How To Write a To-Do List When You’re ADD with OCD
I’m organized, but in kind of a chaotic way. My mind would be a psychologist’s dream. If they could get their hands on me, I’m sure I could provide them a very early retirement.
I very rarely am completely relaxed. It’s not like I’m this raving maniac (at least not all the time), but I’m a huge multi-tasker. While I’m working at one thing, my mind is thinking ahead to the next…or next ten things that need to be done. That, in itself, wouldn’t be a big problem except that I’m also pretty OCD. Picky, picky, picky. I try, believe me, to loosen up, but I just get all weird when things aren’t done thoroughly, aren’t finished, don’t look nice or are sloppily done. I make my husband crazy. Hell, I make myself crazy! So when I’m going to travel or I’m planning an event, there’s a lot of prep work involved. I’ve learned to lasso my warp-speed brain by making lists. I’m a BIG list maker!
If you see any of my tendencies in yourself, maybe my process will help you. For example, we’re leaving to go camping for three days. We have a travel trailer and although we leave a lot of personal items in the trailer, there’s still food, sports and entertainment stuff that needs to be brought along on each trip. Since it’s Africa-hot here in the Pacific Northwest, I need to arrange to have my plants watered while we’re gone, tidy my house (and clean out the refer) and empty all the trash so we don’t come home to dead plants and a rancid-smelling house. When I get to where we’re going, I want to do nothing, so I like to do as much prep work before we go as I can. Here’s how I go about it.
Step One – Grab a Notepad and Mind Puke
A few days before you’re leaving, just start writing. What keeps popping in your head that you’re afraid you’re going to forget? Write it down. Don’t try to put anything in any particular order, just add things as they come to you. There’s always something last-minute to buy, chores to do before you leave, and things you don’t want to forget to take. Keep it out where you can walk by and add things as you remember them. This process helps me get all the stuff out of my head that is banging around making me think I have more to do than I have time for.
Step Two – File and Sort
Now that you’ve got everything written down, establish some type of secret code to start organizing your list, i.e. On my list above, I put a box around the meals we’re having and randomly listed the items I needed for the meals. Last night when my list was finished, I went back and circled the items that I needed to buy.This is the sorting and organizing process. Don’t judge me! It may sound like a lot of work, but it really doesn’t take any time at all, and I rarely forget anything…as opposed to my hubby who throws a bunch of stuff in a Wal-Mart bag and calls it good.
Step Three – Divide and Conquer
Now all that chaos suddenly becomes organized. Start a new page and start with the first heading ‘To Buy’. List all the circled items from your mind puke list. Your grocery list is done. Next write the heading ‘Errands’. Scan your MP list for all the things that you have to leave home to do. Write them under your ‘Errands’ section. The third heading is ‘To Do’. Scan you MP list for any chores you need to get done before you go. Write them under your ‘To Do’ section.
Step Four – Packing List
The only things remaining on your MP list that haven’t been cleaned up is ‘To Bring’. Make a heading on a new page and transfer those items from your MP. Now you’ve got yourself a legible packing list.
Step Five – Schedule
I’ve found my biggest problem is that I try to do too many things into a short amount of time and start feeling frazzled because I run out of time. I’ve learned that if I tell myself I have an hour to finish a group of things, I can focus and accomplish them. I schedule things in groups of like items. My schedule below keeps me in certain areas and I’m not as likely to get distracted.
Before you deem me completely certifiable, it’s interesting that my brother, my sister, and my daughter (Tawsha, the other half of Organized CHAOS Online), have similar organizing processes and we find it completely normal. Not all minds work alike, but if you struggle with disorganization, ADD or OCD, hopefully some of what I’ve shared will be helpful to you. Do you make lists?