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Organizational tools


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
Posts: 69138
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Posted Aug 18, 2002 at 4:41:29 PM
Subject: Organizational tools

Hi! I am really struggling with getting myself organized. I'm a teacher and this is my first year teaching this type of classroom (self-contained) and my first year with this school system. I did great over the summer, but the only thing I did, was take a class. Now that I'm back at work, I'm a bumbling idiot from the minute I walk through the schools doors. I've run into walls, tripped over things, etc. I also have so much to do here at the beginning of the year, that all I do is get over-whelmed and get NOTHING or very little done. I've tried to use my notecards and to-do list, but I never quite get to them. I start an important task, and end up doing 50 other things in the process. I'll go from one task to the next, and never finish any of them. I can't do any task, when someone is distracting me in any way. I forget what I'm doing and have trouble relaxing and focus on other things. I have difficulty breaking tasks done and if anything, I make my tasks into something even bigger and more difficult, unless someone shows me how to do it. This is making me so frustrated and it makes me feel less confident. How can you be confident, when you run into a wall? I've read a couple of good books, but their recommendations are too vague for me. Organizational skills, etc need to be broken down for me. I need how- to-do-it, step-by-step instructions that are simple :O). It's a miracle... before I was put on medication, I got my Master's degree and had made straight A's. I not only met the required 6 on the DSM, but I met all of the criteria for ADHD. Now that I am on medication and have been working on my add-on licensure, I have been making 100's...but that was this summer, before I started back to work. A week or so after I started back to work, my doctor increased my medication dosage. This really helped, but I'm still having difficulties and all I do during my waking hours is work-related tasks. Help! Does anyone have any good strategies or resource suggestions. I need more info than making a list. I have tons of lists...that have never been completed and have ended up in the trash...lol. Thanks!!! paige

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
Posts: 69138

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Posted:Aug 27, 2002 6:41:09 PM

I don't have anything to add at the moment, but I can't tell you how good I feel after reading Paige's message. Paige, the way you described your day is almost exactly as my own days go especially when I have so much to do (which is most of the time). Organizational tools haven't worked for me either. A counselor recently said to me that "I have a choice" -- I can use the resources I read about (the lists, charts, etc. etc.) or not. I've really been thinking about that statement a lot and at first I sort of agreed and figured I just needed to hear that. But guess what -- I get so overwhelmed much of the time that its impossible for me to start. I bet that even if I woke up tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. with a list pasted to my forehead of what I HAD to get done, at 9:00 I would still be floundering. It is just so frustrating sometimes I just want to run and scream or better yet -- run and hide!!! I'm 44 years old and was diagnosed 4 years ago and retested 2 years ago. I work as a family service counselor for a cemetery association and the paperwork is intense. It wouldn't be so bad if "management" did'nt keep changing forms and procedures almost weekly, but this is nuts. I'm also a single mom with 2 boys ages 11 and 13 (I'm in the middle of a divorce) with a house to take care of and bills to pay. I'm surprised thehouse hasn't been taken away. I put bills off like there's no tomorrow -- I have the money to pay them, but why can't I just sit down and do it like "normal" people!!! As a result, my credit is a big mess and I don't know where to turn.

Hey -- didn't I say at the beginning of this email, I didn't have anything to add right now? There I go again!! :) :)

Feel free to email me.

AA wrote:
>
> Hi Paige,
>
> I am not a teacher but I still had a few ideas that might be
> helpful. One trick I learned when someone is distracting me
> is asking that person to wait a minute so that I can finish
> this note before I forget. He/she does haven't to know this
> but the note I am writing is reminding me where I want to
> come back to when I resume the task again. By the way, I
> have seen several people with non LD/ADD do this.
>
> Organizational strategies - the million dollar topic. I
> struggle also but let's brainstorm and see what happens.
>
> Like you, I can't work straight from tasks and start off with
> a master list on the computer called Goals and Objectives.
> That way, I can see how a task is part of an overall picture
> and therefore, I am more motivated to do it. Usually:))
>
> This requires breaking things down which I know you said you
> have difficulty with but what do you mean? Perhaps you're
> trying to break a task down in the way you think it ought to
> be broken down and not in the way your brain works.
>
> Ok, I would imagine one of your overall goals is to organize
> your classroom, right? I would imagine that is broken down
> into parts for example like decorate bulletin board. So a
> subheading is decorations and under that you list the tasks
> involved in doing that.
>
> If your eyes are glazing over what I just wrote:)), you might
> want to try this technique I got out of the book "Getting
> Things Done" by David Allen. I have only read a few pages
> but he suggested listing all the things your mind was
> cluttered with and then writing the next step that would move
> the process forward.
>
> For example, I have procrastinated on submitting health bills
> for reimbursement. Remember, I didn't say I was great at
> organization:))
>
> Anyway, I have temporarily misplaced everything so the next
> step for me is to search each section of my bedroom to find
> the stuff. Then I need to find an envelope. Supposedly,
> just writing everything down gets it out of your brain and
> because your mind is less cluttered, you have energy to move
> things forward.
>
> Finally, I have found technology to be a godsend and wonder
> if that is something you have considered? I don't want to
> suggest programs or devices unless I know for sure this is a
> possibility for you.
>
> By the way, just so you're not discouraged, I did not learn
> this all overnight as it was a gradual process. Heck, I am
> still learning and probably will be until I am 99:))
>
> Also, even with the best compensatory mechanism, the
> situations you described will still occur just because that's
> the way our brains operate. It sounds like you have
> accomplished alot so give yourself credit for that.
>
> Good luck!
>
> AA

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Aug 28, 2002 5:00:19 AM

I'm 39 and have been diagnosed with ADD about 3 weeks ago. Providing much needed relief to a relentlessly progressing crisis that started when my third child was born. How I had learned to compensate for 39 years unravelled with the demands of a third child and really came unglued with unemployment a year ago.

One of the few pieces of my system that still works has been my ability to get started. I can't say this system is flawless but it has helped many times. I am lucky enough that the medication has cleared my mind enough to really help but I still have some really bad days.

Sometime ago I came across the riddle: How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time.
One of the alltime criticisms of me from friends and family has been my ability to turn a molehill into a mountain. This one expression turns a culinary mountain into something a bit more manageable for me.

When I need to get something done I have taken that idea and discipline myself to stop thinking about the size of the project or the number of steps involved. Or the most crippling part, where to start. I just dive in and work until it's done, one bite at a time. Of course, that can lead to my wife complaining about me metally locking on to a project. :) Another weakness of this system, it doesn't consider the urgency level of the project. I haven't worked those issues out beyond the help my medication offers me.

I was misdiagnosed in January with Clinical Depression and I've been down a long road of various medicines. I've gotten quite and appreciation for how slight variations in a drugs formula can change the result. You might consider talking with your doctor about trying some other drugs. It's possible something other than what you are taking or adding another drug might help your situation.

Good luck with the beginning of the school year.

~Mark

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Aug 29, 2002 1:12:22 AM

Hi Mark. Just curious what medication you are taking. Thanks.
Christine

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Aug 29, 2002 7:55:35 PM

I am a hopelessly disorganized "big picture person." I actually worked as sort of an organizational management consultant for awhile.
How could someone like me tell others how to more effectively streamline their systems? The answer is rather simple. I didn't have to "do it."
I helped the managers of the various departments analyze their systems. I was the facilitator. It was a rather "big picture" activity.

The only advice I really have is to look at your life as a series of systems. I hate inefficiency. I try to only look at a piece of paper once. If I handle it twice I have just done something inefficient. When I receive forms for my son's school I fill them out immediately and place them in his folder and into his knapsack. School hasn't even started and yet he already has stuff ready for the teacher in his knapsack.
Now, if I left that form on the counter, I would surely lose it, worry about getting it done and eventually have to write a note to the teacher asking for a new form. That is highly ineffiecient and I annoy myself when I do stuff like that.

When I get an invitation I put it on the calender. I then throw it away. I only want to handle it once. I then have a system of checking the calender every morning. If I didn't check the calender in the morning I might find myself driving to the grocery store worried about what was on the calender.
It really is about exchanging bad habits for good ones. Organized people do this type of thing without thinking. They weren't born organized it is just what they do.

It sometimes takes work to set up proactive systems. At work I had to pretty diligent about filing something once I read it. Sometimes I would rather leave it on my desk thinking that I might want to reread a section of it. This just didn't work. Read it, then file it. Of course, first you need an actual filing system.

I like the idea that you have to take one bite at a time. This is true. Set up very small systems for specific tasks. Just do one at a time. When it comes to anything on paper just say under your breath, "I only want to touch this once."

My sons teacher had color coded folders for the children. She taught morning and afternoon kindergarten the morning kids were purple and the afternoons were green. Setting up this small system helped her save time when it came to stacking the folders for class.

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Aug 30, 2002 6:13:22 AM

Adderall and Depacote, when it arrives from the mail order pharmacy I will be switching to the Adderall SR

~Mark

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Sep 18, 2002 7:07:22 PM

This won't help divide the task up, but it might help you stay on task longer. It's what I do when I'm either feeling more distracted than normal, or when I just feel overwhelmed and frozen. First, get a task in mind that will only take 2-3 minutes (eg. "I need to put my coat away." Important note: I don't mean something like "I need to clean the closet" - even if I can't figure out how to clean the closet, I still know or suspect :) that it will take more than 2-3 minutes). Now keep repeating the task to yourself and do absolutely nothing else until it is done. When you see the mail scattered all over the floor from when you bumped the table by mistake, purposely do not pick it up. Tell yourself that that is not the task at hand, then repeat what the task is to yourself and start trying to do it again. Write it down on a post-it note if you have trouble remembering it. When you see that box of photographs leaning precariously from a top shelf of the closet, do not push it back in place. Even if you are right near something else, and another task will only that a "second," do not do it. Eventually your initial task will be done. It is not easy to do this, especially on a bad day, but it forces you to slow down a little bit, and makes you feel better that some small things are getting done, instead of having a dozen big and small half-finished tasks all around you.

One other small thing that I'm trying - I divided my day up into a default day with definate times to work on larger on-going projects. Then I do whatever that project is during that time period, even if I am not getting much done. The weird thing is that after a few days I'll find out I am getting something done, even if it didn't feal like it at the time. Of course, a lot of us, including me, often have days when this won't work because of meetings or different tasks or whatever, but if you do follow the schedule for the days or hours that you can, things get done. This works especially well for those types of projects that you are not really sure that you want to - such as, for me, writing my disseration proposal - yuck. We'll see if it works for me - maybe a variation could help you.

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Sep 21, 2002 2:40:51 PM

Hi, I'm a teacher too and your message could have been written by me. I know exactly what you are going through. What works for me is to assign different kinds of work for different times or days. For example: during a 45 minute planning time I correct papers and log them into my grade book. Lunch is the only time I go to the office to check my mailbox or make copies, after school is the only time I put things on the walls, etc. I find that by assigning one job to a specific time or day, I know what I should be doing at that time.

I also have baskets for each kind of task. Ex: one for memos and stuff that need to be filed, one for things to hang on the wall, one for papers to correct, one for stuff to read, etc. That way, at the right time, I just reach for that box or basket and take care of what's in there. I don't get distracted by everything else in the pile. I also put notes to myself in the baskets, like if I need to call a parent, it goes into the phone call box, or things I need to xerox go into that box.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Oct 08, 2002 12:20:35 AM

Dear Paige and everyone,
I am very impressed with what you all have written so far--sympathetic awareness of how hard living with ADHD can be--and many creative and positive suggestions for organization.
One tool that I learned from a seminar on "discovering and living out your dream" has been helpful for me. I don't do it everyday like the presenter described, but when I do, it helps me with organization and with keeping my spirits up so I don't become too overwhelmed or discouraged.

1. Get a spiral notebook.
2. In the evening, write your To-Do list for Tomorrowon on one page.
3. During the day, refer to your spiral notebook as needed for reminders and staying on track.
4. As you accomplish things on your list, neatly draw a line through the item on your notebook page.
5. At the end of the day, look at your notebook and take heart in what you did get done.
6. Transfer anything you still need to do from today's list to Tomorrow's list on the next page (as well as any other new items that come up.)
7. Do this everyday. The presenter had been using this system for years. He has a big stack of spirals.
8. On the inevitable days when you can't seem to get much done, look back on all the things you HAVE done on previous days, weeks, etc. This may help you jump-start you back into action. OR you may just be able to better accept yourself that today hasn't been good, but you're not hopeless. After all, you can tell yourself, "I have done a and b and c and d . . . I can try again tomorrow. "

Keep the faith!
Leslie

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Oct 08, 2002 8:11:54 PM

Dear Kindred Spirits:)
I too am overwhelmed.
I am 51 with an add four yearold, and thirty year old, going to school full time to become a teacher.
I have found that my pattern is to start too many things and finish few. I get great ideas. I seem to go in spurts. So now I notice that when I am going gung ho and then find myself at the 2/3 rds point where I usually quite. I intentionaly put it down, knowing that it could be weeks befor I find it again. Knowing that I can and will go back to it if it is really important. I create a file for it. I may put it on a calendar to schedule follow up, knowing that I'll get another burst sometime soon. The calendar is of course at eye level on the wall in front of my desk.
So I recognize my pattern and plan for it. If I don't do anything with this file for two months it goes in the inactive file. I too have different times of day for some tasks. I too am a great organizer for other people. Too many years of people telling me I'm dumb, I think. I am learning to accept my different ways and try not to judge myself. Being an advocate for myself and getting services seems to be hard for me to do.
I tried the palm pilot, it's fun.......when I use it. It seems I get bored when the newness wears off. I want one I can just talk to. Reading directions is not something I ever understand and now the batteries need to be changed. Guess what? I gotta find some techie to do it for me.
I have a new file system it seems to be working great. Check back with me in three weeks. I will have stopped using it. and need proding to keep it up, I can clearly see that it could really help me, if I'd only use it!
These letters are so refreshing to me! We are all the same in our differences. Thank you for being you:}
cc

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Nov 07, 2002 9:32:31 PM

In reading over the messages on this board, I was reminded of a method that I used years ago when I was completely overwhelmed and unable to do anything. I couldn't use lists because they were too overwhelming.

I would look around and find one thing that I felt that I could do. It might be to put a book away. I would write down "put book away" and would then do it. I would then look for something else that I could do. I would write that down and then do that. Sometimes, this process would continue until I had written down as many as 30 or 40 simple things. Sometimes I would begin to be able to comfortably start to do things and I would let myself do that, no longer using the list. What this method did for me was to help me to focus in a way that relieved the discomfort that I would feel when I would attempt to deal with a situation that felt overwhelming. It helped me to begin to emotionally connect to doing the task.
I have the tendency, when I feel overwhelmed, to get extremely uncomfortable.

This method doesn't allow for prioritization, but does help one to move out of immobilization (like eating an elephant one bite at a time).

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 31, 2014
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Posted:Dec 17, 2002 7:31:07 PM

I started reading the first entry or two but my attention span is sooo very short right now, I can't finish. It sounds like we could all get together and finish eachother's sentences! We are all in the same boat and some of us can't swim to save our lives!!!
My disorganization comes in spirts. When I'm getting things done, I feel normal. But when I can't seem to got even the simplest tasks done without going to the extreme ( start off washing the car with the hose and a wash rag but ending up with a toothbrush, q-tips, and a spray bottle). These simple tasks turn out to be full blown obsessions!. This isn't how it is all the time, but when it happens, I get overwhelmed. I get scared to start something else because I may become obsessed. Then I get depressed and my self-esteem plummets.
Just a few months ago I graduated as an LPN while taking Adderal. Now that I'm off of the medication, I can't get organized or confident enough to get licensed through the state. I never talk about this to other people, but for the first time in my live, I think I've found people to talk to who actually understand!

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