Are you struggling with ADHD time management? You’re not alone. Many people with ADHD struggle to manage their time, estimate time, and get things done on time.
We lose track of time, don’t estimate the amount of time we need to finish tasks well, or don’t arrive at places on time. We get distracted and spend time on things that ultimately don’t matter. It’s frustrating!
I’m going to share some tips that might help you improve your ADHD-related struggles in regards to managing your day-to-day life.
People with ADHD often struggle to maintain focus and pay attention. A lot of the time, we are so distracted by what’s going on around us that it leads to trouble concentrating for long periods of time or staying focused on a task at hand.
It can be hard to turn your brain off when you need to which is why people end up losing the time they need for other tasks. One of the bedrock pieces of ADHD management is learning how to identify and minimize distractions.
Start with these questions to drill down and discover what distracts you:
What do I often find myself doing that I can do all day long?
What friend do I talk to that I can talk to forever?
What social media network has people I really enjoy talking to?
What task do I do that leads to another task and then another, until I have no idea how much time has passed?
Did that help any? Distractions are a normal part of life, and expecting distraction instead of being surprised when it shows up in your life is a big key to managing your ADHD. You can minimize distractions by avoiding them, but you can also throw yourself a rescue line in the form of a timer.
Are you getting on a call with great-aunt Carol? Set a timer so you can get off the phone in a timely fashion.
Have stuff to do, but want to sit down to watch “just one episode” of a very binge-able show? Be honest with yourself: it’s NEVER one episode.
Minimizing distractions means something different to everyone, it is really important to identify how it looks/is for you.
Yes, you need a calendar.
I used to really hate calendars. They reminded me that I couldn’t remember anything. Eventually I had to just make peace with it. The next tip on time management for those living with ADHD is scheduling. Many people use online tools like Google Calendar, Outlook, or Apple’s calendar apps as well as paper calendars to help them stay organized in the moment-to-moment aspects of life.
We’re so good at losing track of where we’re supposed to be. The part that nobody ever seems to remember to point out in all of this? You have to actually LOOK at the calendar. I can record information as much as I want, if I never look at it, it won’t help me.
It’s really important to me to set a timer or reminder on my Alexa to start my day by looking at my calendar or I won’t remember at all! It’s much easier to prepare for the day when you know what’s coming.
I use Google Calendar, and it’s been a life-saver. I can set reminders for tasks that need to get done today or tomorrow so they don’t slip my mind. I love that you can see your day with everything planned out. This is great because if something doesn’t fit into your schedule, visually seeing that your day is packed with multicolored bars can be a really easy clue that you don’t have time.
I use the rule of three when I’m deciding whether to add something to my schedule or not. If I see three bars on the calendar, that day to me is closed. Too many solid items on my calendar don’t leave me much room for life to happen – and life happens A LOT around here.
Leave space for life to happen
The car will break down, someone will get sick, people will need things the unexpected always happens. When we pack our schedules to the gills, we have no space for life to happen without everything exploding. When I add something to my schedule, I try and make sure there is space for two additional things because inevitably life will happen.
Guard your yes (and your time)
Many times we think we have a time management problem when we actually have an overloaded or over-commitment problem. Lots of people with ADHD commit to things they don’t have time or space for in life. There’s a way to stop that – I call it Guard Your Yes. When we don’t guard our yes, we have schedules packed full of shit that doesn’t belong to us. Be very cautious about what you commit to and how much time it will take – easier said than done, I know!
Another tip in the realm of time management is prioritizing tasks. There are a lot of days where you have too many important items on your list that it’s hard to know what needs immediate attention or what can be put off to another time. If prioritization is a challenge for you, there are a few ways you can decide what needs to be done.
What’s on fire? – One of my favorite ways to prioritize is by starting with what I feel like is the most pressing issue TO ME – the one that is on fire, burning a hole in my brain. The task that is bothering me the most may not be the one that is most important but it IS the one that is bothering me the most and I need to take some time to address that to free up the brain space for other stuff.
Who is screaming? – Another way is to start with the task with the biggest consequences attached, or who is screaming the loudest. Get them out the way, and I have some peace of mind at last.
All things are about even – Nothing is on fire, nobody is screaming, all of the important deadlines were missed and it doesn’t matter when it gets done, it just needs to be done. When all things are about even it can be even more difficult to choose because there’s no consequence -or reward- attached to the completion of the task. Since it doesn’t matter what you pick, pick anything. Throw the task names in an internet randomizer and see what happens. Do that one first. Either way, pick SOMETHING and get started.
All of these areas make it difficult for us when we’re trying to manage our time. Sit with some of these ideas and really examine how they fit into your life. Sometimes all it takes is the right word at the right time to get back into practice!
Until next time,