Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ADHD: If My Head Wasn't Attached, I Probably Would Never Find It Again

If you find your ADDled mind misplaces important items or forgets where they are completely, then these tips are for you.

Terry Matlen, over on the, recently wrote about her tendency to misplace items. Considering that in the past I used to lose my keys, wallet, and eye glasses all the time, I know exactly what she is going through. ADHD seems to cause us to place things down in silly, absentminded locations which elude our memory later because we weren't really thinking about our actions. Lately, I seem to misplace my USB thumbdrive all the time, and I wonder if I spend more time looking for my pennywhistle than playing it.

Terry recommends using what she calls "the ADD Mantra" to help impress upon your memory where you place things so that you can remember their location later. Here's a sample of her article. You can find the rest of it here:

"I'm walking into the kitchen (following a shopping excursion). The bag is in my hand. The bag is in my hand. If I put it THERE, I will forget where I put it. So I will instead put it on the stairs so that I can carry it up to my office after dinner. The bag is on the stairs. The bag is on the stairs. The bag is on the stairs."

I also place items where I won't miss them, and although I don't chant, I do talk to myself. I find if I speak out loud and tell myself "OK, you've put the referral in your bag," I'm more likely to recall the details later.

What I find most useful in preventing the misplacing of important items is to have designated areas. For instance, my wallet will only reside on my bureau or the top left shelf of the hallway bookshelf. When I was tempted to toss my wallet next to my computer today, years of placing it in a designated area helped me catch myself. My eye glasses reside only on my bureau, the top shelf in the hallway bookshelf, or right next to my LCD monitor in my studio. Always. I don't dare break from the routine. My car keys have designated places as well. They can only be found on the top left shelf of the hallway bookshelf, my right jacket pocket, or in the side flap of my satchel.

Training myself to do this was not easy. I had a lot of failures and it took many months of practice, but eventually I managed to train myself to be more conscientious - just as Terry's mantra trains her. If I were to apply these techniques to my USB thumbdrive or pennywhistle, I might find I stress out about their location a lot less.

If you don't have any techniques of your own to keep your important items from wandering off, try Terry's or mine and let me know how well they worked out for you.