101 ADD Strategies: #83, #84 – Coping with Chaos

#83 Organize It

Sometimes chaos can’t be covered up or ignored even when it is concealed from view. Sometimes the chaos is part of the project that you are currently working on. In that case you may just have to stop and invest the time to organize it.

Try not to let organizing a project overtake the project. Organizing has been known to lead people into a hyper-focused mode, which they don’t come out of until the time they set aside to work on a project has expired. Try to organize only the part of the project you are working on. Make the organization as simple and easy to maintain as possible. Also consider ways to maintain that organization with minimal effort.

If you struggle with organization, go back to the strategies in this book that deal with that executive function: use what worked, keep it simple, make it natural, and build it in. If you need additional help, get it. Some people have a gift of creating organization from chaos. They can not only help you organize, they can also help you develop some of those skills.

#84 Take a Break

Some people are affected by chaos to the point of anxiety. They can tolerate it for a time, but the longer they remain in the chaos the more agitated they become. This can apply to physical chaos, such as a cluttered room or an unorganized desk. It can also apply to situational chaos, such as a meeting that has no structure and where random and possibly multiple conversations are going on at once. Large family or social gatherings can seem pleasant at first but become increasingly agitating over time.

The great thing about these situations is that the anxiety dissipates over time at about the rate that it builds. So taking a break as soon as you feel yourself start to be bothered can allow yourself to quickly drop down under that threshold. If you spend that break practicing some relaxation, breathing and meditation, you will return to the chaos with an even greater tolerance.

If you need an excuse to take a break, you can use the one that is least likely to get any resistance. Say that you need to go to the restroom. It won’t be a lie. You do need to go to the restroom to calm down. Getting a breath of fresh air also works in most situations. If neither of those makes sense in your situation, announcing that you simply need to take a break is valid as well. You can leave it up to others to guess what the break is for.