Published on ADDitudeMag.com
The Get-Things-Done-Now Guide for ADHDers
Eleven how-to strategies for de-cluttering, managing paper, overcoming distraction, and feeling less anxious about deadlines.
by Judith Kolberg
Overcome the Overload
Every day we’re confronted with
information, distractions, work, and lots of other stuff. Is it a surprise
anyone gets anything done, never mind those with attention deficit? ADHDers are
easily overwhelmed by the fast pace and interruptions, so they need some
stay-focused strategies to keep them on track. Here they are.
Capture All That Information
Instead of going crazy trying
to write down all those bits of information that come your way, try these
> Call important
information into your voicemail and leave yourself messages.
> Convert verbal information into text,
using an app like Dragon Dictation.
> Store your text messages
in one place online by using an app called Treasure My Text.
Finish Something, Anything, Early in the Day
Completing a chore—a small
task or something larger that you worked on yesterday—gives you a sense of
closure, making the rest of the day meaningful. No matter how the day goes, you
can say you finished something, which gives you a sense of satisfaction that
will encourage you to keep going the next day.
Get a Grip
If a phone call or a request
from your spouse distracts you from a task you’re working on, hold on to a
physical artifact to remind you what you were doing, An unopened envelope, for
instance, will remind you that you were opening mail before the interruption,
and will focus your attention more quickly.
Put It on the Calendar
It’s not enough to write down
a task on your to-do list. You have to enter your it into your calendar.
Assigning a task to a specific day increases your chances of getting it done.
With a to-do list only, you have a 40 to 50 percent change of doing the task.
Scheduling the task increases your chances of completing it by 70 percent or
Just Do It
Don’t get overwhelmed about
where or when to start a de-cluttering task. It doesn’t matter where you start;
begin at any spot in a room. After you start, continue in some kind of logical
order. If you start on the left side of the room, keep going to the left. If
you start on the top shelf of a cabinet, work your way down. There is no ideal
time to tackle clutter.
Change the Scene
ADHDers can optimize their
focus and attention by doing different tasks in different kinds of places. If
you have to do your taxes, rent a room in a local hotel for a day or two. You
can spread out all the papers and receipts, with fewer distractions than at
home. Some people with attention deficit can’t anything done—studying, writing,
reading—in the quiet of a library. Finding a setting like a Starbucks, with some
background noise, will help them be more productive.
Enlist a Support Team
trying to be an ordinary person who keeps it together in the same way that
non-ADD people do. Support might mean another set of hands, someone to keep
your morale up, or someone to function as a body double. A body double is
somebody who is physically present as you do a task but doesn’t do the task
with you. Your body double anchors you to the chore at hand.
Switch Up Your Routine Every Three Months
ADHDers get bored with their
routines more quickly than those without the condition. The higher boredom
factor keeps them from tackling things they once completed with ease. Routines—whether
it’s opening mail, doing dishes, or tackling a project at work—should be kept
fresh, by changing them up every three months. This doesn’t mean a complete
overhaul, just a tweak.
Play It Loose with Deadlines
Schedule extra time to finish
a task. Rather than trying to precisely estimate how long a task will take,
just say, “Screw it. I’m going to need 30 percent more time for everything I
plan, no matter what.” Just pick a number: Twenty percent more, 50 percent
more, and allot that. The worst that could happen is that you finish it early.
Keep Calm and Carry On
As you start your day, do the
first three things that worry you the most, to get them off your plate. The internal
distraction of worry plays more on ADHDers than on other people and prevents
them from getting things done. If you do any small part of what is worrying
you, chances are you’ll break the anxiety and move forward.
Manage the Mail
>To cut off junk mail at
its source, log on to catalogchoice.org
and have them alert marketers
to stop sending you
> Have only one place for
the day’s mail to land, maybe the dining room table. Yes, it piles up quickly,
but at least you know where it will be when you decide to tackle it.
> Don’t open junk mail. It
can contain four to seven pieces of paper. Junk mail goes, unopened, right into
the recycling bin.
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