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Archived ADDvice Newsletters

July 2005

Welcome to ADDvice for ADD-Friendly Living

Each month, ADDvice provides tips, tools, and strategies to help you live well despite your ADD. This month, we focus on organizing your workspace at home or at the office. These ideas come from Joyce Hedgepath of

ADD - Friendly Ways to Organizing Your Work Space

  1. Think of Your Desk as Prime Real Estate

    Try to think of your desk area (and anything within arm's reach) as "very expensive real estate" that commands $500 a square inch. Conversely, anything that is a step or more away from their desk rents for only 5 cents a square inch. The area closest to you should have the most frequently used files and tools that you need. What you keep on hand will vary from person to person, but usually you will need a few pens, pencils, markers, envelopes and stamps, tape, a stapler, staple remover, perhaps some stationery or writing pads, often-used files, etc. This means that you do not want to pay "Prime Real Estate" prices for things that should be thrown out (e.g., gum wrappers, old napkins, paperwork that you no longer need). Files that are important but looked at infrequently can be placed further away from your desk in the "5 cents a square inch area." Although this is a very simple concept, it can give you a new focus about what you want to keep on or near your desk.

  2. Analyze Your Drawer Space

    Are you using drawers for papers? Are you mixing papers with office supplies? If this is the case, I recommend only using drawers for a single layer of office supplies. This way, you'll be able to see everything in the drawer, at a glance. This will help you find things easily. It will also make it a breeze to put things away. Containerize small items so that they will stay in place. Here are a few products that can help:
    • The low-sided, plastic trays available from dollar stores, the Container Store, hardware stores, etc.
    • The modular interlocking drawer dividers from Rubbermaid®
    • A partitioned tray available from most office supply stores

    If you have a lot of supplies and limited desk space, just keep what you need in your desk drawers and store the excess in the "5 cents a square inch area."

  3. Put Away Paperwork and Files

    Now, what to do with papers and files? Again, the often-used files should be at your fingertips. I usually recommend going "vertical" with paperwork. If it's piled on your desk, you can only see what's on top. However, if it's in a labeled vertical file, it is much easier to locate. Some people will use file folders combined with hanging files; others only use hanging files or only file folders. The choice is yours. Also, if you have a lot of brochures or different kinds of paper, a literature sorter may be useful. Just be sure you LABEL EVERYTHING. Every hanging file and file folder needs a label. If you are going to label your files by hand, use a black marker (such as a Sharpie marker) so the letters will be easy to see.

    Where you place your files can vary. Think about your habits and preferences. Do you want your files in a rolling cart so it can be moved from location to location (e.g., from your desk to in front of the television or next to the kitchen table)? Or, do you like files tucked away in a closed, drawer system. Perhaps you want to store files by projects. You can use several small, hanging file containers (such as an Oxford® Decoflex®) that can be kept on a bookcase. When working on a project you can simply put the container on your workspace and return it to the bookcase, when finished.

    Or maybe you want to have your "hot files" in an inclined sorter on your desk, and everything else filed away. WARNING: If you know a closed system means "out of sight, out of mind," choose another system that will work for you.

So let's review...

  • The area closest to you at your workspace should have the most frequently used files and tools. It's your Prime Real Estate.
  • Use drawers for things (one layer only)
  • Go vertical with paper
  • Label everything
  • Store files according to your habits and preferences

Joyce Hedgepath - Back to Order for your home, your office, and your life -

For more ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize your Life order Dr Nadeau's book by the same title

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Add-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life

Tip#1: Another way to keep things organized is to develop stations.

The ADD Audio Coach can help you do this once you get rid of unnecessary build-up in your environment. The ADD Audio Coach and Manual will help you in this process by using their step-by-step, easily understandable and supportive system for organizing your time, home, and finances. Click here to learn more about the ADD Audio Coach System.

Tip #2: Paperwork sprawl - downsize your desk!

I was constantly getting overwhelmed by my big desk. A friend pointed out that I might not be so overwhelmed if I had a smaller desk. I traded desks with a friend who had a small children's study desk and I love it. My desk is just the right size for my computer and to write short notes but too small for piles of papers. Since there is no space, I find myself using my filing cabinet or just throwing things away, plus there is less on the desk to distract me while I work.

Joan Tattum, Philadelphia PA

Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD by Terry Matlen, Page 94

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Coaching College Students with AD/HD by Theresa Maitland, Nancy Ratey and Patricia Quinn

Eating Well on Campus by Ann Litt

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