Often restless, impulsive, can't pay attention and feel misunderstood? You might be the growing number of South African adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
And if you have been diagnosed by a medical practitioner, and are living with the disorder, having all these symptoms can make time management seemingly impossible. Time passes quickly, tasks take longer than expected and you’re constantly rushing from one task to the next.
Remember, life doesn’t have to be a chaotic rush. 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.
Create a daily do-to-list
A list of daily tasks sets achievable goals for the day. Keep it small and break down tasks 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’ll soon appreciate the satisfaction of this simple action.
Your colleague calling for attention, traffic outside the window and your phone beeping non-stop – it’s easy to become surrounded with endless distractions (which sound far more interesting than what you’re doing).
Establish a working environment that supports productivity. Step into a break-away room or wear headphones to eliminate noise when you’re working to a deadline. Clutter can hinder concentration and lead to frustration and tension. Before you start the task at hand, organise your desk and keep it tidy. Just make sure you don’t become so engrossed in cleaning that the task itself becomes secondary – limit yourself to a five-minute tidy-up and stick to it.
Procrastination is not a simple thing to overcome. It’s an immensely complicated habit and one that is common in individuals with ADHD. 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. A common coping mechanism is to isolate – move away from colleagues, friends and other distractions. Put your phone on aeroplane mode or turn it off completely. Set your mails to ‘offline’. Then start with what you can.
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, increase efficiency and reduce tension. Whether it’s a short walk or using your lunchbreak to hit the gym, keep it to a regulated amount of time – this is just as important as the exercise itself. When you approach the task at hand afterwards, you’ll find more focus.
Without a comprehensive treatment plan for ADHD, even 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.