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Time management tips for adults with ADHD, and even those without it

Image: Flickr

Image: Flickr

Published Aug 23, 2017

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If you’re an adult with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, one of your biggest challenges might be feeling restless, impulsive and struggling to pay attention – which makes time management seemingly impossible. Time passes quickly, tasks take longer than expected and you’re constantly rushing from one task to the next.

Life doesn’t have to be chaotic. The right treatment plan, together with small changes can mean a more balanced, productive day. Use these strategies to better manage your time and get more done.

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Create a daily do-to-list

A list of tasks sets achievable goals for the day. Keep it small and break them down into manageable chunks. Don’t overwhelm and demotivate yourself with an endless list. Itemise what needs to be done in order of importance or urgency. 

Colour-code and cross tasks off as you complete them – you will 
soon appreciate the satisfaction 
of this simple action.

Eliminate distractions

Your colleague calling for attention, traffic outside the window and your phone beeping – we’re surrounded by endless distractions.

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Establish a working environment that supports productivity. Step into a break-away room or wear headphones to eliminate noise when working to a deadline. 

Clutter can hinder concentration and lead to frustration and tension. Before you start the task, organise your desk and keep it tidy. Make sure you don’t become so engrossed in cleaning that the task itself becomes secondary – limit yourself to a five-minute tidy-up.

Purge procrastination

Procrastination is not a simple thing to overcome. It’s an immensely complicated habit and one that is common in individuals with ADHD. 

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A good place to start? Just start. If you have to type a document, open the document, create a folder, save the file, and at least type the title.

Bullet point what you know. Bullet what you don’t. Even if you start small, it’s the hardest part done. You’ll find once you start at all, it doesn’t seem so insurmountable. 

The key to tackling procrastination is to recognise when you’re procrastinating, acknowledge it and then find a routine to combat it. 

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A common coping mechanism is to isolate – move away from colleagues, friends and other distractions. Put your phone on flight mode or turn it off completely. Set your e-mails to “offline”. Then start with what you can.

Leverage tech

Rely on external markers of time – not your own clock. Set alarms 
and timers as reminders. Use calendars offline and online – as many as you need – to keep track 
of approaching deadlines. 

Time out to recharge

Switch from mental to physical tasks for a break, to increase efficiency and reduce tension. 

Whether it’s a short walk or using your lunch break to hit the gym, keep it to a regulated length of time – this is just as important as the exercise itself. When you approach the task at hand afterwards, you’ll find more focus.

Managed medications

Without a comprehensive treatment plan,  attempting to manage time will be immensely difficult. 

Work with your healthcare 
professional to come up with a treatment plan that works for you, 
with medication that controls the symptoms of ADHD throughout 
the day.

Then look forward to showing 
up on time and feeling more 
peaceful and productive as you 
tick important tasks off your list. 

For more information on the symptoms, impact and treatment 
of ADHD, visit MyADHD.co.za or My ADHD on Facebook.

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