We try, we have every intention of staying on track, keeping up with our responsibilities"and yet, every day plans get delayed or remain unfinished. We make schedules, to-do lists, plan our day but still, we lose track of time and end up off schedule. Time management can be an elusive skill, something that everyone else seems to be good at but something those with ADHD can’t master.
It is important to know what to do and how to manage your time, but it is just as important to understand what stands in your way to effective time management. Below are some common enemies of time management. Look for these in your life and as you create strategies to stay on track work to eliminate these from your daily life.
Clutter - Although you may not see clutter as a time waster, having everything in its place can make you more efficient and help you accomplish more. Taking a few minutes to file papers or put "junk" away saves time later. See: Decluttering Your Home and Decluttering My Desk: Avoiding ADHD Pitfalls
Television - There’s no doubt about it, television is a big time waster. You sit down with all intentions of taking a break for a few minutes and before you know it an hour or more has gone by, leaving you feeling as if you have accomplished nothing with your day. Try limiting yourself to watching television only after all your tasks have been completed.
Computer - This can be even worse than television. Browsing the internet, going on sites like Facebook and Twitter or checking your email throughout the day can all waste time and take you away from more productive tasks. This includes using the internet on the go, such as watching movies or television shows or playing games on your IPad or Smart Phone. If you must use the computer, try setting a timer for how much time you spend or set aside a specific amount of time each day to spend on the internet.
Cell phones - While definitely convenient, cell phones are also a big time waster. Telephone time used to be limited to times when we were at home but now we stop to take calls all through the day. If you find talking on the phone is taking up a lot of your time, let callers leave messages and set aside an hour a day to return calls.
Procrastination - Putting off what you need to do but don’t want to do is often a problem for adults with ADHD. While you can use the television, computer or cell phone to procrastinate, many tasks suddenly become interesting when faced with a task you don’t want to do. We have some great tips for managing procrastination in Five Tips for Beating Procrastination and Coping With ADHD and Procrastination
Poor planning - With many people with ADHD having poor executive functioning skills, planning and organization are often a problem. Planning is frequently considered to be a waste of time but it actually helps keep you on track. Some adults with ADHD find it helpful to take an hour a week to plan out their time and then each morning to review their plan and make adjustments as needed. Doing this gives them a focus for their day.
Time management strategies are certainly a good idea, but if you don’t also take the time to look at your behavior and what in your life is interfering with getting tasks done, then you will still feel as if you are spinning your wheels. The previous time wasters are a place to get started, but you need to look at your day and find out what activities and behaviors are standing in your way.
This post was written based on personal experience and input from family and friends. I hope it helps you to stay more on track and focused.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.