Or, The Perils of Paperwork, failing Working Memory and Lack of Cake.
I had been mentally composing a blog about fungus-free coffee, Honduran Cloud Forests and the joy of children growing up, with maybe a little on the ways our children try to protect us along the way, but I’m surrounded by paperwork instead.
This is a common occurrence when I either need to find some supremely important piece of documentation PDQ or when a fit of Tidying Up takes me. Today it’s the latter, so I suppose I have only myself to blame, but hey ho. Anyway, here follows one tried and trusted method for having a filing system as brilliant, ahem, as mine.
1) Have lots of paperwork: preferably a really good mix of stuff that’s really important and needs to be kept and stuff that really could and should be used for lighting the fire, such as freebie newspapers and flyers for time shares.
2) Acquire several children. If you can possibly arrange it have at least one with ADHD. This means you will never finish another task for as long as they are at home. You will start to sort through the latest influx of paper, be interrupted to deal with some crisis, come back days later to find that your rubbish pile has merged back into the waiting to be filed pile and had yet more stuff dumped on top.
3) Move house. Loads more paperwork, and you won’t finish (see 2, above) sorting everything out before moving so you’ll throw whole piles of stuff in boxes to take with you in the vain hope it will be sorted later. You don’t dare throw it all out, because you have a sneaky feeling your marriage certificate and various birth certificates are somewhere in the heap, having been sent back from the mortgage company, insurance company, or whoever.
4) Get very close to being sorted – everything is filed, you just haven’t got round to culling paperwork that is now obsolete. Do a celebratory jig and look forward to doing something else with your spare time.
5) Discover asbestos in your house. Clear everything out of all rooms affected and decamp so the asbestos can be removed by a specialist firm. The filing cabinets are clearly too heavy to be moved full, and the corridors of your house are too narrow to move everything easily, so empty the cabinets drawer by drawer and stack the contents on the floor of an unaffected bedroom which is then sealed off. If you can live in a house so old the floors slope then this will really help.
6) Go to retrieve everything after the men in Decon suits have left, and discover that you have a paperwork avalanche all over your son’s floor. As this is the bedroom of the son with ADHD the best course of action is to haphazardly shove everything into the filing cabinet any old how before he either fiddles with it or gets too impatient to have his room back.
7) Start again and look daggers at the unsorted pile of paperwork that arrived in all the confusion. Congratulations, you have important documentation interleaved with fire-lighter material again. Think seriously of setting light to it all and worrying about getting duplicates of anything that shows up as important later.
8) Discover major damp problems and have builders in. Move the filing cabinets to your new garage, along with sofas, fridges and just about everything else apart from beds and clothes. Live in builder dust hell for months. Acquire a whole new set of important documents mixed with rubbish.
9) Finally, finally, get the filing cabinets back in the house and begin yet again. In the process the drawers need to be emptied, which is a good opportunity to reshuffle everything. On a damp and miserable Tuesday morning decide you’ll have another crack at it. You need a stapler and paperclips, go downstairs 3 times and come back without them as you got distracted and think, ‘Hmm, my working memory isn’t what it used to be. This must be what it’s like to have ADHD.’
Anyway, it’s at about this point that I’m really regretting not having made any cake.
A sort of postscript about ADHD: this is long for a youtube video, but my son sent me a link to part of this last week and it seemed worth watching the whole thing. It was. If you have anything to do with anyone who is, or who you suspect could be, diagnosed with ADHD this is a very good starting point. Towards the end Dr Russell Barkley recommends reading widely, becoming an expert and being sceptical of what’s out there as so much of it is rubbish, which seems very sound advice.