I am reframing the piles that I, as a true ADD woman, create around me.

In fact, I have now decided to call them my visual cues. Cues to take action: on the pile of clean laundry that adorns the family room sofa, on the ripped out seams on the two caftans draped over the bar stools at the kitchen counter, on the vacuum cleaner head by the back door that awaits a trip to the vacuum cleaner doctor’s office.

I am reframing them as my three dimensional To-Do list. My Visual Queue, if you will.

At long last, I have decided to work WITH this little ADD quirk instead of against it. That was getting me nowhere anyway.

I’d drop the object of my attention in plain sight, meaning to come right back to it. But then something else demanded me RIGHT THEN and I would flit around the environment (in this case, my house) until, quite by accident, I would return to the site of the original intention and find the object once again — still waiting for me.

Now, if the object is inanimate, it lies in wait very patiently. If it lives and breathes, it has sometimes moved and is harder to find. And it is often not patient at all. In fact, it may have given up on ever seeing me again. And left the environment, sighing and shaking its head in frustration and disappointment.

Those are the hard ones to deal with. We’re not going THERE today. We’re sticking with the inanimate objects that somehow arrange themselves into not-so-neat piles. And when they reach a certain critical mass, they call to me. Sing loudly. Off key, which they know drives me crazy! My perfectionism hates anything off key, out of place, not done with exquisite excellence.

Which is what drives everyone ELSE around me crazy. How can I be a perfectionist and live with these darned PILES?

We are reframing, today, thank you. Those piles are Visual Cues/Visual Queues. They are Cues in that they remind me of what I am going to do…one of these days. And they are Queues in that they are things I am bound to get around to taking with me, or act upon, in a more timely fashion. In other words, things with deadlines.

Ned Hallowell, the famous ADD psychiatrist who wrote Driven to Distraction, says that ADD folks like me only have two times: Now and Not Now. So, deadlines work only when they reach the NOW point.

But can I do it differently? It occurs to me that I might create a small space on the kitchen table (now 100% covered with mail, magazines and other Visual Cues) for a basket or a placemat, something to delineate the space, that would be my Visual Queue for errands.

For instance, I just called the pharmacy to renew a prescription (and no, it wasn’t ADD meds, but it could have been…). Most people (those ‘normal people’) would have thrown away the empty bottle and written down (or worse, remembered without writing it down) a reminder to go by the drug store tomorrow to pick up the prescription.

Not me. I kept the bottle as a Visual Cue. I now have a three dimensional reminder of my trip to the drug store. But, how to keep track of that reminder? I took it with me into the closet to get my clothes for the day…and left the darned bottle on my dresser. Didn’t remember it until I was already downstairs in the kitchen, so had to traipse back upstairs to retrieve it. (I wonder how much time I could have saved in my life by remembering things the first time?)

And now that the clear amber plastic bottle is downstairs, will I remember to take it with me on my next trip in the car? Should I put it in the car? It might get lost, fall off the seat. So I am going to create a space –basket, placemat, box — that will be my Errand Visual Queue.

The bottle will go into that basket which will be located in my line-of-sight as I leave the house to get to my car. As will the bag of dog food that had crawly bugs inside it when I opened it up – yuck – an immediate return (but when do I find the time?). And the vacuum cleaner head (but it has to go to the next town so it will require a special trip). And the too-short clothesline that I bought at the hardware store and the write-on door hangers that I didn’t use at my retreat that go back to the craft store.

And then maybe I will set aside some time to just run around and do these time-wasting errands, which will get this stuff OUT of my house and I will have fewer PILES — excuse me, Visual Cues and Queues.

I think it’s inspired. Now if I can just make it work. I’ll let you know. Right now I have to sift through my piles to find a basket of some kind….