Time management is an issue that people with Attention Deficit Disorder constantly struggle with, due in large part to the nature of ADD itself. Here are 10 tips for managing time more effectively:
1. Buy an analog clock (that’s the traditional kind, with hands and numbers) and put it where you can see it while you are getting ready for the day. If that means you need one in every room, including the bathroom, then so be it. ADDers are very visually oriented, and an analog clock gives them a better visual of time (and time passing) than a digital clock.
2. Figure out how long things really take. ADDers consistently underestimate how long things take; you need an accurate picture of how much time you are spending on daily activities in order to take control of your time. Decide how long you think something takes, and then time yourself while doing it. Either make note of the time before you start and when you end, or (even easier) use a stopwatch.
3. Cut back on your schedule. ADDers always think they can do more than they can. This goes back to underestimating how long things take. When you realize how long it really does take, you’ll see that you’re trying to pack too much into your day.
4. Once you find out how much time a given task takes, allow yourself twice that amount of time to do it. This will give you a cushion for unexpected events and losing track of time.
5. If you’re doing something that you know you tend to get immersed in, losing track of time (time on the internet is a good example), set up a reminder that will cue you on a regular basis that time has passed. You can buy watches that do this, or you can download software to your computer to do the same thing.
6. Set timers as reminders. You can use them to remind you to do something at a certain time, or to limit the time you spend on things
7. Consider using a PDA like a Palm Pilot or handheld computer, or an iPod Touch. You can set appointments for anything, including tasks and phone calls, and then set an alarm for it to remind you. Some cell phones also have these capabilities.
8. Learn to use the power of habit. If you have something that you need to do on a regular basis, then tie it into a standing habit. Let’s say that you need to remember to take your medication every day. If you always brush your teeth in the morning, then put your meds by your toothpaste. When you reach for the toothpaste, it will automatically remind you to take your pill.
9. Schedule ahead. If you get your hair cut every five weeks, then make your next appointment as you are paying for your cut, and put it into your PDA, planner, or cell phone.
10. Create standing appointments. My family reunion is the third Saturday of June every year. You can do the same for things you need to do. Laundry always gets done on Sunday afternoon, you gas up your car every Friday after work, etc.
Pick one or two of these tips and see if you can integrate them into your life as a way to manage your time more effectively. Don’t try to do too much at once, and give yourself at least a month of practicing your new habit to help make it a permanent part of your routine.