Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have trouble accomplishing tasks with maximum efficiency and minimal hassle. Here is a simple, three-step system that will make you a master of your time and schedule:
STEP 1: Create a Master List
- Gather all reminders, chores, and events — from big things like planning a wedding all the way down to simple tasks like hanging a picture — and compile them into a single list.
- Break each task into simple steps. Instead of 'buy a car' create separate entries: research options, calculate how much to spend, determine trade-in value of car, go to dealership.
- Mark high-priority items with an A. Lower-priority items with a B (“if I have the time”) or C (“fat chance”). You can use numbers or colors as well.
- Now transcribe the list into a word-processing document. A computerized master list is easier to update than a list on paper.
STEP 2: Prep Your Planner
- Sit down with your calendar, personal digital assistant (PDA), or daily planner and enter all the time- and date-specific items — birthdays, anniversaries, appointments — one week at a time.
- Now enter all the daily and weekly chores you routinely do — shopping for groceries, exercising, balancing your checkbook.
- Voila! You have a calendar that tells you how much time is available to accomplish those items on your master list each day.
STEP 3: Put It All Together
- Figure out your daily action plan by looking at the scheduled tasks in your planner and plugging in A and B priorities on your master list that seem doable.
- When estimating high-priority items you can fit around your scheduled tasks, consider these points:
1. Plan to do less than you think in case you’re waylaid by traffic, a sick child, or some other unforeseeable problem.
2. Leave enough time for meals and travel to and from appointments.
3. Include a mix of high-brain and low-brain tasks. You don’t want your day taken up by things that are all hard to do.
- Write this final (realistic) list into your planner, enter it into your PDA, or write it on separate piece of paper to take with you.
- Capture new to-do items in your planner or PDA as they crop up during the day; then transfer these items to your computerized master list when you get home.
- Reprioritize items on your master list, once a week, as you delete completed tasks and add new ones.