It’s hard to stay organized. It’s even harder to stay organized when you have ADD or ADHD or any other type of learning disorder or impairment. Even the most meticulous planners encounter those abysmal days where nothing seems to go right, but there is definitely a way to minimize those types of days. This blog post can help bring to light some of the best ways that people who have ADD or ADHD can structure their work-life in order to make the most out of their natural reservoirs of concentration and productivity by lessening the pressures of indecision that arise on the day-to-day work regimen.
1) Time Management Tip: Make a Schedule for the Month.
We know sitting down with ADHD to make schedule for the month sounds like a true nightmare, but it’s worth it. The month schedule should look a little different from your week and daily schedules. It should serve as more of a backbone for your workflow, to allow an overall structure to what you want to accomplish. This makes it a little easier to follow a path and not get lost down any rabbit holes along the way. A list of the most important and exciting things that you have planned or want to accomplish for the month, both personal and work-related, helps narrow down the wandering mind. The list can have certain days that things HAVE to be done by and it can also have very loose time engagements that you want to be done by a certain time. This list will help you later when you work on your weekly and daily schedules.
2) Increase ADHD Productivity by Having a Reflection Day.
It’s tempting to avoid reflecting when you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder because it’s almost impossible to to not beat yourself up for things you haven’t accomplished, put unrealistic expectations on yourself, or just forget what you even sat down to reflect upon. Nonetheless, one day of the month should be a dedicated meeting time where progress and projects from last month are accounted for. If there was something that you didn’t have time for or that got pushed to the back burner this is the time to incorporate it into your upcoming workload. Additionally, if something worked really well for you last month or you accomplished something large that you were really dreading then take some time to acknowledge the good job you did and try to glean from it the parts that allowed you to do your best. Evaluate the good and bad from the last month and take this time to make any changes or adjustments that need to be made before next month. Most importantly, if you don’t have enough things in the month that you’re looking forward to, take this time to find some. It can be a local event you want to go to, a weekend trip, or a movie or TV show you want to watch. Treat yo self, just schedule it accordingly.
3) Make a Schedule for the Week.
It’s important to make a schedule for your week. This way, you can plan all of the big projects that you have coming up and keep track of them as you move through other tasks. It allows some room for distraction but keeps the progress moving in a linear way.
It may help to schedule your personal activities here too so you can make sure your work/life balance stays intact when working through busier weeks. For example, include your dedicated times for exercise, meetings with friends, or anything that you are looking forward to and don’t want to forget about as the week goes by.
Make sure to block out time for things like eating, resting, distractions, and breaks. It might sound silly but these can take up a lot of time if you don’t plan for them and can be easily managed if you do. More importantly, it helps make sure you don’t feel guilty for taking your well-deserved breaks, a longer lunch than usual, or a nap that you literally cannot avoid, they’re simply part of your schedule.
It’s important to know what tasks aren’t your biggest priorities. Sometimes work takes longer than you thought, your car gets a flat tire, or you’re just feeling extra sluggish. Make a note of the importance of each task. That way if there’s something you can’t get to for the day, you at least know which thing can wait to get done and which thing absolutely has to get done.
4) Take a Plan Ahead Day
At the beginning of each week, for example on a Sunday morning after your morning ritual is complete of course, take an hour or so to plan what your upcoming week is going to look like. This should be fairly detailed as you will be using it as a reference for each of your daily schedules for the upcoming weekdays. Take note of all the month activities that fall on this week that were already planned out on your monthly schedule. Add any new work-related or personal items that came up or carried over from last week. Take a moment to sneak peek your overnight and over-weekend communications to see if anything urgent arose. You can take some time to break each day individually up here, as this will reduce the organization load from each day. The more time you spend on organization, the better off you are to deal with the upcoming tasks. A study performed by The University of Florida’s Department of Occupational Therapy shows that the more time spent on organizational strategy could correlate to fewer resources required to spend on studying or completing the actual task itself.
5) Make a Schedule for the Day.
The best way to start the day is with a morning ritual. Hopefully, the ritual includes personal hygiene and basic human needs like taking your medicine and brushing your teeth, showering, eating breakfast, or drinking a coffee or tea should all be considered part of your morning ritual. No matter how rigorous the day ahead is, starting your day in a happy, healthy, and mindful mindset will set a positive tone for your day that the rest of your work will fall into. The best way to start is to take care of yourself, after all, that’s what you’ll be working all day with!
Rank your tasks from most important to least important and double-check any of your pre-scheduled events that you set up in your planner. Be sure to double-check all of your possible overnight or over-weekend communications that you could have missed or last-minute changes that need to be made to your day.
Some projects are big, some are small, that’s how most tasks work. Usually, we can tell how long a project is going to take when we are well acquainted enough with our jobs. It really helps to break up your day into a certain amount of big and small projects. It’s equally important to space them out in the way that helps you work best. Write down the estimated amount of time it will take you to complete each task or project and be realistic with that time. If you find that you simply don’t have enough energy or hours in your average work day (eight hours) to do everything on your schedule then push those tasks back. Overloading your schedule and overcommitting is one of the worst things you can do with ADHD.
If you can only do big projects in the morning then you know that it’s time to buckle down and lay them out first thing in the day. If you know you can only do one or two big projects each day, then you just have to make sure you have them placed at times that work best for you. Some people will do best first thing in the morning because if they are working on a medication regimen that’s when they take their medicine. Some people don’t take them every day, so a day with a big project would also have to be a day where medicine was taken. Breaking down your tasks into big and small, and important and less important makes it easier to make last-minute changes to your schedule without deviating too much from it. Finally, get started on breaking your time up for the day based on the tasks you need to complete and your personal productivity schedule.
Organization tools may be the best strength that someone with ADHD may have when working on their small business. According to critically acclaimed researcher and author Dr. David Rock in his recent book Your Brain at Work, we as humans have around 6 good hours of focused work per week. You have to cut out the stuff you don’t have time for. Learning when to delegate tasks or hire help can be hard for people with ADHD. You don’t have to do everything on your own. If you’re ready to start delegating your workload and prioritizing your time you can fill out an inquiry form here to get in touch with us.