Tips for Time Management
- Get an agenda (one only) which you can use.
Get ONE agenda which suits your needs. If you have a complex life, you may need an agenda with a page per day or a double page for a week may be sufficient. It needs to be portable so that you can always have it with you. Choose one which is esthetically agreeable to you, you will be more likely to remember it. A bright color will make it easier to find on the table or in your purse. If you forget to look at your agenda, don't be discouraged. Keep at it until it becomes a habit.
I print my agenda on the computer, two months on an A4 size page. I use a different color each year. I have a column for morning, afternoon, and evening which provides enough detail for my life, and I can see the whole month at a glance. I have some variable items preprinted. I don't put tasks like shopping in my agenda because they are part of my routines (see below about routines).
- To get there on time, count backwards to know your start time.
When you have a plane to catch or an appointment to get to, work out the time you need to leave to get there. Add up the travel time, time to park the car, time to get to the location, and the time it takes you to get ready. Subtract the total time from your deadline and mark start time in your agenda. Underline it.
When I was preparing meals, I counted backwards to have everything ready at the same time. Dinner at 7:30. The peas take 5 minutes; they go on at 7:25. The potatoes take 20 minutes plus time for the water to boil: 7:05. The stew takes 1 hour, must start by 6:30. Start time is 6:30.
- Measure the time for key steps and note in your agenda
If you have difficulty getting places on times, it may be that you underestimate the time to do things. Many people with ADHD do. Make a list of the times that it takes you to do things like drive to the airport, drive and park for the dentist, get to work, getting ready to go. When driving places be sure to consider the hour of the day; it may take you much longer at commuting time. If you aren't sure how long a trip takes, ask someone who has a better sense of time.
Note these times in the back of your agenda so that when you schedule an event you can immediately use them to work out your start time.
- List time gobblers.
People with ADHD often have difficulty getting out the door or started on the main project because they are distracted by numerous little tasks like watering the flowers or feeding the dog. Make a list of these distractions and note the time they take and schedule time to do them.
- Create Routines.
Knowing what needs doing and where to start are big problems for ADHD. Design a Morning routine with all the things that must be done before you leave the house, a Dinner routine to get dinner prepared and on the table, an After-dinner routine to get the clean-up done, and a Going-to-bed routine. You may need different versions for different days. List what needs to be done in what order by whom and when; post the list where everyone can see it. Follow the list religiously. Routines are ready to go plans with built-in decisions.
- Chunk big projects like income tax and Christmas.
With ADD big projects like completing income tax forms and getting ready for Christmas sneak up on you. They are too big to do at the last minute. Break such projects into small pieces that can be done in half an hour or so. Schedule each step in your agenda. If you don't do it the first time, don't give up! Schedule it again! Each time you think about it you're adding a little bit of charge to a flat battery; it may take several attempts to charge the battery enough to start the motor.
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