MANAGING TIME AND PRIORITIES WITH ADHD
Whether your a parent, a student, working full time, or stay at home parent time can be a difficult thing to manage. There are so many things pulling at our purse strings of time. Some things are amazing opportunities, some are obligations, some are by choice. Whatever the situation, we all have to figure out the struggle of having only so much time in the day. Add in the fact that ADHD people have time blindness (Russell Barkley), and that creates a whole new issue!
As a mom of three children, an ADHD coach, and launching my business there has definitely been a time management learning curve. I have found that as I pour myself into one area, another has less attention. Now this may seem self explanatory but for someone to which everything is equally important and likes to do things well, it is very difficult! When I first started getting my business going I began feeling the stress of it all. It was in a session with a coach that she said to me, “it seems all these things have the same priority. Whether cleaning the toilets, meeting with clients, or attending your children’s different functions they are all equally important.” My thought was ” well ya… I can do it all”. Well, I can’t! Something has to give when you add something into your life.
Fast forward to this last week. It was my daughters birthday. A birthday that she has thought about and planned on and off since, well, her last birthday! I don’t love throwing parties but I do love my daughter. I am happy to say that I am learning that something has to give when something of importance comes along. I decided early on that I needed to book that week lightly so that I could put in the time for the things that are important to my daughter and to me. Things like having a homemade cake, having a somewhat tidy house, buying a few decorations, booking time to have a few friends over. Now I could have bought a cake but, I like to bake and we love chocolate cake, so that became a priority.
On the flip side I had to lower my expectations of work accomplishments. I chose to keep some of my posts more simple so they were less time consuming, I did not get a blog out and I was okay with that. I set timers to signal “time to end work” so I didn’t get sucked into the time vortex. I had to let a few things go or go crazy trying to do it all. It was not worth my sanity to try to do everything at full speed.
So, how do we learn to manage time?
- First it is important to establish what your priorities are. I believe there are different seasons with different priorities but some priorities remain the same (exercise, Bible reading etc) . Create a list of priorities that contribute the most to your objectives or values. ADDitude Magazine says priority lists are “the compass that keeps you focused on your most important goals.” You can set monthly priorities, daily priorities or ADHD priorities. For example, for my ADHD I know I need to exercise every day, plan healthy meals, etc. Use whatever it is you have discovered that assists you and your ADHD.
- Take some time to discover how much time certain tasks take. I always felt vacuuming took so much time that I would never start! By timing myself I realized that it took much less time than I anticipated. I then began to look at other tasks I tend to avoid and timed them as well. This gave me a better sense of my ability to complete the task in a certain chunk of time.
- Learn what tasks you need to set reminders/timers for. With tasks that are more enjoyable you may loose track of time! ADHDers tend to hyperfocus and therefore are late or miss other important things. People have commented to me that they will unknowingly shut off the alarm/timer they had set so make sure you find a strategy that works for you to transition!
- Leave room for flex time. There are always things that come up that we don’t plan on. If we schedule tightly back to back there is no room for these unplanned time takers. E-mails that take longer to respond to, being stuck in traffic, having an unplanned yet important conversation with your child/coworker/loved one.
ADHD people tend to “happen” through life. Having in mind what your priorities are allows you to weed out the things that are just taking up space in your life. This may feel overwhelming to you. I challenge you to break it down into manageable pieces. Start with a day, if that is still to big, start with the morning, As you start to exercise this time management muscle or prioritizing muscle it will grow! If you would like support in any of this please email me at email@example.com to arrange a free consultation.
From my family to yours,
Family ADHD Coach Laureen