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Dear Organizing Coach: How Can I Stop Sweeping My Mess Under the Rug?

Getting and staying organized is a core challenge for people with ADHD, who may struggle to find energy for tasks that don’t particularly interest them. Shifting from internal to external motivation can help; here’s how to do it.

1 Comment: Dear Organizing Coach: How Can I Stop Sweeping My Mess Under the Rug?

  1. I appreciate the author’s effort, but playing music and using colorful supplies are unhelpful suggestions for people with ADHD. This sort of advice does more harm than good. In reality, for most of us, colorful organizing supplies create clutter. Putting on music will never elicit a Pavlovian ‘productivity’ reaction in actual practice, regardless of theory. Unfortunately, advice like this only reinforces the life-long message people with ADHD have heard: “It’s easy! Use colorful pens! Reward yourself with a piece of cake when you’re done!” Our inevitable failure leads to discouragement, disappointment, negative self-talk – and the cycle continues.

    ADHD is caused by physiological differences in our brains and bodies, not a lack of exposure to novel filing systems. Many of us never finish school, lose jobs, or cannot maintain relationships because of these issues. If we could create and follow through on effective “specific daily intentions,” we would.

    To the person seeking advice – if you have not spoken with your primary care doctor, I urge you to do so. Medication can help. For some of us it’s life-changing, for some of us it can at least get us closer to the same starting line it feels like the rest of the world uses. There are many medications and many dosages to try, so don’t give up if you aren’t successful right away. Keep experimenting until you find one that helps. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy can also help identify our individual behavioral patterns and can give us very specific and constructive advice. Even if traditional talk therapy hasn’t worked for you, consider asking your doctor about CBT or DBT.

    Hang in there, and good luck!

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