Do you struggle with time management, procrastination, and keeping track of important information and belongings? Want to know how to be organized -- at last? Like you, Michael Laskoff, is faced with these typical attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) symptoms and challenges. "I've always struggled with organization," he says. "Back in my student days, school provided me with structure and clear deadlines to keep me on the straight and narrow. When I started working at a job, however, many of those signposts disappeared. I had to develop my own system for getting things done."
ADD/ADHD experts, like Laskoff -- CEO of AbiltTo, which offers online coaching and therapy for those with the disability -- struggle with the same symptoms that challenge us all. They lose stuff, they miss appointments, and they live with clutter. What makes them experts is that they figure out tricks to help them overcome the problems.
"I have books written by expert organizers that I never got around to reading," says Laskoff, who, before starting AbilTo, founded The Branded Asset Management Group and worked in senior marketing roles at McKinsey, Bertelsmann, and CompUSA. "I purchased organizational systems, many of which I lost, and I installed get-organized software programs -- all of which I studiously ignored."
What works for Laskoff ? The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) approach. For him, less is more, and basic is best. ADDitude asked Laskoff and seven other ADD/ADHD experts for their simplest, most effective organizational tips.
Buy bright and shiny objects. When it comes to personal effects -- keys, wallet, pens, notebooks, umbrella -- I avoid black. Black objects are easy to overlook and lose. I own a red wallet and orange notebooks; my phone is encased in a green color that does not exist in nature.
Know what you will forget. I forget the names of business acquaintances or a meeting time almost as soon as someone tells me. Knowing that, I make an appointment only when I can write it down on my calendar. I also record vital information on a person's business card on the day it's given to me. If possible, I attach a picture of the person next to the entry. Most important, I synch and back up everything.
Dress the night before. I'm not a morning person, so I make the first decisions of the day on the previous evening. I lay out my clothes and the critical items that I'll need for the next day. As a result, I'm more likely to be out of the house and where I need to be on time.
Downsize your desk. Give me a flat surface, and I will pile paper on it. I can't help myself. And since I can't stop piling, I opted for a small desk. It limits my potential to create paper-based chaos.
Be redundant. I use multiple "alarms" -- setting a clock, programming a cell phone, asking people to call me -- to remind me of things. In theory, any one of these should suffice. In reality, I ignore single reminders, but almost always pay attention to several of them.
This article appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of ADDitude. SUBSCRIBE TODAY to ensure you don't miss a single issue.