ADD and the “Slippery Slope of Time Management”

Posted By on January 10, 2011

Guest post by professional organizer Ellen R. Delap

In our way too busy world, we all struggle with time management. However for those with ADD and ADHD, time management is more than this. It is a dizzying array of disappointment, lack of tools and strategies.

Time is an intangible, a slippery slope with little to break our descent. It is the expectation we are letting others and ourselves down each and every day.

Time management issues for those with ADD/ADHD:

Slow to start – Just getting started can be a problem. Setting a timer to propel you forward can make you start. Set it for just 15 minutes to move forward. Or if you can do it in less than three minutes, just do!

Hard to complete – Finishing sometimes requires more energy since those with ADD or ADHD may have lost focus, lost enthusiasm or may be a perfectionist. Add a partner to help you get done by setting a date you will work together on the task. The partner adds all the ingredients, including accountability, to get finished.

Unrealistic time dimensions – It takes much longer than most ADD or ADHD people think for them to finish a task. If you are not sure how long something takes, start with a time log. If you know, give yourself permission to complete a job fully without regret. One client told me it takes her four hours to pay her bills. On that day, she will only accomplish this task. Giving her permission was what she needed.

Being a perfectionist – It’s a blessing and a curse! Start setting your bar lower with a minimum. Not as low as having spelling or grammar errors, but maybe with less information and less complexity. Establish a work plan before you start, with a specific number of choices involved, so you can narrow your focus. Remember, our colleague Donna Smallin notes, “Done is perfect!”

Difficulty with prioritizing and decision making – It is easy to be overwhelmed and not sure where to start. If everything is equally important your challenge is prioritizing. When everything becomes urgent, truly you can be paralyzed.

Start with the one task that makes the most difference. For a small business, it is the task that brings in money. For a big outfit, it is often a big project. If something is very important, but has been left for a long time, just jump in there and get it off your plate. One client had her will for years, but it was not notarized. I encouraged her to make it her top priority the next day.

Difficulty choosing the right planner – There is no one “right” planner for everyone. Think about what works for you, technology or paper. For technology, the Google Calendar can really work. For paper, think about a Planner Pad Organizer.

Most people have a strong preference, but “working” the calendar is the same. Commit it all to paper, no matter how small the appointment. Add dates all the time. Add in transition space, time to get from here to there and also “just in case” time. Check your calendar each morning. Most especially, don’t give up after a week if you think it is not working. Go back to your calendar routines, and it will be a happy ending.

Certified Professional Organizer and Family Manager Coach Ellen Delap is the owner of Professional-Organizer.com. Since 2000, she has worked one on one with her clients in their homes and offices streamlining their environment, creating effective strategies for an organized lifestyle and helping them make organization a prioritize in their daily routine.

She holds ADD and Chronic Disorganization certificates and specializes in working with ADD and ADHD adults and students. Ellen has been featured at The Woodlands (Texas) Home and Garden Show, on ABC13 Houston and in the Houston Chronicle. She also is an expert on The Clutter Diet, an online organizing resource. To learn more about Ellen and her work,  visit Professional-Organizer, tweet her @TexasOrganizer or become a fan on the Professional-Organizer Facebook page.

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