I received the following post from Tom Robinson, the founder of Adventures in ADD, a meet up group for people with ADHD in the Richmond, VA area. Tom has ADHD, and like many people with ADHD, getting and staying organized is difficult.
Tom wrote, “I just started on the first step of my goal to get better organized and free of un-needed, (not un-wanted), “stuff” before Christmas. What could I do with two dozen rods and reels that were stacked in a corner and all tangled up with lines, hooks and weights? I gritted my teeth and made a decision to take the bull by the horns and take a positive step towards a less-cluttered life. Viola! In less than an hour I built twelve feet of rod holders to suspend from the ceiling of my fishing shack. Wow! Looks great and no tangles.”
Tom took the following steps.
He set a goal to get better organized and free of un-needed stuff before Christmas.
He set a specific deadline.
He chose to grit his teeth when hit with some initial overwhelm rather than run from the job.
He made a decision to take a positive step, just one step toward his goal.
He made the task enjoyable by coming up with a creative solution for creating order.
Tom made progress toward achieving his goal by focusing on a very specific desire, to get better organized. That desire helped him push through his resistance. Plus, he used an ADHD strength, his creativity, to make the task more enjoyable and ultimately successful. And, surprise, surprise! The task took less than an hour!
People with ADHD can be successful with clutter clearing if they 1) focus on what they want, 2) find some way to make the task pleasurable/fun, and 2) use their strengths of persistence, determination and creativity to keep them moving and on track.
I LOVE DOGS. And, I look for any excuse to talk or write about them. To that end I found myself wondering whether there was anything that dogs could teach us about getting and staying organized. This is what I came up with.
Self-discipline is necessary in order to take action to get and stay organized. Dog breeds have different levels of ability to be obedient (self-disciplined). So do people.
Huskies and Beagles are difficult to train and not very obedient. Poodles and Shetland Sheep Dogs, however, are much easier to train.
Brain wiring and personality result in some people being driven, Type A achievers who get things done, and some people being couch potatoes who procrastinate and have difficulty completing tasks.
2. Focus is required to be able to sustain attention and effort to clear clutter, get organized, and stay organized.Dog breeds differ in their ability to focus. So do people.
The Border Collie stare.
The Border Collie is an intense, highly driven breed with a superb ability to focus on his owner. The Border Collie stare is visual evidence of that. It is far more difficult to get the attention of more relaxed, less driven breeds like Shih Tzus and Golden Retrievers.
Some people can sustain focus easily. People with ADHD and other brain-based disorders like anxiety and depression, however, can have great difficulty sustaining focus.
3. Not all dogs are motivated by the same thing. Not all people are motivated by the same thing.
Some dogs are motivated by food (e.g. Beagles). Others by attention. Some by toys, balls, and play (e. g. Terriers, Labrador Retrievers).
Some people are motivated to get and stay organized because they have a high need for order. Others need to look good to outsiders. Still others are motivated because being organized makes life easier.
4. Dogs have differing levels of energy. People also have differing energy levels.
Terriers are high energy dogs, whereas Mastiffs and Greyhounds are not.
Some people are always moving, enjoy being productive, and can keep going for long periods of time. Others are more laid back, slow to get into action, move at a slower pace, and exhaust their energy more quickly.
Why compare dog behavior to people? It’s a fun way to make the point that in terms of our abilities to be self-disciplined, focused, motivated and have energy available to get and stay organized, we are all different.
Differences are normal, not something to hide or feel bad about. Once you identify your “normal” in terms of self-discipline, focus, motivation and energy level, you can better understand any challenges you have with getting and staying organized. And, you can better justify getting help to handle your organizing challenges with less guilt.
Just as dog breeds are different, so too are people. Accept who you are and your abilities, and make getting and staying organized happen!