Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh, Spiders...I hate thee...

OK, full disclosure: this has nothing to do with ADHD, Professional Organizing, running the PTO, or any of my other many interests. It's simply about spiders; and I hate them. And since it's Halloween, I feel like venting. They're everywhere. And they're huge. And they have way too many legs.

On the other hand, I like to watch Arachnophobia in the dark, and photograph their webs coated with Autumn dew, and study their mating rituals on Animal Planet. Many years ago, like twenty or so, my family developed an affinity for scaring the living sh-- out of each other. And a well-placed rubber spider always delivered. It started when I was living at home with my folks in a great, big, early 1900's house. There were creaky stairs and creepy rooms, and every corner was an open invitation for a good scare. We'd hide behind doors and place props in the dumb waiter and take full advantage of the dank, dark basement. We screamed like schoolgirls and planned our revenge.

Then came my marriage, and the sickness lived on. Plastic lizards in a shoe was good for a jump, but once he put an army-clad mannequin head on top of the dryer. It scared the crap out of me when I opened the closet door, and then POW! He got me. Another one IN the dryer!

We swore off scaring for years when we had unsecured guns in the house. Then we had kids, locked up the weapons, and the scare tactics resurfaced.

Now, our two kids are in on the act. And no one is safe. There are certain assumptions you make in your own home. Like there are no tarantulas in your sheets, snakes in your cereal, or ghosts in the closet. Not in my house. And it has nothing to do with Halloween. We've gone absolutely crazy with scaring each other. We take every possible opportunity to lurk in the dark, catch someone unawares, or grab an ankle from beneath a bed.

We scream, we swear, we lash out physically. The louder the scream, the harder we laugh. We love it. We hate it. We're all into it.

Happy Halloween everyone. And beware, there are scares around every corner!

ADHD: The Agony and the Ecstacy

Last week I participated in a panel discussion on ADHD. Four of us presented at the monthly chapter meeting of the National Association of Professional Organizers - Oregon Chapter (NAPO Oregon). There was a physician who treats ADHD patients and three Certified Professional Organizers® (CPOs) - one was an ADHD coach, another was the parent of an ADHD child (me), and the third had an ADHD spouse.
The meeting got a perfect score from the attendees (a rare NAPO Oregon success!),and as a panelist, I gave it a perfect score, too; because I learned so much.

Three themes that all four panelists agreed upon:

The Agony - with ADHD comes pain. And the pain is shared with many: he who has ADHD, his family, his coworkers, his teachers, and more. There is self-hatred, frustration, irritation and misunderstanding. Even when treated, ADHD can wreck havoc on a life. As one panelist put it: "The one consistency of ADHD is the consistent inconsistency" - which can result in hopelessness for all involved.

The Ecstasy - despite the hardships, ADHD is a wonderful gift. To spend time with someone who has ADHD is to buzz in their energy, their creativity, their multi-interests, and their new ideas. When properly treated, ADHD can become a person's major asset. Their leadership skills, inventive ideas and extraordinary intelligence can lead to a lifetime of success. I, for one, have sat in awe of my ADHD child. I wouldn't trade his gifts for anything.

It's Pervasive - meaning it impacts every aspect of your life. This is important, because ADHD is still much misunderstood, and everyone thinks they have it. One way to differentiate it from similar symptoms is by its pervasiveness. ADHD rears its head at home, at school, at work, in relationships, on weekends and weekdays. It impacts reading, communicating and understanding. Those who have ADHD live with it every day, all day long.

Those who attended the NAPO Oregon meeting seemed truly interested in this interesting diagnosis. They had non-stop questions, particularly of our physician panelist. Proof positive that even though only a fraction of people have the diagnosis, seemingly everyone is impacted by ADHD.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Tornado in my Brain

The tornado in my brain: call the client, update the website, write the newsletter, create the agenda, call the painter, cook the dinner, chair the meeting, plan the weekend - you get the picture. This constant onslaught of ideas and projects and tasks used to be like a hurricane in my head - swirling around with an occasional crack of thunder. Then I found OneNote, and quickly fell in love.

OneNote by Microsoft is the perfect answer for those who wear many hats, are over committed, are super creative, like to brainstorm, or have ADHD. It's a software program that allows you to create electronic three-ring binders and stuff them full of all the scraps, notes, pictures, and ideas you can gather - minus the pinch-y rings and three-hole puncher.

I am classically over committed. I have a professional organizing business, am a PTO president, also the NAPO Oregon president, and, most importantly, have a family. So I created four "notebooks" in OneNote - one for my business, one for each board, and one for my family. Within each I have tabs and pages. For instance, I have a notebook for my business, Totally Orderly. Within that notebook I have "tabs" for marketing, social networking, ADHD, website, writing, etc.. Within any tab, I have pages. Under ADHD I have pages for adults, women, children, students, books, blogs, etc. It's so easy!

I use OneNote exclusively for projects in action, but some of my friends store reference items as well. You can post notes, documents, links, thoughts, plans, lists, tables, pictures, scans and more! OneNote is the first program I open in the morning and the last one I close at night. I'm in and out of it all day, toggling between notebooks and making progress in all areas.

Try the free trial of OneNote. Let me know if it's calmed the storm for you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Building Structure around ADHD

My husband and I have built two houses, both from the ground up (and we're still married!) We watched the structures develop from nothing, to studs, to walls, and finally, to homes. There were countless choices to be made along the way, but in the end, we had strong and sturdy walls to keep us safe and sound.

If you have ADHD, making choices can be a real struggle. All that prioritizing and decision making delays your progress. Building structure around those choices can lead to real success.
Here are a few ways to build structure into your life:

Do you struggle with money? Use direct deposit, electronic bill pay and auto investment whenever possible. These structures will ensure the important things are paid for, and your choices will be reduced to discretionary income only.

Is health and diet a constant battle? Hire a personal trainer, get a walking buddy, join a weight loss program, and don't purchase those tempting foods! Sometimes we'll let ourselves down, but we're less likely to let someone else down.

Is your housework a never-ending project? My favorite structure for housekeeping is to invite some dinner guests. Nothing gets my house cleaned like company!

Are time and task management a daily grind? Use your calendar to input every appointment, to do, phone call and errand. Once entered, you're free to go about your day without that nagging feeling that you've forgotten something.

When something is not working in my life, I add structure. I add layers and layers of structure until it becomes a "non-issue." The result is always the feeling of being surrounded by safe and secure walls.

Tell me about ways you've built structure into your life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On Popsicles and ADHD

Lessons I've obviously taught my children: open a Popsicle and throw the wrapper on the lawn; toss your clothes near, but not in, the hamper; and of course, leave cabinets and drawers ajar once you've found what you need. I don't recall actually teaching my kids these valuable skills, but clearly I've reinforced them, based on their consistency.

So how does a conscientious parent like myself, and a Professional Organizer to boot, raise children with naughty habits? Well, first of all, these aren't my kids - I'm describing the neighbors. OK, just kidding.

Kids break rules, and kids with ADHD break lots of rules; but it's not because they're naughty. It's because it's their job. They have to know what the rules are. ADHD children are known to thrive on boundaries, and when the boundaries are fuzzy, they'll push and push until the boundaries become more clear.

So how do we provide clear boundaries? I wish this news was earth shattering, but it's what we already know. Consistency, consistency, consistency. Do the same thing every time and your children will respond. If a consequence is warranted, make it swift and logical.

Back to that Popsicle. Your child tosses the wrapper on the ground, and you: place it in the trash can (it's easier to just do it myself!); call the child back to throw it away (swift and logical); call the child back to pick up the wrapper, and take away the Popsicle. Ouch! Painful lesson for the child, but, applied consistently, this swift, logical and firm approach will yield the quickest results.

Give your ADHD children what they're begging for: clear boundaries. Be consistent with them, and they'll be consistent with you. Consistency works on the neighbor kids, too!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Today is My Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to me! It's been FIVE fantastic years since the official launch of Totally Orderly, my professional organizing company. Dare I say: "It's gone so quickly!" (so cliché); but truth be told, time has flown. It's been fun and challenging and stimulating and educational, and never could I have imagined all the fabulous people I'd meet along the way.

Which brings me to this blog. Shortly after starting my company, I developed an "ideal client." He or she was creative, successful, had multiple interests, was full of new ideas, could be hyper-focused, and was frustrated with perceived under-achievement. Without knowing it at the time, my ideal client had ADHD.

As I move toward the next phase of my business, the focus will be on Organizing with ADHD. I'll post ideas, products, stories and tips about and for professionals, individuals, families and schools affected by ADHD.

Welcome to my blog! I can't wait to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Organizing with ADHD

Welcome to Organizing with ADHD. Tips and resources coming soon to help families, individuals, schools and professionals with ADHD.