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Practice Personal Organization to Facilitate Life

From time to time, I return to my roots as an educator. Through the years, many self-proclaimed and medically diagnosed students with ADHD crossed my path. Ultimately, I realized that my husband fit the category.

Although I confess that I seldom attempt to “remediate” my husband, I sometimes apply former practices to help with organizational challenges. In fact, categorizing, sorting, and organizing remain important to my own sense of well-being. Family and friends sometimes suggest that my “obsession” with organizing stems from deep-seated control issues. So be it!

Even for those without ADD/ADHD, a personal organization can make a big difference in efficient and effective living. Below, I share some suggestions, which I continue to find useful to others and to myself.

General Suggestions for Efficient Living

  • I like to add tabs to important sections of books and notebooks to help locate needed information.

  • Post-it Notes® serve as guides to important questions and answers in written material. When I’m really into getting organized, I color-code the post-its or tabs. (OK! I agree that this practice seems a bit over the top.)

  • Removable highlighting tape works well for books that cannot be permanently highlighted. My own personal books become bright from colored markers and notes scribbled in the margins.

  • Recently, I rummaged through one of our daughter’s accumulation of tea bags. I organized the tea bags into containers for herbal teas, detox teas, sleepytime teas, and breakfast blends to assist with morning wake-up calls. (I’m relatively certain she has already dumped all my individual groups back into her “everything goes” container. No problem!

  • I like to organize clothes and other items into categories. Winter and summer clothes can be grouped by color groups with all blues together, all reds, etc.

  • Toys and games can be categorized. For example, I use separate tubs for outside sports and indoor games. Items for soccer “live” together and do not belong with softball equipment, swim clothes, or dance outfits.

  • Designating specific “homes” for similar items such as batteries, electronic chargers, office equipment, or hair products saves time and energy. I often ask myself, “Where should this live?”

A Few Suggestions for School Settings

  • If I were still teaching, at school, I would write the class rules in simple words for a challenged student to keep at his/her desk.

  • I would provide lessons on how to organize. I remember that frequent monitoring will be necessary to maintain the organization. Drawers, desks, notebooks, and backpacks can return to the old familiar messy piles very quickly.

  • Many students need help knowing when, where, and how to turn in assignments. Routines make an enormous difference and must be practiced and reinforced often in the initial weeks.

  • Teachers and students benefit from color-coding subjects. For example, a green dot on the spine of a math book can be matched to a green math turn-in folder.

  • If the student uses a locker, separate morning books from afternoon books.

  • Teach students to place books in desks and backpacks in the order in which each subject occurs.

  • Some individuals need privacy and separation from others. Make small, portable carrels available to all students. Carrels should be referred to as private offices for students. Those who benefit from carrels will continue to use them. Others will soon become bored.

  • Place a table outside the classroom for students who need a less distracting environment. Treat this as an opportunity rather than a punishment.

  • Keep two desks in the classroom for ADHD students. Adjust one desk to become a standing level desk; keep the second as a sitting option.

  • Teach students ways to move without disturbing classmates. Individuals with ADHD simply cannot sit still and be quiet. Parents and teachers must model and reinforce acceptable ways to handle movement needs.

When teaching any new behavior to yourself or to others, monitor and practice for a minimum of three weeks. With practice, the new behavior will become habitual.

Work Cited:

Day, Diana. “The Classroom Teacher’s Desktop Mentor.” Garland, TX: Permanent Press Inc. 2006.

Kyols-Riedler, B. & K. Kyols-Riedler. “Redirecting Children’s Behavior.” Gainseville, FL. INCAF Publications. 1993.

Frandsen, Barbara. “Teaching Responsible Behavior.” Austin, Texas: Family School. 2012.

Location of Carrel:


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