How to Use a Body Double

Many of my clients use me as a body double at least part of the time. One client uses me as a double most of the time and told me that he was so happy that someone had come up with the term “body double” as he likes it a lot better than “babysitter”.

As a body double, I am near the person who is doing the project. Often that is all I need to do. My presence helps the client focus and stay on task. I am just a tool that allows them to get important tasks accomplished. I can even do this virtually using Facetime.

At first, some people are embarrassed by this arrangement. They realize that they are doing these chores all by themselves while paying me to sit there. They know they can do the work but at the same time they realize that they won’t if I am not there. This is especially true of ADHD clients.

Sometimes I am a combination of body double and assistant. I may sort the mail, open it, and hand it to the client one piece at a time. The client then does the task that is needed and hands it back to me to file if appropriate. We may chat a bit about what needs to be done but the client actually pays the bill, makes the call, or discards the paper.

A body double does not have to be a paid professional. A friend or family member can do the work of a body double if they understand what is expected of them. If they realize that they are being the best help by sitting near the person but not intruding. They can read a book or work on a crossword puzzle but just by being there the person will continue to work. I have had one client use her sister as a body double while she was the body double for her sister. One lived in Georgia and the other in Texas. They would connect by phone and for one hour would work on projects with just a word or two as they worked to make certain each was on task.

Once a person accepts that a body double can be an important tool to help hem, it can be a relatively easy way to move a project forward.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Recap of ICD session “Making ADHD Quirks Work!”

At our ICD conference Rick Green of Totally was our last speaker. He had so much to share that was great and I would like to post a few of his ideas here.

One of the topics he discussed was adult strengths which when recognized can be a real asset. He listed creative, outside the box thinking, charismatic and funny, intuitive and sensitive, lateral-thinking, talkative, life-long learner, hyper-focus, enthusiastic when interested, sense of humor, loyal and curiosity.

He also shared a ton of tips, tools, strategies, and practices. Since the topic of time management is near and dear to my heart, I’d like to share some of his thoughts on time management.

One thing that really struck me was that adults with ADHD think of time as only “now” and “not now” so long term goals and deadlines don’t work well.

Rick suggested using a paper planner so there would not be distracting apps. Tasks should be under-scheduled but the agenda/planner should be over-used. Use only one calendar.

To track the time working on tasks, use a sweep hand timer (hello, TimeTimer). Know how long you plan to work on the task and what is next.

Finally he suggested we watch the video The Unofficial ADHD test. This video is funny yet right on!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Michael Phelps and ADHD: A Success Story

Michael Phelps has been outstanding this year at the Rio 2016 Olympics. I believe he is the most decorated Olympian of all time.

What I recently learned is that Michael Phelps has been diagnosed with ADHD since he was 9 years old.

His mother, Debbie, who taught middle school for more than two decades, worked with Michael and his school to get him the extra help and attention he needed. When Michael struggled with behaviors and academics, his mother looked for ways to use his strengths and interests to find solutions. She helped him overcome his hatred of reading by giving him the sports section of the paper and books about sports to read. She got a math tutor that used word problems tailored to Michael’s interests. She and Michael developed visual cues and signals to keep Michael aware of consequences of his behavior. When he was 10 she came up with the signal of making a “C” with her hand that stood for “compose yourself.” Every time she saw him getting frustrated, she’d give him the sigh. She shared that she realized her really “got it” when he gave her the sign once when she got stressed making dinner!

Many people use physical activity to help control their ADHD. When you are physically active, your brain releases lots of neurotransmitters, which increases the attention system’s ability to be regular and consistent by spurring the growth of new receptors in certain areas of the brain. This has many good effects like reducing the need for new stimuli and increasing alertness. (Michael Lara, MD in The Exercise Prescription for ADHD in CHADD’s Attention magazine)

Michael Phelps has said that he found that swimming and competition helped him maintain his focus. Michael took something he loved and used it to shape his life. Here is a lesson where we can all benefit.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Who me? ADHD?

Information about women with ADD/ADHD have fascinated me in my later years. I suspect that I have ADD but have not been officially diagnosed. ADHD is a condition that may develop in early years but continue into adulthood and often gets worse in post menopausal women.

As women get older and take on more responsibilities, they tend to get overwhelmed with day-to-day events. ADHD makes it difficult to focus and control behavior. ADHD people are often bright but can be challenged by simple tasks. They might be very creative with the big ideas but terrible with the details of follow through. They may work on many projects but complete few. They wonder what is wrong with them and often develop poor self esteem.

So what can women with ADHD or suspected ADHD do?

  1. Develop time management skills.
  • Set schedules for the day – decide what 3 things they would like to accomplish for the day and block out times to do them
  • Learn to question themselves about projects – “I have 3 big projects I want to finish. What should I do myself and what should I delegate or hire out? Should I landscape my yard and paint my deck, or hire someone else to do it?”
  • Use a timer – decide ahead of time how long they will devote to a task – set the timer for that amount of time and then quit when the timer goes off – reward themselves for what they have accomplished

      2. Set up systems for they way they function.

  • Determine their learning style and utilize their learning strengths
  • If they are a piler instead of a filer, accept that and set up piling systems
  • Use labels for files, containers, shelves
  • Put things where they would look for them – not where they think they “ought” to go

      3. Accept themselves and be proud.

  • Focus on their strengths and accomplishments – not their failures
  • Learn that perfection is rare and that “good enough” is a better goal
  • Speak up for themselves and their accomplishments
  • Take care of themselves physically and walk tall and proud

Criteria for a formal diagnosis are determined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association. If women don’t want a formal diagnosis at their later age, they might want to work with a counselor, life coach, or professional organizer to learn some coping skills.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Time Management Systems

When you have trouble with your organization of time, you will probably also have difficulty with other types of organization. At our NAPO conference, Emily Wilska reviewed six time management systems. She has come to the conclusion that there is not one time management system that works for everyone and that often, it is a good idea to take ideas from several systems and make a system that works for you.
Very briefly I will highlight some of the “take aways” that I got from her presentation.

  • Getting Things Done (GTD)- This system can be a good one for people with ADD but is not a good system for procrastinators
  • Franklin Covey- good for people who want to take time to set goals and priorities for a balanced life but not good for people who have trouble prioritizing or with procrastination
  • The Now Habit- good for people stuck in procrastination and can be good for creative/right brain thinkers but is not good for linear thinkers or workaholics
  • Action Method- great for visual learners and creative/right brain thinkers and in many cases people with ADD but not good for procrastination or people who want a lot of structure
  • Pomodora Technique- great for linear and left brain thinkers and in some cases people with ADD but not good for people whose work consists of many small/short tasks or extensive or complex lists of tasks or for people who have trouble prioritizing
  • Do It Tomorrow – good for people who love structure and are good at estimating how long tasks take but not sot good for ADD or creative/right brain thinkers

So, I might take the goal setting section and balancing priorities from Franklin Covey, the idea of putting all committed times first on my calendar from The Now Habit, the action goals from the Action Method, and the use of a timer from the Pomodora Technique.
I like the idea of structuring my own plan and not feeling bad because I can’t make a system that is out there work for me exactly. You might enjoy looking some of the plans up and seeing what would best work for you.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer


What is ADHD and how does it affect individuals? ADHD is a condition that develops in some children in early years but can continue into adulthood and often gets worse for post menopausal women. ADHD can make it difficult for people to focus and control their behavior. Criteria for a formal diagnosis is determined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association.
ADHD people are often bright yet challenged by simple tasks; creative with the big picture but fall apart with follow through; interested in many things and often work on multiple projects but complete few.
So how can ADHD individuals be helped or how can they help themselves. Susan Karyn Lasky gave some great tips at the last NAPO conference.
First teach time management skills. Give them reality checks-“With all that is on your plate, will you have time to paint your deck or should you hire that out while you handle more critical tasks?” Have them put recurring maintenance tasks on their calendars and note how long they will need for each task. Help with prioritizing tasks. Point out the options- if you do this then there will not be time to do that.
Use a timer-especially for distasteful tasks. Have them reward themselves after they have completed the task or part of the task in the allotted time. Encourage short breaks. Give reminders of all the progress that has been made.
Keep the environment relaxed.
Set up systems that work the way they think. They well may be pilers instead of filers. Use printed labels and clear containers.
Focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. Know their learning styles and check that they understand what you ask them to do.
Above all, accept them and accept less than perfect (and teach them to accept less than perfect, too).

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Gift Cards

You would think that as a Professional Organizer I would like the idea of giving gift cards. After all, they take up very little space and the recipient can buy exactly what they want with the card.
Actually, I am really against them. Time and time and time again while decluttering with a client I come across old gift cards. Sometimes I come across whole stacks of gift cards. They are often years old and no longer good. Someone who cared about this person put out money that was basically just thrown away.
There are many reasons why this happens. One reason is that the person receiving the card is in some type of transition or stressful time and is not 100% there.
I have recently come across bundles of cards from a couple of clients that were married several years ago. Now we are going through the wedding gifts, cards, and pictures and making decisions about them. It’s sad to see all of these gift cards that have not been cashed in or used. I have also had some clients who were given the gift cards when they were recovering from a fire, an illness, or a death in the family. These gift cards were lumped in with the greeting cards and put in a box or a drawer. The clients are just now getting the courage to go through these items and make decisions about them. It saddens them again that they did not cash in the cards and lost the gift that was given to them.
At other times, the recipient has ADD and has laid the cards in a stack of papers or on a bookcase “just for now” and forgotten about them. They don’t mean to not use them- they just forgot. It makes them feel dumb that they forgot about the cards.
So we now have not only money spent that did not get used but we are in the long run making the recipient feel bad instead of good when they refind them.
If you do give a gift card, please follow up and see what they were used for. Maybe go shopping with the friend and help them get something they need.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Ready for Action

While working on my presentation on Time Management for ADHD adults, I came across an ahaa moment while reading It’s Hard To Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul. She talks about being organized as being a dynamic between a state of readiness for action and taking action. There is a rhythm of taking action, creating the natural disorder that comes with taking the action, restoring order and thus returning for readiness for action. Most people who have difficulty with organization leave out the step of restoring order. If paying bills- getting out the basket of bills, the ledger or computer, the checkbook, the stamps is getting ready for the action. Writing out the checks, putting them in the correct envelopes, stamping them, and entering the amounts is taking action. This causes a disorder in the space you are working. Now there is a basket, a checkbook, and other items that have been pulled out to do the task. Many people feel like the checks have now been paid so they stop- have lunch- do something else and do not get around to putting everything back away, which at this point would only take minutes and therefore do not restore order. Therefore order is not restored and clutter begins. Keep skipping this last step on most of your tasks and chaos reigns.