Do you know what is on the horizon?
A common concern I hear from clients is:
"I don't know how to prioritize. So, I can plan?"
If you are an adult with ADHD, planning and prioritizing may not be your strong suit. But it is possible to strengthen these muscles.
While there is no easy answer or one right way to do this, the key is to review and plan on a regular basis, weekly and daily. And, as you do this consistently, the pull of immediate gratification (doing whatever catches your attention in the moment) will weaken.
Below is a step by step method you can use to make this easier.
Advantages of Regular Planning:
And if you can do this consistently, you will find several advantages, like the ones listed below.
- You will not be overwhelmed with information running around in your head.
- You will no longer try to rely on your memory, which you know is notoriously unreliable.
- You will be more confident that you are not letting things fall through the cracks.
- You can be sure that you are doing what is important to you, rather than whatever pops up. That is, you will be more proactive, rather than reactive
If you can think of others that are not listed, please share!
The first step is to break down your projects into discrete steps. You can read more about how to do this in my article, Work With Your ADHD and Complete Your Projects.
Then, as you plan your weeks and days, you will incorporate time to do the tasks from your projects into your schedule.
Weekly Review and Planning
The best practice is to schedule a regular time during the week during which you will:
- Reflect on the previous week. Note what went well, what was a challenge, and what you can change to make the next week better (best practices).
- Review your time sensitive / scheduled appointments in your calendar. Adjust and/or confirm appointments, if necessary.
- Decide on your priorities for the next week based on your goals and commitments.
- Identify the next step(s) for your projects. Schedule time to do the task(s) associated with the steps.
- Schedule specific times to accomplish your non-time specific tasks.
- Other. Your plan for weekly review will include other items specific to your needs.
Daily Reviewing and Planning
Since things change in the course of a week, it is also important to review and plan on a daily basis. Once you establish a regular weekly habit of reviewing and planning, your daily habit will likely not take very long.
The best practice is to set aside the same time every day. During this time, you will:
- Review your plans and calendar.
- Make any changes based on what you have accomplished and any new information (eg. change in meeting schedule, new work assignment, etc.).
When Things Are "Mushy"
One of the challenges for many adults with ADHD is being able to decide what to do in any given moment when faced with a list items that have no immediate deadlines or are not “mission critical.”
Using David Allen’s Four Criteria Model can be useful toward this end. By asking the right questions you will be able to decide where to direct your time and energy in any given moment.
Context – In what context do I find myself?
I am meeting Tia for lunch, and she just called to tell me that she will be 20 minutes late getting to the restaurant. I have my cell phone and list of calls I need to make. I could call Bob or Dee (If I still have time, I may send a quick text to Kay, too)
Time Available – How much time do I have available?
I think the call to Bob should take about 10 minutes; I think that I have enough time to call him. I am not going to call Dee because I think that call may take ½ hour.
Energy Available – Do I have the capacity to do this right now?
It will be a just a friendly call. I am pretty tired, but that is ok.
Priority – Is this an important task to do right now?
It is an important call; I promised I would call him during the work week and it is already Thursday.
While you still have to use your own best judgment, using the above questions can help you decide when to do tasks that are not time specific.
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
If you follow the steps above consistently, you will strengthen your reviewing and planning muscle, as well as resist the pull of immediate gratification.
Remember, it will take time and practice. You want to get good enough so that you are in the driver’s seat and do what is most important to you.
If you need support in doing this, please contact me. We can discuss how I can help you become more proactive.