First, let's talk a little bit about why someone might have issues with being organized. Executive Functioning is a term that is defined by the ability to organize information and stimuli, while regulating one's own emotions, and thoughts, as well as prioritizing what needs attention. That's a very basic definition, anyway. Executive functioning is impaired/different in people with neurological disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. In my family, all 5 of us have an issue with one of these two conditions. While the reasons why I struggle to be organized differs from my husband's the results often look the same. The only difference is that I can figure a way out of it, where I honestly don't think he'll ever have the skills, as well as he really doesn't care if things are messy, disorganized and off schedule. I care a great deal. My basic to do list is divided in 4 quarters:
DAILY TASKS :
In the upper hand corner here I have my daily tasks. These things generally need done everyday, like dishes, laundry, exercise ect... If you find you don't have to do the task that day, then cross it out. These are your basic tasks. These are in the Have To Do category.
NEED TO GET DONE:
On the right side I have things I Need done that aren't daily activities.Such as, important phone calls, errands, appointments. Also, other things that are weekly like washing sheets.
On the lower left hand side is where I put tasks and projects that are more long term, so that I still have them in my mind and can plan on moving them to my Need list. I also put stuff that I want to get done, but may not have a chance. I try to resist the urge to clutter up the Need area with things that aren't urgent. Prioritizing is key. If I can just get my daily tasks and Need tasks done, then I feel I've accomplished enough.
On the lower right hand side is where I put daily reminders, and messages. I even keep phone messages here. This reduces clutter by using one sheet of paper for everything. At the end of the day, I put any important info or phone messages in my notebook, or wherever it may need to go. The list goes in the trash.
Tips for Helping Young Children get Organized:
- Help them sort their belongings into categories, ie trucks and cars in one pile, stationary and pens in another.
- Teach them good prioritizing habits. Help them make good choices about letting some other child have a chance to play with their old toys that they don't play with by donating or putting in a garage sale. Less is more when you have issues controlling clutter.
- Once you have divided into piles and sorted the keeps and the give aways, decide on a home for said items. For my daughter I took masking tape and labeled her drawers and bins with the contents that went inside. I put it on the outside at first, then faded it to being labeled only on the inside of the areas as she got older. (It just looks nicer that way)
- Once you've done all the work and it's picked up and organized discuss with your child about a designated day of the week that will be for big cleaning. That day will now be cleaning room day. If they're old enough have them learn to dust and vacuum their own room.
- Every evening set a timer for 10 minutes and have them pick up toys and other belongings. This keeps the mess minimal so there's not an overwhelming heap of stuff to organize come cleaning day.
- For really young kids, or ASD kids that might need extra help, you might have to stand there and tell them what categories to pick up for #1. For my son, I even had to go by color to keep him engaged, like telling him to pick up the red legos, then the blue ones. It's time consuming, but necessary to help them build their own independent skills.
- Make charts to keep track of chores and other things (like good behaviors). Decide how to reward and for how much. My daughter gets 20 cents a star (averaging $6-$10 a week depending). My son doesn't care much about money so he gets to stay up late, watching tv and sleep on the couch for every 10 stars he earns.