ADHD: Go Ahead, Make a Mess

Sprawling! What an unusual word! But for those with ADHD, it can be an important word in planning and organizing! Sprawling just means laying out your work in front of you to see what you have before getting started. Many of those with ADHD are visual learners; they need to externalize what’s in their minds so they can see what they have to work with.

If you have ADHD, working memory is a typical challenge because you may not be able to organize things in your mind to formulate a game plan. Otherwise, it all just spins around up there. If you lay it all out in front of you, you can nail down what to do in what order.

This can work for many types of projects, for example, choosing kids’ summer camp, filling out forms for medical reimbursements, a kitchen renovation, and all others. You need a fast and dirty way of collecting everything, organizing in containers, categorizing and sorting, and set aside. But it’s important not to frustrate others around you by invading their spaces with the sprawling.

It’s a good idea to designate sprawl spaces, non-sprawl/neatnik spaces, and shared spaces. The sprawling space should be off limits to the non-sprawler. In other words, that’s the space where the sprawler can spread out their work and leave it there without invading someone else’s space. You can also sprawl in the shared space, but you can’t leave it there.

If you have several projects to plan or organize, it’s important to recognize your limit with working on more than one project at a time. Recent research has found that multitasking is not so efficient as thought to be, but if the tasks are simple and familiar, it may be easy to multitask with those. But if they are complex and unfamiliar, multitasking will thwart your efforts.

For more tips and strategies on how to sprawl, sort, categorize, and purge, listen to my conversation with Sandy Maynard on Attention Talk Radio, “Go Ahead, Make a Mess.” Here’s the link:

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