Focus on Neatness: Quick Tricks

Paralyzed by piles? Confused by clutter? These get-organized games will help you stay on track when the job at hand overwhelms you.

Increase your awareness of your clutter. And have fun doing it.

— Dana Rayburn, author

I hate being overwhelmed.

When I am, I feel panicky and confused, and I procrastinate, especially when it comes to getting things done and keeping a lid on clutter. Fortunately, I have learned a few quick tricks that help me stay on task. Here are three favorites:

Name the Game

When you get distracted, Name the Game will move you forward:

> First, name the task at hand by saying it aloud. Let’s say the name is “I’m opening the mail.”

> Decide how you’ll know when the task is complete. For me, I’ve won the game when I've conquered all the mail-related paper clutter: all the envelopes have been opened, the junk mail is in the recycling bin, and the items that need action are in the inbox.

> Talk your way through the task. Every time you find you’re off task — you get a phone call or someone walks in the room — say, "No, that's not what I'm doing now," and repeat the name of the game aloud: "I'm opening the mail."

> When you finish your task, dance a jig and yell, "I've won the game!"

Under the Sheets

This trick works well when you’re faced with a major area of clutter, such as your desk, a table, the floor, or a counter — any place with so much stuff on it that you don’t know where to start.

> Drape a sheet or a blanket over most of the area you want to organize, allowing only a small area of the clutter to show at a time.

> Deal with that bit of visible clutter.

> Once you’ve organized the first bit, slide the sheet over to expose another chunk of the clutter, and tackle it.

> Keep moving the sheet, clearing and organizing as you go.

I Spy

This works well when an entire room is a total mess.

> With your hands or the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper, make a spyglass in front of one eye.

> Pick a room you’d like to organize and stand in the middle of it.

> Close your eyes and turn around. Now open your eyes and look through your spyglass.

> Do you spot a small area to organize? When you focus your spyglass on one area, you can actually see the clutter!

> Dash over to the spot you spied and tidy it up. Don’t wait. Do it now!

Use the spyglass technique a few times a day to increase your awareness of your clutter. And have fun doing it.

Dana Rayburn is a Senior ADHD coach and author of the ADD Success newsletter.


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