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Tis the Season: ADHD Style!  

Tips for a happier, less stressful holiday season.December Newsletter


Welcome to Winter,

For this time of celebration, my focus is on strategies for the holiday season, gratitude and forgiveness, organizing advice and sharing recent research on the ADHD brain.  We also have a few videos and list ADD freeSources’ Pinterest pages that further expand on these topics.

How are you doing getting ready this month? Are you excited and looking forward to everything on your agenda or are your preparations, activities, and expectations for the holidays becoming too busy and overwhelming?

I used to love shopping and spent days searching for just the “right” gifts.  My holiday plans were exciting but very time-consuming and impossible to complete on time. I overestimated my ability to cope with the additional stress. Also, the post-Christmas “let-down” lasted through January and half of February. I eventually realized that extreme self-care was a necessary part of my treatment for ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. I now limit my activities to those that I value the most. Maybe simpler preparation and holiday plans can increase your holiday pleasure as well.

To continue reading…

Enjoy your month,

Joan Jager



(Image courtesy of SimonHowden/ Modified on Canva

Tis the Season: ADHD Style


Tips for a happier, less stressful holiday season.December 2017

I used to love shopping and spent days searching for just the “right” gifts.  My holiday plans were exciting but very time-consuming and impossible to complete on time. I constantly overestimated my ability to cope with the additional stress of this time of year. Also, the post-Christmas “let-down” lasted through January and half of February. I eventually realized that extreme self-care was a necessary part of my treatment for ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. I now limit my activities to those that I value the most. Maybe simpler preparation and holiday plans can increase your holiday pleasure as well

I love my ornament collection, so I do put up a tree.  But I no longer shop or make gifts for most of my family and friends. Instead, I choose gifts of service or plan activities for just a few people. As a bonus, I can schedule them for a later date when I have more energy and time. I also continue to bake my favorite cookies and candy for holiday get-togethers. I bring to-go containers so my “goodies” do double duty as small gifts. (and I can’t gorge on them later!)

For many of us, adult and child, some of our traditional preparations may be too involved to handle gracefully.  This year you might want to explore creating your own traditions that better meet your family’s values, personal abilities and everyone’s need to feel safe and calm. Be aware that children with ADHD need regular routines and often struggle with transitions. Schedule your activities and allow plenty of quiet time.  Prepare for changes in routine and plan ahead for both the excitement of the season and downtime during school vacation. Holiday activities also bring additional social challenges for both you and your child. Come up with short explanations for the uninformed about why and how you and/or your child are best helped when problems arrive.  Your goals are comfortable stress levels for all and less friction at parties or family get-togethers.

My Pinterest Board, Holidays and Other Celebrations, covers many of the situations you’re likely to face.


The holidays are a time for giving, gratitude and granting forgiveness. If you’d like to encourage charitable giving as a practice for you or your family, print out the 30-day Kindness Calendar from Action for Happiness for some great ideas on ways to contribute.  find  photo kindness-calendar


Being thankful is also a great tradition that begins with Thanksgiving and culminates with giving thanks for holiday gifts. (Some of you may even still write Thank You notes!) But, did you know that making gratitude part of your daily routine is a wonderful way to start any day? Being positive helps banish negative thinking and the complaining that can be so damaging to our happiness. ADHD and the Practice of Gratitude by Kari Miller Ph.D. offers some ideas on how to get started.  She includes these 5 Ways to Develop a Gratitude Habit.

  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Make a gratitude collage.
  • Practice gratitude with your family or make it part of your nighttime routine.
  • Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
  • When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead.


If none of these suggestions fit your style, 3 Ways to be Grateful (That Don’t Involve Gratitude Lists)  from Jessica McCabe of How to ADHD has a 4-minute video of other ways to express your feelings.

Gratitude is also one of the 9 Ways to Get Organized with Minimal Effort By Donna Smallin Kuper.   She writes, “Be grateful for all you have – It’s more than enough. Remember that the most important things in life are not things.” Donna’s other advice includes:

  • Start somewhere. Anywhere.
  • Declutter in short bursts.
  • And let go of perfect!

Forgiving yourself and others can also help bring peace to your life and not just for the holidays. Practice letting go of the pain of being “different.” Forgive yourself any perceived ‘failings” you’ve experienced because of ADHD. Also, forgiving those who have denigrated or shamed us helps us better control our emotions. Remember that attaining this peace is a work in progress. As Sara Paddison says in Quotes for Forgiveness by Stephanie A. Sarkis, Ph.D. for Psychology Today,

“Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them.”

“Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time – just like it does for you and me.”


When it comes to understanding the complexity of ADHD, we must also forgive the experts who don’t yet have all the information we’ve been hoping for. But our knowledge is expanding each year. We’re getting a whole new view of how the ADHD brain works and help in discovering the best treatments. 6 Things You Didn’t Know About the ADHD Brain by William Dodson, M.D. and Thomas Brown, Ph.D., in ADDitude Magazine is A MUST READ article.  It contains new research on ADHD that helps details how the ADHD brain works and why the Executive Functions are affected. Furthermore, they explain the part of the brain that stimulants impact and that we now know some individuals need less medication than the minimum available dosages, while many others require amounts greater than the maximum dosage allowed by the FDA.


A better understanding of ADHD can change the way we react to people with ADHD. It helps us pause, show empathy, and problem solve together.  Danya Abram’s video on Facebook, Behavior is Always Communication from Lemon Lime Adventures is great for parents and teachers.  As she says, “It’s easy to look at these behaviors as just what we see. It’s easy to make assumptions about why our children are acting out or doing inexplicable things.” Like an iceberg, what you see on the surface is 7-times smaller than what lurks beneath. “I challenge you to look for the other 85%. Look deeper.”

If you’d like something for your child to do over their vacation, Danya has an awesome workbook for just $14, The Super Kids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day: Awesome Games and Crafts to Master Your Moods, Boost Focus, Hack Mealtimes and Help Grownups Understand Why You Do the Things You Do

Hope you find some “treasures” in this month’s newsletter. Enjoy the holidays and I’ll see you next year!

Joan Jager


Title: (Image courtesy of Simon Howden/ Modified on Canva

Recommended Pinterest Boards:

For more ideas for gifts for both children and adults, try:

If you’re looking for items or activities for yourself, or other adults and children, see;

You can also find most of my boards on the ADD freeSources Facebook page: Look for Pinterest on the left side Menu




9 Ways to Get Organized with Minimal Effort

Start somewhere, anywhere. Let go of perfect.By Donna Smallin Kuper

If you want a cleaner, happier home, stop wishing you had a magic wand and become the magic wand!

Here are 9 super-easy things you can do that will have you feeling more organized in no time. Ready? The quicker you get started, the sooner you’ll be done. It really doesn’t matter where you start.

  • Start somewhere, anywhere. I’ve always said that the hardest part of getting organized is started. It really doesn’t matter where you start. Maybe start with the most visible stuff. For example, clear the floor in your bedroom or the countertops in your kitchen. Or start with something small like a purse or junk drawer.


  • Break large projects into mini-projects. Get organized one drawer, one shelf, one space at a time. Make a point to keep your project small enough to finish in 15-30 minutes max.


  • Example #1: To declutter your closet, move the clothes you love and wear to one end of the clothes rod. Then, working for just 15 minutes at a time or by the yard on your closet rod, try on each item. If it fits and makes you feel fabulous, hang it back up with other keepers. Once that’s done, go through your shoes and then your purses and accessories. Or tackle the floor and then the shelves.


  • Example #2: Go through papers one pile at a time. Flip the pile over and you’ll find the oldest stuff at the bottom, a lot of which may now be outdated and easy to toss/shred. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and keep going until the timer stops.


  • Declutter in short bursts. You don’t have to give up your entire weekend to get organized. Look for opportunities to do a little decluttering here and there throughout the day. For example:


  • When you file a document, do a quick search in the folder for papers that are outdated.
  • While you’re waiting for a pot of water to boil, straighten up your pantry.
  • While watching television, take advantage of commercial breaks to sort through a pile of papers, fold laundry, or de-clutter a drawer that you remove from its cabinet before sitting down.
  • Take five minutes every night to pick up and put away items that belong elsewhere and generally tidy up. To get into the habit of doing this, do it right after something you always do- like brushing your teeth.


  • Stop fighting with your stuff. Does this sound like you? You try to get organized by putting things where you think they should go. And you find yourself repeatedly putting away the same things. Solution: Create a home for those things where they “want” to live.


Example: Set a decorative box or basket on the end of your kitchen counter to be a drop box for the mail and other items such as your cell phone, purse, sunglasses, and keys that always end up there.


  • Get “appy.” Use apps like OfferUp to quickly sell items you no longer love or use. Use an app like Paprika to digitally store and organize your recipes. Look for other ways to minimize paper such as paperless statements for your bank and credit card accounts and apps like Shoeboxed for storing digital images of receipts. (A free D-I-Y version is available.)


  • Act as if you are organized – and you will become more organized. Do organized people just set things down anywhere? No, they put them away. It only takes a few moments to unload that shopping bag or hang up your coat. The trick is training yourself to do it! It’s a habit that your future self with thank you for.


  • Let go of perfect. Done is perfect. You don’t have to have a perfectly organized pantry to reap the benefits of organizing. You also don’t have to find the perfect recipient for every item that leaves your home. Donate everything to one charity and let them do what they do best.


Be grateful for all that you have – It’s more than enough.


  • Practice gratitude. Be grateful for all you have – It’s more than enough. Remember that the most important things in life are not things. No amount of things can ever replace the people we love and it’s that love that makes a home a home.


  • Get free support. Join the Unclutter Facebook page for free organizing support! You can ask questions and get help anytime you need it from me as well as other members – people like you who want to live a less cluttered life. It’s a private group so all posts can be seen only by members. In November of 2017, we’re doing a 30-day de-cluttering challenge and you’re invited to jump in. At the end of the month, I’ll post the full 30-day challenge if you want to start from the beginning.


About the author: Organizing and cleaning expert, Donna Smallin Kuper, aka The One-Minute Organizer.  Donna is the author of a dozen best selling books on uncluttering, organizing, cleaning and simplifying life. Her newest book is Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness.

Original article:

Contact Donna through


(Image courtesy of nirots/ Modified on Canva –



7 things about ADHD I wish I had always known

Stop feeling guilty. It’s not you, it’s ADHD.By Drew Dakessian


Having lived with ADHD for as long as I can remember, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons about my disability the hard way; I’ve done my share of learning by doing. I can’t help but feel that my life would have been a lot easier if I had known said lessons from day one. I hope that someone out there reads this and they — or their child — can benefit from my experience. Read on!


  1. People will tell you to go easy on yourself, but still, expect you to be ‘on.’

I’ve found that even if you tell your manager, for example, that you have ADHD, and he claims to understand that this makes you function differently, his understanding nevertheless flies out the window when you have a deadline to make but quite clearly aren’t going to be able to.


  1. ADHD has nothing to do with your personality or morality.

I spent a horrifying number of years of my life feeling guilty — often, despite not having done anything wrong. And even when I did err, I was convinced that whatever act of misbehaving I had committed was evidence that my character left something wanting. Moreover, I was sure that with the right resolve, I could ameliorate this situation and become a better (read: less ADHD) person. I don’t think I’ll ever stop regretting this now that I’ve realized how wrong I was back then. I’ll never get back the time I wasted feeling guilty for nonexistent or out-of-my-control incidences of ADHD-ness. Don’t make my mistake.


  1. You shouldn’t necessarily believe teachers who say, “Oh, I’m so ADD too!”

I was diagnosed relatively young, back in pre-k; meaning that I knew I had ADHD — and all of my teachers knew it too — for all 12 years of my lower education. And I swear, every single year a new teacher would tell me upon learning of my ADHD diagnosis, “OH, that’s totally fine, I’m really ADD too.” Unfortunately, that usually turned out to mean, “I don’t understand ADHD at all, but I think I’ll bond with you by saying I have it and referring to it in the pejorative.” Over the years, I heard many teachers say a lot of stupid, cruel things without seeming even to give it a second thought, but that is not ADHD. There’s a difference between wanting to think before you act and not being able to, and just deciding that you’re so wise, you never need to think twice. In the end, only one of my teachers ever turned out to have ADHD, my AP World History teacher during my senior year of college. How did I know he had it, and that he was the only one of my teachers who did? One day I was sitting in his classroom at the end of lunch when he walked in, looked around his desk, and announced that he just realized he had lost a pair of Bruce Springsteen tickets. I’m totally serious. But you know what? He was also one of the best teachers I ever had.


  1. Medications may “last” 12 hours, but that doesn’t mean you will.

Here’s a fun (by which I mean, not fun at all) fact: Even if the prescribing information for an ADHD medication says it lasts up to 12 hours, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use all 12 of those hours effectively. You see, even when medicated, people with ADHD have to expend more energy to complete tasks that seem to take our neurotypical counterparts no time at all. Do that for a full workday, and the remaining man-made focus you have left for your nervous system via medication is reduced to the equivalent of potential energy, never getting used. (This is a lesson I’ve started learning literally in the last few weeks.)


  1. Stimulant medication isn’t the be-all, end-all. 

From ages 5 through 22, I was on some form of the stimulant medication methylphenidate (aka Ritalin). For over 5 years now, I’ve been taking both an immediate-release dosage and extended-release dosage of dexmethylphenidate (aka Focalin). I first went on Focalin because when I was a senior in college, I discovered, to my horror, that my medication did not seem to be working anymore. Like, at all. That’s when I went on Focalin. But just two years later, I again ceased to feel medicated enough on a day-to-day basis. It was then that my PCP put me on bupropion (aka Forfivo), which belongs to a class of antidepressants known as Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors. Later, I also started taking guanfacine (aka Intuniv), a non-stimulant ADHD medication initially formulated to treat hypertension. As it turned out, for me, at least, these Forfivo and Intuniv were the magic bullets of ADHD treatment regimens.


  1. Coffee is your friend.

During my ‘bad concentration’ time of the month, and especially toward the end of it, my verbal acuity temporarily goes out the window. Somehow, this always seemed to happen *right* when I had a big paper due imminently (like, in two days, or even sooner). One day, in desperation, I did some Hail-Mary googling, seeking confirmation that yes, in fact, coffee does help ADHD people concentrate. According to a post published recently on ADDitude, it “arouses the central nervous system by stimulating the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, and by blocking the absorption of adenosine, which induces sleep.” I’ve found that a Starbucks Frappuccino with a shot of espresso enables me to write even when my medications are at their least potent. Pardon the pun, but I really do think you should give it a ‘shot!’


  1. ADHD is nothing to be ashamed of. People should be ashamed to think it is.



About the author: Drew Dakessian is a 28-year-old writer based in Portland, Oregon. Diagnosed at age 5, she blogs at and can be reached at

Original article:



(Photos courtesy of Stuart Miles/ Modified on Canva

ADHD and the Practice of Gratitude

“Gratefulness makes you fearless,” “It makes you trust life.”By Kari Miller, Ph.D., BCET

“Gratefulness makes you fearless,” “It makes you trust life.”

– David Steindl-Rast

Most people have heard about practicing gratitude, and maybe even know that research has proven many benefits from making gratitude a habit in your life.

But, specifically, how is a practice of gratitude related to improving ADHD symptoms?

Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep improves executive function – for example, focus, planning, decision making, and regulating emotions. Improved executive functions enhance your performance which improves your mood and reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for. And the cycle goes on…!!!

The neurochemistry of gratitude – you want some scientific evidence, don’t you?

Gratitude has a direct effect on depression symptoms (the more gratitude you feel, the less depressed you are) and an indirect effect on anxiety (more gratitude leads to improved sleep, which leads to lower anxiety).

Feeling grateful activates regions of the brain associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. First of all, dopamine allows us to take charge of our attention – to shine a spotlight on the one thing we want to focus on – and ignore other competing demands on our attention.

Dopamine makes movements easier, so more dopamine in our brain allows us to be more fluid and efficient in our movements, including helping us to be more efficient thinkers.

Dopamine is the reward chemical, so when we get an extra dose of it, our brain takes note of where the dopamine came from and actively seeks out the same experience in the future. This makes it much easier to establish a habit! So once you start actively looking for things to be grateful for, your brain will encourage you to continue looking for things to be grateful for because the brain loves to get hits of dopamine.

Another powerful effect of gratitude is that it boosts another neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin improves your overall mood, helping you feel more significant, powerful and self-confident!

Serotonin is also a key player in the ability to go to sleep. The buildup of serotonin throughout the day reaches a threshold and triggers the onset of sleep.

Serotonin is also a key player in the brain’s ability to focus and screen out irrelevant information. Like dopamine, serotonin helps your brain to “shine a spotlight” on what you want to pay attention to.

Surprisingly, it’s not even necessary for you to actually think of things you are grateful for – simply trying to think of things to feel grateful for triggers the release of serotonin! Wow!

Of course, if you actually find things to feel grateful for, that just increases the amount of serotonin in your brain.

And by the way – finding the things you are searching for (in this case, actually thinking of things you are grateful for) is a form of achievement which triggers the release of dopamine!

So the more things you acknowledge true gratitude for, the easier it will be to pay attention, focus and use your muscles smoothly! And you’ll be fighting off depression and improving sleep in the process!

Practice gratitude with your family or as part of your daily routine.Gratitude habit    

 Even though it’s easy to see how gratitude can lessen the symptoms of ADHD, it still can be hard to get into a “gratitude habit.”

So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives, aren’t we! We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for something, anything we are truly grateful for, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see our life as an opportunity and a blessing.

There are many things to be grateful for: a favorite food, an exciting experience, someone who cares about us, the opportunity to choose. What’s on your list?

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

  • Keep a gratitude journal. You can make daily, weekly or monthly entries. Don’t force it – this will work better if you are truly interested in doing it.
  • Make a gratitude collage by drawing or cutting out and pictures and adding words..
  • Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.
  • Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation, or as Esther Hicks would say, “Reach for the better-feeling thought!”
  • When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
  • Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.

Now that you have read all the way to the end of this article…

…think about ways to insert gratitude into your life so you can reap the benefits of improved mood, better attention, more restful sleep and greater control of everything in your life that is important to you!


About the author: Kari Miller, Ph.D, BCET is a board-certified educational therapist with a Ph.D. in educational psychology. She’s been educating and coaching adults and young people who have ADHD and learning disabilities for thirty years.  She has compiled the very best research to create success programs for women ready to reclaim the power in their lives!

Kari is an expert at helping her clients strategically leverage their personal strengths into productive action! She is passionately committed to guiding women with ADHD as they take control of their lives by getting in touch with their real assets and overcoming the real reasons they get stuck. Kari coaches women by phone or Skype anywhere in the world through private and group coaching programs. Learn more about choosing Kari as your coach at Clear and –


Top: Photo courtesy of Canva –

Bottom: (Photo courtesy of David Costello/ Modified on Canva 



Newsletter: ADHD Strategies

From Discovery to Acceptance: Strategies for ADHD


Hello everyone.

Welcome to November.  ADHD Awareness month may be over, but the 20017 International Conference on ADHD is soon upon us.  CHADD  and ADDA invite you to Connect and Recharge from November  9th through the 12th.

If you have to miss the conference, you can still enjoy ADDA’s podcast archives recorded for ADHD Awareness month.  TADD Talks (Talking about ADD) are like TED Talks, only shorter, with presenters from the conference speaking. Two of my favorites each run about 8 to 10-minutes.

“ADHD Meds – Use Your Brain All Day!” (Copy and paste Dr. John Bailey  and  From shame to compassion: Internal Family Systems and ADHD” with Michel Fitos, AAC


I didn’t discover that I had ADHD until my mid-thirties, but the clues had always been there. At school, I was the noisy space cadet who failed to wait her turn or stand in line.  I struggled in a number of subjects, especially writing and homework. “Fails to meet expectations” was always the first comment on my report cards. College and young adulthood brought additional responsibilities and more opportunities to fail.

With marriage and children, my ability to manage my life effectively was marked by dumb mistakes and last-minute efforts that remained incomplete as often as not. None of my earlier “foibles” had been resolved and managing and maintaining a house while keeping myself on track was beyond my ability. I began to search for answers.

Turns out, I was actually good at finding information. I love research and learning in general and and have become pretty good at collecting resources. Utilizing my strengths helps minimize my ADHD symptoms and allows me to be my best self.  Unfortunately, I was not as adept at putting what I learned into practice. As Russell Barkley says, ADHD is not a matter of not knowing what to do, it’s a matter of NOT doing what you know.” I needed an education in learning how my brain works best, to find the right blend of treatments and develop coping strategies that actually worked for my unique style of ADHD. Everyone must travel their own path from Discovery to Acceptance.  Hope you like what I’ve put together for you this month.


  1. The ADHD Journey: Help for the Road Ahead by Cynthia Hammer (If the link doesn’t work, copy and paste
  2. Strategies for living a better life with ADHD – Because pills don’t teach skills.

Read the entire Newsletter here>>>

(If the link doesn’t work, copy and paste

If you or your children struggle with the upcoming holidays, see my Pinterest board Holidays and other Celebrations.


It’s good to connect with all of you,

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources

Find us on Pinterest or Facebook


Manage your Life, House, and Home with ADHD

9 House and Home Systems for ADHD

What I know now that I wish I had known then.



For many people with ADHD, common problems include Chronic Disorganization of our environment, a lack of awareness of time, and problems with starting and/or finishing tasks. Lack of awareness of ADHD symptoms further complicates the issue. Not knowing WHY you struggle  invites other’s criticism and causes shame and doubt that you will ever “grow up.”

Between high school and young adulthood, I struggled. Didn’t turn in one single English paper at college, kept changing majors and after 4-years of incompletes and credits that didn’t add up, I had nothing to show for my efforts.  Outside of school, I often lost my keys, regularly ran out of gas, frequently lost my car in parking lots and worse, almost always neglected to eat on schedule. I had a hard time keeping a job, mail piled up, bills were often overdue, and laundry waited until I ran out of clothes.

But after I married and bought a house,  I was lost.  I bought a number of beginner cookbooks as well a many on cleaning and organizing trying to learn just HOW in THE WORLD other people could do it.  A husband and children around the house REALLY complicated my life.  I was having a difficult time meeting my own and societal expectations of womanhood. I just wasn’t  “normal” and I felt like a failure much of the time.

I DID make it through some very busy years, but usually by “putting out fires,” rather than managing my days and tasks well or without a lot of negative consequences. I went into action in emergency situations, when feeling ashamed, or facing deadlines, but they were mostly hit and miss solutions. Sometimes, I was actually interested in getting something and could get that thing done, but regularly failed to deal with everyday matters. One of the areas I struggled was around the household.


“The problem with dishes, “I would say, “is that you no sooner get them done than you have to do them again the next week.’ Some though that a great joke, but it was all too true. I kept searching for the elusive “Perfect” system to keep house and home together. I learned to clean using Don Aslett’s books in my twenty’s. I tried Sidetracked Home Executives in my thirties. Both systems were too much for me to handle. Some things stuck, but I never found something just right for ME.

After discovering ADHD in my thirties, my eyes were opened as to why my life kept getting “off the track.” Although I wouldn’t be diagnosed for 5 more years, I found a local support group htttp:// and began to learn how my “brain worked.” I discovered that I didn’t have to do it all myself and learned to ask for help.

In time, I developed strategies, until I had some semblance of order in my life.  F.L.Y.  Lady tips with Marla Ciley, became my go-to method by my forties.  ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. was also a great help. (Updated in 2016 to include apps, online calendars, and other computer or smart phone-based technology.) Most importantly, I began to accept myself, “warts and all.” My goal was no longer perfection, but simplicity and “good enough.”

  • Step-by-step, I began to create habits, use systems and build personalized routines that were unique to my needs and abilities.  I’ve collected a number of goodies that outline ideas that have inspired me and provided a framework on which to build.




ONE – Valuable Systems are the Keys to Good Time Management. You’ll find a great introductory article for parents, children, and adults with ADHD in Time Management – It’s a Family Affair  by Coach Cindy Goldrich.  Adapting systems to fit your own needs can be creative and necessary because situations change and we must adapt. See 80 Unusual ADHD strategies from ADDitude Magazine readers for a number of examples.


TWO- Hazel Thornton of Organized for Life has a wonderful series on developing Six Organizing Systems Everyone Needs.

She covers:

  1. Laundry
    2. Dishes
    3. Launch Pad
    4. Flow of Paper
    5. Flow of Things
    6. Getting Stuff Done

To design your own systems, ask a series of Who, What, When Where, and Why questions.

  1. WHO is affected? WHO will do it?
    2. WHAT needs to be done?
    3. WHEN and HOW OFTEN?
    4. WHERE will we do it?
    5. WHY?

Your needs will change and you may tire of some of your current strategies. Revise them by continue to ask yourself these questions to fine-tune your systems.


THREE – I already wrote to-do lists for projects, but developing a To-do list habit was a game changer for me.  April Perry of Learn Do Become provides two basic starting points.  I got these tips from a free video on their Facebook page promoting their program.

1st – Identify next action – Not the whole task, just the first step or small action that will get you through the job until it’s completed. Don’t worry about every step involved, just the NEXT one.

* Of course, this important step-by-step process is not-so-easy when you have ADHD.  It’s harder for us to execute. It requires Executive Functioning skills that don’t come easy to many of us with ADHD. To control your list so it doesn’t control you, see From To-Do to Done by Lynne Edris. It will help you with this crucial first step of managing your To-do list

2nd – Use a Context-based To-do List routine. Create separate sections for:

  • Home
  • Phone
  • Errands
  • Computer
  • To discuss

FOUR – For a great collection of Planners, see Planners, Journals and Calendars – You can find many free To-do lists and planners and how to use them, as well as many available for purchase.


FIVE – I like visual reminders and keep a copy of this printout on my refrigerator. Simple Steps for Staying Organized -This printable from Andrea Dekker has become my housekeeping mantra.


SIX – The last few months, I’ve been following a simple housekeeping routine of 4 simple steps. I found them in an eBook by Dana K. White of A Slob Comes Clean.  The most important point she makes is that you MUST do them EVERY DAY. (She spends a chapter for each trying to convince you that she really means EVERYDAY.) Get started by doing each task for a week. Only then do you add the next.

  1. Do the dishes everyday. EVERY DAY!
  2. Sweep the floor EVERY DAY!
  3. Pick up bathroom (Not cleaning, just clearing out anything out of place.) EVERY DAY.
  4. Make a  5-minute sweep of living spaces EVERY DAY

She claims that most other housekeeping needs are projects, different from routines, but made easier by having your basic needs met first. I don’t quite agree with all of this, but the everyday routine has been working for me in the last few months. Dana’s book, How to Manage your Home Without Losing your Mind, offers more reality-based homemaking tips. Check out her website for details.

SEVEN  – Zen and the Art of Homemaking – If you need help getting started on your organizing “Projects”, see  18 Five-minute De-cluttering Tips to Start Conquering your Mess.  Another article by Leo Babauta includes the self-explanatory, The Clean-as -you-Go Principle. Developing the habit of putting things away and cleaning up a bit when you’re done with a task can be a great time-saver. Personally, I follow a 30-second and two-minute rule by taking the time to attend to things in small increments of time. See Zen Habits’ Leave No Trace for more on this approach.


EIGHT – ADD free Sources on Pinterest! I’ve curated a number of Boards with hundreds of ideas on homemaking,  organization, and getting things done. Many other boards may suit your needs as well. –  I know, overkill for some of you, but it’s been said that the thrill of the hunt on is addictive for many of us with ADHD.

The first is:  Making your bed EVERY DAY: the best way to start your dayAdmiral William H. McRaven’s commencement speech convinced me. You can find the rest of the Admiral’s Ten Tips on YouTube.

Next, Go for Progress,not Perfection. Start addressing your clutter and CHAOS. Take it Step-by-step with Marla Ciley with homemaking tips from the FlyLady.  (Trigger warning – Take the daily shiny kitchen sink premise with a piece of salt. Once or twice a week is enough for me! But, developing some of her routines really worked for me, like writing down a simple 3-step routine for morning, afternoon and evening.
I like this introductory video:  Rockin’ Routines


The final video is How to get Comfortable in the Kitchen. You might like this 8-minute video with Jessica McCabe and her guest on the How to ADHD YouTube channel.  Make shopping and eating simpler and meals more interesting.


(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/ Modified on Canva




From Discovery to Acceptance: Strategies for ADHD

November, 2017

Newsletter for ADD freeSources – Email for Newsletter – Short version

By Joan Riley Jager

I didn’t discover that I had ADHD until my mid-thirties, but the clues had been there. At school, Teachers saw a noisy space cadet who failed to wait her turn or stand in line.  I struggled in a number of different areas as well, especially writing and homework. “Fails to meet expectations” was always the first comment on my report cards.

College and young adulthood brought additional responsibilities and more opportunities to fail. With marriage and children, my ability to manage my life effectively was marked by dumb mistakes and last-minute efforts that remained incomplete as often as not. None of my earlier “foibles” had been resolved and managing and maintaining a house while keeping myself on track was beyond my ability. I began to search for answers.

Through pure luck, I found a local support group with monthly speakers and a growing library of books, audio, and videotapes. The director of the group, Cynthia Hammer, MSW provided inspiration and help with her handout The ADD Journey: Help for the Road Ahead. Cynthia outlined 4 steps to the process – from first realizing there may be a problem through what holistic treatment for ADHD can do for you or your family. It’s a long article but covers what it means to find success with ADHD quite well.

  • Discovery and Diagnosis
  • Increasing Awareness
  • Restructuring
  • Self-Acceptance

For many of us, hallmarks of ADHD are Chronic Disorganization of our environment, a lack of awareness of time, and problems with starting and finishing tasks. Medication and other treatments help. For more on that, see A PHYSICIAN’S PERSPECTIVE on ADHD Medications by Dr. Ted Mandelcorn. But additional strategies to manage your life effectively are necessary. The rest of the Newsletter provides more specific strategies for restructuring your life and environment. You CAN live a better life with ADHD, but as the saying goes, “Pills don’t teach skills.”

At the age of 62, I’ve tried a number of ideas on how to keep my life and household on track. Some worked, but many were not very useful with ADHD symptoms confusing the issue. My feature article this month is a collection of resources I’ve collected that ARE suited to the way the ADHD mind works.

Manage your Life, House, and Home with ADHD – What I know now that I wish I knew then. –I’ve included ideas for Planning, To-do lists, De-cluttering, Developing Systems, Creating Habits, and building Routines. I’ve also included pertinent Pinterest Boards and a few videos.  Many of the ideas, but not all, deal with keeping your house, home and family under control.

You might also like these Unusual ADHD Coping Strategies You Haven’t Tried. It includes 80 ADHD strategies for living a better life with ADHD from ADDitude Magazine readers.  Adults and parents devised, modified, and refined these ideas themselves to work for them. They also recommend a few APPs.

  • Best tips for adults: For Disorganization, impulsive moments, and getting things done.
  • For parents: Discipline tips, getting teachers on your team, and tips for getting kids to sleep.
  • APPs 4 U: To do more each day, calm down, and to manage time.

The best strategies build on your natural interests and skills. Coach Linda Walker writes on the importance of strengths and self-advocacy for both adults and children. Don’t miss her Twelve Great Strategies that Help ADHDers Thrive.


Cultivating Habits of the Heart (3-minutes) “Focusing on our inner values and strengths is another way to approach finding our purpose in life.”

“Too often being productive is the only measure by which we judge a man. But success can come in many forms…. “Who you are and your associated self-worth is not based on how well you do things…Learn how to focus on what’s important, so you don’t get emotionally hijacked by the expectations of inconsistent performance.” ~  ADHD coach David Giwirec


Enjoy ADDA’s TADD Talks (Talking about ADD) They are like TED Talks, only shorter, with presenters from the conference speaking. Two of my favorites each run about 8 to 10-minutes.

“ADHD Meds – Use Your Brain All Day!” with Dr. John Bailey  and  From shame to compassion: Internal Family Systems and ADHD” with Michel Fitos, AAC

That’s it for now. Until next month,

Joan Riley Jager

ADD freeSources

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(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/ Modified on Canva


Response to Treatment Rating Scales

How will you know when you have the right ADHD medication and dosage?


“You can’t notice small improvements or side effects without a monitoring sheet.”  The goal is to find the best results with the fewest side effects. Finding the right medication and dosage is seldom a straightforward process. It usually involves medication trials and may require many adjustments to dial in just the right combination.  The better you keep track of improvements or problems, the more likely to best the best results from treatment. Don’t waste time or suffer needlessly on the incorrect type and/or dosage of medication.

Prescribers may slowly increase the dosage, then back off when side effects begin to interfere. Other times, they will switch to a different type of medication altogether. It will depend on what you have to report. Even if you use supplements like Omega 3 Fatty Acids, how will you know whether they are helping if you don’t record what changes, if any, occur?  For more on the alchemy of prescribing ADHD medication, see ADDitude Magazine’s 10 Medication Fallacies even Doctors Believe.

Dr. Charles and Core Psych have numerous articles and videos on the specifics of different ADHD medications and tracking individual’s response to treatment.  Try the comprehensive and unique book on the subject that is reasonably priced:  New ADHD Medication Rules – Brain Science & Common Sense.

Pencil-and-paper treatment monitoring system that David Rabiner, Ph.D. developed that can be downloaded for free at

Medication Effects Rating Scales Children and Adolescents or Adults – Record changes observed and any negative side effects   Arlington Center for ADD

Weiss Functional Impairment Rating Scale – Track your child’s emotional and behavioral response to treatment.

Real-life measures of the effectiveness of ADHD treatment – From “Talking Trash: Targeting ADHD Challenges by Gina Pera

Return to ADHD Screening Tests

Other tests include:

Screening Evaluation Forms – Printable – (Will not link: Copy an paste  – For both Children and Adults

Online ADHD Tests

Response to Treatment Rating Scales – Children and adults

FREE Professional ADHD Assessment Forms – Children and adults


Image courtesy of graphic mouse/
Modified on Canva –


FREE Professional ADHD Assessment Forms

Professional ADHD Assessment Forms – No charge

Canadian ADHD Practice GuidelinesADHD Forms for clinicians from CADDRA – Rating scales for educators, children, adolescents, and adults from the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance

CADDRA ADHD Assessment Toolkit 2011 –  48 page PDF with recommended assessment forms, screeners, and rating scales from Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance.

 Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was designed as a brief behavioral screening questionnaire about 3-16-year-olds. It now has a version for 2 to 4-year-olds as well as one for over 18  – 25 questions – Choose from a wide variety of forms in a number of languages. Impact and follow-up versions are also available. Scoring is quite complex. Setting up an account to have them do it for 25 cents is TOO!

The Disruptive Behavior Rating Scale can be completed by parents and/or teachers to report the presence and frequency of symptoms of ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Conduct Disorder (Pelham, Gnagy, Greenslade & Milich, 1992)

The Impairment Rating Scale is a form that can be used by parents and teachers to indicate the impact of ADHD symptoms on important functional domains. (Fabiano et al., 2006)

The DIVA 2.0 – Diagnostic Interview for Adult ADHD. DIVA 2.0 is based on the criteria for ADHD in DSM-IV. It assesses ADHD symptoms in adulthood as well as childhood, chronicity of these symptoms, and significant clinical or psychosocial impairments due to these symptoms.

DIVA was developed in Dutch and translated into many different languages. Please donate to keep this instrument available at low costs for research and clinical assessment purposes.


ADHD Screening Tests

Printable Screening Evaluation Forms (Will not link: Copy and paste (Print out and score yourself)

Response to Treatment Rating Scales – Children and adults


Photo created on Canva