Okay, Tim ~ the ~ Noob ~~~

you started it!

I read your post and can't believe what it's made my day turn into --- welcome to my mind!

first of all, I clicked on the 41 folder article, and wow - who knew what 'Hipster PDA' meant! LOL but of course I got lost in a nested loop of links, each one more facinating...but all of a sudden I find myself on amazon looking at bullet pens, clicking on 'and these customers also looked at' stuff UGH UGH UGH. I did take my ADD meds today, honestly, I have such a hard time wtih that but TA DA I finally learned to set my cell alarm. usually it works when I can remember to turn the phone on or charge it up.

this click-hunt led me to more articles, particularly about cleaning off my desk - whoa -

If I knew I could go open a flicker account, take a photo (already tried camera battery dead), and get back here without being distracted another 1,000 times I would.

here's what's on my desktop and each item could lead to 20 more ways to be distracted!

1. book - wow, better check my library account to see when due
can I put weblinks here? slick tool is libraryelf.com sign up all your various library cards onto one email service. what's coming due (pick your own heads up time, my case it's 48 hrs). back to book, I need a better ststem of where to house books in the house. they're all over. some books, like this one called 'the body has a mind of it's own' is one I really wanted to read, but it's not laid out ADD friendly, and it's not one I can read cover to cover (not all that exciting)

2. miracle cleaning cloth...okay, got up to hook into slider door for wet pooch paws (eight of them)...that reminds me I better do laundry today - towels - but I've got my laundry alarm on which should go off about 10:00

3. nail polish. dumb, don't use. what's it doing here? but I'm afriad if I go upstairs to plunk it in the bin of other polish (yes sometimes I do play dress up - and DD uses alot, I'll get distracted [up there]...like, did I make my bed?

4. small case of cotton swabs, pony tail holders, breath mints, nail clippers, wow I see a theme here, maybe a small cubby to hold this personal care stuff? honestly I clean my ears at the desk, I floss my teeth in bed while I read, I slip my nails only at stop signs...wierd but true and probably very unsafe.

5. small memo book and tiny sharpie, whats it doing out of my pocket? btw, I have a really difficult time getting the cap off the tiny pen UGH UGH UGH.

6. energy bill - okay, slit open and wrote in sharpie the due date and amount on the envel. and hung it in place from binder clip in order of what's up next and am SCARED to flip over to banking to bill pay it...again, scared to get distracted.

OH MY, is there some slick way to push a button and VOILA all the little tabs for functions I use during the day will pop up?

6. car tabs - I'm going to put this in hubby's stack...and call in an agreement we made 20 years ago, tho it's mostly impractical now....his domain is all outside stuff....my domain is all indoors. stupid but it worked for awhile. no complaints here, but if I go put the tabs on, I have to take the license plate cover thingy off first, and that means getting into his toolbox stuff, and that means walking by my 10ish buckets of horse poo that I shoveled a couple of weeks ago ~~~ from a NEIGH-bor ~~~ to add to my new landscaped area.

7. Stack of, I think they're called a 'scrap pack' - smallish card stock weighted color paper of sevearl sizes, smallish, sometimes I write down chores on them and put on table and say to the family 'pick three today' ... but it's hard keeping them together, and I do like the idea of cutting them down to the same size after reading the '43 folders thing and
I still can't figure out what are the 43 folders after poking around and getting lost.

8. Time Timer watch --- I bought it just after being diagnosed wtih ADd a year+ ago. used it for awhile, really wanted to love it, tried so hard...I ended up emailing the developer because I said hey, this is sold as a watch for ADULTS (I bought the 'adult size' watch...

not only are the digital numbers barely readable with my 40 something eyes, I can barely hear the timer even sometimes. it isn't loud enough for his 40 something ears of mine. what I love about the watch is

it tells me 'how much time until'. I rarely need to know what time something is, because like today, I know my son has an elec bass lesson at ___such and such, which is farily useless to me, what I want to know is 'how much time do I have until. this watch does that in a graphic way.

Understnd that was just the FIRST LINEAR FOOT of space on the left side of my desktop. *red face here*

what's on your desk and how do you get through it all?

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One answer

Woo, sounds like you have a hectic life.

Let me explain the 43 folders: It's just what it sounds like. ;)

You are supposed to get 43 folders, the manila kind used in filing cabinets, with some sort of file box or other holder to keep them in. Label the folders with "1", "2", "3", etc. up to "31". Label the last twelve with the months, i.e., "January", "February", "March".

The way you are supposed to use them is to hide away things you don't need to deal with just now (so they aren't clutter and distracting) BUT have them reappear just when you need them.

So, take that utility bill. You opened it and saw it was due (for example) on October 10. You figure out when you need to pay it. It sounds like you do electronic payment, so maybe paying it on the 9th is good enough. Put the bill into the "9" folder. (I pay by checks in the mail, so I'd want to allow 5 days, so I would put it into the "5" folder.

Complication: suppose the 'day to take action' on whatever is more than a month away. Like you have an invitation to a party for November 20th. You put that into the "November" folder.

The key is that you HAVE to open and go through each days folder. EVERY DAY. Otherwise the reminders to do whatever won't work at all.

Personally, I have set up 43 folder systems four times in my life. Each time I abandonned it within a few weeks. I simply don't have the discipline to do that 'open today's folder and deal with its contents' part regularly. :(

What I do instead: I use a freebie program called "Rainlender" that keeps a calendar and ToDo list on my computer screen all the time.

When some new task arrives (or I think of something to do) I enter the item into rainlender and give it a due date. The item stays on the list until it gets checked off, in essence, I get 'warned' of things a few days before they are due (because they've reached the upper part of the list that shows) and they stay visible there, nagging me, after the due date if I didn't get around to it.

The 'actionable items', if any, like the bill to pay or an invitation, I drop into a basket I use as a 'holding' location. Fortunately there aren't so many that riffling through the basket to find the gas bill is a challenge.

I sometimes feel this is a really childish way to run things -- having 'mommy' nag you do do whatever -- vs. adults using 43 folders or various notebook methods. The thing is, this WORKS for ME. I haven't forgotten to pay a bill or whatever since I started using Rainlender a few years ago.

And that's the key to being organized: find a system that works for YOU and stick to it. Good luck!

Susan, so 43 folder system,

Susan, so 43 folder system, is what I formerly would call a 'tickler file' system? *red face*! I didn't get that poking around on his website, and I did not want to pay for the articles - that or I got lost.

I don't hink my life is all that complicated, it's just my brain...

thanks. I have a smallish box, thinkit was a uspostoffice type mailer box, with file products not currently in use but might someday. in it I have a colored set of numbered tabs, and a white set as well. I also have pre printed monthly folders and tabs.

I've kept a revolving tickler list, dynamic like on excel form also, it's not going to work for me.

but this is alot of new language to learn (PDA, JDI (is that another website - translate 'just do it'. maybe that's the actionable thing?

maybe if I have more like biggish all sealable mailer envelopes for the folders, I just have such a hard time with flat piles, and if I have a vertical sorter which I do it'd easier for me,

but my biggest biggest huttle to all this keepstufftidy thing, is WHERE and HOW do I keep all the extrainious parifanalia that goes along wtih my handy dandy actionable items list.


I have a little black zip together cloth box, and each actionable/verbed card in there has accompanying papers. it's fine to carry a planner or whatever, but what to do with all the other stuff?

Ticklers it is!

Yep, 43 folders is a "tickler" system.

Sounds to me like you've got a handle on how to organize, and just haven't gotten around to the actual doing -- have you looked at Getting Things Done?

Aiglet, After surfing on

After surfing on Bookins for awhile for a used copy of getting things done for trade, I bought a copy at my local bookstore.

Pros: it's quite ADD friendly to read. there are little text boxes, and bold headings which keep my interest.

Cons: silly me, I'm very very tactily defensive and the cover and paper is just so awful to touch! that might be enough of a reason to not read it but I hope not.

ever notice the right hand bottom corner of the cover? where it's white behind his suit? I keep zoning in there thinking I've torn the book!

I think conceptually I do know a few things, but organize just like I do everything else with ADD, distracted to follow through on much.

make a few simple rules

I'm lucky, or unlucky depending on how you look at it, that at work we have a 'clear desk policy'. In other words at the end of the day our desks have to be clear of papers and anything else, or security takes it away.

At home I don't have 'big brother' watching me so I've got a few simple routines. I keep a small carry-basket near my computer desk and anything that doesn't belong on my desk gets put in the basket. So if I have a cup of tea, when I've finished the cup goes in the basket. The same for anything else that I carry into the room but I don't need or want to keep there.

That way I don't get distracted by things on my desk. Also, when I've finished whatever I'm doing on the computer I take the things from the basket and put them back where they belong.

Perhaps a simple routine like that might help.

Katrina, I've always longed

I've always longed for a 'big brother' to look over me here, but being the parent, I think I need to figure out how to step into that role! it's 1. discipline and 2. tools: such as my music helps my brain move better and stay focused better while I'm working.

three of us here have ADD, and there are peculularities that seem like laziness. for me, anything that isn't 'contained' makes chaos in my brain, so i'ts just means tossing stuff into my little boxes or such.

the other big thing with ADD is the INABILITY to divide our attention. it isn't that I'm not willing, it's that I'm unable to divide my attention to more than one thing at a time. switching gears is really difficult, and that means, it's next to impossible for me to focus on

what am I to do next, while keeping in mind

what am I suppose to do now (to wrap up and put away).

this morning already wtih kids going off to school:

daughter rode her bike, and so she was focusing on not only eating oatmeal (for fuel) but also getting to friends house on time to connect and then group ride the rest of the way, so she wasn't focused on
wearing yellow reflective biking coat.

had to remind her and thankfully I caught her still winin the garage. yes, but jacket was at school (when she was more focused on getting to bus on time.

SON, heard the bus alarm (we've got alarm alerting to 'get ready' and second one says 'get out the door now'.
so when he heard the alarm, he's thinking about getting out the door, not
put my used mug in the kitchen sink.

see? this seems to participate in the collection of waste materials trailing behind the three of us.

love the 'security takes it' though!
at least if I went around wtih a laundry bin and contained it all, then just have a set time to 'hey unload and put away' when they get home.

index cards

Just wanted to pop in with something that helps me focus.

I use index cards for tasks with one item per card. If I see a list, it is overwhelming, where do I start, I can't do it all so why even bother. With the cards, I keep them separated by contexts -- home, computer, errands, work, alone. When I'm in one of those contexts, I take out the cards shuffle and pick out the most important (or the one I want to do most) and clip it on top. I can see that card only, then I can focus on doing that one thing.

Obviously, this may not work for everyone, but it sure helped me.

Lisa, your post reminded me

your post reminded me of when my kids were little and I had to ask them 'what were you supposed to be doing right now?' LOL that's what I need, is a parent........or a wife LOL

actually I love the sorting capability of your card system. love it. you can sort, pick one that interests you, it sounds so dynamic!

now if I could just rig up something that would dangle a card in front of me to remind me to not wander off!

this morning I went out back to fill the birdfeeder, which led to going into the garage for seed, which led going out front to empty another bucket of manure in a new planting bed, which led me to.....see?

I've thought about wearing a certain color housecoat thingy or apron thingy to trigger that 'oh I'm doing laundry today'. LOL

Mine is covered with stuff


My desk (I work from home) is covered with stuff too. My actual work stuff is fairly minimal, it's the home stuff that's overrun all bounds.

Let's just say that my desk is five feet by four feet in an L shape, with shelves beneath and bins above and bookshelves and a file cabinet nearby.

There is a spot on my desk where the pile is actually eight inches high. It's a franklin covey binder stand (classic size, clear acrylic) sitting on top of my flatbed scanner, with a few toys and papers on top of all.

DH spent some time yeseterday cleaning up the piles he had on the floor of the office--it's almost ready for roomba. I should spend time cleaning up my desk, but I've got a lot of work to do today, my one day a week with no meetings at all.

I have some systems for corraling some of the stuff, I just have to return those items to their particular spots--kid art, especially. I didn't realize toddlers would be such art machines. :) And the bills and receipts are confined. But what do you do with a recall notice? Clearly it's an actionable item, but equally clearly I'm not going to do anything on it for a while, even though my vacuum might become a torch in the living room the next time I use it.

The things that have no system, or for which the system has broken down--those are the problem, mostly. Looking at it right now, if I spent a focused hour on it, I could whip the whole desk into shape. Maybe over lunch. The trick will be keeping work from distracting me and not getting trapped into developing fancy new systems for things that just need to be put away.

Anyway, on the distractions, there's a 'four box' method you could adapt for use when cleaning up a specific area. I forget exactly what the four boxes are supposed to be labeled with, but the key ones are 'put away' (as in another room) and 'throw away' (in the trash). I think the other two have to do with getting stuff out of the house via selling and donating. For your situation, having a box labeled with the name of each room might be helpful--then when you come across something that has to go upstairs, just dump it in the 'upstairs' box and worry about actually putting it upstairs later, when you're going that direction anyway. Same same with other exterior locations, like 'Library'.

There's another box method for organizing the piles of papers--'Read it', 'File it', 'Do it', and 'Trash'. The trick there is just to decide what you're going to do with it later--and not do it now.

But really, you have to make up your mind not to be distracted--that you're only sorting stuff out now, you're not going anywhere else, you're not going to call someone or read anything or flip through the pictures or sit down and write something--just sort. If it helps to put a sign in front of wherever you are that says "Just Sort" to help keep you focused, so be it. Whatever method works. But as I can attest, the pile does not go away by itself, and if you want it gone you have to stick to the clearing-out method of your choice.

Now, that doesn't mean you have to have this huge chunk of time and do it all at once. You can set the timer for 15 minutes of sorting, then go off and do something else even if the job isn't done. That's the 'flylady' method, by the way. You can do *anything* for 15 minutes. (personally I like oven timers with their big numbers and loud beeps--they even make them for pockets these days) If you use the 15 minute thing, though, you may have to forgive yourself when you stop--you may want to continue, but 15 minutes was the commitment and now it's time to do something else, so you'll do the rest later. Or maybe you'll set the timer for another 15 minutes and keep going.

Anyway, the only way to get to the bottom of the pile is to actually touch each thing and make a decision about it. You can either allow the distractions, meaning that you beat back chaos in tiny portions all over the house at the same time, or you don't, meaning that you get to the bottom of this pile but end up with boxes that need to be put away elsewhere later. Or maybe you come up with some other method.

You aren't alone in your desktop disarray. Even without ADD we get distracted by the meaning of the stuff sitting there.


You're right, shris, it's

You're right, shris, it's all the paeprs that go along with the fuctions....jsut this morning got email from FIL about when we are going to the cabin to pull out the dock, it's too cold for running water up there already, so he is asking

do we still want to stay at the cabin with no running water (YES, there still is deep well water in the garage and hot shower in garage, as well as large sink can do any dishes)...

or do we want hotel reservations nearby.

my husband keeps flip flopping and I don't really want to make the decision, I'd rather rough it at the cabin, but need to talk to husband.

I normally would print this email off, and then it'd sit. HEY maybe I need to print these decision emails off in a certain bright color of paper. only use those papers. okay, that's going to be harder.

but what I did right now, was to stick the paer inside a bright green polyvinyl folder thing, and with my


wrote on the green folder (is like a really find black perm. marker

were do you want to stay?
cabin (no water) ______________
or hotel? _________________

what about DS's birthday that weekend __________________
(our son turns 17 that weekend and I want his input!

now with this Zwipes, I can wipe off the perm marker with isopropal alcohol.

so maybe this is my new decision folder.

have to find a good hack for this zwipes pen though (it's made by mead.



Any sharpie will do the same thing as a zwipes with the alcohol, as long as it's on a smooth non-porous surface (like the page protector).


yes, 'eventually' they do,

yes, 'eventually' they do, but the zwipes fine pen ink dried INSTANTLY which is a big plus...

here's my application:

I keep my month at a glance calendar printed portrait, sliped into a plastic file folder, clear plastic on the front.

Since my kids are doing things or 'penciling in' things which don't necessarily pertain to me, but I want to konw where they are, they might just zwipe it in on the plastic, then I can pull out the paper and 'see' where my time is.

I bought a binder with zwipes pen at big store for $3, but can't find zwipes singly, it's an all-in-onw pen, the pen on one side, and alcohol swipe thingy on the other end.



When I found Zwipes, Walgreens had them in packages of four pens or one pen, no notebook required.


thanks. our walgreens a

thanks. our walgreens a couple blocks from here didn't have the separate pens...I'll call around, and also I think I'll ask the store manager if they can order them for me/us

I do like how they instantly dry.