Organizing With ADD/ADHD

Organizing With ADD/ADHD

Organizing With ADD/ADHD

by Valorie McGilvra

Summer is just around the corner. In fact, you’re probably already planning your family vacation, kid camps, and home projects. We try to fit so much into a short amount of time, don’t we? We set unrealistic time frames then beat ourselves up when we can’t get it all done. On top of that, if you have Attention-Deficit Disorder like me, you will start everything on your list and finish none. Before we know it, it’s back to school time! So, why is this summer going to be any different from the last 16?

Because I know now that all of these things I do or don’t do are not just bad habits or character flaws. I’ve read and studied how people with ADD/ADHD have underdeveloped prefrontal lobes. Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember, and juggle multiple tasks. To read more about the ADD brain go to the Harvard website below.

So in my quest to become more organized, I’ve found some very helpful tips I want to share with you that will help you create a plan for a productive, stress-free summer.

Digital calendars and my phone have helped me immensely with my job. As an instructional coach, I worked in four different schools in a year. One year I even had to plan days around middle school and elementary, which have different start and end times. Talk about crazy… so I had to use my Outlook calendar to schedule every meeting, then add reminders. Later, I realized how much easier my work was when I had this setup. I decided to implement the use of Google calendars for managing my home life. Here is how I start.

Print out or use a paper calendar for May-August. Write in all of the dates and commitments that are already planned. Find one day a week that is your “ME” day. It is a day you only do fun stuff and you have no “have tos.” Then, decide on just 1 project that you want to accomplish for your home this summer. Schedule all of the days to complete the project.

One Day A Week Planning: Pick one day a week to sit and write down what needs to be done each day. Break each action item down to actionable steps. Rather than just think, “Oh, I need to make an appointment for ????” For instance, write down what time on Monday you will call for an appointment for an oil change or doctor appointment. Once I get everything down on paper, I then transfer it to my Google calendar. This way I have reminders and I can add any directions/phone numbers/notes to the date.   

To-do list: Throw this away. Write everything on your calendar (in pencil). For example, write down on Monday at 8 a.m. you will call and schedule the doctor appointment. If you schedule everything (even just the thinking about it) you can start moving in the right direction. For someone like me who has ADD, one of my challenges is planning. I will procrastinate to the point where it drives me crazy. So, by breaking my “things to do” down into manageable “chunks,” I can set the action in motion.

Summer Goals: Choose 1 and let the other go! Select just one project to tackle. Start to finish. Make it small and simple, like organize your child’s closet or a drawer. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment and it will get you motivated to do more.

I hope some of these tips help! To learn more great organizational tips go to and for helping with ADHD try Have a wonderful summer!

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