Simplify to Finally Succeed in Being Organized

Deborah Health Guide
  • As I've mentioned before, I am a veteran of numerous organizational methods. I think many adults with AD/HD are. We're always looking for that magic organization bullet. When we come across a new method in the bookstore or in a magazine, we think "Maybe this is it!" We buy whatever tools we need and set up the system according to the directions of the evangelist who swears this is an easy, effective way to stay organized.


    I think one of the most popular targets for organizing methods is paper, as setting up a system is difficult and maintaining it takes a lot of discipline.


    After decades of trying to keep my paper out of piles, off the floor and neatly filed in folders (and failing miserably most of the time), I finally realized that I was never going to have all of my paper "stuff" organized like that. Granted, about once a year I spend an afternoon going through my two or three piles of papers (in some cases I actually get them into a shopping bag), throwing out what wasn't needed anymore and filing the things we needed to hold onto. But other than that, I just made piles and stopped trying to be someone who files every piece of paper immediately in a nicely labeled file folder.

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    I couldn't completely ignore the issue, though. The problem was that not all of the papers scattered here and there were those that I might possibly need at some point. The problem was the papers that I needed easy access to, usually for school or daycare.


    This summer was a challenge. My son attended five different kinds of camps. Although only two organizations were involved, each camp had to be registered for separately.


    I was tearing my hair out by June. I had to fill out paperwork to have the camp give my son his medication (but first I had to find it). I had to find the information packet with all the details, like what he was supposed to bring his lunch in and what illnesses would keep him home. (He got pinkeye within a week of starting the first camp). I needed to fill out and turn in the camp registration for the swimming camp in the first week of August (but first I had know the rest). All of these things were in different places, and of course I had no idea what those places were. And this was just the beginning of the summer!


    It finally dawned on me that all I needed to do was keep all of the camp papers in a file folder. I didn't need to label it with my labelmaker (although that would have been nice). I didn't need to do a separate folder for forms that needed to be filled out and turned in, and one for information. In short, I could simplify the system down to the basics.


    And you know what? It worked. I kept everything in one folder. Whenever I got information from a camp, it went in the folder so I could find it and refer to it when necessary. All the forms that needed to be filled out went in there. And the folder was with me wherever I went. When I was at work it was in my tote bag, and when I was home it was on the dining table.


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    We all strive for perfection, and most of us, being human and having ADD, fall short. So we get discouraged and, since many of us has some experience with failure, give up. Perfection in this case is every piece of paper being filed immediately in a folder in a filing cabinet, neatly labeled - preferably printed. Don't get discouraged if you've tried the perfection filing systems and haven't succeeded. Try a less demanding system. You might find that it works just fine.

Published On: August 23, 2010