Chunk Your Day: Time Management for ADHD

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Time management is something that those of us with ADHD really struggle with. Time is a fluid concept for us; an hour is either long or short, depending on what we’re doing. I find it impossible to grasp the idea that others experience each and every hour as having the same length.

Using the concept of chunking is one way to get some control over your time and add structure to your day. (Even if you work outside the home, most people’s jobs are no so rigid as to control each minute of the day.)

Here’s how chunking works: there are some things that you do every day, no matter what. And there are other things that you should do, or need to do, most of which occur on some sort of regular basis. For instance, brushing your teeth is a twice a day event, but seeing the dentist is twice a year.

Write down a list of things you do or should do every day – that’s the best way to start. Then take a piece of paper and list the hours of the day down the side. You might find it helpful to start with the time you go to bed at night, or get up in the morning. You can do just the hours, or add half hours, too, if that helps.

Then, across the top, list the things you do (or should do) each day. Use a highlighter to block off the time you spend doing each thing.

Now here’s where the trouble begins. It’s easy to block off sleep, or work, but what about things like checking your email, or cleaning the bathroom? Lots of things in our day have to be done every day (or on some regular basis), but no one tells you when they need to be done. The result? They don’t get done, at least not consistently.

So, start by blocking off the things that have a built in time schedule. Now look at what you have left. (You might want to do a separate sheet for work, but you can do it on the same page if it’s not confusing for you.)

OK, so you’ve got things like checking your email and cleaning the bathroom on your list. Maybe you have some phone calls to make, some errands to run, and laundry to do.

Here’s how you work those things in: set aside a chunk of time for each task. You check your email probably constantly all day long :). From now on, set aside 2 or 3 times a day to check and respond. maybe first thing in the morning, and then mid-afternoon. If you’re at work, you can even add a note to your emails letting people know when you check it, so they will know when to expect a response.

Do this with everything you’ve got on your list. Turn this into a system. Errands are always taken care of on Thursday afternoon. Phone calls are made from 10:00-11:30 each morning. Throw a load of laundry in before you leave in the morning, in the dryer while dinner is cooking, and fold it while you’re watching tv.

Get your family used to your new schedule, and stick to it. You might want to post it on the fridge or bulletin board. Give chunking a try and see what you think. It can do wonders to simplify your life.

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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