Minimize The Effects of Adult ADHD With Holt’s “ADD Simplified”

Adult ADHD has a serious downside. It effects every aspect of your life. Even worse, you cannot get rid of it. However, just because you are stuck with it forever that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce its impact on your life and this is where Sidney Parker Holt’s ADD Simplified: Strategies for Minimizing the Effects of Adult ADD and ADHD can help. Holt provides field-tested techniques for handling aspects of daily living that can, quite frankly, drive you nuts. He offers suggestions on such tasks as organizing documents, to-do lists, electronics accessories, handling money, avoiding morning stress, and more. He discusses the need to establish a bedtime ritual, the (negative) effects of social networks and, my favorite, why you should take a nap each day.

Holt’s book is written in a deceptively simple ADHD style: the suggestions are easy to understand (no need for lengthy rumination) and to the point. At times you think he’s sitting next to you, offering suggestions. In the chapter on how to avoid morning stress he writes:

I’m not trying to sound like a strict stepmother, but TV in the morning does not help. Watching TV while you’re having breakfast is not only unhealthy, it also takes more time and does not promote family bonding. Just leave the TV off; you’ll catch the news later.

For the paperwork-challenged (the very definition of ADHD!), he suggests using colored folders based on a color scheme that assigns a meaning to each color. For example,

…blue folders for documents related to the house, white folders for documents related to official paperwork (taxes), a green folder for all medical documents….

Open shelving with colored boxes

But Holt warns that using more than five different colors increases the likelihood that you’ll forget the meaning of each color (“Hmmm…the canary yellow folder is for….?”) The color coding doesn’t have to end with the use of file folders. Holt has an open-shelved filing cabinet (available at your friendly Ikea store) for which he purchased colored fabric boxes (also from Ikea) for the open shelves. Particular items are “assigned” to particular colors/boxes. Color coding also works in the virtual world. Software applications, such as Microsoft Outlook and Google Mail (Gmail), allow you to color code your emails so that, for example, priority emails may have their subject line in red.

One color that some of us have difficulty with is U.S. dollar green (those from other countries will need to make the proper color substitution). The problem manifests itself in the purchase of unnecessary items. Holt suggests a three-step process, kind of like stop, drop and roll, to control that urge. For example, before buying that 42 inch wide screen television (after all, it IS larger than your current 40 inch wide screen), stop yourself right there. Are you being impulsive? Perhaps. So wait a week and then examine your “need” for that purchase. You still think you need it? If yes, then wait AGAIN and see if that need still exists. It is likely that the need may fade away. If it doesn’t fade away, then you’ll like this sage advice:

Read at least two positive and two negative reviews before you decide whether to purchase the item.

Like all books that offer suggestions for the ADHDer, some suggestions may not be applicable to your lifestyle (“Do I really need a Leatherman tool?”) and some you may not agree with at all (“I won’t replace my physical books with e-book versions…I like taking a pen and scribbling in the margins of a book”). Still, there are so many good ideas on reducing clutter, creating organization, using various types of to-do lists and more, that you’re bound to find a dozen or more suggestions that will fit your lifestyle and that you’ll want to incorporate into your daily life to minimize the effects of your own ADHD.

NOTE: Discussion about this review is taking place on Facebook.

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  • Gina Pera

    I like this book, too. Many of the suggestions are those my husband had to learn the hard way but now are “hardwired” into his daily life.

    Gina Pera, author
    is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?

    Hey Jeff — it’s snowing on your blog! cool!

  • Denim

    Jeff, I like the snow, but I can’t read the post because I keep seeing the snow in my peripheral vision. My mind want to see if there is a pattern. Plus it seems to slow the heck out of my computer. Is it snow, me or adult ADHD?

    • Jeff

      Hmmm…it’s the snow. ;) And there’s no pattern. I’ll decrease the amount of snow.

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