ADD/ADHD: Create Simple Systems – Find Things Quickly!

Often due to our ADHD, it is difficult to quickly put our hands on papers and files when we need them. We don’t know where things are because we don’t put them away where they belong after we use them. The first step is to make things easy to put away in assigned easy-to-spot homes. If you are going to put something in a container make it a clear container or clearly label it. Make the label large enough to be read from a few steps away.

If you need paper files as I do for my handwritten notes that go into my client files, use an open file system. I don’t recommend filing cabinets for people with ADHD. They become a wasteland just taking up space. I use steel-based frames that have a divider every couple of inches so that my files all stand up on open shelves (wire organizer from MMP Industries). Each file folder is the kind you see in most doctors’ offices, with a tab on the end not the side. They’re called end tab folders. They make each file easy to read from the bookshelf.

Don’t worry about making pretty labels for your files, worry about function first. Dwelling on making your files look stylish will just slow you down or get in the way of you getting the task done. Simply write labels on the file tabs in big letters. Don’t get caught up in pretty, get caught up in done!

If you don’t put something away after you use it, add a 5- to 10-minute end-of-the-day pick-up to your routine, or at least get items in the general vicinity of where they live. This won’t completely solve the problem but at least it increases the chances of quickly putting your hands on what you are looking for.

Abigail Wurf, PCC, M.Ed helps professionals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners affected by ADHD and/or Executive function issues achieve success in business and in life. Located in Washington DC, Abigail works with clients in person, over the phone and over the Internet. Her new book, “Forget Perfect: How to Succeed in Your Profession and Personal Life Even if You Have ADHD,” is loaded with tips to help overwhelmed people get things done and be more strategic about how to live their lives. To receive a free consult from Abigail, make a request through the contact form and she will get back with you to schedule.