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What do all these things have in common?

January 7, 2008

12 Binders, 4 email addresses, 4 Calendars, 2 Computers, 1 Phone, 1 iPaq & a Notepad (grid), Copy/Fax/Printer, Laminator, Stapler & 3-hole punch

These are the tools I need to keep my brain engaged.

Every Day.

Each binder reflects one aspect of my life and I can think of at least 3 more aspects that need their own binder. I have a paper calendar on my desk, a magnetic calendar on my fridge, Outlook on my iPaq and on my desktop. I have my cell phone, my laptop brain for mobile and pillow work and my desktop for all the hard stuff and most of my email correspondence. Finally I have my copy/fax/printer and my basic essentials, stapler/3-hole punch and grid paper leather bound notepad for those “lists on the fly”.

I have issues.  What most people don’t get is that they aren’t control issues.  They are simply tools for survival.  What you can keep track of normally?  I have to write down 3-4 times to remember.  And then add a note “remember this:”.

I know, I sound bonkers. Meshuggenah. Heh. You should have seen me before the desk and the shelves and the bulletin board and the filing cabinet.

See, I’m not a perfectionist neat freak, obsessive compulsive order maven or so unbelievably messy this is the only way to cope.

I am a person who routinely struggles and doesn’t struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder. Now, I really hate stereo-types and boxes so to keep it “real” we will just say I have a hard time focusing, it gets progressively worse with each new distraction and when I’m tired? I can barely finish sentences. Seriously.

For a long time I felt like I was just stupid or undisciplined.  Or careless.  It takes an enormous amount of effort for me to stay in a “normal” environment and succeed. Don’t get me wrong, in the right environment I can stay so focused the world doesn’t exist, phone’s don’t ring and children don’t get fed. I recently discovered that’s called “hyper-focus”. That I can do. To the frustration and irritation of my husband and my family.

That’s how a 9 year old sits down and teaches her self to play the piano. It can be a gift. And a curse. Don’t ask me to organize the office unless you are giving me 2 days and 16 pots of coffee to get it done. If I can’t finish the task I am zeroed in on? It’s not pretty.  Don’t change restaurants on the way to that one place with the great burritos.   I’ve been known to completely melt down because we are going somewhere else and I’m not prepared to think about a different cuisine or menu.

I’ve learned to work fast, while I am concentrating on it. I’ve learned to write lists. And by lists I mean 2-3 a day, itemized, categorized and with their own check boxes. Lists for cleaning, working, schooling, meals, church, you name it. I have timers and buzzers and beeps going off all the time. I have set the timer for the amount of time I’m allowed on the computer. I ask my husband not to call when he leaves and I have a project to do which requires me to stay away from the computer.

That there Internet sucks me in and with a sparkle every 1/2 second? I’m screwed.

So, what happens when I don’t do these things?

Nothing.

It’s as though little bits of information just flit through my head and nothing settles. I have things to do in front of me and I can’t seem to get my hands in gear. I will sit on my couch for an hour and not know where the hour went. I’ll start 7 projects and finish none. I try to grab onto the Should Do’s and find myself grasping at straws.

Put a list in front of me and I’m cookin’ with gas.

I’m still processing this. I have read lots of books, talked with some Smart People and am currently looking at some other ideas which I am too shaky on to talk about right now.

I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but truly, this answers so many questions and issues I have had it’s truly unbelievable. And it asks so many more my poor little noggin is swimming.

I had someone very important to me say once, “If you really cared, you would have paid attention.”

Now, imagine what it feels like, for someone like me, to have that running through their head 40 times a day.

My binders and calendars and all the other things… Are they just a way of me making sure that the amount of attention I have expend is equivalent to the amount of emotional investment I have already made? Are they my compensation? So I can prove, that yes, indeed, I do care?

Oohh!  A pop-up!  Gotta go!

  • Doom

    Wow, ok, that I know exactly. Only, I have no energy on top of it from time to time, lasting days, along with a few eccentricities which are all my own. I do better on lists, when I remember to write them, and then a few minutes later even be able to find them, or not leave them on my table when I go to out or to the store. But even then, often, I cannot finish them. Even on speed, doctor approved, and one that is supposed to help a.d.d. (my doctor, I think, hoped Ritalin would help one way or the other, greatly), I only do slightly better. Wow… Well, I am sorry you have that. But I will say, be a little more content with your lot if you can remember too. It could be worse, confused maybe, but it sounds as if you are primarily functional. Odd, you have the… dreams… too. And some childhood issues.

    Stop, man, what’s that sound,
    everybody look what’s going down…

    Ok, well, a little levity? Couldn’t remember the exact words, but… Good luck with that. If you learn anything interesting and helpful, be sure to pass it on. I know I will… unless it involves voodoo dolls, goat sacrifices, or, well, you know…

  • Yep. Me too. I keep my brain in a multi-section binder with a file section for random thoughts and interests. Just don’t ask me how well it is working today! :p

  • Athor Pel

    Today a web site I frequent connected in my mind to you and your blog.

    It’s
    http://www.kk.org/cooltools/index.php

    Since you work with horses you may find some of the tools useful.

  • Binders. Okay, I’ll try binders. I need serious help. Today, I say, I shall conquer it all. And tomorrow, I say it again. New year, new resolutions…

  • Organized AND anal AND ready for action!

  • I think I kinda know what you mean.
    At least I was good and finished putting the baby’s sheet on his bed and didn’t stop and put the scale away today. (Yes, and I told myself I was good, too!) But while I’m distractable, it’s manageable. Or so I claim. I do the hyper-focus thing, too. It’s really bad for discipline when Momma doesn’t notice what’s going on.
    Where I run into real problems is faces/names.
    People I ought to know–from church, from the home school group, from the library–I run into them around town and they might as well be total strangers. I have no clue I should know them. Well, obviously, when they greet me by name and start talking (or better yet my kids greet them by name) I know I ought to, but they’re still effectively strangers. Not people I’ve met once or twice, people I’ve talked with dozens of times, but who don’t happen to be in the same place as where I met them. People who know me, my kids, my husband, even my folks.
    This is part of why I love blogs and forums. Y’all have nice little nametags on. I know who you are and can recognize you. I can remember your tag and where I know you from, and what you think about things, I think because it is all written. This is also most likely why I have no desire to meet any of you in RL.