Some of the people who contact me to help them out with their clutter woes suffer from varying degrees of ADD. ADD is short for Attention Deficit Disorder. For many adults with ADD, life feels overwhelming and chaotic. Their homes are cluttered; laundry and dishes go undone; newspapers and magazines pile up; bills get lost in piles of paper, etc.
In order to assist those of you who suffer with ADD, I recommend taking these 10 steps to building habits that will help you get and stay organized.
Tie a new habit to an old one. Once you become an adult, you tend of have some ingrained habits. It's easiest to develop a new habit if it's tied to an old one. For example, place your vitamins next to your toothbrush in the bathroom to help you remember to take your vitamins each morning.
Make the habit as easy as possible. Select a place that makes sense. Pick a convenient, visible place to put your keys, such as by the front door. Always return them to the same place each and every time. Before selecting "the spot", think about where you would most need that item to be. Usually your first instinct is the right one.
Make the habit hard to ignore. Put the item in a place where you will notice it. If you have to return clothing to the department store, put the bag by the front door so you will not be able to leave the house without remembering to take it with you. I put my mail, bank deposits, cell phone and keys with my pocketbook so I remember to take them all with me when I leave the house.
Put reminders everywhere. When you are first starting to develop your new habit, put sticky notes where you are sure to see them that remind you to act on your new habit. You've decided you want to pack your lunch instead of buying it to save money. At night, put a sticky note on the front door, refrigerator and kitchen counter to remind you to take your packed lunch from the fridge and take it with you when you leave the house.
Visualize yourself doing the new behavior. Visualization is very powerful. It allows you time to actually imagine yourself doing something. If the new behavior is a morning habit, for example, imagine yourself going through your morning routine which would include your new habit at the appropriate point in the routine.
Practice correcting yourself. Everyone forgets. Don't beat yourself up over it. If you forget to practice your new habit, simply go and do the new habit the instant you remember it. By just doing the habit at some point in your day, it will make it easier for you to do it in the correct time frame in the future.
Get back on that horse. Everyone falls off the proverbial horse from time to time. We are not infallible. Remember that habits take time; forgetting is not failure. It's just a part of developing a habit; so don't give up!
Problem solve if it's not working. If something isn't working for you, change it. Perhaps you need a different reminder. Maybe you need to tie it to a different habit. It might work better for you if you change the time of day you are attempting to do it. Take some time to make the changes that will work best for you.
Practice, Practice, Practice. It takes at least 21 days for something to become a habit. To help you develop that habit, put the habit on your calendar for 21 days and check it off as you do it. Soon you will no longer need to write it down; it will just come to you naturally.
FINALLY, Reward Yourself. Congratulate yourself and celebrate the fact that you reached your 21 day goal. Now, go on and create more habits. Work with your ADD to take charge of your life.
You might find that you need the hands-on help of a professional organizer to get you started, especially when the level of clutter feels too overwhelming.
If you are bothered by your clutter and are interested in my services, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to help.
Wishing you an organized week!