Organization and Planning for those with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

For information on my services for the diagnosis of ADHD and treatment for ADHD refer to my website at: www.relatedmindsbc.com/adhd or www.adhdhelp.ca.  You could also start at my general web page at www.relatedminds.com  My offices are located in both Vancouver (Mt. Pleasant area) and Burnaby (near Coquitlam, Port Moody and Maple Ridge).

ADHD (ADD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a "developmental disorder." That means it starts early in out development. Not at age 45. More likely before the age of 7, and continued on. Perhaps staying the same, or perhaps changing.

Understand what that means. You had a deficit in a cognitive skill at an early age, say age 4, and because of that you didn't learn certain skills that others learned, or you may have found a way to compensate for the deficit that made sense at age 5, but doesn't at age 35. So during your development there were certain skills you missed out on that now you find yourself needing.

Organization and planning are two such skills. People with ADHD have a lot of trouble with both of these skills. How you might have learned them at age 4, 5, 6 or so is very different than how your going to learn them now at age 35.  You may have found ways to deal with these skill deficits, like avoiding, procrastinating or maybe the environment was changed to support you (someone checked your homework every night, and your book bag every afternoon). No one is check when your 35.

You can, however, learn these skills. But you need to set up the environment (home, work and friends) to support you in this endeavour. It's not an easy one, but not impossible by any means. And with the help of an ADHD therapist or coach, you'll be able to do it.

Learning to organize and plan usually involves the initial step of developing a visual calendar. This mans a paper an pencil calendar you can look at, change, estimate times from and put in front of you and make an estimate of what you need to do, when, and how long it will take. This is a very different process from using a pda or calendar program on your iphone or computer, and we almost always recommend taking a step back to pencil and paper.

From the calendar we develop a simple visual task list, yes, a to do list. But this list needs to do something special, it needs to help you prioritize tasks. That means every day, if not several times a day, checking your calendar for items on your task list and checking your task list for things on your calendar. THEN learning how to prioritize. There is never enough time for anyone, especially someone with ADHD, to complete everything they need to do (or think they need to do). We usually teach a simple prioritizing skills called A, B, C's.  Rearranging daily tasks into a list of those that you want to remember, those you need to remember and those you need to do, TODAY.  An excellent source f help in developing this calendar and list is a workbook by Steven Safren and Susan Sprich called Mastering Your Adult ADHD.  I suggest getting this workbook and using it with a friend or coach. There are many variations on this approach for ADHD and organization, one called "the three boxes" and another called 1, 2 and 3! They all follow the same process.

Tips: Don't try to fix everything. Fix what's most important  to you. If your not sure what that is, talk with a counsellor, therapist or friend to decide.

Have someone monitor your progress! Just like the teacher checked you got your homework written down, and your mom checked your bag before you left ...you need someone to check your doing what you agreed to do. After a period of time (a long time) this process will become a habit. But until then, buddy up with someone who promises to check on you.

The secret to being organized is knowing what drawer, box, list, line, space, place or trash can everything is suppose to go in. That means learning to prioritize .... everything. Identify it, give it a rating and know where it goes.  It isn't just that you have ADD or ADHD that keeps you from getting everything done. The simple truth is we CAN'T get everything done. Figure out what needed to be done and do that. Then move on!

I provide coaching and treatment ofr ADHd in my office in Vancouver and in Burnaby, serving Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Moody and Coquitlam.