How ADHD Affects Getting Organized: Part 2

by Lisa Woodruff

Apr 8, 2016 | Episode 95 | N/A

In How ADHD Affects Getting Organized: Part 1, I laid the ground work for the next 3 posts/podcasts.

I shared that I am not an ADHD expert. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or doctor. I am a teacher, mom, and professional organizer who is willing to share with you what I have learned so you can do your own research and try what has worked for my clients and see if it works for you.

In this post, I will be sharing how ADHD affects the executive functioning skills of flexible thinking and working memory.

executive functioning skill of flexibility

How ADHD affects the executive functioning skill of flexible thinking.

What is flexible thinking?

Flexible thinking is the ability to move freely from one situation to another and to think flexibly in order to respond appropriately to the situation.

In other words... go with the flow.

Flexible thinking is impacted by the diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety. In both cases, it is my experience that the rigid "my way or the highway" response to change is a reaction to loss of control.

Think about a time when you had your day all planned out and then... you got a flat tire, your child got sick, your friend stopped by unexpectedly. What just flashed through your mind?

Were you excited? Frustrated? For how long?

There is no "perfect amount of flexibility." How easily can you pivot and deal with the unexpected that life throws at you every day?

Here is why you need some flexibility in relation to getting your home organized.

The containers sold in the stores do not always solve the problem.

Have you tried this:

1. Go to store.

2. Buy containers.

3. Use containers to organize a space.

4. Have no idea where anything is.

5. Decide you are not organized because the containers didn't work.

6. Go out and buy what you organized because you can't find it.

Funny, but true, right?

Here's why. Containers are rarely the solution.

Understanding how and why you use a space the way you do comes first. The containers come second.

Action steps to improving your flexible thinking as it relates to home organization.

1. Listen to the Organize 365 Podcast. Listening to organizational stories will grow your mental library of alternative organization solutions for each space in your home. {How to listen to a podcast}

2. Go on Pinterest to find organization solutions. Once you know WHAT you want to organize, go look at all the different ways people have organized that item or space.

3. Hire a professional organizer to make an organizational plan or actually organize your home. If you are in the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio area, we'd love to help.

executive functioning skill of working memory

How ADHD affects the executive functioning skill of working memory.

What is working memory?

Working memory is the capacity to hold information in mind for the purpose of completing a task.

Multi-tasking. :) No, not really, but kinda.

Research has shown that no one can multi-task. What multi-taskers do is rapidly switch from one task to another.

I can do this. :) How we/I do this is I have a high ability to hold multiple pieces of information in my brain at the same time. So I can simultaneously change the laundry, listen to a podcast, and wash the dishes and get out the kid's medicine.

Now part of that is routine. Routines that become habits are HUGE ways you can circumvent your working memory and leverage structure and order to get more done.

If you struggle with working memory, following multi-step directions or completing math work problems are challenging.

Here is how you use your working memory in relation to getting your home organized.

You walk into a space that needs to be organized and all the disorder is overwhelming. Each individual item in the room yells out to you "organize me" and it is deafening.

You reach out to silence the stray socks and the open chip bag catches your eye.

Once the bag is sealed, you see a bill you meant to mail and go to grab it.

But what do you let go of? The stray sock, or the chips you JUST bought that are about to go bad AGAIN?!

Now you are out of hands, overwhelmed, and defeated.

It's been 30 seconds.

Oh well, maybe your friend wants to go for coffee. At least the coffee shop is organized.

And out the door you go.

Action steps to improving your working memory as it relates to home organization.

1. Focus. Your mind won't help you so you need to override it.

Organize each room in this order: {For more detail, listen to the podcast}

  1. Enter the space and ONLY collect trash. Once ALL the trash is gone, go to step 2. {When I do this I mutter under my breath trash, trash, trash to keep me focused.}
  2. Enter the space and ONLY look for FOOD. Rotten food, food that needs to be put away, and dishes food was or is on.
  3. Enter the space and ONLY look for clothes. Dirty clothes, new clothes, clothes you cleaned and didn't get put away.
  4. Next pick ONE item and collect ALL of that item before moving on.

2. Use Lists.  Make your list BEFORE you go in your space to focus your efforts.

3. Hire a professional organizer to keep you on track and focused while you organize your home. If you are in the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio area, we'd love to help.

 

Executive Functioning Infographic