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Personal Organization – The Fundamentals

  • Diary/Calendar – Good use of a diary or calendar is one of the first things people think of when it comes to keeping ourselves organized. For me, there is something about seeing a commitment at a specific time and place, on a particular day written down that gives me a lot of comfort. Acquiring the discipline of logging important and of referring to the diary on a daily basis can relieve a lot of the pressure of keeping commitments sometimes made well in advance which, due to the common manifestation of memory problems post-ABI, can easily slip through the cracks. There is also the fact that calendars and diaries are now a common inclusion on most forms of portable technologies such as Smart Phones or Tablets. So if Technology is something that you find easier to engage with (as I do) then use these Applications and acquire that same discipline of adding your scheduled commitments to your diary on your Smart Phone or Tablet.
  • Alarms & Strategic Thinking – Alarms can be used to great effect to simply remind us what we are supposed to be doing at a certain time of day or WHAT HAS TO BE DONE at specific times in the day. If you combine this with certain strategies of thinking that take into account our the manifestations of our injury they can be used to great effect to ensure we do specific things we need to do to keep us healthy day-to-day. For example, I have a regular wake up time of around 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM. However, I take the medication that controls my Epilepsy at 8:00 AM. I have a Radio Alarm Clock on the other side of my bedroom, away from my bed, with a small Tupperware box containing my medication placed directly on top of the alarm clock. What this means when the alarm goes off, I have to get out of bed to turn it off, walk to my alarm clock on the other side of the room to get my extra hours sleep, I have to pick up the box of medication to turn off the alarm. So before I go back to bed there is only the actual taking of the tablets to do. From that point on, I have no excuses to miss a dose of my meds.
  • Daily Routine BoardThe most important tool in organizing my day-day life post-ABI is my Daily Routine Board. The board includes all of the tasks that I have to do each day throughout the week. The things that are written in red are compulsory things that I have to do at specific times. The items written in black are things that can be adjusted or changed. My Daily Routine board is placed in my living room, the first place I go in the morning (after making a cup of tea in the kitchen), which comes back to that idea of strategic thinking, asking myself “Where am I most likely to see the board?” the answer being “The place where I spend the most time in the morning”. Having the board in constant view allows me to refer to it and keep checking that all the essential daily tasks have been performed; medication, healthy breakfast, personal hygiene etc.
  • Listing – This is a fairly basic one. Set aside some time in an evening, possibly with the help of a family member or carer and talk through the things you have to do the following day and write them down. This works for me because, as I said when talking about calendars, seeing something written down gives me comfort and a sense of purpose. I have found that things seem far more definite when written down and that it also seems to lodge itself more firmly in my mind and make me less likely to forget it.

Organising Life – Helpful Tips

  • My Folder – Since I suffered my ABI I have been inundated with paperwork from my Neurological & Epilepsy consultants, The Mental Health Department as well as social and vocational services from the local County Council. Often we are required to provide certain pieces of correspondence from certain people or departments to gain access to specific services we require. This is why we made the decision to get organised! All of that correspondence is now stored in one folder, divided into different sections depending on the service it came from and the date it was sent. This has made my life so much easier in terms of being able to find the right letter for the right service when I need it.
  • Strategically Placed Post-Its – This is another very simple one. The first thing is to ensure that you have a pad of post-it notes in each room of the house. This means that when unexpected difficulties or inconveniences occur, you can make a note that that particular problem needs to be fixed. A simple example being, if you run out of milk, write down on the post-it that you have run out of milk and place it on the door of the fridge as a reminder that you need to buy some more. These little reminders can be really helpful and on more important issues can be a real lifesaver.
  • Financial Organization – This is probably the best thing I ever did. Post-ABI and TBI issues with memory are a common manifestation. Much of what we do to have a good quality of life is dependent on our ability to remember. Remembering to buy groceries, remembering to clean the house and crucially, remembering to bay the bills for water, electricity, the telephone etc. Paying the bills to ensure a warm home, with heating, hot water and electricity we have to pay for the privilege, otherwise we can end up being cut off. A good way to ensure that you stay on top of the vital utility bills is to ensure that you are paying all of them via direct debit. This means that the money comes directly out of your bank account on a certain date and goes to the provider. In fact, I have a bank account specifically for the purpose of paying my bills and rent. All payments for everyday household bills come from that account. Setting up this way relieves most of the pressure and stress of having to remember to pay the bills. The only pressure then comes from making sure there is enough money in the account to pay on the specified date.

About the authorTom Massey

My life was changed for ever on the 30th of August 2009 when an attack on a night out left me with sever brain injuries. I was left in an induced coma after suffering fractures to the skull, bleeds on the brain, as well as severe bruising to the frontal lobes. Since the injury I have found it hard to find and keep work, to maintain relationships, and generally stay positive. I have decided to share all of my journey with you, in the hope we can bring brain injury awareness to the level it should be at. Please, follow my own WordPress blog Life After Brain Injury  to keep up to date with my brain injury journey! Follow me on Twitter:  @ABIBlogger

Tom Massey, ABI Blogger

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