10 Organizing Principles for the Organizationally Impaired


NOT Your Mama’s Organization

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the Challenges Inventory™ & ADD Coaching Series
my edited reposting of a five year old article

If at first you don’t succeed . . .

I know.  I’m right there with you.  You’ve read all the books and made a good stab at following their advice, and you still live in what might affectionately be called a pig stye if only it were that neat.

Give it up!

Those books were NOT written for you and me.  They were written for fundamentally organized people with relatively reliable follow-through skills and abilities.

They simply needed a little how-to help and advice.

I don’t work their way.
Do YOU work their way?

How DO you work?

If you don’t get real about how you work, you will never be able to determine what YOU need to do to to keep from spending half your life looking for things that were “right here a minute ago” — and the other half tripping over dirt and detritus.

As I began in an even earlier post (ADD & Organized?) . . .

Yea verily, even YOU can learn to be organized
just as soon as you understand
the reasons why you’ve been stopped in the past.  

Those of us who struggle with any of what are referred to as Executive Functions work a bit differently than those neurotypical folks.  We do not have vanilla-flavored brains.  We’re more like the ice cream with the mix-ins.  Our stoppers are not their stoppers.

HERE’S the KICKER: it’s a different mix of stoppers for every single one of us.  

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

That said, I’m going to go w-a-a-y out on a limb by offering my top ten organizing principles that I now call, collectively, The Executive Functioning Organizing Manifesto — a summary of some basic concepts that need to be embraced and understood if you want to have a shot at working out what you need to do for YOU to be organized.

In future posts in this series, I will expand on some of the points below.
For NOW, print ’em out and hang ’em up and follow them!

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Getting up and Getting Going


More on ACTIVATION
(versus Motivation)

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series

ACTIVATION can be a BEAR!

From my favorite illustrator, Phillip Martin

As I illuminated in three earlier posts of this Series of articles – ABOUT ActivationIs Activation “Seeking System” Dependent? and Procrastination: Activation vs. Motivation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the AD[h]D/EFD/TBI population (vs. garden-variety “procrastination“)

What’s the Difference again?

  • ACTIVATION refers to the initiation of an action — the process that gets you up and doing, apart from what inspires you to WANT to be up and doing.

Insufficient motivation – REALLY?

Many (if not most) of the “get it done” gurus believe that insufficient motivation is a primary source of the problem for individuals who procrastinate endlessly.

  • For them, maybe, but my extensive experience with hundreds of individuals with Executive Functioning struggles of all types doesn’t support that simplistic conclusion.
  • In the population I work with and support, I see more than enough motivation and way too much heartbreaking agony over struggles with activation.

According to Wikipedia, “Activation in (bio-)chemical sciences generally refers to the process whereby something is prepared or excited for a subsequent reaction.

Alrighty, as I’ve said before, that definition works for our purposes well enough – as do a number of explanations of terms outlined in various Wikipedia articles on the chemical process – so let’s explore their concepts a bit more.

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Lowering Activation Costs


More on the differences between Motivation & ACTIVATION

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series

ACTIVATION can be a BEAR!

From my favorite illustrator, Phillip Martin

From my favorite illustrator, Phillip Martin

As I illuminated in earlier posts of this series of articles – ABOUT Activation, Is Activation “Seeking System” Dependent? and Procrastination: Activation vs. Motivation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the ADD/EFD/TBI population.

In our community (prevailing “wisdom” notwithstanding), glitches in the arena of activation are more likely to be behind what is often mistakenly assumed to be “procrastination”  than a need for motivation.

What’s the Difference?

Many (if not most) of the “get it done” gurus blithely assume that insufficient motivation is a primary source of the problem.

Ahem.

For them, maybe, but my extensive experience with hundreds of individuals with Executive Functioning struggles of all types doesn’t support that simplistic conclusion.

In the population I work with and support, I see more than enough “motivation” coupled with way too much heartbreaking agony over struggles with activation.

  • ACTIVATION refers to the initiation of an action — the process that gets you up and doing, apart from what inspires you to WANT to be up and doing.

Wikipedia says, “Activation in (bio-)chemical sciences generally refers to the process whereby something is prepared or excited for a subsequent reaction.

That definition works for our purposes well enough – as do a number of explanations of terms outlined in various Wikipedia articles on the chemical process – so let’s explore their concepts a bit more.

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Commitment to Transition


CoinFlipFlip a Coin

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Excerpted from an upcoming book; all rights reserved
CLICK HERE to begin at the beginning

We start small

We begin with the tedium of to-dos – because the lessons learned will generalize to the bigger changes and transitions that we all must face.

Meanwhile, we must all learn the ways in which we, uniquely, “chop wood, carry water.” ~ mgh

Chocolate or Vanilla?

To keep this process as simple as possible, we are going to forget about troubles with the Gap in this article, and work with only one of the other two transitional modes.

ChocVanCone

The initial step, once you have made your list so that you can work with your own personal and specific examples, is to agree to work on improving one transitional mode at a time.

If you’re having difficulty going into, you can’t simultaneously master the re-orientation of coming out of.  You’ll be left not wanting to do anything except sit in your boggle room and cry (or drink!)  Sound familiar?

Pick one mode and let’s go.

In the mode you’ve selected, write down ten specific tasks that prove extremely difficult (or nearly impossible) for you – even if you feel like an idiot to admit to yourself or anyone else that you can’t manage it like “everyone else.” 

Don’t switch to examples for the other mode – we’re cleaning up one neighborhood at a time.

Next to each one of your ten items, write down all the different activities, mental and physical, you go through to get from A to Z.  Below is an example to give you an idea of what I mean by that assignment.

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Transition Tamer: Beware the GAP!


Transitions:
Into, Out of
&
AROUND
The Gap
 

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Excerpted from an upcoming book; all rights reserved
CLICK HERE to begin at the beginning

We start small

We begin with the tedium of to-dos – because the lessons learned will generalize to the bigger changes and transitions that we all must face.

Meanwhile, we must all learn the ways in which we, uniquely, “chop wood, carry water.” ~ mgh

Read more of this post

Transitions: Divide to Conquer


The Great Divide

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Excerpted from an upcoming book; all rights reserved
CLICK HERE to begin at the beginning

We start small

We begin with the tedium of to-dos – because the lessons learned will generalize to the bigger changes and transitions that we all must face.

Meanwhile, we must all learn the ways in which we, uniquely, “chop wood, carry water.” ~ mgh

Come, Stay or Go?

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Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation


More than Motivation

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Foundational Concepts of the Intentionality Series

EncourageYOU HEARD IT HERE:  Glitches in the activation arena are more likely to be behind what is often mistakenly assumed to be “procrastination” in the EFD/ADD community than insufficient motivation.

As I said in Part I of this series of articles – ABOUT Activation – struggles with activation are a common occurrence in the ADD population.

Closely related, but not the same thing as,
under-arousal and motivation deficit, insufficient 
activation is frequently misidentified, mislabeled, and totally misunderstood.

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Organization & Task Completion


 Rememberlinks on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Investigating the link between
Organization and Task Completion

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An article in the Org&Task Series
In support of The Challenges Inventory ™ Series

It’s no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying,
‘Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.’
By then, pigs will be your style.
 ~ Quentin Crisp

graphic thanks to Phillip Martin, artist/educator

Happy Brand New Year!

Hey – last January – did you make any Resolutions for the upcoming year?

Or are you someone who is more comfortable Setting Intentions, making a Vision Board, or coming up with a list of S.M.A.R.T. Goals to live into?

Maybe you’re a real go-getter who does all four!

So let me ask you the Dr. Phil question:
How’s that workin’ for you?

What’s your success ratio?

Did you lose the weight, get in shape, stop smoking, finish your degree, clean out the garage . . . or any of the other things you hoped to complete in the years that came before this one? (um . . . like “Get ADDCoach.com redesigned and up and running again,” Madelyn? And, oh yeah, those books you keep meaning to get published?)

Like me, is Déjà Vu all over again the best description of many of the items from your yearly resolution ritual?

Or are you one of the many who have given up and given in, convinced of the futility of making resolutions you never complete anyway?

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Overfocusing: Cognitive Inflexibility and the Cingulate Gyrus


Stubborn? or Stuck!!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

A bit of Review to Catch You Up

As I said in the previous article entitled ODD & Oppositional Rising: Most of us know somebody who seems to have an argument for just about everything — somebody who almost always has to “go through NO to get to yes.”

I likened those individuals to old television sets with stuck channel changers (way back before the days of remote controls).

Almost ALL of us, I addedADD or not, have a small  — perfectly “normal” — part of our personalities that balks unless a task or idea is totally appealing in the moment we are “supposed” to take it on.

We don’t WANT to change the channel — we want things to keep on being the way we thought they were going to be – NOW!

ADD and Oppositional Rising

A subset of those who qualify for an ADD diagnosis seems, a bit more than average, to struggle with changing that channel. (be sure to click ODD and Oppositional Rising for more on the concept)

A subset of individuals who do NOT qualify for an ADD diagnosis struggle similarly.

  • ADD or NOT, these individuals are not diagnosically Oppositional Defiant [ODD], but it can try your patience mightily to work and live with these guys.
  • In the previous article, I explained why I referred to that change-averse group as being at the effect of ODD Rising.

In THIS article, we’re going to take a look at what being “stuck” looks like, and to begin to look at what has to happen in our brain to be ready-willing-and-ABLE to “change our minds,” which is not too very different (in concept) from changing a channel on an old television set.

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CaringBridge / Kate Kelly / Journal


CHECK OUT THE PHOTO!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC

A “Reblog” of sorts: for those of you who know Kate Kelly (or know of her as co-author, with Peggy Ramundo, of You Mean I’m NOT Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!), who are not hooked in with her CaringBridge site.

I don’t want to leave anyone who loves her unaware of where things stand with her health.

I also want those of you who read this blog, even if you are not part of Kate’s vast circle of ADD buds, to get the benefit of some of my insights during this time of transition.

Contemplations of this type are as ephemeral as life itself — in our faces whenever they float across our cognitive view-finders, fading quickly as soon as all returns to “normal,” only to return suddenly, startling us as if we’d never had the thoughts before.

We must all learn, somehow, to take advantage of any opportunity to be hit in the solar plexis with what we know in our gut: it’s all over far too quickly.

(Skip the early “logistics” paragraphs if you are unfamiliar with Kate — scroll down to “Little Details” to begin reading)

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Transitional Modes


Sherlock YourSELF, John

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Thanks to artist/educator Phillip Martin for capturing so MANY of my concepts in his images – and for their use.

We start small

We begin with the tedium of to-dos – because the lessons learned will generalize to the bigger changes and transitions that we all must face.

Meanwhile, we must all learn the ways in which we, uniquely, “chop wood, carry water.” ~mgh

There ain’t no IS about ADD

All human beings, even “identical” twins, have differences — all the way down to the celular level.

Those differences are magnified and multiplied when you throw attentional spectrum disorders into the mix.

While your challenges and talents may be impacted by (or even a product of) ADD, don’t make the mistake of assuming that your experience is reflective of ADD in general.

Throughout the Transitions Series, for instance, I offer my examples to help you compile and categorize your troublesome transitions.

But don’t assume that you work the same way
I do simply because we both have ADD. 

EVEN when we share what seems to be an
identical list of transitional challenges,
when we dig deeper we will find that they
are challenging for completely different reasons.

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The Truth about Transitions


Sherlocking Transitions

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

We start small

We begin with the tedium of to-dos – because the lessons learned will generalize to the bigger changes and transitions that we all must face.

Meanwhile, we must all learn the ways in which we, uniquely, “chop wood, carry water.” ~mgh

Walk before Running

As I said in Trouble with Transitions, the first article in the Transitions Series:

One of the primary reasons that transitions are so tricky is that we have only one word to describe THREE phases of the same darned task: 

COMPLETION — transitioning out of
— “putting away your toys”

PREPARATION — transitioning into
— “getting out the pieces of the new puzzle”

and

THE GAP — that “toy free”
period between the two.

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Trouble with Transitions


Fade In – Fade Out

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

We start small

We begin with the tedium of to-dos – because the lessons learned will generalize to the bigger changes and transitions that we all must face.

Meanwhile, we must all learn the ways in which we, uniquely, “chop wood, carry water.”  ~ mgh

Transition Trials

As we work our way from dawn to dusk — multi-tasking, time-slicing or hyperfocusing — we face many moments when we realize that we must begin a particular task, usually before we have completed what we are currently doing.

THAT is the very stake in the heart of “trouble with transitions.”

But WHY are transitions so difficult?

Wait! Let’s ask a better question: who claimed that transitions were supposed to be easy?  

ADD/EFD/TBI/PTSD or “vanilla-flavored,” most of us have some degree of trouble with transitions —  a big-time reason why most of us reach the exhausted end of many a busy day with so many undone to-dos.

It is merely a trick of language that promotes the fallacy that we will – and should – be able to transition from one task to the next with the ease with which one image on a movie screen dissolves into another — or the way a really great cross-fade between tunes seems to sneak the volume of one song down just as the other comes up.

Easy? NO WAY!

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Ten ADD Organizing Principles


NOT Your Mama’s Organization

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the Challenges Inventory™ & ADD Coaching Series

As I began in an earlier post (ADD & Organized?) . . .

Yes, even YOU can learn to be organized —
JUST AS SOON AS YOU UNDERSTAND
the REASONS why you’ve been stopped in the past.  

HERE’S the KICKER: it’s a different mix of stoppers for every single one of us.  

If you don’t understand how YOU work, you’ll never be able to determine what YOU need to do to to keep from spending half your life looking for things that were “right here a minute ago” — and the other half tripping over dirt and detritus.

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

That said, I’m going to go w-a-a-y out on a limb by offering ten ADD organizing principles that I call, collectively, The ADD Organizaing Manifesto — a summary of some basic concepts that need to be embraced and understood if you want to have a shot at working out what YOU need to do for YOU to be organized.

In future posts in this series, I’ll expand on some of the points below.
For NOW, print ’em out and hang ’em up!

Read more of this post

Sherlocking Task Anxiety


By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC Another in a series of articles from my upcoming book, TaskMaster™ – see article list below

Task Anxiety 101 – part 2

Watson, we need to review

The three most recent segments introduced a unique connection between bribery and intentionality, linking it to reward and acknowledgment. I introduced the connection between inner three-year-olds and the cookie concept, a real-world application of the importance of reward and acknowledgment to ongoing accomplishment.

IF you’ve been playing along . . .

In the TaskMaster™ Series Introduction and in Task Anxiety Awareness, you made some lists.

One is a List of Ten — activities you find yourself doing INSTEAD whenever you attempt to complete a task, or in response to an attempt to initiate a task.

  • This is a list of any ten of the things that YOU do that leaves you chronically behind and befuddled.
  • Many of you had self-identified with that not-very-helpful “chronic procrastinator” label as a result.
  • I encouraged you to reframe those tasks as “avoidance” activities: avoiding task anxiety.

You also have a List of Five Feelings.

I asked you to think of a specific example in your life where you tried to listen to “logical” advice from those who did not take the time to understand the parameters of your problem before stepping in to suggest their “simple solutions.”

  • I asked you to recall how you felt when you attempted to take that “logical” advice (or even thought about taking it), especially when accompanied by a failure to reach a goal or complete a task.
  • I suggested you write down at least five descriptive feeling words, then walked you through four paired-awareness exercises, shuffling the paired words around a bit to see if any new insights bubbled up from your unconscious.

Now, dear Watson, let’s connect some dots!

Task Anxiety Awareness


Task Anxiety 101 – Part 1

By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
The second of a series of articles from
my upcoming book, TaskMaster™
– see article list below

Task Anxiety 101 - Part 1

Get out your notebook

Before I go into a bit of background explanation about task anxiety, I am about to ask you to make another list.

For those times when you attempt to complete something or in response to attempting to begin something, make a List of Ten activities you find yourself doing INSTEAD.  What is it that YOU do that leaves you chronically behind and befuddled.

As I asked in the first article in the TaskMaster Series:

What were some of the tactics you used to deal with your anxiety about not knowing how to tackle a particular task?
(Those supposed “procrastination” activities you took on instead of what you intended or needed to do)

I find it more useful, AND more accurate, to reframe those tasks as “avoidance” activities: avoiding task anxiety.

So now it’s time to get to work on changing a few things.

I’ll get you started by sharing my own list of activities I do when I “go unconscious” about my own task anxiety. To get the benefit of this section, you need to connect PERSONALLY – so take the time to write out your own List of Ten, so that you will be able to do the four exercises that follow.

I’ll bet you a year’s free coaching, if you don’t actually DO the exercises, there will be no new insights — and you will dismiss them as a huge waste of time and energy as you read about them.

(At the bottom of this article, I’ll give the skeptics among you a couple of credible scientists
to check out, with links to what they have to say about optimizing internal processing.)

TaskMaster – Getting Things DONE!


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info
.

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part One of the TaskMaster™ Series

Taming Training 101

You are about to learn to become your own Task Master.

Nooooo – I don’t mean standing with a chair and a whip, caging the beast that is YOU.

The TASKS must be trained.  They need to be tamed so they’ll work the way YOU need them to work.

Task taming is a multi-stepped process:

•  Tasks must be trained initially, then
•  Revisited and re-trained every time you learn something new about what you really need.

Let me guess . . . at this point, ALL you know about what you really need is that whatever others tell you to do doesn’t seem to work for YOU, right?

I’m about to let you in on an important ADD secret that many of us had to learn about the hard way. Shhhhhhhh!

At least 80% of what others have been telling you wasn’t designed to work for you!

  • It was actually intended to chastise you for not ALREADY knowing how to make it work, and
  • to get you to stop looking to others for help (especially them!)

Really! And I’ll bet it worked just as designed.

Think about it. Didn’t you feel thoroughly chastised, tongue-tied about what to say next, and reluctant to ask for help the next time?

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Reframing Task-Completion


ADD/ADHD and Unfinished Personal Projects
Guest blogger: Bryan Hutchinson

I have hundreds of unfinished personal projects and I have ADHD.

From what I understand about ADHD, and from what I have read, I should be upset about unfinished personal projects.

However, I am a writer and writing has taught me an extremely valuable lesson, and that is:

 •  Finishing everything I start writing is nearly impossible
and,
 •  Not everything that’s started is meant to be finished.

Sometimes what I start is meant to take me somewhere else, to get me past a hump or lead me to deeper thoughts or inspiration.

Before I go any further, let me clarify that I am talking about personal projects here. Not jobs. That’s for another post.

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ABOUT Activation


Activation — Inertia’s Handmaiden

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of the ADD Basics Series


Activation struggles
are a common occurrence in the ADD/EFD/TBI
(Alphabet City) population.

What’s going on when we wait until the last minute to begin something we’ve known about for months?

What is it about the last minute rush that busts a desperate case of  “I just can’t make myself” w-i-d-e open, uncovering a secret activator that we couldn’t, for the life of us, locate the day before?

Closely related both to motivation deficit and under-arousal, insufficient activation  is usually misidentified, mislabeled, and totally misunderstood.

Read more of this post

ADD & Organized?


Organization for ADDers is NOT Pipe Dream

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In support of The Challenges Inventory ™ Series

Drawing of a man popping out of the top drawer of a file cabinet, holding a file, with a self-satisfied smile on his faceYes, even YOU can learn to be organized —
JUST AS SOON AS YOU UNDERSTAND

the REASONS why you’ve been stopped in the past.  

Here’s the kicker: it’s a different mix of stoppers for every single one of us.  

If you don’t understand how YOU work, you’ll never be able to determine what YOU need to do to to keep from spending half your life looking for things that were “right here a minute ago.”

So much for helpful hints and tidy lists!  

That said, what follows is an Organizing Overview summarizing concepts that need to be embraced and understood if you want to have a shot at working out what YOU need to do for YOU to be organized.

In a series of articles to follow, I will “unpack” the list and explain the concepts.  FOR NOW, reflect on the list itself, and stay tuned for articles to follow.

Read more of this post

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