Organize Your Life, Part 2
AROUND THE HOUSE
20. Take it one project at a time.
Having to tackle several big projects at once is stressful for people with ADD. Set one priority, and get it done, tying up all loose ends before moving on to a new project. For instance, get new eyeglasses before cleaning your gutters. Or take your car in for maintenance before revising your résumé.
21. Use sticky notes to stay on track.
If you're often sidetracked by interruptions, make it easy to return to the task at hand once the interruption is over. How? Keep a supply of sticky notes with you, and jot down where to pick up again. For instance, if you must take a phone call while reading, post a note on the text that says, "resume reading here." When the call is over, you'll know exactly what to do.
22. Double up on tasks.
If you can make it a habit to do two small things in concert, you’ll get more done. For example, you might reset your clocks and change the batteries in your smoke detectors upon the end of Daylight Saving Time each autumn. You could change your oil and balance your investments on the same day. Or reorganize your pocketbook each time you water the plants.
23. Organize your garage like a professional.
That means separating your stuff into "zones" of the sort you see at home-improvement stores: "tools," "painting supplies," "gardening supplies," "sports equipment," "automotive," and so on. If this job is too big to tackle on your own, don't be reluctant to ask for help.
THE PAPER TRAIL
24. Rethink your filing system.
ADDers often have trouble with filing because they create too many categories. Better to keep your categories broad, and use subfolders where necessary. For instance, you might label one folder "insurance," and fill it with subcategory folders for life insurance, car insurance, and health insurance.
Online retailer www.addconsults.com offers a variety of terrific organizing products, including one designed specifically for keeping track of owner's manuals, product warranties, insurance policies, and the like.
25. Create a document "hot spot."
This is a red, see-through folder for important, time-sensitive documents. In this folder, which should be kept on your desk, you should place papers representing up to five different tasks that must be attended to within the next 24 hours--an overdue bill, a client file, a phone message to return, and so on.
Clear out your hot spot daily. Active papers that aren't yet urgent should be kept in transparent file folders arranged vertically in a file holder.
A hot spot is a great tool for dealing with the "out of sight is out of mind" problem.
26. Stanch the flow of junk mail.
Add your name to the "do not send" list maintained by the Direct Mail Association. Go to www.the-dma.org for more information.
27. Process the mail every day.
That will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Throw out junk mail immediately. The rest of the mail should be kept in one place, with a wastebasket nearby. Bills to be paid should be placed inside your checkbook or--if you use online banking--on the desktop beside the computer. Stick everyone else's mail into nearby cubbyholes, slots, or shelves with their names on them.
28. Schedule a quarterly review of investments--with yourself.
Write the date and time to review these on your calendar or in your planner, and go over your bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement plans.
29. Switch to online banking.
How much time do you spend each month writing checks, addressing envelopes, and affixing postage (not to mention mailing the checks)? It's faster to do your banking online--especially since you can set up recurring bills to be paid automatically--and you won’t have to pay for postage.
If you're intimidated by the sometimes-complicated computer work required to open an online account, ask a computer-savvy friend or family member to help.
30. Use a single checking account.
Keep your checkbook in your purse or briefcase and return it there immediately after using it. Keep your check register and a few emergency checks (but not another checkbook!) in another location, in case you lose your checkbook.
31. Keep plastic to a minimum.
The more credit cards you have, the more statements and receipts you'll have to contend with. Better to stick with one or two major cards and avoid the high-interest store and gas cards. Consider new card offers only if the terms of the card are clearly superior to the terms of your current cards.
32. Get a debit card.
Keep it in your wallet, and use it instead of a personal check whenever possible. Each time you use the card, make an entry in your check register as if you had written a check. That way, your checking account stays balanced.
33. Keep some extra cash on hand.
Put several hundred dollars in a waterproof plastic bag and place it someplace safe but easy to locate (maybe your freezer). That way, you won't be caught empty-handed if a storm, power outage, or some other natural or man-made disaster makes it impossible to use ATMs.
For more on preparing for a disaster, go to www.redcross.org.
This article appears in the Winter issue of ADDitude.
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To share your ADHD organization strategies, visit the ADHD Adults support group on ADDConnect.