How to Stay on Schedule When You Have ADHD/ADD
Understanding Your ADD/ADHD
When you have Attention Deficit Disorder as an adult it is almost impossible to stay on schedule. The reason that people with ADHD/ADD (from now on will just be called ADD for ease of reading) have a hard time creating a schedule and sticking with it is that they are so very easily distracted - everything is a priority so their entire focus switches from one thing to another rapidly.
As an example: a woman who is cleaning her house who has ADD will begin to clean a kitchen drawer, find a DVD that belongs in another room and take it into that room. She will then wonder if the disc actually works or if it is too scratched. So, she will put it into the DVD player. As it begins to play she realizes it is her favorite movie, calls the kids in to watch it, sends one to the kitchen to make popcorn, and totally forgets that she had planned to clean the kitchen at all. After the movie is over two hours later she realizes that her husband will be home from work any minute, there is no supper on the table and the house is a mess.
Frustrated with herself she berates her inability to be organized until eventually she is so beaten down that she is depressed and it is even harder to do anything. Meanwhile the people around her, her husband, parents, friends, co-workers, just cannot understand why she does not have the self discipline to do what needs to be done.
A Word about Depression
Depression can look a lot like ADD. If you don't have a history of concentration problems or ADD and you suddenly find that you are having trouble concentrating and staying on task you should get an appointment with your doctor to talk about the possibility of depression. Rule that out before assuming you have developed ADD.
I Have Personal Experience with ADD
People think I am organized but really I am not. I only look organized because I know how to get around my ADD and work within my limits. It is really easy once you know how.
I have 8 children, a son in law, and two grandchildren. My husband and I own a small 2 acre "farm" that we are trying to homestead on and be as self sustainable as possible. We are restoring a 4300 sq ft house using "green" methods and I write for a living, sometimes spending hours on the computer. Some of the writing I do is about food and that requires cooking and baking, as well as photography and the use of photoshop. I homeschool the six kids still living at home. We have goats to milk, chickens that must be cared for and horses that need to be exercised. And I do have ADD. Can you imagine if I did NOT stay on track?
You need to first accept your limitations. Everyone has them. Yours happen to be that you cannot stick to a task without help. Admit it, get it out in the open, help those around you understand it. In the long run it will be helpful. Accept the fact that your kids may need to respectfully remind you that you need to do laundry. Accept that you will need help. Accept that no one is superwoman (or superman). Ready?
Rule One: Write It Down
Whether you use 3x5 cards, an electronic diary, a notebook, or scratch paper you need to have a list of the things you need to do. Every night before you go to sleep review your list for the next day. Every morning look over your list so you know what to expect for that day. Keep it with you. When you are finished with one thing cross it off and go on to the next. As soon as you find that you have drifted and become distracted, check your list for what you need to be doing.
An excellent book, and the one I use myself, is Sidetracked Home Executives. I have used this method for fifteen years with excellent results. It does help me stay on track. It also shows you what needs to be done in your home and how often.
The method could be easily translated to the workplace.
Rule Two: Get Back On Track
Whenever you find yourself standing in the middle of the room, or knitting because you found some really cool yarn while you were cleaning the toybox, stop immediately, check your list, and go back to what you were doing. In this way you are the one in control of your time rather than your time being in control of you.
Don't see these distractions as failures but understand that they are a normal part of your life and accept that they will happen. By accepting them you allow yourself to be imperfect, and many of us with ADD are perfectionists. Seeing them as distractions rather than failures will allow you to move past them and not kick yourself for the rest of the day because of them.
Organizing Your Home
Rule Three: Throw It Away
Clutter is your number one enemy. While anyone can easily clean a clutter-free house, someone with ADD will get lost and overwhelmed in a cluttered space. Choose to throw things away, give them away, or just store them away. The less you have laying around the easier it is going to be.
If you have not used it in 6 months you probably don't need it unless it is holiday related. Stuff is not valuable, the memories associated with the stuff are. You can throw the clutter away and keep the memory.
Decluttering is energizing and empowering. You will realize that you have been held an emotional slave to things. It is very freeing to get rid of them.
Rule Four:Organize Your Week
Plan your week on Sunday. Have a day in which you do certain things. For example;
Monday- cleaning upstairs
Tuesday -cleaning downstairs
Thursday -file papers, pay bills
Saturday- family time
By doing it this way you know where each chore goes and on which day it will get done.
Accept the things about yourself you can't change. Everyone has them. Do the best you can do every day and try to do better the next day but don't look back with remorse on the things that you didn't get done. Focus on the things you do well, make a list if you need to, and build yourself up daily.
Each day try to do something to feed yourself spiritually/emotionally. Reach out to someone else in need, encourage someone, be a blessing. Whatever your religion, or lack thereof those are tangible things that we all can do to build ourselves up. Take some time for yourself, to read, to relax, to do something you find enjoyable, and then get back to what needs to be done.
Small, baby steps are to be celebrated! You can do this. Yard by yard the task is hard but inch by inch it's a cinch!