Get Things Done with Adult ADHD: An Organization Gameplan from the Fly Lady

Shelve the to-do list and use this daily action plan designed to keep ADHD adults on time, on task, productive, and organized.

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.