Not quite a year ago I was diagnosed with ADD. I'm not ashamed of this disorder. I wish I didn't have it, but I wish a lot of things and that wouldn't be at the very top of my list. I can tell you that being diagnosed and starting medication has changed my life for the better, however, it doesn't just make the ADD go away entirely. I still struggle with certain things, but I'm learning to manage my symptoms by changing how I do things that haven't been working all these years. What medication has helped me do is be able to focus on lectures (I returned to school full-time at BSU). It is easier to concentrate when I study, and eliminate distractions. I can also sit still for longer than 30 minutes. I know that ADD is a controversial subject, and medication is a personal choice. Whether you take medication or not, an individual with ADD will have to learn additional skills to help them meet society's expectations.
I've read several books on the subject of ADD/ADHD. My favorite by far is this one:
ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau.
The reason I LOVE this book is because it understands my challenges and gives me ideas tailored specifically for them.
So, why don't traditional planning/organizing ideas help me?
Well, one example is I have a problem with "prospective memory", that is the type of memory for tasks that need to be completed in the future. The problem is that when I file "return library books today" away in my brain, it doesn't get retrieved unless I have a visual reminder. So, I may remember the library books are due when I'm at home eating breakfast, but will not remember again until I see a book or get a notice in my email account. So, the idea shared in the book is to create a "Take Me With You" basket, which is simply a basket by the door. When I'm eating cereal and think, "I need to return the library books today" then I need to get up and place them in that basket immediately. It is an established daily habit to take things out of that basket each time I leave. The items would then go into a clear plastic bin on the passenger seat of my car (my errand box), where they will be visual reminders to run the errand.
Another example: I don't do well with calendars on the computer or my iphone. Even setting an alarm for reminders doesn't help. If I have a doctor appointment on Thursday at noon, I can't set a reminder for anytime other than an hour before the appointment or I may forget it. Out of sight, out of mind. The 60 minute warning works for me most of the time, even though at times it creates a bit of chaos making sure I get there on time because I wasn't really planning for the appointment until I got the reminder. So, I've learned that I MUST use a paper day planner. It is once again a visual tool that helps me to know what I have that day. I use one that shows all seven days on a two page spread and each day runs from 8am-9pm. It's a little old-fashioned and it's a bulky, big item to haul around, but it is what works!
So, yes, I can be forgetful. It can be very embarrassing at times and it can make others frustrated or angry. I don't like that and I'm encouraged in reading this book. I am loving all the ideas I've implemented so far! I'll be sharing a few of them in the near future. I've got my "command center" about done and I'm working on other things. It is a relief reading a book that seems tailor-made for me. I love that the authors understand my challenges and share ideas to help me better adapt. Even those without the challenge of ADD could benefit from it's simple ideas to get organized.