Time Management Tips for Adults with ADHD

Organization help for adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) – 10 ways to improve your time management.

Time Tips, Part 2

4. Set deadlines for others

We ADDers dislike deadlines so much that we're often reluctant to set appropriate deadlines for others. Often, as I was working on my thesis, I'd find that I needed to ask my professors a question. To make sure I could get going on time each Saturday morning, I asked them to get back to me with answers no later than Friday afternoon. Otherwise, I would have lost momentum—or relied upon the excuse that I couldn't keep working because I was unsure about what to do next.

5. When time runs short, outsource

I was spending way too much time putting the finishing touches on my thesis (preparing the table of contents, checking citations, and so on). So I sent those pieces of the project off to an editor. That saved me at least a full day's work.

Don't assume that you must do every portion of a project. In many cases, it makes sense to outsource or delegate.

6. Take frequent breaks

Those who fail to get away from a project occasionally are likely to start avoiding the project—or to just plain give up. I asked my nanny to make me take breaks, even when I didn't want to. I knew that would help me avoid burnout.

7. Start and end when you say you will

While writing my thesis, I started at 9 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m., so I had time to socialize in the evening. Knowing I would quit at 5 kept me going. I could say to myself, "only two more hours... only one more hour," and so on. If I hadn't committed to stopping at 5, I might have thought, "I'll take a break and do something else and work on it later in the evening." This kind of thinking is dangerous for ADDers, who are easily distracted.

8. Change your inner voice

Think of positive things you can say to yourself to stay motivated. Some of my clients write down "positive affirmations" and keep them nearby to glance at.

Example: "I'm going to feel great when I hand this in to my boss on time." Or, simply, "I can do this!" As I was writing my thesis, I often caught myself thinking, "Oh, well, I can just sign up for another quarter and take my time." Each time I did, I immediately changed that to, "NO! You WILL get this thesis done THIS quarter!"

9. Define your objectives

When I started my thesis project, my objective was to learn as much as possible about my topic. I accomplished that, but it wasn't until my objective became saving money and finishing by the end of February that I was able to stay focused on the hard part: writing. Finishing on time is one of the most important objectives for ADDers.

10. If all else fails... hire a nanny!

It seemed an extravagance at the time. But in the end, the nanny cost a lot less than another quarter of school. She was worth every penny!

This article comes from the April/May 2006 issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: ADHD Time Management, Deadlines and Procrastination

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