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How to Build a Daily Action Plan

You find to-do lists daunting. Impossible, even. That’s because you need more than a calendar and checklist. To complete your daily tasks efficiently and clearly, you need to follow these three steps.

Adults with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) procrastinate. Or, lose focus on the task at hand. That can make it hard to check items off your daily to-do list.

That doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up every time you forget an appointment or fail to finish what you started. Instead, turn your checklist into a daily action plan, with these three steps.

How to Build a Daily Action Plan

For people with ADHD, time is not a string of discrete moments — it is one big NOW.

Without a sense of sequence or priority, we find to-do lists daunting. Impossible, even.

The fact is, you need more than a calendar and checklist. To complete your to-do items efficiently and clearly, you need to follow these three steps.

1. Create a master list.

Gather all of your sticky notes, napkins, and scraps of paper with written reminders. Type them into one long Google Doc.

Break large projects into smaller units as you go. For example, “Buy new car,” becomes, “Research car options.” “Determine trade-in value.” “Calculate how much I can spend.”

Mark high-priority items with an “A.” Lower-priority tasks get a “B” (if I have time), or “C” (fat chance).

2. Prep your planner.

Many adults with ADHD overestimate their free time because they fail to remember when they’re already booked.

Sit down with a calendar and enter every time- and date-specific item, week by week.

That includes birthdays, anniversaries, due dates, meetings, and appointments.

Schedule in daily and weekly chores, like grocery shopping or going to the gym.

Then you can see the hours left to tackle your to-do list.

3. Put it all together.

Each day, review the “A” and “B” priorities on your master list.

Estimate how many items you can fit around your scheduled tasks. This is your daily action plan.

Be sure to:

  • Plan to do less than you think you can
  • Add a cushion of 15 minutes for unexpected events
  • Factor in time for meals and transit between errands
  • Strike a balance between easy and decision-intensive tasks
  • Include time outdoors every day

Keep your list handy so you can capture new items as they occur to you.

Once a week, reprioritize your list and start the process anew.

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