Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, authors of ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, are our Routledge Mental Health Authors of the Month for October! Read our exclusive interview and learn more about their fantastic new edition!
JK: In 2002, when the first edition of this book was originally written, ADHD was still not as understood as it is today. In my organizing business I was encountering the organizational fallout from problems with impulsivity, regulation of attention and high levels of distractibility including poor time management skills, unfinished projects and the attendant their clutter, and general disorganization. I began experimenting with innovative methods that were proving effective with ADHD adults, diagnosed or not. Dr. Kathleen Nadeau initiated the idea of a collaboration. In her practice, she was seeing many clients with ADD, all of them needing organizing solutions. So we decided to write the book together, she offering analysis of why ADHD undermines organizing, and me offering specific solutions, and often both of us contributing the ‘why’ and the ‘how.’
KN: It occurred to me long ago that the vast collection of books on how to get organized were written for people without the challenges of ADHD. As I read many of them, looking for books to recommend to my clients, it became more and more evident that there was a need for a book on ADD-friendly ways to organize rather than the more standard, often highly detailed recommendations that don't take into account forgetfulness, procrastination, inattention to detail, impulsivity and many other challenges associated with ADHD.
JK: I hope readers take away that there is no one solution for everybody. Even the organizing advice in our book needs to be modified to fit your needs. And that’s okay. Do what works for you, however out-of-the-box it might appear to others.
KN: That just because they have tried and failed to become organized in the past, does not make it a hopeless endeavor - they simply didn't have adequate structure and support to accomplish their goals. The main theme of our book is that organizing strategies are supported and can be attained only with adequate structure and support while new habits are being built and established.
JK: The research about ADHD, executive functioning and neurological diversity is always changing. Stay up to date. Make it a regular habit to study reliable, easy-to-understand sources about ADHD, whether that’s online magazines, a yearly attendance at a conference, or listening to podcasts. Find a way to stay informed.
KN: Being organized is an ongoing process, not an event.
JK: I think the view that if people would just work harder, would be more considerate of others, still predominates. I see this with couples. Rather than find organizing solutions that allow for a less chaotic home, the non-ADD partner is blaming and angry, and the ADD partner feels guilty and attacked. It isn’t an issue of working harder at housecleaning, it’s more about working harder about understanding how ADHD undermines a successful home and what works to turn it around.
KN: So many people see organizing as a daunting, overwhelming task that is tackled in one enormous effort. In fact, organizing is a process that involves many stages - off-loading the "too much stuff," making sure you have a "home" for everything that remains, making sure that you don't immediately start re-cluttering your life by sticking to the "one thing in, two things out" mantra, and slowly building habits to make sure things are always put back where they belong so that the chaos and clutter don't re-emerge.
JK: I’m speaking on ADD in the Digital Age at several conferences. I’m launching a new organizing service for executors of estates of people who hoard. And I’m active on the research committees in the organizing industry watching for the latest trends.
KN: I am always trying to identify under-served segments of the ADHD population. My latest project is to interview 150 adults that have been officially diagnosed with ADHD by a mental health professional that are over the age of 60 - I'm calling it "Aging with ADHD: Exploring Uncharted Territory". And please keep an eye out for addfriendly.com - my new website where I plan to house a library of tools, tips and strategies for living well with ADHD.
Judith Kolberg formed FileHeads Professional Organizers in 1989. She is the founder of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, the precursor to the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), a popular international speaker, and is widely recognized as an industry-thought leader. Chronically disorganized people of many stripes have embraced her non-traditional organizing methods as described in her five books, which have sold nearly a half million copies worldwide. Her latest book, Getting Organized in the Era of Endless, addresses the complex area of digital disorganization. Judith has held several leadership positions in the National Association of Professional Organizer (NAPO) and has been awarded the organizing industry’s highest honors. Judith resides in Atlanta, where she takes care of her Mom, sees clients, writes, and blogs.
Kathleen G. Nadeau, PhD is a clinical psychologist and director of the Chesapeake ADHD Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she continues to practice and provide supervision and training related to ADHD. She has been a leader in the field for the past 20 years, publishing over a dozen books on topics related to ADHD. In 1999, she received the CHADD Hall of Fame Award for her ground-breaking work on women and girls with ADHD. Dr. Nadeau is a frequent lecturer both nationally and internationally and is known for her solution-focused, integrative approach to treating ADHD. She has focused for many years on issues relating to organization, planning, and daily life management challenges faced by individuals with ADHD and first approached professional organizer Judith Kolberg in the late 1990s about the need for an organizing book that specifically addresses the particular challenges faced by adults with ADHD.
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