair.  A tool box has a variety of storage for a larger number of tools that you frequently use.  This box can be stored in the laundry room or garage on a shelf. Inside will be a shallow tray which can hold hardware with tools under the tray.  Many families create these small toolboxes for their kids as they start to drive to keep in their cars and as they head to college.

Container Store Tool Chest

 

Onsite Assess: Tool chest, Pegboard and Slat wall

If you want assess to a larger quantity of tools, you want a larger area to store your items.  The Tool chest has drawers to store a single type of tool, such as a drawer of multiple hammers or screwdrivers of different sizes.  Each drawer can be labeled on the front to share what is inside the drawer.  It is on wheels to move around your space.  This is best stored in the garage as it is a large item.

 

Sears Craftsman Tool Chest

Sears Craftsman Tool Chest

 

For those who have a work bench or wall for hanging tools, Pegboard and Slat wall are outstanding ways to see your tools. These require installation however the benefits are that everyone knows what tools you have, where to find them and where to return them.  Often tools that are family shared are easily stored this way.

 

Home depot slat wall

Home Depot Slat Wall

Our family was fortunate to have a master craftman’s, also known as Papaw, who create an amazing Pegboard system in our garage. We have had this system for years and we all know where to get the hammer and return it.  We love to share it with those who come in through our garage. Often people comment on it’s organization!

 

Home Peg Board system

Ellen’s Home Peg Board

 

With many home projects going on, it’s time to organize your tools to help you be efficient about your home repairs and maintenance.