As an ADHD specialist, I frequently have the privilege of meeting couples where one partner has ADHD (or ADD). As they lead me on a tour of their home, it’s not infrequent that the spouse without ADD makes comments such as, “I don’t understand why she can’t keep this place tidy!” or “He’s attached to everything and refuses to throw anything out!”
I feel immediate compassion for the accused partner. Having ADD is challenging enough; living with someone who refuses to accept the diagnosis or has little understanding of the brain-based disorder adds another layer of difficulty.
I’m not a therapist but if given the opportunity, I like to point out the wonderful qualities of their ADD mate. Chances are, if you have ADD you possess a host of awesome qualities. Maybe you’re creative, a talented singer or writer. Perhaps an academic or a super successful salesperson. You probably have a wonderful, warm and bubbly personality which attracted your mate to you initially. Alas, as the years go by, the partner without ADD starts to focus on your lack of focus, disorganization, your tardiness or other weaknesses.
There are many well-written books on ADHD. If you’re reading this and the above scenario feels oh so familiar, I recommend my all-time favorite book, Delivered from Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D. Hallowell (who has ADHD) focuses on the positive, on the huge potential of the person. I find his approach refreshing and helpful to both partners.
What if you’re still single and looking for love? Hallowell dedicates a whole chapter to describing what kind of mate is best if you have ADHD. Here’s a short excerpt that brings tears to eyes each time I read it:
“Someone who loves you for who you are. Someone who gets a kick out of you. Someone whose voice lifts when he/she hears it is you on the other end of the line. It is helpful if the mate can educate (him)herself about ADD and not take the blunders that the ADD mate makes personally or as if they were done on purpose. ADD is not an excuse, but it is a powerful explanation.”
As Valentine Day approaches (and at the risk of being too sappy) I share this poem (also from Hallowell’s book)
By Cherie Dawn Mills
You are my hope.
You meet me where I am and love me there—
not pushing, nor blaming, but only rejoicing
with me, or lending me your handkerchief.
You gently hold me earthbound in the blackness
of my fears, or during my endangerment from
flights of fantasy.
You do not fear the depths of my weakness,
nor the heights of my strength,
You ever see in me the wondrous possibilities
that my sins and sorrows and daily concerns
have caused me to forget.
Your love empowers me to give my love to others—
to mold the dirty clay of my feet into
sparkling angel wings.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all,
As the year closes, I am inspired to note some of the TOP Productivity and Organizing Tips that I personally used throughout the year that made the most positive difference in my daily life:
1. Do the hardest task first thing in the morning, before opening emails.
2. Completely clear off your desk area at the end of the day, so that the work space is clean and clear for the start of a new day.
3. Be clear on priorities so that when you feel “pulled in many directions” you can quickly and methodically generate a numbered “to do” list that sets the mind at ease.
4. Compartmentalize: accept that time and energy is limited; define how many hours each category of your life gets and make peace with that.
5. Use a small zip pouch in your purse into which you put receipts and other scraps of paper.
6. Listen, don’t interrupt: so much can happen when you hold a silent space while speaking with a friend, relative, client, co-worker. Getting to understand more deeply can lead to better success/solutions.
7. Set aside tasks that don’t require huge amounts of brain activity (e.g. laundry, opening mail, putting stuff away) to those times of day when good quality mental prowess is at a minimum,
8. Plan the week the Thursday before.
9. Pad your schedule: things take longer than anticipated and the Unexpected always happens. Wiggle room is imperative.
10. And most important: schedule in, as an event in my calendar, time out for self-care! Yup, even purely FUN STUFF!
I’ve made this list, I’ll be checking it twice… and every week to make sure I stay on a productive and healthy path in 2019. Wishing the same and A Happy New Year to All!
I used to think I was very clever whenever I advised people about gift giving for special occasions and holidays. I would always suggest that when selecting gifts for people who actually have material plenty to give beautiful “disposables.” I observed that wonderful self-destructive options abound: wines, beautiful candles, delightful oils, luscious baked goods and candies, elegant lotions, fancy soaps…You see what I mean. And they don’t last forever! What a great idea!
Then, I started to discover that many of my clients – people who were trying their best to de-clutter – were given so many of the very disposables I routinely suggested that I couldn’t imagine how many lifetimes would be needed to use up all these treasures. It is possible to overdo absolutely anything.
So, what to do?? Depending on the closeness of the relationships, perhaps some frank discussions are possible. Can your entire extended family happily agree to pool money and go somewhere really special? Would treating someone to a lovely dinner or show be a delightful novelty? Someone else might love a membership or a day at the zoo or a favorite museum. Maybe the whole family would chip in to hire a chef or caterer to create a marvelous holiday dinner, so no one has the stress of cooking, hosting, or cleanup.
This year, really think about and talk about your gifts. So many of us are truly overloaded with objects, but would benefit from a certificate for a manicure, a massage, dog-walking services, baby-sitting, or perhaps a lovely outing to a tea shop for a long talk with you.
There are also gift cards and certificates for companies where your friend or relative will truly benefit from some extra freedom to choose something they need. One of my clients was actually given a generous check made out to her Professional Organizer! Moved by the friend’s thoughtfulness, the organizer (me) gave the client extra time.
Especially in the midst of all the natural disasters surrounding us, would your loved ones be thrilled (and relieved) if you made a charitable donation in their honor?
You can see where I’m going with this: make this a year of thinking outside the box with gifts that don’t go in a box at all. The key to success with these plans is the gift of intimacy, your shared comfort in discussing your true preferences, ideas, and suggestions.
We are in the midst of a heatwave here in Eastern PA. Today for example is 97°, with a feels like temp of 106°…ouch! Not the most conducive weather for organizing, right?
Well, definitely don’t work in the garage, or the attic…basically avoid anyplace that isn’t close to air conditioning or where heat rises. That still leaves some great spaces throughout your home to work in. However, before you even start, grab some ice-cold water or your favorite cold beverage and sit down to write out some to- do lists.
Nothing fancy, a spiral bound notebook from your child that still had useable pages in it will do; you know that they’ll want something brand new for the next school year anyway! I bought myself a fun notebook from TJ Maxx (see picture), in my favorite color, to make it less of a chore.
Prefer an app for your to-do lists? Trello is a fantastic app which lets you create endless topics (lists) and tasks (cards).
Start by writing the name of each room in your home on a separate page. The great thing about these lists is that they can be a summer and beyond project…no need to rush it! Next, start your brain dump, where you can write tasks to be done in each room. Write down what comes to mind and add more as you think of it. The tasks should be specific and therefore hopefully less overwhelming. It’s up to you to choose how many tasks you want to complete at a time!
Master Bedroom Closet Tops
Do you have other things come to mind, that aren’t specific to a room? Write them down too! Getting too much junk mail? Look to catalogchoice.org and optoutprescreen.com. Getting too many spam calls? Try an phone app like, Should I answer?, with a cute little octopus icon, which turns green for a positive call or red, to know instantly if a call has received negative ratings, and block them on your phone! I know, I know, once a company is blocked by using one number, they will move to another, but every little block counts!
Pen and paper or app, the key to dissolving a cluttered mind is to write things down, so that you have space in your brain for more important things to think about, like what flavor of ice cream to get tonight!
“Where did all this stuff come from anyway? How did it all fit in here in the first place? I can’t believe how long this is taking and how many boxes we have! AAAaahhhh!!!!”
Well, it’s true. When we pull everything out of its storage space, we can see the volume of what we really have. And, for those things that haven’t been seen or touched in years: much of it is astonishing.
“Cans of hairspray? Wait. I haven’t bought hairspray in a can in at least 2…uh, 5…oh, I don’t know – better throw that out. How did these shoes get back here? Man, they’re dusty. And sort of misshapen. Well, okay very misshapen. Nevermind. Out! And, wait. Do we really have 6 new containers of black pepper? Six? I had no idea. This will last us forever!”
You are moving into a new home. Whether larger or smaller than your last, it’s an opportunity to get organized – right from the start! Here are 6 spaces to set up when you move in so you can get and stay organized:
Spice Storage: There are so many options for organizing spices that there is really no reason you need to fight to find what you need, have bottles and jars falling out onto you as you reach behind, or repurchase multiples of what you already have.
Pantry: DIY or go the extra mile and get pro-installation. A pantry organizing system will be a delight to your family today and a great selling point tomorrow.
Under Sinks: Either in the kitchen or bathrooms, under sink storage will make ALL the difference. Enjoy the control and say goodbye to yucky under-sink messes!
Shoes: The struggle is real. First decide where you want to store them (By the entryway? In a closet? Under the bed? In the garage?) Then, reign them in.
Bedroom Closets: If you are renting a home, you may want to save money and purchase some temporary solutions that you can take with you when you move out. For homeowners, installing built-ins is the way to go.
Storage Area: Before you go building columns and walls of heavy boxes stacked one atop another; stop and think. This is what got you into the last mess of storage chaos. Is there room for some shelving? Is there ceiling or wall space to be taken advantage of?
January is a time of beginnings – new year, new resolutions, new choices. Make 2018 YOUR year to conquer clutter chaos and gain control of your house!
I define clutter as anything that takes up space without serving any real purpose in your life. That simple statement helps my clients decide what to keep or let go. Clutter looks and feels different to everyone. It causes stress and a somewhat-to-completely-overwhelming, chaotic and sometimes unhealthy environment. It’s a daily negative reminder, conscious or unconscious, of tasks left undone.
Over time, storage areas like closets, basements and garages become stuffed. Therefore, things that should be in storage areas overtake living spaces. There are personal costs like stress, time wasted searching for things and money wasted rebuying things you can’t find or forgot you have.
It’s time to reclaim your space. Start with decluttering.
Decluttering is just the first step before organizing takes place. To be organized, among other things you need a strategy as to where everything that remains will be placed, systems that work for you, organizing principles and new habits, all of which work with your situation, personality and preferences, and maintenance techniques.
Some people are held hostage by their stuff. They hold on to things long after they’ve outlived their usefulness due to sentimental reasons, packrat tendencies, monetary value, so-and-so gave it to them or “I might need it someday.” Unused things displace things that are used.
Some of my clients have 30-year-old wedding presents in dusty, never-opened boxes on basement shelves. I ask, “WIll you use it.” “No.” “Do you like it?” “No.” “Can you get rid of it?” “No.”
As an organizing consultant, I know it’s not about just getting rid of things. It’s about the person, not the stuff. Often there are underlying psychological reasons. I dig deeper to help my clients understand WHY they’re keeping unwanted stuff. I offer safe ways to let go without losing connections to things.
Once clutter is conquered, calm replaces chaos and your home reflects how you want to live. Sound amazing? It is! Contact a professional organizer if you’d like help.