Organization and time management happen to be two of the biggest challenges for adults with ADHD. Part of the problem is that these are skills that just don’t come naturally to people with ADHD. Many of us have to learn them later in life, as adults, and often only after a lack of organization and a lack of time management have caused major problems.
Here’s something that you may not know or you may not have ever realized… organization and time management are all about one thing: planning. And this is where adults with ADHD get tripped up.
Pay attention to the people in your life who don’t have ADHD, and see how they go about organizing a space, managing their schedule, or working on a new project. You’ll notice that people without ADHD almost always start with a plan. It’s just something they do! It’s a part of the process.
Then pay attention to how you approach the same kind of situation. Without the proper skills and resources, we almost never start with a plan. It’s a completely foreign idea to many of us! Instead, adults with ADHD like to jump right into the project head first. And sometimes that works, especially if there is an impending deadline or tremendous pressure to get something done. But, more often than not, jumping into a project without a plan just leads to overwhelm.
You see all the things that need to be done, and you don’t know where to start. So you become paralyzed, you get frustrated, you procrastinate. And, of course, you feel bad about yourself! But those feelings and those challenges can all be avoided by making a plan in advance.
Your plan is like your roadmap. Imagine that you’re going on vacation. You’re driving to a different state that’s a few hours away. Would you get in the car and start driving without a map, or directions, or a GPS? In theory, you could get on the highway and follow the road signs, but your trip would be pretty stressful, and you’d probably take a lot of wrong turns!
It’s much easier to get to your destination when you’re being guided, and you have a tool that instructs you on where to go next. This is what planning is all about. Your plan is the roadmap that tells you were to go next. It eliminates the frustration that comes with not knowing where to start or not knowing what to do next. When you create a plan, you take control over the situation.
There are two keys to creating a plan successfully:
- You must plan the time to plan. Understand that creating your plan is just one step in the process of getting the project done. It’s a step that can’t be skipped.
- Create your plan when you’re calm and centered, and not when you’re in the middle of the project or in the middle of the chaos. You never want to walk into a cluttered space and make your plan there, and you never want to try and plan your day in the middle of the action. Instead, step back from all your tasks and to-dos and plan out how you’re going to tackle them in advance.
I know that organization and time management aren’t easy, and that they’ve probably caused you a lot of stress and frustration in the past. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. Give yourself credit, and trust that you can do it. You can take control of your space and time. Start with a plan.