Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or adult ADHD, tend to be restless and impulsive, and have a hard time paying attention. That makes time management a real challenge. ADHD symptoms may mean you aren’t adept at being aware of time passing, predicting how long tasks will take, monitoring how you’re doing, and making adjustments accordingly, says Ari Tuckman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in West Chester, Pa., vice-president of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, and author of “More Attention, Less Deficit.” Here are some techniques that can help turn a chronic procrastinator into an efficient time manager.
Create a Daily To-Do List
When you have adult ADHD, creating a to-do list can be a great way to set goals for the day, but the key is to not overdo it and keep the list small. “If you have too much on a to-do list, the more important items get lost in the clutter,” Tuckman says. He recommends keeping a master to-do list and pulling items from it for your daily to-do list.
Color Code Your Priorities
“Prioritizing is actually a fairly complicated process, and it’s one that people with adult ADHD struggle with,” Tuckman says. How do you do it? Consider your deadlines and think about what needs to happen first, second, third, and so on, Tuckman says. Then color-code your to-do list according to priority. You might use a yellow highlighter to color-code the things that are most important to get done in the morning and a blue highlighter to code the tasks that need to get done in the afternoon.
Schedule Enough Time
A fundamental piece to getting past adult ADHD symptoms is having the ability to get yourself moving on a task before a deadline is upon you, Tuckman says. As you plan your day, be realistic about how much time it will take you to complete a goal. When you start to procrastinate, remind yourself of the reward for reaching your goal early: You avoid the anxiety of rushing to finish and you have the time to do your best work. That’s the essence of time-management skills.
Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks
For people with adult ADHD, the first challenge of taking on a big project is stopping long enough to think about how to break it down into smaller tasks, Tuckman says. Too often, they tend to jump into a project without planning it well. Having better time-management means you start by thinking through what needs to be done each step along the way to finish a project on time.
Invest in Planning Software
If you have trouble doing it on your own, project planning software can enable you to sit down, think about a project, and break it down into pieces, Tuckman says. It can help you make interim deadlines, consider what resources you need to get the job done, and provide reminders of deadlines. But it can be a hindrance to your time-management skills if playing with the program becomes a distraction to getting your work done, Tuckman adds.
Rely on Visual and Audio Reminders of Time
Because someone coping with adult ADHD doesn’t have a reliable internal clock, one strategy is to rely on external markers of time. Tuckman recommends putting up plenty of clocks in your workspace so that you can always see the time. And a more active solution, he says, is to set an alarm to go off or vibrate every 15 minutes. This will be a reminder that time is passing and will give you a chance to evaluate where you are and what still needs to get done.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
The biggest challenge to using a paper calendar is that you have to keep looking at it to know what’s coming up. For adults living with ADHD it can be easy to miss appointments or fall behind. But when an automatic reminder on an electronic calendar, Blackberry, or cell phone pops up on your computer screen or beeps in your pocket or purse, it’s hard to ignore. Consider one of these high-tech options as a time-management tool.
Carry a Notebook
It may help to keep track of different projects with notebooks. Chana Klein, a Teaneck, N.J.-based certified professional coach who works with people with adult ADHD and has struggled with ADHD herself, says that she uses a different notebook for every business relationship she has. That way, the information is organized and easy to find and it’s better than writing something down on a random piece of paper and then losing it, she says. Klein also keeps a notebook on her desk and another in her bag, so she always has a place to write down notes to help her remember later.
Take Time to Recharge
Everyone needs a break from work, and some people who have adult ADHD stay on track when they schedule breaks ahead of time, Klein says. “You need to know when you’ll have a day off and when you’ll have an hour off,” she explains. But don’t let a break derail your time-management skills. Tuckman recommends setting an inexpensive kitchen timer to alert you when it’s time to go back to work. “It comes back to time awareness,” he says.
for more information see: Adult ADHD