It's that time of the year once again ... the 90 plus days that are the bane of existence for the majority of adults with ADHD.
Yes, I'm talking about tax season - when all of our finest objectives from the year before can either seem like our conserving grace or plunge us into weeks of despair. For whatever factor, taxes seem to integrate all of the battles of ADHD into one fell swoop.
Last year, I shared the usual experience of "a week with adult ADHD" to show how even the very best of objectives can result in chaos, putting out fires, procrastination and barely making due dates.
This year, in the midst of tax period, my thoughts rely on the ADHD difficulties that make conference deadlines so difficult to satisfy.
Meet 'Amy', she is a single mother running her own business and a recently detected 'ADHD adult.' Each year, she promises she is going to submit her taxes by the end of February permitting her to use the refund to finance some updates on her house and perhaps even plan a journey for April getaway. Determined to do it "right" this year, she sets aside a day on the calendar to "do her taxes"... and afterwards the overwhelm hits.
Paperwork. Where are all her receipts, W2 kinds, 1099s, credit card and bank statements?
The search begins ...
Her first stop is the basket in the utility room she purposely set there so she might promptly submit any inbound mail that has to do with her finances. Success! There are 2 1099 types awaiting her. She is likewise enjoyed discover the letter from the bank with her home loan interest and real estate tax details, however recognizes she doesn't remember if she received another one over the summertime from when she refinanced. She makes a mental note to search for this.
As soon as in the laundry room, she recognizes that she has once again left a load of laundry in the wash too long, reboots it and folds the pile of laundry on top of the drier, puts a few of her boy's clothes into soak and makes a mental note (for the 2nd time) to herself that she has to purchase detergent. While folding the laundry Amy keeps an eye out the window and realizes it's past Presidents' Day and the rose bushes still aren't pruned. Impulsively, she grabs the clippers and her gardening gloves and heads out to the yard.
Once back inside and about 4 hours into the day of "doing her taxes", she happens upon a W2 form from her part-time task, not in the basket, but on top of the microwave. Slightly she bears in mind putting it there after her boy overturned a cup of fruit punch trying to make some snacks. Exhausted Amy chooses to begin "doing her taxes" tomorrow.
As "doing her taxes," continues (aka the next day), Amy begins in to collect details on med appointments and co pays to see if she can claim any reductions. Some of these she remembered are listed in her checkbook. Browsing other piles of paper throughout the house, she finds the invoice for her child's retainer 'filed' in with old school notices, and the receipt for her contacts is in the medicine cabinet beside the vacant box of exchangeable contacts. Amy gets sidetracked by the poor organization and invests the next hour of "doing her taxes", clearing out the remainder of the medication cabinet and tossing out ended medications, perfume and creams.
As soon as performed in the washroom, Amy's focus returns to taxes. She keeps in mind that she tucked away a recent letter about her retirement plan kind in a 'safe place.' Issue is, she cannot bear in mind where that safe place is ... possibly in a folder from when she refinanced? However where's the folder? In the laundry room? An hour later, Amy completes folding the laundry and starting another load, but forgot why she went there in the first place. Had not been she "doing her taxes" today?
Refocused the search continues. Amy discovers receipts from lunch meetings in her wallet and a couple of more stuffed in the glove box of her vehicle. Throughout the search she also came across the note pad she had bought to keep track of her mileage to those meetings (the notebook has just 2 entries from that very first week in January). Amy makes a psychological note to start tracking her mileage for this year.
Feeling rather exhausted, Amy's happy that she bought an easy online bookkeeping system 2 years ago for her company to keep an eye on invoices and payments (an ADHD method she learned from a colleague with ADHD). However ... well into the night of day two of "doing her taxes", she realizes she hasn't kept up with utilizing the system and the search starts for records of the past year's costs. She discovers some expenses on her charge card expenses and others listed in her checkbook. After a comprehensive inbox search under "taxes," Amy lastly finds the remainder of the expenses in an email folder under "important".
Does any of this noise familiar?
Remaining organized is one of the biggest struggles for those with ADHD. This is since company requires jobs such as planning, managing time, keeping in mind and focusing on - essential challenges for those with ADHD. Leading this off with attempting to maintain focus and attention on a long-lasting activity, such as taxes, and it is almost impossible. Simple interruptions can waylay the very best plans and objectives. The inability to focus on things less intriguing can prevent us from keeping in mind where items were tucked away in their 'safe place.'.
It's no wonder why getting your taxes done is such a difficulty. But, getting them done is not an impossibility. It just takes some additional work.
The primary step to figuring out the best ways to get organized is to figure out where you are disorganized. When you find out how things aren't working today, you can put in place approaches that prompt success.
This year, when you begin to pull together your receipts for tax preparation, attempt to locate papers to refinance, or pull together essential products, analyze where things are located. Is the issue that you have no one place to put everything, or maybe it's the wrong location?
Get feedback from good friends, family, or colleagues who can take a nonjudgmental, nonpartisan view of your organizational design.
Typically another person has insight on your habits that you may not have. You understand you have problems planning, remaining concentrated or other symptoms of ADHD, however typically you could not see how your behavior mirrors it. Others may see how specific things distract you while sorting the day's mail, or understand you focus much better first thing in the morning.
Figure out how your distinct ADHD brain classifies information and deal with that strength.
Are you a visual individual who works well with colors? If so, get bright baskets or folders with labels so you immediately understand precisely where to file documents without having to think through the process. Do you work better with written sets off? When you are in line to purchase something, send yourself a text reminder to add the expenditure (or log in to the system and do it right there). Or do spoken reminders work best? Use a recording system on your phone to tell your future self where items have been put.
Do you have distinct ideas or approaches that you do at tax time to help keep you on job? I would like it if you would share them in the remarks below and possibly someone can gain from those ideas likewise.