Two organizing books that could change your life

ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau, PhD, and Organizing for the Creative Life, by Dorothy Lehmkuhl & Dolores Lamping, CSW.

ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau, PhD, and Organizing for the Creative Person, by Dorothy Lehmkuhl & Dolores Lamping, CSW.


Are you looking for solutions to your long-term problem with over-accumulation? Here are two of my favorite books that I re-read and recommend to clients and prospects all the time.

ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau, PhD

An extremely comprehensive book, “ADD-Friendly” presents organizing tools, tips and strategies that help the ADHD individual get organized and stay organized over the long-term. Here’s what I like about it:

  • Case studies. The authors show rather than tell about specific problems the reader might be experiencing. In this way, readers receive acknowledgment that they are not alone, that others are going through the same thing.
  • ADD-friendly formatting. Bullets, summaries, graphics and large chapter headings provide the ADD-er with a higher-stimulation format to help them remain focused and stick with the reading task.
  • Support. Throughout the book the author mentions support from other people to help make lasting change: help from loved ones and help from professionals.
  • Managing time better. Use an alarm to alert you when you need to leave the house for an appointment, for example. Use an alarm to remind yourself to go to bed instead of staying up until 2 in the morning.
  • Make better decisions. The “friends, acquaintances & strangers” technique helps you decide which objects you know pretty well (keep it), which ones you know a little (set aside and re-visit decision in a week), and which ones can be donated or tossed.

Organizing for the Creative Person, by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping

Creative people with right brain tendencies experience the world in a unique way. Namely, they find it difficult to organize their time and their things. The authors present organizing techniques that complement this thinking, and they maintain that with a healthy dose of motivation and hard work, the right brain person can develop the skills needed to succeed.

Chronic messiness is certainly not synonymous with personal shortcomings or brokenness. Instead, the authors present the chronically disorganized person as an unconventional thinker who has natural flair and imagination. Here’s what I like about it:

  • People think differently. The split brain research of Dr. Roger Sperry in the 1950s showed that most people naturally depend more on one hemisphere than on the other.” Right brain thinking is non-linear and holistic (and often manifests in disorganization), whereas left brain is logical and detail-oriented (neat & organized). The authors state, “it’s only natural, then, that people who prefer right brain activities will have developed more right-brain skills and may not have concentrated their efforts as much on learning left-brain organizing skills.”
  • Right-brained individuals need unique organizing strategies. The authors present their favorite “RB” or “Arbie” organizing techniques throughout.
  • Use a non-traditional calendar that reflects your non-traditional thinking style. This could be a long sheet of paper taped left to right on the wall with the dates written across to appeal to the Arbie’s visual sense. Or, use a clock-shaped calendar with December at the top and June at the bottom, with other months filled in either clockwise or counterclockwise. However you “visualize” time, there is a calendar solution that will make sense to you.
  • Break down projects into manageable pieces. Develop a habit of clearing clutter for five minutes a day, to eliminate “the big cleanout.”
  • Use visual reminders. Place items near the front door that you need to take with you, e.g. outgoing mail, those library books you need to return, the shoes you need to take back, etc.

I characterize these books as “life changing” because if a person living with clutter read one or both of these books, and, with support, implemented the techniques, they would likely witness a more calm and orderly way of life and would be on the path to realizing their goals.