If you’re like me, you look around you and marvel at the people who arrive on time, are focused, stay organized, accomplish what they intend, and manage life like the confident captain of a sailboat on smooth seas. You probably know you’re smart enough to do more and do better than you are right now—and you might have glimmers of fulfillment periodically—but you just can’t seem to keep it all together consistently. And it’s frustrating! Those people aren’t smarter than you are. They sure don’t work harder than you do. But they make all that stuff that you know is not rocket science look so damned easy!
Here’s the thing…
Effective time management isn’t a single skill, it’s a complex set of tools, behaviors and systems that need to work together for us to be efficient and effective in our productivity. Individuals with ADHD / ADD tend to struggle with time management and effective productivity because of their challenges with memory, focus regulation, time and executive functions. And those challenges can make us feel like we’re constantly putting out fires and playing catch-up, instead of living the peaceful, fulfilling lives we know we’re capable of.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that what you need to put in place to manage your time well is all stuff you can learn! There’s nothing wrong with your character or who you are. You’re not lazy or weak or lacking good work ethic. You just need to learn to do things differently than the rest of the world. You just need to learn to do things in ways that work for YOU! And it’s very doable. I’ve lived it myself and I see it every single day in my clients.
For starters, here are my Top 5 Strategies for Getting More Done without working harder:
- Start every day with a Productivity Road Map! Starting your day without a plan of action is like jumping in your car, blindfolded, and hoping you’ll arrive at your desired destination. (Well… maybe the blindfolded driver thing isn’t my best metaphor, but I hope you get the idea!) If you don’t start the day with clarity of what you intend to accomplish, I guarantee you’ll end your days with more frustration than fulfillment the majority of the time. Instead of you running your day, your day will run you, and that’s a recipe for poor performance!
- Take time to Look Ahead each day! If you spend just 3-5 minutes looking ahead in your calendar at the end of each day, you’ll be more proactive, more prepared, and infinitely less stressed. It only takes a few minutes, and the payoff is dramatic! It’s one of the most simple AND most impactful habits you can establish.
- Put on your Blinders! Instead of looking at your entire to-do list each day, find a way to pull out just a few absolute, essential, intend-to-do-no-matter-what tasks and keep them separated from the entirety of the list. If you have to look at and process your entire list of to-dos to decide what to take care of next, you’ll use way too much mental energy just processing what’s on the list and have less for actually tackling what’s on it.
- Make your Calendar Work Harder! Most of the people who come to me for help are under-utilizing their calendars. While it’s important that you don’t clutter your calendar with things that are not real commitments, make sure the things that matter most to you are on there. This goes for the activities that move you toward your goals, components of your bigger, long-term projects, and the things that are essential to your performance, but aren’t getting the time and focus they deserve. Remember: if it’s not scheduled, it won’t get done!
- Decide to Decide, on the spot! Every single thing that comes into your life is either something that moves you toward the life you want for yourself, or keeps holds you back. That goes for every commitment, every to-do, relationship, every piece of paper, and even every morsel on your tongue. Take time every day (several times) to make sure what you’re letting into your life is moving you toward your goals. Remember those 5 Ds of Time Management: Delete, Delegate, Defer, Diminish, Do! Not everything deserves your focus and energy right now.
I hope you find something in there that’s helpful! I’m here if you have questions.
Lynne Edris, ACG
Productivity & ADHD Coach