Do you have a hard time getting things done? Many of my clients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) do. And for many years, so did I. My daily to-do lists used to read like the stream-of-consciousness scribblings of a deranged novelist, lots of words with little structure.
I would forget to add some tasks to the lists, while listing others more than once. Even on ADD/ADHD "superstar days," when I'd get 50 things done, I would always miss an important item or two - and feel that I had wasted the day.
Then I tried ADD/ADHD tools: calendar/task-management software, of the sort that comes with Internet-based e-mail accounts, such as Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail, as well as in programs like Microsoft Outlook and Entourage. These programs are much clearer than handwritten to-do lists. You simply enter the date, time, and task that needs doing, and the computer automatically sends you a heads-up chime or an e-mail at the appropriate time. You can even have the reminder text-messaged directly to your cell phone.
But what comes out of these programs is only as good as what goes into them. If you forget to list a task, you'll never get a reminder to do it. If you list too many tasks, you'll get a torrent of reminders - and be overwhelmed. Perhaps most galling, if you don't include enough detail about the tasks and appointments (time of day, location, people involved, and so on), you may be unable to figure out exactly what it is you're being reminded to do.
Case in point: I was working at my computer the other day, and up popped a reminder: "WEDDING." But whose wedding? Where was it? What time? That's when I decided I needed a calendar/to-do list system with some intelligence. Something that could take up the slack when I got sloppy about entering details, something that would help me set priorities and then push me to get things done. "WEDDING" wasn't enough. What I needed was "Smith-Jones wedding, 554 Main Street, 11 a.m., 303-555-1212."
This article comes from the December/January 2006 issue of ADDitude.