Category Archives: Organization

Executive Function

Or Not

It sounds a bit like a group of people in suits having cocktails, but Executive Function is the core of your every day life.   A mental process, EF is the set of cognitive skills that keeps you on time, organized and in control of your life. When there is Executive Function Disorder,even simple tasks can become immensely difficult.  EF is independent of intelligence. Individuals can have extremely high intellect and low functioning mental processes that control planning, time management, organization and impulse.

Almost every one at sometime has had “doorway amnesia”-  when you walk into a room and cant remember what you came in for. Faced with a transition, your working memory has moved on and forgotten that thought, once you passed through the door, Someone with EF may struggle to write a phone number or address down as it is rattled off to them. Your working memory holds multiple pieces of information as you are manipulating them. Except, when it isn’t working. For most, distraction comes with a sudden loud noise, or an unexpected movement, something shiny. I can be distracted by my own thoughts.  Trying to count anything usually results in something like this: 2,4,6,8 ( I wonder if I ate that banana this morning) 16, 18, 20, (oh in 20 minutes I need to get on that conference call) 32…. “oh crap! where was I??”

You see how that could be a challenge.

 If you ask an adult with Executive Function Disorder  to clean their apartment, or desk, or task them with organizing a cluttered mess,  it can be akin to making the request to a 3 year old. With out the cognitive skills to break the project into manageable chunks it will quickly become overwhelming. If you ask a 3 year old child to clean his room with out simple direction you can reasonably expect to find him playing with his toys when you check on him in 5 or 10 minutes.  I spend a lot of time playing with my toys.

In essence EF is your command center, The processes that work together to let you plan, organize, estimate the time a task takes, your mood and emotion, working memory, and impulse control all function with in each other and at times overlap.

Not having an appropriate braking system on your impulses can lead to substance abuse or other compulsions which often go hand in hand with Attention Deficit Disorder, or EFD. It is difficult to see the consequences of an action even when your intellect is telling you otherwise. It is like the old joke of having the devil sitting on one shoulder and an angel on the other.

Ironically the suggested tips for coping with EFD are the very same skills I have difficulty with. Recommending to me that I remove clutter and become better organized is a moot point. This is why I am researching strategies to cope with EFD, I have no organizational skills.

But the understanding that this is a neurological disorder is helping me to know, finally know.. I am not lazy. I am not incompetent. I just  need to find better strategies to keep myself on task.

Be Afrayedknot

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Playing House

Or not

From a sewing manual 1949

“Prepare yourself mentally for sewing. Think about what you are going to do… Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates.

Never try to sew with a sink full of dirty dishes or beds unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing. When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Put on a clean dress. Keep a little bag full of French chalk near your sewing machine to dust your fingers at intervals. Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on. If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home, and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing.”

 

Sure, this advice  looks pretty funny now.  I saw this floating around on Pinterest and Facebook.  I’m not really sure if it was from a sewing manual, sourcing it has been a challenge.  But I did spend  more than a little time considering the wisdom. Even in this day and age it is useful wisdom.

I don’t sew often, but I do hammer, rivet, glue, solder, paint and sculpt.

I am, not even in my wildest dreams a good housekeeper. My cleaning standard is just slightly above unsanitary. I’ve got much more important things to do. Pinterest. Facebook. Sculpting with polymer clay. Hammering things, painting brass, Shredding bits of paper and adding fibers to make more paper. Vacuuming, mopping and dusting don’t come close to making it on the list.

Lipstick? Powder? Are you kidding? If I don’t have to leave the house I don’t even put pants on.

Lately I have been trying to organize my self a bit. As I clear out the clutter in my life I am finding surfaces again. Just as soon as the surface makes it self visible, I dust it.

Often times trying to tame the chaos around me seems overwhelming. When I get overwhelmed I give up.

I recently read some advice on living with  attention deficit by Dr. Edward Hallowell.   He states, “Get organized enough”.   Enough?  Ya mean, not like spit shined tidy and everything in its place?  Just adding the “Enough” to his statement was freeing to me.  Trying to get organized was like trying to teach a fish to ride a bicycle. But organized enough?  Hey, I can give that a shot!!

That one little word gave me hope.

Annddd  it’s working. I am organized enough.

The really funny thing is, once the house is tidy I have more energy to create! I am not thinking about all the other things I should be doing instead. My mind is free to dream and wander where ever it feels like taking my creative soul.

I have been scheduling appointments or meet ups with friends first thing in the mornings on my day off from work.  I have to get dressed, and I cant linger over my coffee.

Once I am up and dressed I am more apt to go into my studio  and work.

So, excuse me please, I need to refresh my lipstick and build something.

Be knotafrayed

To List

list smallOr Not

After returning home from the grocery store, for the third time that week with out toilet paper, it occurred to me I might need a little help remembering things. By then even the KIeenex was gone. Organization has never been my thing, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

When you are a disorganized hot mess and already have a major problem with hoarding pieces of paper, making lists just seems like it is going to be one more thing to weigh you down.

I had  stacks of junk mail. Piles of greeting cards and other correspondence. Old bills tucked into desk drawers and peaking out from shelves where they were stashed. No, I  really didn’t  need to add lists to the collection.

Or did I?

After the toilet paper debacle I began to entertain the thought of keeping a grocery list. For, you know, just the important things. Like food.

The idea took over, and I began to make lists for other shopping expeditions too… the craft store and hardware.

I truly was amazed at how much time I was saving. I no longer had to run out for that one important thing that I forgot. I didn’t wander aisles aimlessly hoping for inspiration to take hold. I was on a mission! I began to save time and… taaaaaadaaaaa money! If it wasn’t on the list, I didn’t need it.

Following a frantic morning, having discovered I had no clean uniforms for work, my list making took on new proportions.  No longer just shopping lists, I now had a task list.  I organized the list by urgency. A’s –  Urgent.  B’s –  less  important. C’s – more of a when I get around to it kinda importance.

As I cross off tasks at the top of the list in the A category, items in the B’s and C’s get moved up. While I may never be a model of efficiency I am getting more done these days. As I accomplish my chores there is a certain sense of calm entering my life. I am less stressed, have more time.  And the little piles of paper? I got those cleaned up,  it was on my list.

For now, I’m just gonna keep working my A’s off.

Be Knotafrayed.