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NEVER TRUST YOUR MEMORY
Calendar

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Try using a computer for your schedule, to-do lists, and other tasks. People with ADD often find that they can focus on work involving a computer more easily--it's not just paperwork any more. [BEWARE: some ADDers get addicted to computers and computer games all too easily. Find a way to be in control.]

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Put reminders of appointments and tasks everywhere. Use sticky notes, bulletin boards, electronic reminders, and reminders from friends, colleagues and loved ones who are willing to help you out. Whatever works best for you.

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Have one central family calendar to coordinate all members' activities and (especially) appointments. Respect your schedule, giving priority to tasks written down on the calendar

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Color code files, tasks, papers, and appointments. If you have trouble devising a workable system, get help. Divide tasks and papers into categories: those that need to be dealt with immediately, those to be dealt with in the near future, etc. [There are loads of organizing schemes out there--feel free to find or create one that works for you.]

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TrashcanThrow out the trash. Get rid of what you don't really need. Junk adds more chaos, of which ADDers have enough. If you must keep something that won't be used anytime soon, store it out of the way. Put boxes of old items in storage, marking the contents of the box and the date on the outside.

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When you get your mail, treat it like it's toxic or explosive. Open it immediately [preferably over a wastebasket] and throw away mail you don't want or need immediately after opening it. File what you must keep in a file cabinet, drawer, box, whatever you use, according to what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.

Checkmark Write appointments in a calendar book or organizer.
Checkmark Keep a notepad of things to do. Cross off items as you complete them.

NEVER TRUST YOUR MEMORY

Checkmark Educate yourself about ADD. In addition, educate family, friends, and colleagues. The more they know, the better they can support you.
Checkmark Consider support groups, both for you and for your loved ones.
Checkmark Learn about medication. Exercise
Checkmark Exercise regularly and get enough sleep.
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Brush your teeth everyday. [Seriously, people with ADD have great difficulty doing anything "every day." Work on creating and maintaining helpful, healthy habits.]

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Seek psychotherapy if you're finding that your ADD is affecting your emotions, self-concept, and attitude in significant ways. ADD often produces low self-esteem and a sense of failure which can add or lead to depression and anxiety. Many ADDers have had experiences as a child which have negatively impacted their thinking and beliefs. Therapy can help the ADDer cope with old habits of thought and feeling that may no longer be working.

Checkmark Challenge old thinking and labels. ADDers are not "just lazy." Enlist family and friends to support you in this area. Confront negative beliefs with the facts.
Checkmark Remember, NEVER GIVE UP HOPE. ADD is real. It's a neuropsychological condition, a true biological disorder. It is not a weakness of character. You are not a bad person. When possible, remove yourself from people who do not understand or believe in ADD [the ignorant]. Surround yourself with those who do have knowledge and understanding of ADD.

NEVER TRUST YOUR MEMORY

Checkmark Break down large tasks into very small tasks.
Checkmark Reward yourself when you complete a task.
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Enlist a family member, colleague or friend as a coach to help keep you on track. This person can remind you of appointments and things you must do, as well as offer support and positive feedback. Hire a professional coach if necessary.

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MusicFind or create an environment that promotes concentration and focus. Some people require complete peace, free from distractions. Others need music to help them focus. Try to determine what things distract you. If pictures on the walls keep attracting your attention, try working in a place where the walls are bare. If windows are a problem, work away from them.

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At your discretion, talk to your boss at work to see if accommodations can be made in the workplace to improve your ability to function and perform. For example, finding a work area away from office commotion might help. Be aware of the rights afforded you by the Americans With Disabilities Act. See Resources section.

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Find a career that truly suits you and matches your interests and needs. Jobs that offer a variety of tasks and enlist your creativity may allow you to thrive. Careers involving computers often tap into your ability to hyperfocus. Allow yourself to experiment. Seek out professional career guidance, if you get lost or confused.

NEVER TRUST YOUR MEMORY

Write me

If you have strategies that have really helped you cope and succeed with ADD, please share them with me. While I may not be able to list them all, I'll try to update this page frequently with the best coping strategies you submit.

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Comments, questions, or suggestions?  Please, email me.

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Jonathan P. Levine, CSW
2300 West Ridge Rd.
Rochester, NY  14626
(585) 225-0330
jonathan@aquietvoice.com

Updated on 06/11/2002
2002, Jonathan P. Levine, CSW