Time management is a big issue for adults with ADHD. Difficulties include keeping track of time, organizing and planning ahead. However, I have seen ADHD clients go from “no clue” to “super clued-in” in relation to time management. They become more organized than most people on this planet with or without ADHD.
Perhaps the biggest tip is to stop relying on your brain and start using external prompts. There is no shame in using agendas, lists, a calendar, even knots in handkerchiefs (ok, so that might not be THE beset strategy, but it is A strategy).
Below are three tools and resources to help you with your time management challenges.
- Buy an agenda. If you have tried them before and they haven’t worked for you, simply try again (even if the only reason is to humor me). You cannot be the organized person you are striving to be without an agenda. Whatever the time of year, they are always available in bookstores and office supply stores. Choose one that appeals to you, both in looks (bright pink, brown leather, etc.) and format. You might like a format with the whole week laid out on one page to get an overview of what your week looks like. Or you might prefer the page-a-day format. There is not one right answer, just your personal preference. With your new agenda, start writing down appointments that are with other people. These appointments could be work-related, personal self care (dentist, etc.) or fun personal dates such as seeing family and friends. When you start writing your appointments down, it gives you peace of mind since you know you aren’t going to forget anything. Seeing everything in black and white will also help you to organize your time and reduce your habit of being overly optimistic in what you can achieve.
- Day to Day. I recommend clients write down in a separate notebook from their agenda, their “things to do” list. This list would include errands, shopping and other things that do not need to be done on a particular day. If you need to get a few staples from the supermarket but ended up working late, you still have the list for the next day. The list doesn’t include appointments as they are written in your agenda. If you are ready for something a little more advanced than a paper and pen “to do list” then check out http://www.rememberthemilk.com/. This is a great tool as it can be used on practically any digital device known to man. Whether you are a Blackberry lover or a Gmail fan, this will work for you.
- Overview. As well as knowing what is happening every day and weekly, it is also good to have an overview of the next six months. This is good when you are planning a vacation and larger projects, either at home or at work. Home might include painting the deck and a trip to the East Coast. Work might be creating a new website or preparing for a conference. To do this, print out a calendar from http://www.free-printable-calendars.com/. Again, choose your favorite format. You can print a few different calendars on different colored pages. For example, a green paged calendar for work, a pink paged calendar for your home projects or a gym schedule, etc. Use these calendars to plan and brainstorm your big picture stuff, when you would like to do what, but remember all your appointments with people, no matter what area of your life go in your agenda.
When you start to plan your time, it feels less constraining and more exciting. By planning your time, you get to choose what you want to do and make time for what is important to you.