Whether or not you live with ADHD, there is benefit from today's blog post. I hope that you will find a golden nugget in this discussion and break your cycle of overwhelm.
One of my favorite resources for those learning to manage their ADHD is a book titled , "Odd One Out," by Jennifer Koretsky. She describes life from her point of view in a simple, clear manner and then breaks down a plan for success that makes complete sense to me.
If you have not read it, and have the good fortune to know someone challenged by this neuro-atypical brain style, I highly recommend spending the two hours it will take to read her book. There is benefit to improved understanding whether or not you live with ADHD. I guarantee that most of you work with people challenged by this brain style. You can be of great service to them and to yourself.
In the meantime, I will fast-forward you to the critical first step.
Ms. Koretsky describes the first step in managing ADHD as this: to break the cycle of overwhelm. I agree.
I have known this to be true for many years and, have found it to be a critical first step with all of my clients and in my personal and professional life whether challenged by ADHD or not. No matter what has led a person to feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in their homes, office, and heads, "breaking the cycle of overwhelm," is the key to taking charge, moving forward, and finding less stress and more joy in day to day living!
Sounds simple, right? The challenge is in recognizing that you are overwhelmed, stepping back long enough to acknowledge your feelings, and then choosing to focus your attention upon one thing. Your most important or nagging, worrisome space or thought.
I am frequently hired to "help sort a few things." This invariably means "come help me dig my way out of the detritus of the past 20 years and find the golden rings buried in the ooey gooey center of it all." And, I LOVE what I do. Truly!
My clients feel overwhelmed. There is no question about it. And, if I am completely honest, I have been known to experience a momentary sense of overwhelm when I first arrive. But this feeling quickly passes because I have learned to break the cycle of overwhelm but placing my focus upon what is most important to them. I always work from this perspective.
For me this has two layers, emotional health, and safety. Yes, I am a safety girl. Grounded and sensible. And, I LOVE a 1000 piece, 3-D puzzle. So I can see past the messes and piles of stuff towards the potential and possibility of a healthier, less stressful environment for my clients to live and work. They have asked me to help them declutter, to make sense of their things, to let go of what no longer serves them well. We do this one thing, one space, one room at a time. And it works.
My advice to you, if you are looking at your home or office, and you want or need a change, but feel overwhelmed and are unsure where to begin, start by asking what is stressing or overwhelming you the most, and begin there.
Get rid of what you don't need unless you cannot bear to part with something. I urge you NOT to organize what is really unnecessary. Throw it away, donate it, recycle it, give it back to its proper owner, but do not let it take up permanent residence. It is crowding out what is important and adding to your mental clutter.
For those of us with ADHD, keeping everything in sight is a common strategy for finding things. This is not the most effective strategy in reality, because over time it becomes difficult to distinguish what is important from what is not. If you have ever spent 20 minutes looking for something that is right in front of you, you know what I am talking about.
I beg of you, return things to their designated drawers, cupboards, closets, or spaces when you are done using them. If you always put things in the same space, you will create habits that make it easier to find your stuff over time.
You may have items of value and may hesitate or hold on to them for later. This is a double edged sword. Keeping things for a garage sale or to resale can bring a sweet little chunk of change. And there is definitely a time to do this. But sometimes, especially in those truly overwhelming periods of your life, it is more freeing and more gratifying to "just let it go," now. The sooner the better. If you are asking for help, wanting help, looking for change, then you ARE ready.
Give it away, throw it away, bless someone else with it. Let go of what no longer serves you. Put things away. Keep only what you need and use, and love. ADHD or not, break the cycle of overwhelm.
Your peace of mind and your new, healthier, less overwhelming life is waiting for you.
photography by Jennifer Raphael