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I have struggled with organization and administration my whole life. Starting in 5th grade my grades plummeted. Nothing changed. I scraped by in school and even after all of that had to get my GED. I took many, many tests for learning disabilities and they came back negative. As a matter of fact I would test well and my IQ tests were high as well.

Once I started life as an adult, I chased my dreams. Everything started off well. Over time the job would overwhelm me. Like a tsunami I would be drowning in my tasks and fears. Knowing things didn't get done and that there were things to do as well as the ones that were coming. I had to quit because I couldn't handle the stress and I know I wasn't being effective.

It is easy to say ADHD (and maybe that is the truth) but it does not address the problem with a solution. How do I get organised?

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I have edited this to get clarity over your core issues. – Rory Alsop Oct 2 '13 at 18:56
Maybe you could expand on how it is that you currently approach this problem, that might help generate some ideas. – Raystafarian Oct 2 '13 at 21:43
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your question is very open, but I would say that your issues may stem more from a paralyzing fear of failure (or other source of paralysis) than an inability to be organized.

I would start my advice with two books that helped me:

Getting Things Done by David Allen

The Now Habit by Neil Fiore

The 2nd one in particular discusses some of the psychology associated with procrastination, and it may be helpful for you.

As for my own advice, the one thing I can tell you is that it is of the utmost importance to realize that nobody gets everything done, everybody fails, and everybody settles for subpar work that they wish they would have done better. Once you accept that it is impossible to get everything done, succeed at all things, and be satisfied with the quality of all of your work, you can move on to setting priorities and letting the chips fall where they may. The fact that you were never fired, but always quit, may be an indication that you are judging yourself far more harshly than is necessary to succeed.

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For me, it helps to concretely divide any task into smaller steps, sometimes even to extreme granularity ("Copy the file from directory X to directory Y", "Replace row 2 with this"), in the correct linear order: step 1, step 2, in the order of doing them. Then I can check all items as Done and then start with the next one with the comfort of knowing the previous is now done and I will not forget to do it. When the checklist is persistent over sessions, you get even more comfort in knowing you cannot miss a step, and you have proof you did the previous ones, and thus you will not be on the receiving end of angry talk from your manager/senior.

Currently I'm using a program called "GeeTeeDee" which is very useful for such organisation. Just add a topic on the left, and then fill the right side with every step you need to do before that topic is 100 % complete. It's really enjoyable to see things progress and the to-do list getting concretely shorter. It is good for personal confidence also, at least for me.

The hard part is requirements gathering. Sometimes people explain things to do in a very general way, or too quickly to make notes effectively. For this, I feel an audio recording program will be handy. Then you can play back the discussion at your own pace and be more sure you got all the requirements down and correctly.

So the steps for you could be:

  1. Start using a GTD-style program or even a handwritten paper (or a spreadsheet)
  2. Split tasks into as small steps as needed
  3. Do each of them separately
  4. Repeat as necessary
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I'm not sure that this advice will really work. One might need to be more organized for writing tasks and steps than for actually performing them. And the recording also might not work, because not everyone will be willing to be recorded, and recording secretly can be illegal depending on location. – superM Oct 4 '13 at 14:09

If you want to get started now, start by organizing a few small things, e.g. your laundry. You have to do it anyway so make a commitment to yourself to put the used clothes onto the right heap (or whatever you use for sorting).

Keep it up for two or three weeks, then take the next small thing. Create a task for cleaning up a room each week on the same day.

This way you get used to doing tasks regularly in two ways, first when required and second when planned.

I would not try to do more organization than that for starters.

You can/should do the same at work.

Once you've kept these habits for a month or two try finding some organization technique that fits your style. I prefer looking around on the web and then getting a book on a promising topic. I myself use a subset of GTD, since the full blown version can also distract you from getting the important things done.

You can always add more organization but you are also allowed to remove some when no longer needed ;)

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For me it's been very hard. I finally accepted that for who I am (easily distracted) it was important for me to break any/everything down into little steps (and use a checklist of some sort to track it - currently I am loving If I'm not willing to break whatever it is down into the smaller tasks I need to accomplish to get "X" done....I know I don't really want to do that thing....and sometimes I quit thinking about doing it (playing guitar is a good example - after years of being mad at myself for not doing it....when I started noting down what it would take I was like "screw that"...and now I have no stress around it!). :-) Hope that helps.

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I can tell you just my personal experience(although, probably, I'm much younger than you):

I also get distracted very frequently. With time I understand that the mere try to not get distracted is futile and frustrating. Instead, I decided to be more organized as possible, without "fighting" the distraction directly.

I started (about 1year ago) to use an agenda where, daily, I put the task to be accomplished. I become more and more productive, I then started using also ToDo list and spending 3/4h each day see what's gone right or bad in the day and how can I practically improve my working methods to minimize the fails.

I find myself not only more productive than before, but even more productive than a lot of people I know!

Do I stop getting distracted? The answer is no, but I don't even care anymore about it, since the things I care are well done.

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1.Step Out of your comfort zone.

2.identify and begin to Dispel your beliefs which are hindering your progress.

3.Stop trying to control things, just observe and don't control.The things you want to change in life, just needs to be brought into your awareness and just make a conscious decision about how do want it be rather than how you don't want it to be.

4.Don't invent problems for yourself and never try to fit yourself to the solutions out in the market, all that counts is how do you want things to be done, your motivation and only compare yourself not others.

5.Always try to be in present, and try to make the best of it.

6.Think how you can ? always rather How you can't or Why you can't ?.

7.For all this just use plain paper, clearly write your purpose that clears your decision and signals your brain to work for it and not divert.Do this for everything.

8.Always ask questions to yourself, Ask right questions to get right answers(the answers you seek). Brain works to provide evidences for proving it to be truth for every single question or statement you ask to make to yourself, for example if you say i can't sleep if the lights are on your brain tells you and brings things to your notice all the instances and experiences saying that you really cannot sleep until you switch off the lights.

Suddenly if you say " maybe i can sleep, lets try i think i can do it...." your thought process instantly change and you come to peace...a sense of curiosity and a positive mind sets in. But if you make a statement "I can sleep with lights on.. no problem." Your brain outrightly rejects it saying it isn't true... and makes it more impossible and more importantly sense of fear sets in...why fear? Because when you make such a statement that is like a law or with 100% certainty when you are feeling the opposite inside... that just get tagged as a false statement because you don't yet have the instances or experience for supporting such a 100% strong statement and things get worse. if you force yourself to follow it or do it any way.. you simply cannot because your goal is set to sleep, and you have invented a false problem and associated your going to sleep with an action such as lights to go off...

Please don't make such faulty associations and suffer yourself... be clear,seta goal,plan, and more importantly think right to get right results. Use the positive statements with maybe i can, i ll try etc to get things started....the way you want.

8.Meditation helps to train your brain to be in present.

a short note on Learning

What is learning ?

You already know everything,Learning is linking new things to your existing known knowledge. So as you link it to your existing knowledge, understanding ,learning happens.

So Nothing is difficult...even advanced math isn't not computer science ...even a 7 year old kid can more-ever he/she links new concepts to her existing knowledge.

how can this be done?

1.Choose Learning materials that is written or deigned to your level of knowledge....(that may be equal to a 7 year old kid, it grows eventually...when you keeps on constantly linking and adding to your knowledge base.. )existing knowledge.

2.Start from the basics.

3.Never give up...if you don't get it ....either reduce your learning material quality by finding some easily explained source or guide or learn the basics required for that...

thanks..hope this helps.

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Honestly, I am not a big fan of 'schools' myself. A lot of the schools do not take into consideration the fact whether you are an introvert or extrovert or an early riser or night owl or prefer to work alone as opposed to groups.
And, it is not just me. Sir Ken Robinson also thinks that the schools these days kill creativity.

As for how you should get organized, you need to learn one from the various techniques that will help you manage your time better. The once that I use, that was shown by Anthony Robbins, is to write down all your ideas in a book so that you can revisit them later.
Ideas in your head are fleeting. You may forget an idea that may make you the next big thing. SO jot them down.

Now, learn some time management technique. I prefer Gantt Charts. Super easy and require no technical mumbo-jumbo.

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I used to ask the same question. It's extremely difficult to get organized when chaos is all around you and the adult world is killing softly your dreams. But come on! We need to go on. What I did? I decided to find time for planning. I decided to spend a few minutes: - every 6 months for my life general plan - what I really want to achieve and what I need to do to get?
- last day of each month for my "month plan" - every Sunday for a "week plan" - every day for "tomorrow plan".

I think, you should first learn how to consider your life this way Then, you can try to look for a proper technique or method to organize your tasks.

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