Rebalancing Act

IMG_2018

Rebalancing. The act of trying to stay on top of your commitments to yourself and others when your schedule changes. I have written before about why it is so hard for ADD/ADHD individuals to change their routines here. As a parent with ADD/ADHD it is hard enough keeping my own schedule together, let alone the little people in my house. We started using checklists for the kids so that they can help getting us out the door in the morning and into bed at a reasonable time at night. The checklists are working well for them, and after finding myself spinning like the Ferris wheel above trying to get myself out the door one morning I think I need a checklist for me. 

 Balance is really about rebalancing, letting go of what does not work and holding on to what does work. If I don’t take time to examine my schedule and change what is not working, I end up frustrated, and crazed, and not getting anything accomplished. I started out this Fall thinking that I would be able to drop the kids off and head to the pool for a swim workout. I neglected to factor in that there are two aquatic exercise classes for older people scheduled when I planned on swimming, that it resulted in a very crowded locker room, and fewer lanes for lap swimming.

I got so frustrated that I skipped my swimming exercise. After two weeks of blowing off swimming I realized that I just needed to adjust my time. Every exercise recommendation you ever see says to do your exercise first thing in the morning so that you don’t skip it, but for me, the morning is my most creative time, and the pool is too crowded. Instead of just giving up, I tried going after lunch and before I pick up the kids.  It worked, I get my swim time in, I have the locker room to myself, and I am in a better state of mind to deal with after-school-crazy time with my kids.

The willingness to try different ways to accomplish different tasks is key to success for people with ADD/ADHD. Let go of recommendations that do not work for you, and hold on to what works. Exercise really helps me with my focus, but I need to do it when it fits my schedule, not when everyone says you should do it.

This applies to every other task that people have opinions about when and how you should do it. For example almost every book of writing advice ever written advises that you write everyday.  Would that work for me? Nope, after a long shift at my day job I am too burnt out and tired. Write before my shift to get my writing in? Nope, not getting up at four in the morning to put words on paper, although I have stayed up to four in the morning writing when in a groove. What do I do instead of beating myself up about not writing everyday?  I make it count when I do write.  I set goals for word counts. I stick with what works for me.

Two years ago I participated in the madness that is NANOWRIMO (see my post here if you don’t know what NANOWRIMO is) I only had weekdays to write, and only for two hours and forty-five minutes. So I sat down and figured out how many words I had to write each day in that two hours and forty-five minutes to finish.  Did I write everyday? Nope, but I still managed to get fifty thousand words written in twenty days. Find what works and hold on to it, and let go of any advice that does not work for you. Listen to yourself, research, experiment, read and re-balance to find your center.

Be kind to yourself, don’t quit, find what works for you and do it.

IMG_1973

ADHD and Resistance: Five Steps for Overcoming Resistance

DSC_0462

Resistance is different than procrastination, but often they are linked.  Why do we put off projects, activities, phone calls, meetings, purchases, cleaning, laundry, exercise and a million other to-dos that will make our live easier, more organized and less stressful? Resistance. For individuals with ADD/ADHD what looks like procrastination is often linked to resistance. We may be discomforted by some aspect of the task, or have had poor experiences that we don’t want to repeat. Sometimes resistance for ADD/ADHD individuals is linked to sensory issues that are associated with the task, or past frustrations with tasks. Figuring out what you are resisting is one way to end procrastination and move forward.  Resistance can create very serious physical problems, particularly when it comes to things like health checkups and screenings, dental care, exercise, and self-care. 

Here are five tips to help you get past resistance.

  1. Step back from criticizing yourself about not doing whatever it is you are not doing. Ask yourself “why am I avoiding this task/event/work?” Make a list of the reasons for your avoidance, in a non-judgmental way. Do not discount any reason that occurs to you, no matter how trivial the reason seems. Be honest. Remember that there always has to be a reason: “I just don’t feel like it” is not a reason, there is always a deeper reason. Sensory sensitivities, a major component of ADD/ADHD are often at the root of resistance. Sounds, smells, and sensory overload associated with tasks and events can trigger resistance and procrastination. 
  1. Look at the list from step one. Ask yourself “What can I fix?” Be realistic here, if that six in the morning spin class is not working because it is too early, find a later one. If you can fix the issues, fix them. Is the mega-grocery store overwhelming? Find a smaller store or shop on-line. Be creative.
  1. Pay attention to the seasons in your life. Are you dealing with aging parents, young children, teens, transitions, health issues, etc. ? Maybe now is the time to drop activities that do not fit. Often resistance is your mind/body telling you that now is not the time for an activity. Be careful here. Do not stop self-care activities like exercise and time for creative acts. Stop doing things that are not contributing to your well-being. Learn to say no to things that do not feed your soul.
  1. If the task is something you can’t let go of, like laundry, bills, or cleaning.  Can someone else do the task for you? If you can afford it pay someone to do the tasks you hate. If you are in relationship consider working together, and each of you do the task the other hates, or do the tasks together so they don’t take as long. Sometimes resistance is really resentment masquerading as resistance. 
  1.  Do not be afraid to experiment. Resistance to change for ADD/ADHD individuals has much to do with our need for routine which I wrote about here.  If you are still resistant, start again with step one, it often takes time to get to the real reason for resistance.  

I hope these tips help. The next time you find yourself resisting, take the time to figure out why. It can make a very big difference in your mental and physical health. 

BLM_2244

 

 

Preflight Checklists_ Not Just for Pilots

BLM_1688Checklists are very simple time management, and organizational tools. Pilots have used preflight checklists for years, as a means to ensure that everything that needs to be done before take off is complete. Most medical facilities have incorporated checklists for safety in operating rooms, prior to procedures. As a mom with ADHD, getting my kids and myself out the door for school and work in the morning can feel overwhelming. I wrote about this last year in this POST. In that post I talked about creating morning checklists for yourself to help organize your mornings. Checklists are an easy way for adults and children to overcome the difficulties with organization and distraction that individuals with ADD/ADHD battle every day.This year the kids want to manage their own checklists. As they are just starting to read, I added visual clues to the checklists to help them and laminated them so that they can use dry erase makers and reuse them. Our mornings are not effortlessly organized, but they are a heck of a lot better than they are without the checklists. Checklists can help both adults and children feel more in control, and relieve the anxiety that can accompany ADD/ADHD that occurs from the chronic worry that we are forgetting something important. “But what if I lose the checklist?” I hear you saying, and prior to finding an application for my phone, my checklists were on scrap paper, and I would loose or misplace them and create more stress for myself as I ransacked my house or desk trying to find them. Trello (HTTPS://TRELLO.COM) is an application makes it easy to create note cards and checklists.  The best part is that it is free, and no, they do not pay me to recommend this app. Unless you are using it for your business the free version is powerful enough to use for most people.  Checking a list electronically lacks the joy that comes from scratching through a paper checklist but the benefit of not loosing my checklists has me hooked.Analog or virtual, checklists can be powerful weapons against forgotten items and tasks, try them and see if they make a difference in your life.

 IMG_1904

Devil Thy Name is Procrastination: Seven Tips for Getting Stuff Done

IMG_0453

Did you procrastinate paying bills and get hit with late fees and bank charges?  Did you put off getting the oil changed and now the repair bill is thousands of dollars because the engine is blown? Did you wait until the last minute the report was due to write it and miss the deadline and now the opportunity for career advancement  is blown and you might lose your job? The root of all these terrible events is not bad luck it is procrastination.

Procrastination is a way of life for many individuals with ADD/ADHD. Overwhelmed by details and the noise in our heads, distracted by every little thing, and haunted by memories of impulsive decisions, we often put off doing what we need to do, and wind up forced into last minute decision making, bad choices, and the negative fall out.

Let me be clear, there is a difference between procrastination and forgetting to do things because you lose track of deadlines and details. I talk here , and here about using planners and timers for time management. I am talking about knowing that you have to do something that must be done and putting it off. Missing deadlines, appointments, not doing what you said or promised to do, damages your career, relationships with family and friends and can have catastrophic financial effects. Trust is built on keeping promises and commitments, repetitively missing commitments, and failing to complete tasks destroys trust.

Some people think that they work better under the pressure of a deadline. Research does not support this,  and others judge procrastinators, labeling them as lazy. Most often people who chronically procrastinate are most often overwhelmed, are fearful of making a bad decision, and are paralyzed with fear. There are also chronic procrastinators that are perfectionists who rework a project to death and never finish it, leaving others to think that they are incompetent and lazy. If any of the above situations resonate with you, try these seven tips for over coming procrastination.

  1. Time yourself doing tasks. Many individuals with ADD/ADHD have a distorted sense of time, making them afraid to start a task because they believe it will take too long. Knowing how long a task actually takes to complete enables you to make good use of your time.
  1. Make yourself accountable. Make a schedule and set up reminders on your phone. Enlist friends/family to make yourself accountable. Accountability partners should not nag, but check in regularly.
  1. Shut down your social networks. Have specific times and limit the amount of time you check into your social networks. It is estimated that most people spend two hours per day on social media. Two hours could translate into more than enough time to accomplish tasks you have been putting off because of lack of time.
  1. Make a list of every single thing you need to do and with deadlines. Don’t judge the items just list them. Take your time doing it and really do a brain dump. Getting things out of your head will help you to not feel so overwhelmed. Next to each thing write down the time you think it will take to do it, be realistic (see step one). Now decide which things really do need to be done, and which can be dropped from the list. Using the deadlines, schedule one task each day to complete. Do the task. Do not over schedule yourself! If you get the task accomplished and want to add another task, add it, but do not try and catch up in a day.
  1. Stop taking on/starting new projects/volunteer work/ extra activates until you compete all your other projects. It always feels good to start a project but finishing feels so much better. Practice saying “I would love to help, but I have too many unfinished projects right now.” Your mileage may vary with this one at your place of employment.
  1. Schedule one hour a day for completing tasks that you hate doing, and just do them. Set a timer and really work for the one hour. Reward yourself when you are done.
  1. Begin. Even if you don’t feel like, even if you are unsure, even if you are afraid of making a mistake, just begin.

Procrastination has such negative effects, do not let it continue to derail your life.  For more about how to get things done in your life and creating a time management plan that is personalized, I recommend this book: Time Management from the Inside Out by Julia Morgenstern

(http://www.juliemorgenstern.com/books/time-management-from-the-inside-out) .

I hope these tips help and as always do the best you can and be kind to yourself.

IMG_0028

ADHD and Exercise: Ten Steps to Finding What Works for You

Exercise. A word that can stir up the worst case of “shoulds”.  Because we know we should, because we want to be healthy, because we want to loose weight, because we feel like it is something we should do for what ever reason, and that is the problem. We listen to other people’s reasons and we don’t know what our reasons are. I place exercise in the same category as saving money and eating a reasonable diet. A causal browse of a book store or the Internet will net you tons of advice about what to eat, how to save money and exercise, so much so that in all the noise we forget to listen to the one voice that matters: our own.

Finding a form of exercise that we enjoy, that remains challenging, and that we can do consistently is of vital importance for individuals that have ADHD. We have to move. We are the pacers, the doodlers, the kids that spin, climb, and try just about anything that is physically challenging and jacks up our adrenalin and endorphins. Run a marathon? Fifty mile bike ride? Climb a mountain? We are into it. We are also the people that will just stop an exercise program when we get bored and because most people with ADD/ADHD have the attention span of a goldfish on cocaine, this it happens frequently.

People with ADHD also struggle with their minds wandering, coping with thousands of thoughts rushing through our minds every day. Exercise is a way to wear your body out in order to quiet your mind.  I wrote a post about focus and risk here , about how martial arts training helped with my focus.  The part I left out is how much easier it is to calm your mind when your body is tired.
Meditation is terrific for most people, but for people with ADD/ADHD it feels impossible. Finding a form of exercise that exhausts your body will make it easier to quiet your mind.

Here are ten steps to finding a form of exercise that works for you.Take your time and go through the list. It may seem like a lot of steps, but answering the questions will help you choose wisely, and find a form of exercise that works for you and fits into your life.

1. Make a list of physical actions you like to do, such as dancing, swimming, walking, running, team sports, biking, lifting weights, jogging, hiking, or climbing. Choose two that you like to do the most and mark them in someway.

2. Where do you like to spend your time? Outside or indoors? If you live some place where your ability to be outside will be limited by the weather, keep this in mind.

3. Do you like to exercise alone or with others?

4. Are you competitive? Do you like to play against other people?

5. Do you have any injuries or physical limitations? Many exercise programs can be adapted to accommodate physical limitations, so do not let this limit your thinking, just write it down.

6.  Look at your list from question one. Investigate the options for pursing what you like to do. Make a list of all the options available. List the costs (outfits, equipment, shoes, etc.) for your top two choices from question one.

7. How much do you want/have to invest in your exercise program? Having a budget will help avoid impulse spending and signing up for gym memberships that go unused. Only join a gym if you already know exactly what you are going to do at the gym and when you are going to do it.

8. Really look at your schedule. Make a list of times that you could exercise, taking into consideration your energy flow and reality. If you are not a morning person, do not think that getting up at five in the morning to exercise will really happen, be realistic and do not set yourself up to fail. If you don’t have a planner, or are struggling with time management check out my post here.

9. If it has been over a year since you have been to see your health care provider, go and get a check up. This is really important for people over fifty. Please read the Mayo Clinic’s advice for when you need to have a check-up before you start an exercise program here .

10. Do it. Just start. It can be really hard to find a way to start but the rewards are worth it. Do not compare  yourself with anyone else, do the best you can and be kind to yourself.

Use these questions to find what works for you, if your first attempts do not work, check out your options and expect that at times of major life changes (babies, small children, caring for older parents), or if you have an illness or injury you will get off track or may have to find another way to exercise.  When that happens go through the list again, take as much time as you need, to find what works for you.

 

 

 

For Your Consideration:Ten Tips for Submitting Creative Work

IMG_1520_2

While most often associated with gambling, the phrase ” if you don’t play you can’t win” is what I say to myself every time I send off a submission for review, not because it is a gamble but because of the truth of the statement. If you are one of the many who dream of having your work traditionally published, displayed in a gallery, or publicly recognized, you have to submit it for consideration by other people.
Is is easy? Yes, it is easy to hit send, but it can be incredibly stressful to assemble a submission package, book proposal, portfolio, manuscript, short story, or any other creative project. Some people get so overwhelmed they never submit anything. It is an act of confidence for any creative person to submit their work for review. As Erykah Badu says ” I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my sh*t…” and Ms. Badu is so right. I have yet to meet a creative person who is not personally invested in their work.

Just reading submission guidelines can be overwhelming and knowing that making a mistake can get your submission rejected before it is ever reviewed can create so much stress that many individuals give up. A large percentage of creative people have attention issues and struggle with details. Here are ten organizational tips to make the submission process less stressful.

1. Read the submission guidelines. Read them again. Print them out, underline, and highlight the requirements for the submission.
2. Enter all deadlines on your calendar. What no calendar? Read my post on keeping track of multiple deadlines and projects here.
3. Start a computer folder, a flat file or file box and keep everything related to the project in one location.This keeps key information and work together.

4. Date all drafts, or versions of your project. This prevents you from sending the wrong version of the file when it is time to send in the final version.5. Set reminders for key dates, these can be written reminders or electronic reminders.

6. Have another person, preferably someone who is detail oriented review your submission before you send it. Give them the guidelines and ask them to review your submission to see if you have everything required. Buy this person a beverage of their choice for helping you.

7. Be realistic and take your time. This is very difficult for many creative people, and particularly difficult for people with ADD/ADHD. Creating is fun, paying attention to details not so much, but if your brilliant work is never reviewed because you did not follow the submission guidelines you are defeating yourself.

8. Remember that as hard as it is to hit “send” or mail that package, it is the only way it is going to get reviewed: If you don’t play you can’t win.

9. Expect to have some anxiety after you submit your work. See Ms. Badu’s quote above, then get to work on your next project.

10. Celebrate. You have done something that many people dream of and never ever do. Celebrate your determination, celebrate your work, celebrate no matter what.

So hit the send button, drop off the portfolio, submit your creative work, jump in with both feet.

Money for the Distracted Book Review: Saving Money with The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese Art of decluttering and organizing

Clutter, stuff, things, what ever you like to call all of the items that magically multiply to fill every inch of your house, attic, garage, basement, shed, and storage units. Clutter eats your money like a hungry dog on a meat wagon. For people with ADD/ADHD clutter is a problem for several reasons. We struggle with decision making, we can always think of ways that said item could be useful, we have so many interests, hobbies, and things we are fascinated by, that we collect things at an alarming rate.
When we become distracted by the next thing, the items are still there from the first thing, or we buy everything we need for a project and then become distracted by another project and never get back to the first project.
Our powers of hyper-focus allow us to work in chaos that would shut most people down, but can lead to the kind of room that is ridiculously over stuffed. It can also be a constant source of friction for others that share our space.
Clutter costs money beyond the initial purchase as we spend money on storage containers for what we bought, re-purchase items that we can not find when we need them, and spend money for storage space for the excess in our lives. Kitchen clutter costs money when you throw out expired canned and packaged goods, and fresh food forgotten in the refrigerator. Clutter is a huge drain on your finances and causes stress. Many people, those with and without attention and impulse issues struggle with clutter. De-cluttering is like dieting, we all know what we are supposed to do, but damn, it is hard to stick with it, and quick fixes do not work. So, what is the solution?

Enter Mari Kondo, her amazing book The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese Art of decluttering and organizing, and the “Konmari” method of tidying. Her philosophy and word choice will feel odd to some, as this work is translated from Japanese, but her ideas about getting rid of everything that does not “spark joy” when you pick it up is bang on. She does not believe that following another person’s idea of what you should, or should not discard will ever stick, nor does she believe that rules such as “one in, one out, or one in two out” will work and that in the end you will go back to your cluttered ways.

As someone who has struggled with clutter and collections forever, this book was clear, easy to follow, and gave the best advice: No one but you can decide what is enough of any type of thing, but if it does not “spark joy” it does not belong in you space. As she rightly says, “only you can decide what is enough” and if you want to keep one hundred pairs of shoes it is okay as long as you genuinely love each pair. Unlike some methods of decluttering that have left me feeling like I was forced to discard things dear to me, this method made me feel like I was in control, and that in the end it was my choice and I was very happy and felt like a weight had been lifted when I donated clothes that no longer “sparked joy” to Goodwill. We can also put some of our bigger things into Self Storage Units to help us in case we can’t get rid of them at that moment, not only does it mean that we clear our home of what we don’t need, but we are able to make sure our things are correctly stored before being given away/sold.

Ms. Kondo has a set routine for discarding items, moving you from less difficult choices to more difficult ones, starting with clothes, moving to books, and finally everything else in the order she has listed in her book. Unlike other books that recommend that you have someone else touch and hold the item you are considering, she has the person touch and hold their item while asking themselves “Does this spark joy?”.
Her method may seem quirky, but by doing this, I was able to discard half of my wardrobe. Others I have talked to that are following the “Konmari” method have discarded even more. This may sound wasteful but most people only wear about twenty percent of the the clothes they own so this a way to have every outfit you pick up be one that you want to wear, not one that gets pulled out, looked at, and stuffed back in the drawer or closet.

She also has you discard by item, a grand way to see everything of that type you own. This was a little overwhelming but she argues that we have things stored all over and that we really do not know what we own until we get it all in one place. This will be challenging, as you will need a space to work in that allows you to do this, but in the end it made the process much easier. We have discussed getting a Workshop storage shed for the backyard that we can put all these small things in as we sort them out mindfully, this can help us greatly as it means we can keep these things quickly to hand as we get through them piece by piece, whilst compromising on all the clutter without it being actually within the house.

Ms. Kondo states that it takes about six months to complete the process of discarding but to the date of publication of her book, she has had no one that needed to repeat the course or who has slipped back into their old ways.

So are you ready to give it a go and start saving money? I started the process over the Memorial Day holiday, and will keep you posted as I progress.

ADHD and Money:The Slow-Cooker Method of Savings

Many ADD/ADHD people are visual people. We struggle with organization because if we loose sight of an object it might as well not exist. So what does that have to do with automatic savings? If you have the money deducted from your paycheck before you see it, you don’t miss it. I am not talking hundreds of dollars to start your savings project. If you are struggling to pay your bills, I am sure right now that you think I have lost my mind, and that you could not possible squeeze another dime out of your paycheck, or you have tried to save a fixed amount each month in the past but have ended up using it to pay bills because you started with too high an amount.

I am talking a small amount. How small? How about ten dollars a paycheck? Twenty dollars if you are paid once a month. Set it up to come out before you get your check. Most people are forced into automatic deposit, and it it very easy to set up a spilt deposit through your employer.
Ten dollars. That is all, less than the price of two fancy coffee drinks, less than two fast food meals, less than two lunches purchased at work. If you have an bank already, but do not have a savings account, open one, make sure it does not have any fees that will eat away at your savings. You can even open an on-line savings account and set it up an automatic transfer to come out of your paycheck.

Now the next step is really important. Do not look at your balance for the next year. That’s right a whole year. If you are nervous about this, have a trusted friend look at your statements for you, or if your partner is more trustworthy about money have them keep track of the balance. After one year, when you look at your balance you will be surprised at how quickly the money added up.

If you are like many ADHD people the impulse to spend it will be great. Do not do it! This is the start of your emergency fund. You know the extra money you are supposed to have sitting in the bank for emergencies? This is the seed. I know that some of you will have read about emergency fund recommendations that are so common in financial self-help books or on the blogs of sites like GoFundMe, stating that you should have three to six months of cash saved in a bank account for emergency needs, before you stop reading and give up because you can not even imagine how that would happen when you just pay the bills now.

In one year you will have $10.00 X 26 = $260.00 that is if you get paid every two weeks and save $10.00 per pay period, or $20.00 X 12 = $240.00 if you get paid once per month. It may seem like a small amount , but it is so much better than nothing. The balance will have also increased because of interest. Interest rates are pretty low right now for savings so I did not include them in the illustration, because the point of it is to prove to yourself that you can save money. It is what I call the slow- cooker method of savings.You just set it up and forget it, and just like a warm home-cooked meal that magically happens when you use a slow-cooker, the money accumulates. If you are feeling bold after the first year, increase the amount you save per month by five or ten dollars.

Many people are so deep in debt that they believe that there must be some great grand secret that everyone else but them heard at birth, and that they are never going to be able to handle their money, get out of debt, save money, or retire. This strategy also works for retirement accounts, set up as a pre-tax percentage. I am sure that there are retirement advisers, and people way better at managing money than I am, screaming right now at this approach. My guess is that they have never had the issues with impulse control, forgetfulness, or holding a steady job that many people with ADD/ADHD have to contend with on a daily basis.

Money issues come with an inner conversation of shame, guilt, embarrassment, and unworthiness about money. Setting up automatic savings can help break the pattern. Try this method, it does work. If you save anything, it is better than saving nothing. Never underestimate the ability of small steps toward a goal, or to prove to yourself that you can accomplish an project. Everyone has to start somewhere, and where you are is the best place to start.

Slow But Steady: Any Progress is Progress

I love this turtle because he helps me to remember that no matter how slow you are moving, if you keep moving you will get there. Through kids being sick, through family illness, through birth, death, and all of life’s messy bits, and most of all through your own inability to focus, if you keep moving you will reach your destination. Remember this when you are frustrated with your creative output: keep going.

I had a short fiction piece accepted this week for publication in an upcoming anthology. My kids think it is pretty awesome that I’m going to have a story in “a chapter book”, and so do I.   I’m not going to go into how long it has been since I had a piece published, or how many rejections proceeded this acceptance, or how many times I have submitted manuscripts, because none of it matters. The point of this post is this: all those days that I squeezed in fifteen minutes of writing made a difference. Not giving up is what matters. If you quit writing, it is impossible to get anything published.

I will confess to struggling mightily in the warm months to stick to my writing schedule. The lure of outside kicks my ADHD into high gear. After a winter of being inside all I want to do is play. My kids are home in the summer time, and that cuts into my writing time as well. I have some ways of dealing with kids at home and last year I posted some tips for sticking to your writing schedule when your kids are out of school, and you can read them here .

Even if you take some writing breaks over the summer, make it productive, read that To Be Read Pile, collect photographs, experiences, and memories to feed your writing later.

Most of all don’t give up, if you keep writing you will finish. Just keep moving. If you can only write one sentence, write a sentence. Like snowflakes it will add up. It may take years for you to accomplish what others accomplish in a month, it is okay, just keep writing.

Stick with it. Keep going, don’t quit, enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Money for the Distracted: Getting Off the Paycheck to Paycheck Merry-Go-Round

The paycheck to paycheck merry-go-round is a soul sucking ride that leaves most people feeling like this when it comes to their money.
So, how to get off? The B word. That’s right a budget, spending plan, or what ever you want to call it that does not give you  hives. A plan for your money, so you can see where it goes. Before you stop reading know that I understand that accidents, unexpected illness, medical emergencies, veterinary emergencies, and other acts of nature can shoot the best made budget out of the sky. How do you try to get out of a deep hole of debt? Here are seven tips to get started:
1. Stop. Just stop and gather all of your financial documents in one place. Figure out where you are. The library is full of books that will show you how to budget. Turn off the TV, shut down Facebook or Twitter, get off Pinterest and take an evening and sit down with your partner and lay it all out. Do it together. If you are worried about having the conversation or talking about money with your partner, read my post here for tips on how to talk about money.
2. Commitment to improving your financial situation.  Forgetfulness, procrastination, impulse spending, late payments, and general inattention cause problems with money management. Folks with ADHD/ADD struggle with all of the above. I once found a tax return that I was supposed to mail in my raincoat pocket two years after I was supposed to mail it. Why? Because in the two block walk to the post office on my way to work, I forgot to mail the tax return. Set up systems to help you keep your commitment and remember important financial dates.
3. Understand that there is a difference between being underwater because of poor money management, and catastrophic / unplanned life events. Do not see your situation as a symptom of poor character development.
4. Spending to save money is not saving at all. Too many people have bought into the whole coupons-stockpiling madness. Having thousands of dollars of food and household products in storage that rot before you use them is a waste of time and money. Yes, you can save money by stocking up when things are on sale and you have a coupon but only buy what you need/will eat, and enough to last until the next sale.
5. Figure out if you have an outgo or income problem. Do you not make enough to cover your basic expenses? If you can not afford food, housing, utilities, transportation, and medication costs on your income you have an income problem. Do you spend more than you make on non-essentials? That is an outgo problem.  No blaming here, just figure out what you need to work on, or if you need to work on both.
6. Take advantage of free resources to get help. The library is a great place to start. There are many free on line money management tools also. Check them out. Mint is a great place to start, and no they do not pay me to say that.
7. Getting out of debt is like losing weight, we all know that we should, how is the problem. Everyone needs to find ways that work for them, there is no one way. The keys for ADD/ADHD individuals is that the system needs to be simple, easy to remember, and automated as much as possible. Complicated systems that require large investments of time will be difficult for most people but for those of us with the attention span of a goldfish they are impossible.
Find a way to start your journey towards a place of calmness with your money. Financial stress can kill relationships and contribute to depression. Start where you are, be kind yourself, and believe that you can get off the merry-go-round.