ADHD Tip: Getting Your Thoughts Out & Organizing Them

If you have ADHD, you may find yourself often struggling with getting things organized, especially organizing your thoughts. I like to see the bigger picture to help me understand how it all comes together. With that in mind, my demonstration on Attention Talk Video offers a simple method to organize tasks and thoughts that have helped me.

Over the years, I have learned strategies from coaching others, as well as from my own trial and error. To me, a modality is how you work to get things done, and this is mine. So I hope this video will help you get your head around things in a way that makes it easy. Watch the video and consider my method using a poster board, Post-It notes, and a rubber band. Simple, right?


Welcome everybody to this edition of Attention Talk Video. I’m your host, ADHD and Attention Coach Jeff Copper. Today, I’m here with an ADHD organizational tip. Many with ADD, your brain is being bombarded with ideas. One of the challenges is, is actually organizing those ideas into some type of a form that really makes a lot of sense.

So when you’re starting on a project or you’re trying to put some things together, for me just as somebody with dyslexia and stuff, I got to understand how everything relates to each other. One things that I found I’ve learned from working with those with ADD, is you give them something like a poster board, and I’ve got this actually pinned up to a grease board in my office.

What you do is, you just basically sit down and you write all kinds of ideas that you might have on Post-its. In this particular situation, I’m trying to illustrate for me, when you go out into the world and people talk about strengths and gifts and talents and skills and knowledge and experience, and what’s the difference between all that stuff? I like to understand how it all comes together. So, I basically put a whole bunch of these words, like modalities, experience, passion, the need to practice, resources, skills, knowledge, experience, and strength. What I do is, I write it on here, and I just put it on the poster board.

Now, what’s really good about this is, if you have a Word document or something on the computer, you can put these things down; but if you need to change them, it’s cumbersome. But the cool thing about Post-it, is you can rearrange it. You can just stick it somewhere else.

For me, there’s a few things. You have skills that seem to go together, you have knowledge, and you have experience. Now, I’ve already done this, so I’m trying to cycle through this relatively quickly. Those things go together for me. You also have talents, and you have modalities. A modality is how you do something, to me. A talent is what you’re good at. Then let’s see … Passion is another one, and those come together.

So I’m trying to define what a strength is. We’ve got some other things. I know that you need to practice. I know that you need resources. I know that you need to pay attention to a strength in order for it to be good. And I know that you need to believe in it. But I got these up on the board, but I really can’t make some sense of them.

Also, I know that there’s a few things that I’m bringing to the party, choices, embedded, facilitators, and transferables. So as I began to play with this and move this around years ago, what I ended up doing was saying, “Okay, let’s start over here with a strength.” And I said, “Okay, I want to define what it is.” So I put just a real simple equal sign, if you will. Then I began to play around with it, and I came to realize is that one of the things that you need is you need the skill, the ability to do something, the knowledge to be able to do it, and the experience to practice it. Just because you have the skill doesn’t mean you’re any good at it. Just because you’ve read the book doesn’t mean you’re good at it. Just because you practice it doesn’t really mean that you’re good at it. Really, talent is really what gets you there. But I do know that you need those three things, and these are transferable. So you can go to school and learn that from one person to another. So I actually put it under this as a transferable type thing.

Then as time went along, I kept rearranging these things. I said, “Well, basically I need to add to that the ability to practice, and I need the resources in order to practice.” Interesting how that came together. These are what I called facilitators. Again, this didn’t happen this quick. It took a couple of days to keep rearranging these Post-its to where they made a lot of sense.

Then I actually realized is that if you were actually going to have a skill and you had the skills, knowledge, experience, and you had the ability to practice, you actually had to believe. All right, you had to believe in it, and you had to pay attention to it. Because if you didn’t believe in that skill … For example, maybe a businesswoman. If she believed a woman’s place is in the home, her strength, whatever that is, might not manifest. So I put those things together, and that became choices. The last piece that I came together with is … Let’s see, modalities, talents, and passions. These are things that you’re born with. Then I ended up putting this nice little formula together.

At the end of the day, I defined a strength. It’s equal to things that you get from other places. Somebody teaches you a skill, you read a book, and you gain knowledge, and you practice it. Plus, you have to have the resources in order to practice it, to develop that particular skill. You’ve got to believe in yourself, and you’ve got to believe in that skill, and you got to pay attention to it. That’s where the practice comes into play. Then last piece is things that you’re born with. You got to have a passion. You got to really, really want to do it. You got to have some type of talent, the ability to perform probably at a higher level. Anybody might have skills, knowledge, and experience, but there needs to be something that’s special about you that perform at a higher level. To me, a modality is how you work.

My point in all this stuff is, is that I was always confused by all this stuff. In order to organize and put it down, again, I just got out a poster board, started writing thoughts and ideas on Post-its, and then I started rearranging them at different time. Now, again, this was the answer that I got to. Let me tell you, there’s probably 15, 20 iterations in the middle.

Know that in the middle of it, sometimes I would get stuck and I would have to leave and come back. A lot of times I couldn’t leave everything out. So one of the cool things about poster boards is when you’re not using them, you can leave everything as is, and you can just simply roll them up, as so. I can put a rubber band around it, and I can store it. Matter of fact, sometimes I’ve worked with people where we had layers, where we had something like this, and we took maybe passions and we had a whole other sheet that delved into that. So that way, we just added the sheet on top of this stuff. Again, it was nice and neat. We rolled it all back up. Then the next time you come out to deal with it, you can roll it back out. For those that are visual, it can take you back to where you were.

Again, what this is, it’s a tip to help you get your head around things or organize your thoughts in a way that makes it easy. Again, you can move Post-its around. If you have a piece of paper, you might have to rewrite or draw a diagram. So I hope you enjoyed this tip, and I hope you enjoyed this edition of Attention Talk Video. Take care.

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