Basic Week Plan to the Rescue!

Womanneeds a routineThere are two kinds of people – those that love routines and those that don’t. Which are you?

If you don’t love routines, it may be because you feel they are too restrictive, too boring or just too hard. After all, who wants to do something 66 times before it becomes automatic?

However, if you know the value of routines, then you probably appreciate the automaticity of it – following through without any real effort or brain power. Routines can keep your life on track when everything around you is falling apart. Instead of constantly trying to juggle all that is on your plate, a routine can add structure to your day and save you time, effort and money.

Routines

The most common routines are the morning, or get out of the house routine, and an evening, get ready for bed routine. There are all kinds of routines and frequencies for doing them. I encourage the students I work with to create a homework routine. They think of all the steps they should take before, during and after homework and then combine them into a routine that works for them. It may include what to do when they get home such as having a snack, taking an activity break, a body check, checking the agenda and deciding what’s important – all before even getting started. Students save themselves time by addressing all the usual distractions like hunger, thirst, feeling tired, and the “I don’t know where to start”, dilemma.

Create A Basic Week Plan

You can do the same thing by creating a routine for the things you do during your week. I call it a “basic week plan”, because it tells me when to do the basic things each week. Start with a list of the things you spend time doing throughout a typical week for yourself and your family; things like laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, etc. If you’ve ever had to run to the grocery store for something you need for dinner that is already late, or had to pay a late fee, or missed the return window on an item that you don’t want, you know it can disrupt your day and steal valuable time you could use for yourself.

Now that you have your list, decide which day of the week would fit with your regular schedule rather than having “urgency” dictate the use of your time.

Match the task to a day:

Task                                                             Day

Laundry                                                            Monday

Groceries/Meal Planning                              Tuesday

Cleaning                                                           Wednesday

Errands                                                             Thursday

Mail/Paperwork                                              Friday

Organizing/Planning/Household Maintenance

Once you decide on the day of the week, try it out. See what it feels like to get the big stuff done during the week and have your weekend for fun and relaxation.

With fewer random or spontaneous tasks and errands taking up what little free time you have in your life, you may find the benefits of a basic week plan far outweigh the rigidity you think of in a routine. And wouldn’t it be nice to reduce the stress and the hurry in your day and to also have some time for yourself?

Recap:

  • Routines add structure to your day
  • Routines take less brain power and prevent decision fatigue
  • Routines, like a basic week plan, save you time and effort by minimizing extra errands and last-minute trips
  • Routines save money
  • Routines keep life moving even through the bumpy times

What do you need a routine for?

Use Your ADHD Super Powers and Get More Done!

ADHD Super PowersJanuary 1st is meant to encourage thoughts of possibilities but it can also be a reminder of the previous year’s disappointments. For 2024, let’s make a deal, there’s enough negativity in the world, let’s focus on the positive this year. Are you in?

It’s time to embrace our neurodiversity and use our strengths to get things done. Every January there are numerous resolution strategies offered to make this your “best year ever”. Strategies such as having a word, theme, or intention for the year are plentiful. Setting SMART goals and breaking them down into small action steps may work for some, but the statistics say differently. Many people give up within two weeks of the new year. Here’s a clip from npr.org for reasons why.

This year though, let’s try to make small improvements using our ADHD Super Powers such as: being creative and thinking outside the box, being a problem solver, having high energy and being able to pivot when necessary. Also, let’s not forget the ability to hyperfocus.

If the goal is to “get the right things done,” then let’s see how the ADHD Super Powers can help.

Super Power: You are creative:

Your ideas are innovative, often more involved than they need to be, but still creative and you often come up with non-traditional solutions that can solve problems. Watch for places where a creative solution could save you time and energy and fix it when you can. For example:

    • If you have been procrastinating on a task, add some creativity to it, gamify it, break it down into teeny, tiny doable steps to easily cross off or work on it with a friend.
    • Make it a game with the family to race around and put things away so you start each day fresh
    • Dislike using a traditional planner, then create your own system by making it work for you and the way you think.

Super Power: You have high energy:

Your energy level is often directly related to your level of motivation and of course the basics like sleep and self-care. If you find yourself with lots of energy to spare:

    • Knocking off several mini tasks will keep the dopamine level up and that makes everything easier.
    • Be sure to have a list to look at filled with those mini tasks so you don’t have to try and think of them in the moment.
    • Keep track of all you do accomplish – it’s much better to focus on what did get done rather than what didn’t.

Super Power: You can pivot quickly and change course or task:

If something more urgent comes up you are able to change gears and quickly dive into it. You are often multi-tasking and that means you are only using 50% of your brain (because you are actually switching from one task to the other and back) but you can assess what is needed and get on it. If you do have to pivot:

    • Be sure to leave yourself a note of where to pick up on the current project, before you jump to the urgent one.
    • You are able to find ways to make things easier and are open to unexpected solutions
    • Life happens – when the unexpected happens, being able to easily pivot can provide other options and solutions minimizing the disruptions.

Super Power: You can Hyperfocus:

Hyperfocus is the ability to sustain attention and focus on the task at hand until it is complete. This often entails either high interest on your part, a looming deadline, or urgency from someone else. It does use up a lot of brain power so be careful how often you use it.

    • You have the ability to deep dive into a project or area of interest so set a timer or reminder notification before beginning so you don’t miss something else.
    • Use hyperfocus to develop the skills needed for a new hobby or a side hustle.
    • The increase in focus can lead to more creative solutions and an increase in attention to details that may not happen with frequent interruptions. Let others around you know that you don’t want to be interrupted.

A change in perspective is needed if you feel that your ADHD is the reason you “can’t” get things done, are always late or forget things. Use your ADHD superpowers to come up with creative strategies and solutions for those challenges and add some fun into each day. What do you want to remember 2024 for? What do you need to do to make that a reality? Use your super powers:-)

Are You on Santa’s Stressed List?

Santa's Stessed ListStress. It’s a word we hear every day and I am sure it means different things to each of us (including our kids). The World Health Organization defines stress as, “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. It is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats to our lives.”  Back in the “early” days, stress was meant to protect us from the dangers out in the world and keep us safe. These days it feels more like a byproduct of our everyday lives. Even the general pace of our society can sometimes (no, probably often at this time of year) feel like it is going too fast for us to process and is one stressful event after another.

Just to be clear, I am talking about the stress we bring on ourselves – the temporary type* that can often be mitigated if we had the ability for “do-overs.” Think about the last time you stopped and realized you were feeling overly stressed. What happened just before that?

Common Stressors:

      • Did you say, “yes” to one or ten more things you knew you didn’t have time for?
      • Or did you forget something important and then had to scramble to make it right?
      • Did you lose something important?
      • Were you late for an appointment?
      • Did you stay up later than you knew you should?

All of these, and many more can increase your stress level. Imagine if you could rewind time and try again. Would you be able to identify what got in the way and caused your stress and then be able to prevent it (or at least reduce its impact)? What would that feel like?

Now figure out what you can do to get that feeling.

What ideas did you come up with? I know you are in the mad, almost the holidays rush but, maybe you can make some notes for next year.  Trust me, your “future self” will thank you if you leave some hints and actions to take to manage your stress level.

Here are some ideas to think about:

      • Get more sleep (dark rooms, lowering lights in the evening and using lamps not overheads)
      • Exercise
      • Build a self-care toolbox of things that help recharge you and schedule time in for you
      • Create routines that work for you and the family
      • Limit changes to plans at the last minute – it is okay to say “no”
      • Feeling prepared helps melt stress so make a realistic plan and then work it
      • Smart tech use – sure the dopamine hit feels good at the time but then that time is gone
      • No negative self-talk – your brain believes what it hears
      • Declutter the things you no longer need and that only interfere with you being able to find what you need quickly
      • Lastly, organize your spaces. Where is the logical spot for that? Where would a hook work for your keys? What would make your life easier and save you time? Add that to your to do list.

When you understand you have options, you can take action. Even baby steps in the right direction, will still get you there.

Four Productivity Hacks for an ADHD Brain

ADHD signsOctober is National ADHD Awareness Month and so in tribute, let’s bring some awareness to how ADHD can interfere in your life and what you can do about it. First of all, ADHD or its side effects, has nothing to do with intelligence. It has a neurobiological (read chemical) basis related to the neurotransmitter hormone levels in your brain. Those chemicals are responsible for transmitting messages from one side of the brain to the other. Sometimes they complete their mission and sometimes you forget part or all of that previous thought.

ADHD is often related to weaknesses in Executive Function skills. Those are the processes that are the last to fully develop and are in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. It’s interesting that those EFs (task initiation, inhibit, monitor, planning/organization, working memory, organization of materials, cognitive and behavioral shift and task completion) are necessary for completing most projects (and homework too).

It’s easy to see how difficulty planning can cause us to work harder and longer than we really need to simply because our plan is not the most efficient or cohesive. When that happens, we also may have difficulty getting started, and then watch out when our emotions take over. Can we notice how things are going or do we just jump up and go do something else? When a simple shift in our method, environment or state of mind or body may be all that is needed to stay focused.

An ADHD brain often finds it difficult to persist through boring, complex or difficult tasks as it prefers creative, interesting and fun projects – who doesn’t? When faced with this dilemma, it will seek out stimulation that it prefers and that’s where distractibility comes in. The brain is searching for something to make it “happy” and so it distracts us. Once distracted, since we weren’t monitoring the situation, it is challenging to regain control (inhibit our response) and all that we were holding in our working memory may be forgotten. Thus, adding more time to a task we didn’t want to do in the first place. Making it impossible to complete the task.

So, often it is the brain that is interfering in our ability to complete tasks and not our intelligence, age or state of overwhelm (although that has its own issues). Knowing that, we can be on the lookout for signs and use strategies and routines to mitigate its impact.

Brain and Body Check

First, we want to be sure our brain has everything it needs to be happy. The brain is continually sensing and responding to variations from the norm so it needs to have certain things like food, water, sleep, and safety to begin with. I would also add that stress can impact the brain as well. The higher the stress the less the brain can think and it sets off the fear alarms. Do what you can to be sure the brain and body have what they need and anticipate any needs that may come up while you are working.

Find What Helps Your ADHD Brain Focus

Check around you. Is your environment filled with distractions? Are there any changes you can make to reduce the irritating distractions and include some more helpful ones? Remove the clutter, face away from the window, turn off the TV, add some music, maybe add a few photos that make you smile or a small plant for some fresh oxygen. Read a previous post called Hack Your Workspace for more helpful tips.

Make A Plan

I confess, I am a paper planner (with digital backup) enthusiast. It doesn’t matter if you prefer a notebook, planner, digital calendar, master task list or a spreadsheet but you need to find a way to hold onto the tasks, appointments and ideas that are important to you. If you ask your brain to hold that info, it can hold 5-7 things until something distracts it and your working memory deletes it all. I am sure your task list is longer than 7 items. (The master task list that is….not the plan for today.) Whether you like to plan your day the night before or just start fresh in the morning – here are three questions to ask yourself.

  1. What are my 3 priorities for today?
  2. How much time do I have to spend on each?
  3. Where can I schedule the time to work on each into my day? (Taking into account my energy levels and other commitments in the day)

Work the Plan

Now that you took the time to make the plan, respect it. Don’t ignore the timeframes, if you scheduled a task for a specific time, do it then. Do not wait until you “feel” like it – because that rarely (if ever) happens. In fact, if you are easily distracted, you may want to set an alarm for 15 minutes. Then check in with yourself that you are still focused on the task.

Each task should be a single step and you may have several for each project. If you think about what the end needs to look like, you can easily work backwards to get the individual tasks that need to happen. Each project has a beginning, middle and ending, all the way to the clean up of any materials you used and other completion tasks.

Adults may be able to maintain focus for about 90 minutes, but if that is not you then be sure to break your “on task” time into manageable blocks and take breaks in between. The Pomodoro method uses 25-minute work blocks and a 5-minute break in between. After 4-Pomodoros, a longer break is encouraged. You can see how it works by joining our Work it Wednesday Focus group Wednesdays at 10am ET.

Whenever you stop working for the day, take the time to “close out the day.” That means leave a note of where to pick up tomorrow. Figure out your priorities for tomorrow and any responsibilities you may have at specific times. Check off what you completed. Savor the moment. That’s right, too often we don’t take time to appreciate and congratulate ourselves on what we did accomplish. A “done list” really helps us see our successes and can be motivating too. Clear off your workspace and set it up for tomorrow.

Work with your brain and your energy levels by frequently checking in with yourself. Take time to reward yourself and recharge your batteries. There will always be more to do, just make sure it is worthy of your time and effort.

Hack Your Workspace – Up Your Game

neat workspaceDoes your workspace help you focus and get things done or does it just add more challenge to your task? Since we can’t add more time to our day, we have to find ways to be more effective and/or productive with the time we do have. Wouldn’t you agree? We can start with making sure our workspace (whether it is a counter, desk or small table) works for us and our needs.

Impact of Clutter

Did you know that clutter on your desk can affect your stress level? If your desk is covered in papers and other clutter, it makes it difficult to stay focused on the task at hand, because your attention will keep shifting to the visual clutter. That shift can then interfere with your working memory – you forget what you were doing or that brilliant idea you had, because you were distracted and your working memory lost its focus. Or worse, that pile of unknowns makes you think you have forgotten something important but you can’t stop and look now because you are already feeling behind. That would definitely increase my stress level.

Hack Your Space

  • Clear the clutter – anything you don’t need to do the job
  • Contain the papers in a basket or bin and move them out of your line of sight (don’t hide them especially if you are a piler)
  • Make sure you have good lighting without casting shadows on your work
  • Does the chair fit you and is it comfortable? (Feet reach the floor?)
  • Is there an analog clock in sight or maybe you prefer a time timer?
  • Add something that makes you smile – a picture, photo, plant or your favorite fidget

Brain Hacks

  • Pick one task – think of it as having a beginning, middle and ending. If you typically stop working before the task is completed or you leave all the supporting documents out after it is completed then you are not working until the end. The end means nothing is left to do or take care of for that task or project.
  • Start a master task list by categories. This is where you keep track of the things you don’t want to forget to do, but it is not your to-do list! (I’ll get to that in a minute) Categories such as work, at home, at computer, away from home, etc.
  • Create a close out the day routine. Each day before you leave your workspace, wrap up what you are doing and if you need to continue it tomorrow, make a note of the next step. Take a look at your master list and decide the top 3 priorities for tomorrow, keeping in mind the beginning, middle and end of each task. Put away what you can and set yourself up for a fast start in the morning.
  • Check your calendar and your master list – your to-do list should have 3-5 tasks that you want to complete for the next day. Sure, you can do more, but only if you get those things you think are important done first. It’s called a REASONABLE LIST.
  • A weekly reset is an opportunity to clear the clutter, file or recycle those papers, sharpen your pencils, put paper in the printer and blow the dust off your keyboard. Maybe even reboot your computer if it has been a while. Whatever it takes to prevent you from taking last week’s problems into next week. You want to start the week off knowing your priorities, your appointments, your kid’s schedules and having your week planned out and your desk cleaned up and ready for action.

These strategies can help your children handle their homework more effectively too. Make sure their study space works for them and is not distracting them. For middle schoolers that are using their computers more, you may want to find a way to add another screen for them to avoid having to switch back and forth – saves on working memory and time. Help them use their agendas to keep their extra-curricular activity schedules, appointments and special events as well as, their homework in there each week. That way they can better plan when to study for those upcoming tests and there will be fewer surprises.

The biggest changes may come from just knowing what to do first when you sit down at your workspace. It doesn’t matter if you are going to work, working from home or just working on home “work”, using your time wisely, reducing distractions and having a plan, will save you time, improve your focus, save working memory space, improve decision making and reduce your stress according to Jim Kwik. Even if you try just one hack, I think you will be surprised at its benefits.

 

Embracing Change – Are You Ready?

Transitions, a time for changeI have a love/hate relationship with August, how about you? On the one hand it signifies the ending of the summer (hate) and the transition to cooler weather (which I am welcoming after the hot, hazy, and humid, summer we have had in the northeast – love) but also that transition back to “normal”. Normal as in back to school for the kids and back to your more typical routine and schedule if your schedule has been different during the summer. Do you embrace change or try to run from it?

Transitions

These transitions, are a normal part of life, and can elicit both excitement and/or fear and anything in between. Excitement, even though it is for something good, (new home, job, baby) can often bring up fears from the past. The most common fears are the fear of the unknown, the fear of repeating past failures, or self-doubt in your abilities, all of which can increase your stress level.

Through coaching, many of my clients have been able to focus on the things they can control, rather than the fears that they really have no control over. They can begin to embrace change with a more positive outlook, and see it as an opportunity for growth and learning. This increased belief in themselves also builds their resilience and develops their agency.

How to Navigate a Transition

Let’s focus on the things you do have control over. This goes for your children as well. Many of them may experience the same fears as mentioned based on last years’ school experience. Moving to a new school can also bring out the fear of the unknown and some self-doubt about their abilities. These fears, whether realistic or not, should still be accepted rather than dismissed. Together you can explore them more thoroughly to see if they are based in reality or not. Using yourself as an example can help your children see that questioning our abilities is natural, but that by being proactive we can build those skills needed to feel more in control.

Navigating Transitions

    • Set clear goals – what do you want from this change? How can you turn it into a positive rather than focusing on the negative? Now figure out what you need to do, have or be to get that? Break it down into small manageable steps so that you can see the path to get there.
    • Prepare ahead – if this transition involves a change in schedule, start now to practice. Does your bedtime need to change? Start setting an alarm to get up at the time you will need to. (This is also good to get kids in the habit of getting up – on their own).
    • Organize your environment – can you find what you need, when you need it (quickly)? Is your home easy to navigate or do you need to clear the table off before you can eat there? Are you using up energy moving things, or searching for things? Take some time before the transition to help “future you” feel more in control. How about your child’s study space: where is it and is it organized and distraction free?
    • Create routines – routines provide structure to your day and help to take some of the strain off of your brain as they become automatic. We all learned how important structure is during the pandemic when it all went away. Routines save brain bandwidth and decision-making power to be used for more important things in your day. Creating morning, evening and homework routines for the whole family, sets clear expectations and helps your children develop agency and independence.
    • Manage Time/Self – We can’t really “manage” time but we can become more aware of it and how we use it or waste it. Do you often feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it? Take a look and see what is getting in the way. Are you forgetting things because they were not written down or you lost the sticky it was on? Then maybe it is time to create a new system that will work for you. Planners, phones, index cards, notebooks, mind maps, or bullet journals, it doesn’t matter as long as you will use it. We can no longer keep our to do list in our heads (even though it should only have 3-5 tasks on it). One distraction can erase it from our working memory. You need something that works for today, but also something that holds your tasks, thoughts and ideas that are not for today. Ways to manage your tasks can be batching similar tasks together, using a Pomodoro technique approach, delegating or delaying. Lastly, managing your distractions, keeping an eye on an analog clock, and focusing on one priority at a time can help you get more of the important things done.
    • Cultivate Resources – Making sure you have resources for support and help as well as, resources that help you relax and reduce stress. What are the activities that recharge you? How can you use these resources for this new transition? Who can help you when you are feeling overwhelmed, are stuck or don’t understand something? Create a list for these as in the moment, it can be difficult to come up with something that will help.
    • Celebrate – We often focus on the negative, like those things we didn’t get done, rather than taking time to celebrate the wins, no matter how small. Take time and rejoice in your achievements and how you handled the transition and it may just increase your motivation and confidence for what’s next.

These seven steps can help make any transition easier because they help “future you” be less stressed and feel more in control. Help your children with these steps as they get ready for a new start this fall. You can make this your family’s best year yet!

Developing Agency Leads to Independence

Celebrating agency up high on a mountainThe word “agency” keeps popping up in articles I read or podcasts I listen to so I thought I would look a bit deeper into it. Hope you find it helpful.

Agency is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the ability to take action or to choose what action to take.” It is the belief that you have control over your choices and can affect change through the choices you make. How often do you feel that you have an impact on your life through the decisions and choices you make? So, what is agency?

Without Agency

  • Unclear goals
  • Emotions drive beliefs (whether true or not)
  • Indecision
  • Fear of Failure
  • Lack of confidence in your abilities

With Agency

  • Growth mindset (you believe you can do it, maybe just not “yet”)
  • Metacognition (you think about your thinking)
  • See learning as a process and yourself as a learner
  • Self-efficacy (belief in your abilities)
  • Ask open ended questions to problem solve

Agency isn’t just important for adults, but also for children to develop. Students have been through a lot of changes over the last three years and most of them adapted quite well. Some did not do well with the challenges and the constant changes. What do you think makes the difference, between a student who is resilient and adapts quickly and those that become more needy and less capable? Is it fear of failure, lack of confidence, or learned helplessness that interferes with a child’s development of agency?

Opportunities to problem solve and figure out what steps to take next have been replaced with the answers and solutions in order to save time (Ex. Study guides instead of study skills). Think about it, when was the last time your child came to you with a problem and you told them what to do? You may have missed an opportunity to help them develop agency and confidence in their own abilities.

I was surprised to read this article that discussed the increase in a child’s anxieties when you constantly solve their problems for them or make accommodations to diminish their fears. This line jumped out at me. “Kids look to their parents to see who they are, Dr. Leibowitz notes. So, when parents reflect back to them that they are helpless in the face of anxiety, and need to be protected, that’s what kids learn to feel about themselves.” That goes for problem solving too. They question their own abilities and instead rely on a parent or teacher to “save” them.

Learning is a Process

  • It takes time
  • Start small and scaffold with help
  • Focus on the process not the outcome
  • Allow choices – develops ownership
  • Self-reflection leads to metacognition
  • Growth mindset (capable with effort)
  • Leads to self-efficacy (belief in your abilities)
  • Which then leads to agency – knowing you can impact your life through the decisions and choices you make

Encouraging your children to problem solve with your help and building on their confidence develops agency. Isn’t the goal to raise lifelong learners with the confidence to handle anything that comes their way (depending on age of course)?

As an adult, you know yourself best and should keep that in mind when solving a problem or developing a strategy that will work for the way you think. We can’t always predict what success will look like so designing an “experiment” gives an opportunity to try things out without fear of failure. Make sure to think about what could get in the way of your success. Thinking about possible obstacles and then creating a plan for them, helps ensure greater success of your experiment. Each experiment provides more data (more clues as to what will work) even if you don’t get there on the first try.

Each experiment whether successful or not helps you learn more about who you are and who you want to be. It builds on your strengths and helps you find strategies you can use in other instances. This builds your “toolbox” that you can use in other situations. In the end, we don’t set the goals or do the tasks for the “fun” of crossing them off the list, we do them to show ourselves we are capable and in control of ourselves and our actions – and that develops agency.

If you’d like to learn more about helping your children develop agency, then join our Thriving with ADHD in the Family Parent Class starting Thursday, April 27th, 2023 at 7pm ET via Zoom.

Are We REALLY in Control?

Woman juggling too muchDo you ever feel like your life is a constant juggling act and that if one more thing comes at you, you’ll lose control?

When that happens, it can make us feel “out of control.” It isn’t just that one thing that causes you to drop the ball, but a combination of things. It is different for everyone but ask yourself, is it too many to-dos and not enough time? Or is it disorganization, weak boundaries (read, can’t say no) or unrealistic expectations of yourself or others?

The causes and the solutions are different for everyone. So, if you are looking for solutions to get back that feeling of control for yourself, a coach approach can provide the structure to get you the answers you need.

What is the Outcome You Want, to Feel in Control Again?

Imagine your life without this challenge – what does that look like? If you’re an adult with ADHD, how is ADHD showing up or impacting this situation? Just becoming aware of what is interfering with your ability to get to that outcome is the first step. A coach can help you explore that in a safe, non-judgmental and supportive way. They can help you narrow down your focus to one piece of the puzzle. In our example, maybe it is unrealistic expectations of yourself. Even Wonder Woman has her limits.

What Can You Do to Control The Outcome?

Brainstorm ideas and strategies keeping in mind there is no ONE right answer. You know yourself best and need to keep that in mind so that your strategy will work for the way you think. We can’t always predict what success will look like so designing an “experiment” gives an opportunity to try things out without fear of failure. Each experiment provides more data (more clues as to what will work) even if you don’t get there on the first try. Be clear on what you are committing to doing and how you will measure if it is successful or not. In a coaching relationship, you can ask the coach to hold you accountable for whatever actions you want to do.

Anything that Could Interfere with Your Plan?

A coach wants you to succeed but the responsibility is all yours as they are not attached to the outcome. You won’t be able to predict if your experiment is going to work or not but you can check to make sure there is time in your calendar to work on the experiment. Do you have everything you need to complete the experiment? When/If this works what will you learn about yourself?

Who Do You Want to Be?

Each experiment whether successful or not helps you learn more about who you are and who you want to be. It builds on your strengths and helps you find strategies you can use in other instances. In the end, we don’t do the tasks for the “fun” of crossing them off the list, we do them to show ourselves we are capable and in control of the outcome and of ourselves and our actions.

Now what can you do to take back your control?

If you’d like to learn more about how coaching can help you reach the outcomes you dream of, then let’s set up a 20-minute zoom call to chat. Email me here: laine@thinkinganddoingskillscenter.com

Time Management vs. Choice Management

How to choose?

Time management, what does that mean to you? For me, it is my ability to manage the available time I have to get what needs to be done, done. Notice, I said it is MY ability to manage – myself really and manage my choices. We really can’t “manage” time as we have no control over it. It keeps going on its own whether we want it to or not. However, the choices we make of how to use our time can have a huge impact on our productivity, as well as, on how we feel about ourselves and our lives. So, what is choice management?

Choice management is taking time to look at all the options/tasks/choices you have and actually choosing your priorities given the time you have. There are lots of things that “should” be done, but are they really the important stuff or just the easy stuff? Estimate how long you think things will take before you decide if it’s a realistic task to take on.

Choose the top three priorities to begin with and set clear boundaries around the time you will work on them. Don’t wait for the deadlines to get closer as although deadlines help provide a sense of urgency, they often bring extra stress if you miscalculate the time needed to complete it.

Five Ways to Save Time

  • Use the Pomodoro method
  • Time blocking
  • Task batching
  • Create systems and routines to “keep up”
  • Organize and declutter the extras out of your life

It comes down to having to make choices because the reality is you probably can’t do it all. So rather than getting stressed, why not choose wisely and ask yourself…”is this important enough for me to use “x” hours of my day to do? Then figure out which method above, works best for you. Watch out for things that can eat up your time, like distractions, multitasking and not having a plan.

The Pomodoro Method

The Pomodoro method breaks your work time into four, 25-minute blocks of time with a 5-minute break in between each block. The short time frame tricks the brain into thinking the task is more urgent since the clock is ticking. It helps to know that you only have to work on that one “challenging or boring” task for 25 minutes and then you can take a break.

The one thing I have found to help increase it’s effectiveness is to have other people know what I am working on in that block. This body doubling technique also adds accountability to the tasks and helps to keep me on track. If you’d like to give it a try, feel free to join us for Work It Wednesday from 10am-12pm ET via zoom. (Email me for link). At the end, you are encouraged to celebrate your accomplishments and appreciate your productivity (and take a longer break).

Create Systems and Routines

We all want to work “smarter” because that makes things easier on us. Creating systems and routines is a great way to do that. Time blocking and task batching are examples of systems you can use, if they work for you. However, time management is not just about work tasks; you probably also have “home” tasks some of which occur daily.

Setting up systems and/or routines for those things can save you time and stress. For example, if there is no routine of cleaning up the kitchen after dinner (or at least before going to bed) then the morning becomes more of a hassle as you dodge last night’s dirty dishes and cluttered counters trying to get everyone out the door on time. Not to mention the extra time it takes to get dried food off.

Routines work well for weekly tasks too. Pick a day for specific things, like meal planning, grocery shopping, and laundry. Why wait until you have no clothes and there are 6 loads to do when you can keep up by doing laundry once or twice during the week. Much easier to put clothes away if it is manageable.

Organize and Declutter

Lastly, but most importantly, take the time to organize and declutter. Out of all the things you can do, this may save you the most time and frustration. We’ve all wasted time searching for things, things that either didn’t get put back in their “home” or they didn’t have a home to begin with. Your home should work for you not against you.

Create organization so that you know where the things you use daily and weekly belong. Don’t organize so you can stack more stuff into a space. Let the space determine how much can go in there and reduce your inventory. The bigger the load of laundry the longer it takes to get it to its final destination. If your clothes don’t fit in the closet or dresser once they are all clean, then (I’ll be direct) maybe you have too many clothes. Think of how much time you are using/forfeiting to laundry.

Things you use often, should be easy to get to. Why should the big lobster pot take up an entire cabinet when you only use it once or twice a year? It shouldn’t. Make life simpler by clearing counters of appliances and knick knacks you don’t use weekly. You might think it only takes a minute to move things out of the way so you can work, but those minutes add up. You are choosing to use them clearing space when you could be using them for yourself and your family.

Think about the choices you make each day. Yes, it would be wonderful to be able to do all the things we want and need to do but, there are so many options and opportunities that it is impossible to do it all. So, “choose wisely, grasshopper” as a famous TV Kung Fu master once said. Or maybe you’re inspired by Yoda’s line, “do or do not. There is no try.”  Whatever “method” you use for saving time is just one piece of the puzzle, it is the choices you make all day, every day that provides the frame work. Choose what matters to you.

Pick A Slice of ADHD Pie

Pick a slice of life with ADHD pie

January, the start of a new year. There is so much media attention on resolutions, themes, words of the year, etc. that we can easily be overwhelmed and feel like our life with ADHD is not measuring up. Well, I for one, don’t make resolutions – mostly because in the past, they never worked. I also don’t need to wait until January 1st to make a change. However, I also know that making too many changes at once….is probably not going to turn out well. So, this year, let’s try something different. Let’s pick a slice of ADHD pie to get started.

New Approach

You may have seen other “Life Wheels” similar to the one above. I designed this one with categories that relate to areas that can be challenging (or mostly ignored) for those living with ADHD.
The idea is to picture each piece of pie as being divided into 10 sections from the point in the middle to the outside edge. Ask yourself where you would rate yourself for each category from zero to ten. For example, the health category (and feel free to change these to match the areas of your life) how would you rate your health right now? Let’s say it is a 6. Mark off where a “6” might land on the pie and draw a slightly curved line to connect across. Then continue to all the other categories. Some areas may be rated higher than others. This is just a visual way to indicate areas for improvement (or for growth as coaches would say). Pick an area to focus on. Which one (yes, just one) of these will improve your life with ADHD?

Coach Yourself

        1. What would it take to bring that number closer to a 10?
        2. Why is this area important to me?
        3. What impact will an 8 or a 10 in this area have?
        4. What can I do to improve in this area? (Brainstorm all ideas)
        5. What three things can I do to make a difference in this area?

Action

        1. Pick a simple, single step action to take.
        2. When will I take this action? (Put it in your planner or phone)
        3. What can I do to make this step easier?
        4. How will I reward myself at the end of the month?
Using our example from the health category, maybe I make a healthy meal plan before I go to the grocery store. Or put my workout clothes out the night before or will I take a walk at lunch time? All simple things, that are being blocked out by other less important things or the busyness of my day. If I really want that 6 to get to an 8, then it starts…..tomorrow:-) How about you? Please share your thoughts and strategies on our Facebook page.
Related Articles from the Archives:
Look Back Before You Leap Forward in 2022
Routines, Rituals and Dopamine, Oh Yeah!