Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book Review: ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life

Adults with ADHD really struggle with managing the daily aspects of their lives. Those with Asperger’s and ASDs often have issues with ADHD or executive functioning as well. For all these individuals, the tips and strategies in ADD-Friendly Ways To Organize Your Life, by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. (Taylor & Francis Group, 2002) may be useful.

The book attempts to provide strategies, accompanied by what the authors term support and structures, to manage various organizational issues every adult faces. The premise of this book is that those with ADHD may not do well with the intense, detailed organizing ideas presented in many other organizing books, but that simple structures, accompanied by support from friends, family and professionals, can result in effective changes.

The book is broken down into chapters for those who are troubled with different aspects of disorganization, such as overcommitment, waiting until the last minute, dealing with clutter, and managing bills and money. For each area, a simple plan of organization is offered, although it’s probably not a lot different than that of many other systems. The ADHD twist of this book is then in adding support in the form of assistance from friends, family or professionals. Although this could be useful, it may be unrealistic to expect a friend to sit by supportively watching as an adult sorts through monthly paperwork. I wish the book had focused more on helping adults grow and shift from using the support of others to developing independent ways of functioning in the long term.

Still, in spite of these shortcomings, the book does offer many useful tips. I especially like the limit setting tips, such as for every item or activity you add to your life, first you need to subtract one item or activity that you already have. In the chapter on prioritizing, the advice calls for limiting the to do list to 5 items only, and each should be done today.

The authors also are quite clever in utilizing the creative strengths of those with ADHD. Their “muttering” filing system uses file labels such as “Why can’t I find this when I need it?” and “I have got to call these people!” They suggest cleaning the garage to organize it in the same way a hardware store would be organized.

Like most organizing systems, adults with ADHD will not find all the solutions in one place, but they may find a number of useful tips.