ADHD Organization Strategies For Kids And Adults
One of the hallmarks of an ADHD diagnosis, at least for many, is a lack of organization. What this looks like can vary, but in general, it includes having a hard time remembering things, understanding how to order and complete tasks, losing things frequently, and more. Developing organization strategies that help you keep things straight while living with ADHD can be beneficial in the long-run, no matter how old you may be.
ADHD is commonly associated with both executive dysfunction and poor organizational skills. That means that those with the disorder might have a hard time sitting still or concentrating, remembering things, understanding how to efficiently complete tasks, manage time, and more. The result of these challenges is often high levels of stress as those with ADHD attempt to balance their natural tendencies with societal expectations and demands.
To avoid creating excess stress, it can be beneficial to understand how your ADHD impacts your ability to stay organized. From there, you can develop ideas to make things easier for yourself. Below are a few tips on how to achieve organization, no matter your age.
Structuring your days ahead of time can be a great way to help you stay on track. When you are having your coffee in the morning or are otherwise starting your day, pull out a pen and paper (or your smartphone) and briefly run through what needs to be done today.
Write down every errand you need to run and the chore you need to complete, then determine how long they will each take. Allot an appropriate amount of time to each and complete them at the times you have designated. It may also be a good idea to set reminders, whether they be alarms or something else, to let you know when it is time to work.
You can use this technique to help children, too. Helping your child complete these steps themselves or simply setting a timer for them can help them get started.
Work It Out
Being physically active is chock-full of benefits for both mental and physical health. But for those with ADHD, movement can serve to strengthen more than just muscles. Evidence shows that even a single session of exercise can lead to improvement in ADHD symptoms and overall cognitive functioning.
Exercise can also act as an outlet for excess energy, which may help reduce feelings of restlessness or anxiety. Find an activity that you or your child enjoy and try your best to implement it into your routine at least a few times a week.
Alternatively, looking for little ways to incorporate exercise into your day works too; going for a daily walk, choosing to take the steps instead of an elevator, or even walking to the mailbox each day can be good places to start.
Keep It Simple And Enjoyable
Many adults and children alike find managing tasks with multiple parts – different steps, conditions, etc. – to be overwhelming, especially when they’re tasks that we’d rather not be doing. The executive dysfunction and poor organizational skills that ADHD can cause may make certain tasks especially daunting, so much so that you may procrastinate them or avoid doing them entirely.
A great way to combat this phenomenon as well as the stress that tends to accompany it may be to simplify things. Remember that doing something less efficiently is often better than not doing it at all. If you struggle to stay on top of laundry, for instance, try removing some of the steps you typically consider to be standard. You might, for example, opt to hang your clothes up right away instead of folding them first.
Another way to push through challenging tasks is by adding something fun to the mix. Because the minds of those with ADHD don’t receive and process dopamine the same way as others, the rewards that should come from tasks don’t always manifest. So, it can help to find ways to supply dopamine yourself.
Try listening to your favorite music or a podcast while you do chores or munching on a snack while you study. Little things that help you complete your goals and stay on top of your schedule for the day can make a huge difference.
Rest And Relax
While it may seem counterintuitive to manage organizational shortcomings by relaxing, giving yourself some time to unwind and recharge can be an important part of managing your ADHD symptoms.
Rest may mean taking a nap or spending some time lounging in front of the TV, but for those with ADHD, it can also mean so much more. Rest and leisure time can be a great opportunity to do something genuinely fun and exciting. By scheduling time in your day to relax, you can grant yourself permission to pursue the things that might otherwise act as distractions – in their own time, of course.
Know Your Needs
Many adults and children with ADHD find that no matter what they do, there are simply some areas of life and behavior that are seemingly unavoidable. You may not ever be as organized as others, and that’s okay. Likewise, you might always struggle not to forget things or keep a tidy home.
No matter what challenges you experience, recognizing that your ADHD may have an impact can help you rid yourself of any feelings of guilt you might feel. It’s okay to function differently, and it’s okay to have different needs. What matters most is understanding what you need so that you can communicate it to others and recognize it yourself.
Consider Seeking Therapy
Living with ADHD is a lifelong experience for most, which means that long-term management of symptoms is likely on your mind. Working with a mental health professional, like a therapist, can be beneficial in terms of improving your organizational skills and addressing other ADHD-related symptoms.
Because you can connect with your therapist from nearly anywhere, you have control over when and where your sessions take place. That means you can choose an environment that makes sense for you.
Aside from being convenient, online therapy works, too. One 2022 study noted that online treatment options are effective at treating symptoms related to ADHD, including concerns related to focus and executive functioning. Online therapy can provide you with the tools you may need to feel more organized, more alert, and overall, more in control of the way your symptoms affect your life.
While differences in organization may be a part of living with ADHD for many, there are steps you can take to manage this challenge and more. Working with a mental health professional to develop techniques that help you keep on top of your responsibilities can help. With some time, practice, and a bit of trial and error, you can likely find solutions that make a difference.
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