As a Coach for Attention Deficit Disorder Adults, I am continually struck by the fantastic beliefs that so many of those with ADHD / ADD have about the 'rest of the world' - people who are not ADD.

It seems that many people with ADD think that other people carry around a magic internal clock, have phenomenal memories for direction and information, and can visualize all appointments and deadlines in their head at all times.

In short, people with ADD / ADHD seem to believe that non-ADDers are human computers.

Those ADD Adults who hold up this false standard, in an attempt to appear 'normal' (non-ADHD), may never learn to use the basic tools of life. So they create their own chaos by shunning the very tools and strategies that would make them organized.

Here's the reality:

The primary reason non-ADDers appear to be more organized, on time, uncluttered, and generally together is that they have picked up life habits, strategies and tools that make them that way!

YOU can also learn habits and strategies to provide the same benefits. But first, you need to let go of your myths.

Do you hold any of these false assumptions or fantasies?

MYTH 1: Time will follow whatever rule you decide for it.

... Do you persist in holding on to wrong beliefs of how much time an activity will take you, despite a lifetime of evidence to the contrary?

Many ADDers who don't complete things on time, or are always running late, operate on a belief system that is based on erroneous evidence -- or no evidence at all. Even worse than the shame and missed opportunity caused by the chronic lateness is the ADDer's belief that 'everyone else' would actually be faster and more efficient than they are. While there are sometimes areas where efficiency can be improved, in reality, the activity in question would usually take anyone far longer to perform. In any case, the relevant time is not how long it takes others, but how long it typically takes YOU.

REALITY: Time is not infinite.

Make a point of finding out how long things really take YOU to do. Non-ADDers don't know this by magic; they've developed a habit over the years of looking at their watch.

Track how long it takes you to perform typical tasks and activities with my Time Sense Exercise. Learn how to use it in a powerful way to turn your life around in the Thrive with ADD 'Develop a Time Sense' class recording with notes. You’ll find it under "Audio Recordings" at

MYTH 2: Calendars are for sissies.

... Do you believe that you should be able to remember all appointments, deadlines, commitments and promises without writing or recording them?

Many ADD Adults go through their life without using a calendar of any kind. They believe that needing a calendar is some kind of weakness, and that they'll actually remember every appointment, promise or social event.

I've come to believe a good memory can actually be a handicap to people with ADD. With many of my coaching clients, it seems that the better their memory, the worse they are at planning because they resist using an organizational tool. Inevitably, they forget or “misremember” an appointment. And they think nothing of calling to ask what time or day it had been scheduled. Yet they think a basic tool of self-reliance, like a calendar, to be a 'crutch!'

REALITY: Most non-ADDers rely on calendars or PDA's.

The more organized people are, the more they depend on their calendar for planning and follow-through. They would not dream of expecting to remember everything they had to do.

Use only ONE calendar that you always have with you to record general daily appointments, commitments and deadlines. Having separate calendars for home and work can be a recipe for disaster if they don't both have the same appointments recorded in both. If you must use both a PC and PDA, be sure to sync them up every day.

MYTH 3: It looks bad if you don't remember what you’re told.

... Are you embarrassed at not remembering everything that you hear?

Many ADDers don't take notes in meetings, or when they're given direction on the job, thinking that one shouldn't have to write things to remember them. Often at home, they simply haven't developed a habit of writing down what is needed.

Whether for work, school, or personal life, once you acknowledge that you've heard something, the person who told you assumes you've 'got it' and will then follow through. It's up to you to ask for clarification if you're not sure what was meant. But getting instructions right should not be a feat of memory. Putting instructions in writing is a key to ensuring there is no misunderstanding.

REALITY: Hearing is not the way that most people learn and remember best.

Everyone has their best learning and remembering modality among hearing, seeing and touching/ movement. There's nothing ADD-like about needing to SEE information.

Instructions that are only verbally delivered are the most likely to be forgotten or mixed up. You'd do best to get them down in writing, either by taking notes yourself, or by sending a follow-up email to verify the steps involved. Most people learn and remember better when they can read and write information as well as hear it. So in a work situation, taking notes makes you appear more interested and organized - not less.

- Always have a notepad with you when you talk to a boss or client. If you have trouble with writing while you're trying to listen, carry a pocket-sized recorder with you in your pocket.

- When given a number of steps for follow-through, summarize them in an email back to the person who gave the directions, asking them to confirm that you've gotten them right.

- In a learning situation, if someone is trying to teach you something without written information, tell them, "I learn best when I can refer back to notes later."

- Keep a small notebook in your bag for jotting down personal notes. Make a point of checking it every night.


Using the hints and tools provided may require forming new habits. Beginning new habits takes conscious thought and a lot of repetition before the behavior becomes automatic. Set yourself up for success with reminders where you’ll see or hear them, and realize you may have to go through some trial and error before the habit really sticks.

Remember, you are only human!

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie Mincu, ADHD Coach, is the Official Guide to ADD/ADHD at Bonnie had an extensive career in corporate management and executive coaching before starting “Thrive with ADD” for ADHD Adults in 2001. In addition to individual coaching, Bonnie teaches her Thrive with ADD workshop at New York University, and has produced a 5-minute online video, Her website,, contains downloadable classes, strategy articles and self-coaching resources for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Bonnie helps adults achieve their goals by flowing WITH their ADD traits rather than fighting against them.

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Bonnie Mincu, the Official Guide To Adult ADD / ADHD