How are you going to decide what you need to do today? When you have ADHD, this process can be challenging.
If you sat down at your desk right now, could you see all of your tasks? If you are like most of us, your answer is likely, “not really.”
But you would probably like to be more confident that you have a structure for locating your important tasks without trying to rely on your memory, right?
I often hear some variation of one of the statements below when talking to my clients about To Do Lists.
- I have too much to do. A list would be too overwhelming. I just do what I need to do.
- I’ve tried using a list, but I can never get things on it done. So, why use one?
- I have lists, but the “to do” part does not seem to happen.
Whether they use a list of some sort or not, they usually share the worry that they are not really sure of everything they need to do at any given moment.
Does this sound familiar? Do you share this common worry of others with ADHD that you are forgetting to do something important
We may know we have a lot to do, and thoughts of our various tasks may “pop” in and out of our head throughout the day. But without a structure to view all of the tasks, the worrying just takes up a lot of psychic energy.
Getting It Out Of Your Head
Imagine what it would be like if you could be confident that you have captured everything you have thought of doing.
When I took a stab at this, my list ranged from the mundane to the important.
- get socks
- rewrite marketing plan
- write script for video
- paint hallway
- buy condolence card
- set up dentist appointment
- donate books
- follow up on certification
- call Tia
- research dryers and washers
- rewrite home page
And it went on and on and on…
As you look at my list you might notice that there is no order to it. This type of list would probably be pretty overwhelming and ineffectual for many, especially if you have challenges around setting priorities and making decisions.
But it is a start…
What Is All The Worry About?
Yes, when the ideas of what you need to do are only running around in your head, it takes up your energy.
It might also lead you to thinking of something that you need to do at inopportune times. If it seems urgent, you may even be tempted to take care of it in the middle of doing another task.
You may feel anxious at times because you just know you are forgetting something.
And you drop balls because, well, you are forgetting.
Maybe your m.o. is to deal with things when you remember them and the sense of urgency takes over. A common ADHD tendency.
To Do Lists and More: Containers For Your Task
Once you have collected all of your tasks, you can stop worrying. Well, at least about whether you have remembered what you want to do.
According to David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, ideally you have a container for every task that you are considering. I do recommend getting his book, as it will give you many ideas of different types of tasks and containers.
Be sure to adapt his suggestions to suit your needs. Ask yourself:
- Which tasks do I want to be certain to capture right now?
- What type of containers would be simple to use and readily available when I need them. If it is too complicated or not accessible when you need it, it is not the right tool for you.
Since there are so many possibilities, I thought I would share my system with you. It is only an example; everyone needs a different system
Of course, I have a calendar in which I put all my time and date sensitive appointments and tasks. I use Google and have separate calendars for personal, marketing, other work appointments and my daughter.
I use an excel spreadsheet to track and follow up with all of my clients’ accountability items.
I check my email at least twice a day, morning and at the end of my work day. Admittedly, I look at it too often.
I have a neat pile (my version of an inbox) that sits at one end of my desk. Anything physical (mail, notices, invitations, stuff to file, business cards etc.) goes in that spot. Since I work at home, I include both work and personal items
I have one list of action items / tasks. Again, because I work at home, I put all of my personal and work tasks on the same list. It works for me.
I use Evernote, an electronic notebook, and Xmind, mind mapping software, to put all of my project related information. I pull from these when deciding what project related tasks I want to accomplish.
As for random notes, I use one of two notebooks. I never (almost never) use post-its or separate pieces of paper; I lose these too easily
And, of course, I have a file cabinet.
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
It may seem like a lot of work. And figuring out the right system to contain your tasks might be challenging in the beginning. But in the long run, it will save you time. And help you in so many other ways.
Need help doing this? Feel free to contact me to set up a complimentary Strategy Session, and we can discuss how I may be able to support you.
Next time, I’ll look at what to do once you have corralled all of your tasks!