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Getting organized + Posters & Food

This essay was what I desperately needed when I was 19.


If you have ADHD you probably have trouble self-organising and probably will, until you learn how to modify productivity advice for yourself, and to make it your own.


I'd recommend that you STEAL my advice, by seeing what stands out to you, making it your own, rather than trying to force yourself to follow it...

For me, something internally shifted when I realised that being organised isn't just about emotionally pulling yourself together or summoning elusive will-power with no structures in place.

You need external systems to help you easily focus your thoughts, for when you are at your most exhausted.


I think it's silly to beat yourself up over being undisciplined when you are actually missing structure.


I find organising logistical things really boring to think or talk about, just thinking about cooking, laundry, grocery shopping etc. saps my my energy, and makes me foggy.

But using visual reminders such as posters and work sheets has been massively helpful. It literally saves so much time, energy and stress.


I'm astonished at how much faster basic tasks like grocery shopping are, when I have a visual shopping list. I can just glance at it, easily checking whether the food I need is already in the cupboard/ fridge.


I'll take a picture using WhatsApp, and use the digital crayon to mark which items I need. So I don't have to keep printing it out over and over.

It also helps to make a visual menu of the meals you can cook.

It completely solved my inability to look in a cupboard and know what I could cook + decide what I wanted to eat, at the same time.


Here are some other resources I created to help myself such as Time-Boxing templates:

Timebox sheet.jpg
Timebox example sheet pink.jpg

Instead of using a traditional To-do list (which requires a lot of guesswork about how long things take) you can allocate time in your day, to certain kinds of tasks, and then you stop afterward, knowing that you showed up that day.

It also helps to see that there is a finite amount of time in the day.

If you have ADHD you need to make time visual -because you don't have an 'inner clock'. The time box has little grey lines, showing 5min and 10min increments:

Grey lines (1).jpg
Timebox example sheet pink.jpg

2. An epiphany
+ a system for Self-organizing

a pyramid with Experiences at the top maintenance at the bottom and organising in the middle

Something clicked for me when I realized:


The point of being organised isn't to BE an organised's to help you get to live a life that you want.


and being disorganized, not having managed my time, or not eating well, would mean that I would miss those opportunities.

So I created a system called M.O.E.

M - Maintenance
O - Organizing
E - Experiences

Maintenance tasks were everything logistical that needed to be done to maintain my energy baseline: food shopping, invoicing, tidying, etc.

Organizing was putting time aside for either maintenance or experiences.

Experiences were everything that I wanted to do: see a friend, go to a gig, etc.

Someone asked me "Where is work?" so MOE (W) became MEOW.

Maintenance, Organising, Experiencing & Work can be used as a model to consider when you are using a timebox planner to map out your day.

It's not perfect, I would like a system that was better at reminding me to get my Social and intellectual needs met, relationships are absent in this model so I view it as somewhat incomplete.


Using posters for ADHD

"You need to design your systems for your most exhausted version of yourself"
                                              -Heide Preibe


Whilst I was thinking about how to organize maintenance better, I realized I could divide the tasks up into:

Physical OR Digital
Environment, Body, and Mind

For example:
the Physical environment was Food shopping, Cooking, Cleaning, Laundry, etc

The physical body included personal hygiene, eating, sleep, exercise, etc

Digital was about technology/Internet.

For the Digital mind: Unreplied Emails and messages take a small psychological toll to ignore when you know they are waiting.

Here's what I made:


a chart listing different kinds of tasks

Eventually, I condensed it onto a visual poster, which was so much faster to read.

The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text.

Sometimes the reason I feel not quite myself is as simple as needing a haircut.

Having the poster has massively reduced the time it takes for me to figure out what's off.

As I mentioned earlier, the model isn't complete. Sometimes the reason I'm tired is because I need to hang out. (Google the 7 kinds of rest).


Although Friendship x Environment, Body, Mind, could produce some insights.

Maintenance Tasks Visual poster.jpg

ADHD and Food

I watched this TEDxTalk that said ADHD could be treated with dietary changes.

At the worst of my symptoms of Depression / ADHD (Inattentive) at university,

I was eating a lot of rubbish processed food.

Nobody that I spoke to, ever thought to ask about this though.
It was only when I reflected on it years later, that I realized.

However, one of the problems was that I didn't know how to cook good food. And I didn't even know I couldn't cook... 

Until I learned how to SEASON food. And then I realized... that my parents couldn't cook either.

There is a good reason why Chinese social media has dubbed 'white-people food' the 'lunch of suffering'.

Previously, I considered eating to be a chore, I thought being disinterested in food was a quirk of my personality because I was more interested in creativity...

Nope. I just couldn't cook. Until I learned how to season from Salt Fat Acid Heat.

And then I found myself daydreaming about food for the first time in my life.

I've condensed SFAH into handy charts here:

The Life-Changing
Magic of Tidying up

by Marie Kondo


Also, your room is probably overwhelming you.
'You can't tidy, if you've never been taught how'' -Marie Kondo 

For more internet gifts...

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