Are you looking for ways to organize your life when you have ADD?
Living with ADD can be incredibly difficult but it IS POSSIBLE to live with ADD and be successful and happy and organized.
My daughter just graduated from NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of Arts with a degree in film. She has struggled with ADD her whole life. She couldn’t stay focused in school, had a rough time keeping friends, and was prone to bouts of depression and anxiety. She is now a film maker, a production designer and a writer of screenplays and she is the go-to person for all of her many friends. She still wrestles with her ADD but it does not get the best of her.
I asked her how it was that she was able to manage her ADD to get what she wanted in her life. Here is what she told me.
#1 – Do what you love.
She says that first and foremost she is successful because she is doing what she loves and that she is super ambitious to succeed.
She says that if she didn’t have a passion for her work it would have been way easier to succumb to letting go of her life, to getting overwhelmed by the piles and to being defeated because everyone seems to manage so much better than she does.
In fact, happiness and joy in adults leads to positive emotions like optimism, the ability to reach out to others, a feeling of being at least somewhat in control of your life, and a can-do attitude coupled with a want-to attitude.
So make sure that you are pursuing something that you hare passionate about. Your passion will drive you forward.
#2 – Be positive.
An important part of getting yourself organized when living with ADD is to believe that you can.
When it seems that everyone else around you can manage things so much better than you it is daunting to believe that you can ever live successfully. But you CAN.
My daughter did it and so can you!
#3 – Get yourself organized enough.
No matter how many websites you visit that promise to teach you how to be organized, you most likely will never have the picture perfect filing system that you see on Pinterest.
What you CAN have is an organizing system that works well enough for you.
What do you most need to keep track of?
- Your keys? Put a basket by the door and leave your keys there when you get home.
- Your trash? Buy lots of wastebaskets and put them everywhere and USE THEM.
- Your piles? Build some time into every day to attack your piles to keep them from getting too big.
- Remembering things? Keep a running list, in a bound notebook, of things that need to get done. (No loose pieces of paper) Also, leave visual reminders around the house – think Post-it notes on the mirror, fridge and back door.
Create a few systems that work for YOU – to manage the things that you need to manage.
#4 – Be willing to ask for help.
People with ADD are notoriously bad at asking for help. They really want to be able to do everything themselves and the prospect of asking for help seems like failure to them.
But there are some things that you just can’t do by yourself and it’s okay to find someone who can help you with them or who can do them for you.
My daughter, the filmmaker, found that she had a really hard time managing all of the details around making her films. Her best friend, however, thrives on details. So they work together, as director and producer, and the films get made with less emotional wear and tear on my daughter.
Who do you need to help you? A housekeeper? A financial manager? A personal assistant? Figure it out (or ask someone to help you figure it out) and get some help.
If finances limit your ability to get help, consider bartering. There are things that you are good at, things that others aren’t, so offer a trade. You will both win in the end!
#5 – Take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is an essential part of managing ADD. Sleep, exercise and diet can make a huge difference in living successfully.
Specifically, it is important that someone with ADD get enough sleep. Enough sleep will allow your brain to function at it’s optimum level.
Get 30 minutes of exercise every day, ideally exercise that raises your heart beat. Exercise produces chemicals that allow your brain to think clearer.
Eating well is also important. Make sure that you have a varied diet, big on protein and vegetables, foods that feed your brain and help it function. Taking an Omega 3 supplement daily has also been shown to help with improved brain clarity.
If you are going to do only one thing on this list, taking care of yourself is IT. So make sure you do so. Start TODAY!
#6 – Consider medication.
80% of people with ADD respond well to medication so definitely consider them as a part of your management protocol.
There are many different kinds of ADD meds so consult with your primary care doctor about what might be right for you.
#7 – Surround yourself with positive people.
People with ADD often struggle with depression because living with ADD can be very difficult and disheartening.
To that end, people with ADD can tend to isolate and really that’s the worst thing that you can do.
It is important that people with ADD surround themselves with positive supportive people, people who love and embrace you in spite of your difficulties. Being with people who don’t get you and who might look down on you is not what you want to be doing.
It is also essential that you have one person in your life who you trust completely and who you will LISTEN TO. Someone who knows you and who you can rely on to tell you the truth when they see something that is going on. People with ADD and depression sometimes miss when things go awry. Having someone there who notices, and tells you, is key.
#8 – Exercise your brain.
People with ADD have brains that can sometimes wander off without them, leaving them frustrated and feeling alone.
It is possible to take control of your brain, to teach it to behave in a way that serves you best.
Some good ways to gain some control over that wandering brain of yours:
- Yoga – yoga helps you use the breath to manage your thoughts.
- Meditation – meditation also helps you manage your thoughts and gives you increased control over how your brain processes work.
- Cognitive Behavioral therapy – a sort of therapy that again helps you manage your thoughts and your brain functionality.
- Positive thinking – focusing on the positive instead of the negative is a key part of living successfully with ADD. Focus on what’s RIGHT in your life instead of what’s WRONG.
- Accepting yourself – know that this is who you are and that it’s just fine. It’s more than fine, actually!
#9 – Reduce electronics.
I know you don’t want to hear this one but it’s gotta be said.
Our increasing use of electronics, and our using multiple electronic devices at the same time, is making it so that our brains are having a harder and harder time focusing.
I watch my daughter as she tries to work. No sooner does she settle in when an alert goes off on her phone. She picks it up to attend to it and then gets back to work. For about 20 seconds. And then her phone goes off again.
And THEN, something comes across her Facebook page that needs to be dealt with immediately and before she knows it an hour has passed with no work done.
SO, if you need to get some stuff done PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY. It doesn’t have to be forever. Set your timer for a set period of time (perhaps an hour) and focus on what has to be done for that period of time. When the timer goes off you can tend to your phone again.
Trying to organize your life when you have ADD can be very challenging but it’s not impossible.
Many, many people live successfully with ADD. Will Smith, Justin Timberlake, Jim Carrey, billionaire Richard Branson, Solange Knowles and Michael Phelps all have found great success living with ADD. You can too!
So find your passion, believe in yourself, surround yourself with good people and ask for help. Exercise and nourish both your body and your mind.
Next month my daughter has the first staging of a play that she is directing. I think back often to 2nd grade when her teacher wouldn’t even show me her workbooks because she was such a mess. She, and I, have learned since then that while her brain isn’t so great with workbooks it can easily see just how to pull together people and ideas to create an amazing work of art.
You can too! Go for it!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.