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How I Organized My Papers, Files and More: 7 Tips that Work

Posted on April 18, 2018

 

I work from home in an extra bedroom that I converted into an office 23 years ago, when we bought our house for our growing family that included two little girls, a dog (two dogs, now), a cat, my husband and me. Nowadays, most of my work is done online, so I spend a lot of time in that room.

When we first moved in, I couldn’t make that space work. I finally hired a professional organizer who set up a system that works perfectly for me.

Except like you, I, too, have ADHD and even the best laid out plans don’t always work out.

For me, that means not putting papers away in a timely manner, which means lots and lots of piles of paper, projects, notebooks, and everything else you’d expect to find in a home office.

Those without ADD tend to have tidy spaces, but for those of us with ADD, that can actually lead to anxiety, because it can mean out of sight = out of mind. Which means, we keep our stuff visible. Which means, we often live in clutter.

Clutter can cause more anxiety because it is visually jolting. More than that, it’s a daily reminder that we can’t seem to get our sh** together.

Generally, I get to the point of being so sick of my office clutter, that I spend a day putting things away- filing, tossing, etc. But this time, I let it get away from me and before I knew it, six months passed before I got the courage to make the attack.

I learned a lot from having waited so long to deal with my clutter. I spent time analyzing just what prevented me from facing this task for so long. I already had systems set up- places where things belonged (thank you, professional organizer), so why…why…why…did I let things go for so long?

I realized that I didn’t actually have places for all of my stuff. I analyzed this further: Why? What was going wrong? Why couldn’t I deal with the paper piles? I looked at the papers that had me stumped and then I understood the problem:

I couldn’t file the papers because there was no room in the filing cabinet folders I’d set up years ago. I knew this at some level, but couldn’t face it, because it meant I’d have to spend a lot of time…..

PURGING old files.

So I put it off another few months.

Finally, I got sick of my room and sick of myself. I knew what had to be done but had been avoiding this most BORING and TEDIOUS of tasks. We- we with ADD- cannot tolerate boredom, repetitive chores, and in general: PAPERWORK.

So this is what I did.

I forced myself to start. I asked myself: what area was upsetting me the most? The answer: family related files: medical records, school reports, etc. So that’s where I started- the file cabinet that housed those papers. Armed with bank boxes, I took one file out at a time, blasted music from Pandora (Pandora.com), and got to work.

The fascinating thing was that once I STARTED, I had a hard time STOPPING. It felt so good to finally face my paper demons. Yes, sometimes I got stuck, finding something of interest and having to read it, but then I made a rule for myself: reading was for later.

I got through files and files of papers, putting them in manila folders, labeling each one before storing them in the boxes. Oh, how great it felt to be done with the first file cabinet.

I determined that the next pain in the ass papers were my business files. So I went ahead and purged those. The more I worked at this, the more aggressive I became in tossing papers vs saving them.

I became more aggressive in tossing papers when I asked myself this: ‘Once I’m gone, who will have the thankless job of going through all of this stuff?’ I literally pictured my husband and kids going through my files and piles and got disgusted with myself.

Finally,I eyed something I’ve avoided for nearly 5 years: the cabinet filled with papers 2 ½’ high of my daughter’s special education papers. This one was tough because I knew I needed to carefully go though them, finding all the evaluations and reports from 26 years of psychology, speech, educational, OT, PT and other related services she received. The memories of those very difficult years flooded me with sadness – and anger at times. But I faced it and got things sorted.

With all the old papers cleared out, it was now time to file the overwhelming piles on my desk (and in paper bags) that had been haunting me for months and months.

I learned another lesson.

I didn’t actually have “homes” for all of those papers. I needed to add new hanging files and add new sub-categories to files I’d already made years ago. For example: Terry’s Medical now needed sub categories of

  • Internal medicine
  • Lab results
  • Opthalmology
  • Orthopedics

…Etc.

THIS was the magic key for me. Once I had all the categories I needed, filing became a breeze.

Granted, this took many weeks to complete, because at times, I just couldn’t deal with it, or was simply too busy, but it’s finally done. Walking into my office is now a pleasure, as if I’d given myself a wonderful gift by seeing the shiny desktop instead of one covered in all shapes and sizes of paper.

Oh, here are the 7 tips, if you don’t want to read the whole article:

  1. Analyze what is preventing you from starting
  2. Visualize a loved one having to go through your things as a motivator to get started
  3. Have materials at hand (boxes, markers, hanging folders, file cabinets, etc.)
  4. Decide where you want to start. Stuck? Identify what would make you FEEL better once it’s cleared out. Then start there.
  5. Make your plan
  6. Purge so you’ll have room to store your stuff
  7. Micro file: add new categories to your filing system so you’ll have a home for all your papers

What about you? Is there a system that works for you? Or are you still feeling stuck pushing that start button?

Share your experiences in the Comment section below.

—-> ……and if you’d like help de-cluttering YOUR home, join my online, exclusive Queens of Distraction group coaching today. (for women with ADHD only).

We’ll push up our sleeves together to get things done. Join me HERE!

 


Your Crown

Posted on April 12, 2018

 

Join the Queens of Distraction, my online coaching group for women with ADHD. Got clutter? Unfinished projects? We help you start and finish. With kindness and support. Check it out HERE

 


A Man Who Wants to Lead the Orchestra…

Posted on April 12, 2018


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Posted on April 03, 2018

Little Terry

Me, with the chicken pox, age 5

When I present on ADHD throughout the country, I always feel an intimacy between my attendees and me. I think part of that is due to my being pretty open about my own ADD related challenges. My goal has always been to normalize as much as possible, the ADD symptoms many of us share. When I explain that I can’t keep track of papers or that my upstairs is, well…at times a mighty mess…it helps others to feel they aren’t alone!

So today, I’d like to share with you a few facts about me that you might not have known. Enjoy!

  1. I most probably have a math disability. I still count on my fingers. You too?
  1. I cannot remember the names of people I’ve met even if I turn around 20 seconds later and see them- SMILING at me, of course. So if you say hi to me and my face is blank, please don’t be upset with me.
  1. I have never made a turkey. Timing it properly escapes me. I’d rather not attempt it than accidentally poison my family.
  1. I am a HUGE dog lover and have a Portuguese Water Dog (Harper) and a Cockapoo (Elliott).
  1. I have written hundreds of songs but only completed maybe…5. My ADD prevents me from completing them. Wanna hear one? It’s at http://youtu.be/ta9qzz83T8I
  1. I cannot iron. I put in more creases than I take out.
  1. I cannot watch TV. I fall asleep within 10 minutes. That’s why TV works great for my insomnia. Oh, the only channels I watch are HGTV (House Hunters International!) and oddly enough, the Cooking Channel (which to me is more like watching a magic show).
  1. I get over the top angry if someone starts talking to me while I’m on the phone. I simply cannot hear two things at once and trying to screen out one voice is impossible.
  1. My sense of smell is so acute; I once woke up in the middle of the night certain a skunk sprayed our dog (not sure how- she was sleeping on our bed). Later that morning, I found out there was a dead skunk a mile from the house.

10. I am addicted to chocolate. That’s nothing surprising since so many of us are, so here are a few more bonus facts to make up for it:

 

  • I refuse to wear high heels. I can’t afford to break any more bones. Heels are evil.
  • My sensory issues are pretty significant. Normal talking to my ears often sounds like yelling.
  • I hate talking on the phone. I have to see your mouth in order to stay connected. Otherwise, I’m off mentally hiking in Switzerland, inventing a new gadget or playing Bejeweled on the computer.
  • I’ve been married over 39 years. The secret to our successful marriage? Humor. I’m married to the funniest man alive.
  • I hate clothes shopping.
  • I’m completely obsessed with The Beatles and almost met Paul McCartney last summer. Long story. UPDATE: I did meet Paul in 2016. See it on video at https://youtu.be/foqhv-fbYfs
  • I once screwed up my banking account so badly from not balancing it correctly; I closed it to open up a new one. Ok, that’s not entirely true- I’ve done it more than once.
  • I cannot watch movies with any blood, gore or frightening scenes. They’re simply too intense.
  • I typically wear clothes a size larger (when I’m home and can get away with it) and it all must be cotton or I go out of my mind. Usually, there’s a cotton Tshirt separating my skin from my clothes. I’m happiest wearing baggy jeans or shorts and an oversized cotton T. And tennies, of course.
  • I’m an established artist and have had my paintings shown throughout the country. Many of us with ADD seem to have had many avocations, careers, jobs, etc.

I think the “take home” message here is that we all have our challenges, but it’s important to remember our strengths, too. What do you want to share about yourself? What are you great at? What stumps you? Share them in my “Comment” section below.

 

 


Contest Winners Announced!

Posted on March 16, 2018

Enter to win

There were many of you who entered my contest but look who won!

1st Place: Emily B

Emily wins my eWorkbook BUNDLE, which includes the Clutter Crusher Toolkit, Medical Records Toolkit, and the Space Organizer Toolkit. That’s THREE eWorkbooks!

2nd Place: Kine S

Kine wins my Clutter Crusher Toolkit eWorkbook

Winners will be notified this week by email.

Want another shot at winning a prize? Join my newsletter for future announcements (and other great things- like my bi-weekly newsletter with all sorts of helpful tips, resources, and articles by yours truly.

Sign up today HERE!

 


Yes, You CAN Advocate for Yourself: Here are Some Tips, by Sandy Maynard, MS

Posted on March 02, 2018

Sandy Maynard Brighter

 

Please enjoy this guest article, written by Sandy Maynard, MS, a pioneer in the field of ADHD coaching and a friend for many years. 

Many of us have a really tough time standing up for ourselves and making sure our ADD needs are met. Sandy gives us some insight into how she manages her self-advocacy skills. Enjoy!

 

Yes, You CAN Advocate for Yourself: Here are Some Tips

 

In general, I believe that women have a harder time than men when advocating for themselves. As someone who helps others speak up for themselves, I have to ‘walk the talk’ myself and often it’s not that easy. I worry about sounding ‘bossy’ or ‘controlling’, but find that if I am gentle and kind when doing so, it is well received.   One of the biggest challenges for me is my own processing speed when calling technical support for help. I often have to interrupt the technician giving me directions and request that they slow down and repeat instructions. Frequently I need to take notes, so I say, “I’m taking notes for future reference. Would you repeat what you just said a little slower?” Each time I interrupt, I make sure I thank them for their patience.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I also can’t pay attention to my GPS, read road signs, and change lanes while others are talking to me when driving on unfamiliar roads. I say to others before heading out on a trip, “I’m not familiar with the route we are taking today, so my full attention is going to be on the road. And when the GPS is telling me there is a turn coming up, I’m afraid that I wont be much of a conversationalist, especially if I have to merge into a different lane.”

We live in a busy world where it seems like everyone is rushing and wants you to hurry and get out of their way, especially in a grocery store check-out line. Over the years I can’t tell you how many credit cards I’ve lost because I felt rushed by the cashier who has starting ringing up the next order before I’ve put my credit card back in my wallet where it belongs. I no longer scurry just because someone else is in a hurry. I stand my ground firmly and take as much time as I need to put my card away, make sure I have my phone if I laid it on the counter, and that my backpack is zipped so nothing falls out.

Self-advocacy skills are something that we all need to manage our ADHD well. I have found that I don’t need to be bossy or loud to advocate well for what I need in order to manage my own ADHD; I just need to identify what my needs are and ask for what I need.

 

Sandy Maynard, MS is a pioneer in the field of ADHD coaching and has established herself as one of the country’s preeminent coaches. She specializes in time management and organization and is a regular contributor to ADDitude magazine. Sandy recently moved to Chelsea, MA and now provides coaching and organizing services in the Greater Boston area.

Sandy Maynard, MS

202.486.8901

sandy@sandymaynard.com

www.sandymaynard.com

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Contest! Win a Bundle of my eWorkbooks on Organizing Your Home

Posted on March 02, 2018

Enter to win

 

Who wants to win a prize?? Who doesn’t??

Listen up: Go to my contest page ahttp://bit.ly/2EJKRw7 or click on the graphic above to enter my contest, which starts NOW. All you need to do is answer one short (easy) question and I will draw two winners who answer it correctly.

* PRIZES *

1. FIRST PRIZE: My eWorkbook bundle, which includes the Clutter Crusher Toolkit, Medical Records Toolkit, and the Space Organizer Toolkit. That’s THREE eWorkbooks!

2. SECOND PRIZE: My Clutter Crusher Toolkit eWorkbook.

Click HERE to enter! 

Good luck to all!

(contest ends March 15. One entry per person).

 

 


Join me on Dr. Ned Hallowell’s Podcast: Parts 1 and 2 on Women with ADHD

Posted on February 21, 2018

Terry Matlen Dr Ned Hallowell

My dear friend, Dr. Ned Hallowell, invited me as his guest two weeks in a row, on his fabulous podcast,Distraction“, where we talked about Women with ADHD and answered listeners’ questions.

Click here for Part 1:  http://i.crnradio.com/s2ep37486
Click here for Part 2:
http://i.crnradio.com/s2ep4c3e4

What did we talk about?

Part 1: Hormones, toxic relationships, social isolation and much more, including lots of Q/A.

Part 2:
Diagnosis, depression, migraines, estrogen levels, executive function, chemotherapy, and heightened sensitivities.

…..and more Q/A!

WHEN? Anytime!
WHERE?
Online on Ned’s Distraction Podcast.

Click the links below to listen:

Part l:  http://i.crnradio.com/s2ep37486
Part 2: 
http://i.crnradio.com/s2ep4c3e4



Moms with ADHD Reveal Lessons They’ve Learned in Handling Parenting Challenges

Posted on February 20, 2018

momKids

 

Often, I’m interviewed for articles at PsychCentral.com. This latest one talks about parenting issues when mom has ADHD:

You’re a mom who has ADHD, and you’re in the thick of mothering. Maybe you’re in the thick of toddlerhood, besieged by big tantrums and bleary-eyed after one-too-many sleepless nights. Maybe you’re in the thick of adolescence, trying to traverse schedules and emotional roller coasters. Maybe you have several kids, and find yourself frustrated and stressed out over all the logistics.

Maybe none of the above describes your situation. But you still feel utterly inadequate and unsure and panicked that you’re parenting all wrong.

You’re not alone.

Continue reading at the PsychCentral site HERE



Who Is the Real You?

Posted on February 17, 2018

The real you