Susan Fay West, Certified Organizer Coach 
Life’s big changes. We all get overwhelmed sometimes.

  • You’re stuck and want to move forward but how?
  • Adult ADHD diagnosis and ... now what?
  • Want more time but you’re not sure where the problem is?
  • Tired of running in circles?
  • Change, time management, organization and transitions work is our focus.

    Build on what you already know about yourself and collaborate with me – a coach, professional organizer, teacher and change-lover.

    Discover new ways to:

  • organize your life,
  • deal with these changes and move on,
  • in ways that make sense to you and how you’re wired.
  • Curious? Click Here to Learn More about My Coaching Services.

    Organize for a Fresh Start - organizing self-help book

    "West has written on a topic dear to my heart, getting organized to cope with and embrace change and transitions. Organize for a Fresh Start is a great roadmap."
    Judith Kolberg, Author
    Conquering Chronic Disorganization

    Tidbits I learned at CHADD

    November 24th, 2014

    I work with people on “creating time for what matters,” as I say it. One of the specialties I’ve developed over the years is working with people who think they have or do have AD/HD. I attended and presented with my colleague, Andrea Sharb, at the recent international conference for Children and Adults with AD/HD. This blog is a summary of new learning for me or new ways for any of us to think about some of this knowledge.

    From a session by Thomas E. Brown, PhD. Website, with several excellent book excerpts is here>> 

    Dr. Brown

    Dr. Brown

    “Executive function:”

    • the orchestra conductor for your brain (all the players may be very engaged, but they need the conductor to connect and integrate, to truly make the music)
    • the brain’s management system
    • the search engine for your brain

      Exec Function - Thomas E Brown

      Print small? Click the graphic and you’ll go to Brown’s article with a full sized version.

    • EF purposes: connect-prioritize-integrate
    • Brown and Barkley at our ICD conference both said this from research: that there is delayed maturity of the executive functions in people with AD/HD up to the age of 30. That means, for example, that your 22 year old really might be acting younger than his/her years, and so it behooves us to plan for strategies that would work with someone about 3 years younger. Or your 7 year old … at 4.
    • Motivation: Will you do it?  Planning: How will you do it?  Memory & timing: When will you do it? (Attributed by Brown to M. Lezak, researcher).
    • EF as working memory for the brain: Where your brain has all kinds of information you have stored. The issue is not that you don’t have it. It is an issue with retrieval.
    • His EF chart has 6 functional areas which are involved in EF workings: Each area is  like a “label on a basket of related functions.” (His excellent article about EF can be found here.)
    • EF was thought to be mainly related to the PFC, prefrontal cortex of the brain. The newer thinking is: still release/reload issues with neurotransmitters, but the newer thinking is that the EF is more about coordination among the regions of the brain.
    • Context matters, significantly. You could be highly engaged in some sorts of activities and others simply cannot get your attention (a deficit in regulation, not in attention itself).
      • Context: memories, goals, emotions, what you feel is important versus think is important; how your body and brain were involved.
    • His belief today is that context is impacted by our emotions of the past similar context and the current one, that emotions are the root of paying attention. His new book is here On my shelf, but not yet read.
    • Distinguish “you” versus “your behavior.” You are not your ADHD or its impact.
      • Great phrase he uses with his patients: “At this time, you can’t do xyz, but you will be able to …” Accent is on “at this time.” Because often someone will say: “I can’t do it.” Period. Sounding like on can never do it.


    More blog articles are on the way with  points from other  session, but the Executive Function is the basis for all things ADHD, so it deserved its own blog post.



    How Much Change is Happening: Part 2- Practicing.

    November 18th, 2014

    Last  blog, I wrote about questions to ask yourself so that  you can keep track of how much change is going on for you, over the  course of time. Why is that important? Because we often don’t realize how much accumulated change has happened, and when we don’t acknowledge it, we are left wondering why we are feeling low, or being less productive, or being cranky for no apparent reason. And, because if you’re not recognizing how much is happening, you may slide down that rabbit hole, black hole, into the abyss, and not even know why you got there. And then it’s more difficult to  pull yourself out and get back to level ground.

    The last blog is here. This article is about a story in my recent life which is an example of how practicing for change you know is going to happen will help you deal with the change more easily.

    Practice for Changes You Know Will Happen

    Practice? Yes, and the idea came from our dog Malik’s trainer. (Well, right; she trains all three of us. I know.) Donna’s at a new company, and instead of working mainly from home, she will work five days at her company. That leaves Malik and me. I used to be the backup sitter, not the primary one.

    Malik changes routinesThis is a big responsibility change, along with routines and schedule shifts (most routines, meals, work/personal time, his exercise time, bed/wake times… you name it.).

    We figured out a few things which have helped me tremendously already.

    I tell you this because it’s an example of practice, perspective, and figuring out what works for you – no matter the change.

    • Before the first day of the new job, I practiced last week, just Malik and me, working through my workday, to see how his routines and mine would come together. The practical piece.
    • I have more than one backup plan. This week, we are alone.  I’m not in a panic, which would have been my normal, as I attempt to be as productive as I usually am. I have a sense of how my day needs to shift so that he and  I can co-exist peacefully. The psychological piece.

    There will be lots of surprises, but I have plans A, B, C and D to fall back on.  Why so many? Because, for me, it gives me choices. For me, it’s less  pressure.

    I’m more apt to let go of “plan A” as being the only way to manage my days, because I have other ways to get my work done, if he has a crazy day or crazy afternoon sometime. He’s just a puppy, so he’s going to have those.

    It’s much easier to stop resisting what is, over which I  have little control (a puppy’s impact on my day), if I know I have other options. (In this case, my other options  could be: Spend the time with him during the day, and work after dinner; get up earlier than I had been; use some weekend time; have him take a nap in his crate.)


    So look backwards to reflect and understand what would work better for you,  for the next time.

    • Find a way (or a person) to remind you of what has worked in the past, because emotions will cloud your memory. (I used past experiences of post surgery care, family staying for several week’s  visit, etc.). More on that in my next blog.)
    • Visualize, practice, talk through your routine changes.
    • Consider not only the practical  side, but also how you’ll react to all this change, so you can  take care of your psyche,  too.

    What changes are going on for you lately or do you see coming up? And how could you make them easier to manage?  How do you keep track of the level of changes in your life?



    How Much Change is Happening in Your Life?

    November 11th, 2014

    One of the most difficult challenges is noticing how much change is happening in your life. Yes, you can feel it when too much change is happening, but by the time you feel it, you could be sick, or feeling so overwhelmed that you’re either slogging or speeding through your days. Neither feels good.

    The strategies to cultivate? Keep track of how much change is happening. And practice for changes you know are headed your way. (Part one of a two part blog.)

    This happens to me, too.”All  of a sudden” overwhelm kicks in. Energy and productivity drop off. And then when I really think about it, I notice how much change has gone on in my life (personal or business or both).  So it’s not “all of a sudden.” I wasn’t paying enough attention. I have a couple of strategies to share today, from my own experience and ideas clients have come up with during coaching.

    Regain Perspective: How Much Change is Happening?Time for Change

    • Take 5 minutes sometime at least once a week and stop. Shut out the  distractions so you can think. (How? Where? In bed. In the shower. Before you get to sleep. In the car before you start the engine or after turning it off. While walking, writing, exercising… or close the door to your office or room at home.)
    • What unusual events or situations have happened in the past six months or so? Include changes for people  you are close to as well.
    • What is different with your sleep, exercise, or other self-care and grounding (centering) rituals?
    • Where do you feel there is more? Have you added responsibilities to your plate: helping an older relative, adding a new volunteer role, stepping up at work, managing more people or partners?

    When you answer these questions, you may notice that there is far more change than you had realized.

    This perspective is useful to understand why we are feeling or behaving as we are (if it’s different). And, to reflect on what might work better for us:  How could I  handle this type of situation better next time? How could I notice the signals before things get overwhelming? Or not let so much change happen at once? Or ask for more support, help, therapy or coaching next time? How can I notice when too much is happening so that I could take care of myself better next time?


    So look backwards to reflect and understand what would work better for you,  for the next time. And find a way (or a person) to remind you of what has worked in the past, because emotions will cloud your memory. I used past experiences of post surgery care, family staying for several week’s  visit, etc.). More on that in my next blog.

    Visualize, practice, talk through your routine changes. And consider not only the practical  side, but also how you’ll react to all this change, so you can  take care of your psyche,  too.

    What changes are going on for you lately or do you see coming up? And how could you make them easier to manage?  How do you keep track of the level of changes in your life?


    ADHD Support Team – Crucial to Living Your Best Life

    October 28th, 2014

    “Why do I need to have all these people helping me to organize and manage my life?”

    I hear that question often, when I work with clients who are struggling, often with the impact of a fairly recent ADHD diagnosis, and often with women at mid-life.

    With a diagnosis of ADHD, you’ve learned something brand new (and big) about yourself.

    And as you already know, this changes a lot. ADHD affects every aspect of your life, from how you see yourself to your money management, to relationships and more.

    What “Team?”

    Therapist. ADHD coach. ADHD organizer. Your meds person. Business coach or life coach. Caregiving support group. Pilates or yoga instructor. Naturopath. Webinars, books, and podcasts.

    You probably already have many team members and just never stopped to think about them altogether, as a supporting team.


    Because it’s not you. It’s your brain.

    Your team members are experts who have already been through this. They will work with you so you get from Point A to Point B a lot faster and more smoothly.

    Your “Point A to Point B” will be any sort of goal you have, though it could start with answering a foundational question: How is your ADHD showing up in your life? What do you want to do about it?

    So think of your team members as “ life preservers.”

    NOT life savers. life preserverwhite pebble among dark stand out from the crowdwhite pebble among dark stand out from the crowdwhite pebble among dark stand out from the crowd

    A “life saver” –That’s someone who rushes into rescue you at the last minute. You’re helpless.

    A life preserver (like the real object) puts you in charge. It’s a partnership between you and that life preserver to get you where you want to go. You’re not helpless. Just the opposite.

    Life preservers keep you afloat so that YOU can more easily swim back to the ship. They don’t carry you back.

    You direct. You swim. You make your own way back and you set the pace.

    They make the trip easier so you can focus on where you need to get to.

    Then when you get to where you wanted to be, you can let go of those life preservers, or use some, but not all.

    Same with your team of coaches and experts.


    Maybe you’re saying: I don’t know if I can do this.

    when we resist change

    Many of you may already be a ‘team leader’ for your child who has ADHD or some brain based challenge; or you’re caregiving for a spouse, partner or parent; or you manage your entire household and family’s activities.

    If you have participated in an Al Anon, AA, overeaters anonymous, clutter support group –that experience definitely gives you a leg up, too.  You already know the power and support that comes from a group of compassionate, non judgmental people who have been through something similar.

    A client offered these thoughts from someone who has a good deal of professional and personal experience with 12 step programs. What makes the team concept work is partly about the individuals and partly about the program:

    1) Willing to change
    2) We program, expecting to be part of a team called “the fellowship”
    3) Significant distress tolerance
    4) Hopeful orientation towards future
    5) Faith in a Higher Power who will make things turn out all right.


    If you think you can, then you can…

    … maybe with a bit of support or coaching to organize your thoughts and strategies – if so, please call or write.

    Happy to support, whether it’s one call or a regular time until you’re ready to launch.

    603.554.1948 is my office line. [email protected] is my email.


    In November, my colleague, Andrea Sharb, ACC Coach and I present at CHADD* a newly designed workshop, called “Creating the Best Team for Your Adult ADHD Self.” It’s all about teams and collaboration among team members. It does take a village, at some point, for all of us, doesn’t it.  (*CHADD: Children and Adults with ADHD; international conference.) We were interviewed about our workshop and the link is part of another post I wrote recently here.



    ADHD Support: Step #1 Build Your Team (CHADD Talk Preview)

    October 7th, 2014

    You’re an adult, with ADHD. Diagnosed or “pretty sure of it.” You may have recently discovered this about yourself, or discovered it awhile ago but at that stage of your life, it was all too much to wrestle with.

    So you put it aside. But now it’s jumped onto the front burner.

    Maybe your choice and maybe not: an issue cropped up in your relationships, at work, or for some other reason.

    But you’re ready to roll now. You’re tired of “it” getting in your way.

    You’re tired of knowing what to do. But you don’t do it.

    You have been reading and notice that you do look at things differently from some of the people in your life.

    Or you have challenges other people don’t seem to struggle with as much as you do.

    It’s time.

    OK. Awareness. But so what and now what?

    You can make some changes – more on that later – which will make daily life much easier.

    You can use ADHD-friendly strategies instead of trying to force fit something into your life. And not apologize for this.

    You can educate yourself on how to manage and make great use of your ADHD and your strengths. Because, you do have them, even if it might not feel like it some days.

    You’ll get more out of your life because you’re headed down a path of making things “fit” better for how you think, work, make connections and live.

    Because you’re aware and paying attention, you’ll discover ways to support what’s most important to you, using a variety of resources, team members, and even collaboration among professionals, to get you where you want to be.

    Read the rest of this entry »