Nowadays there is an alarming increase in ADHD symptoms among both children and adults. Of course, ADHD is more readily diagnosed nowadays; but it’s interesting how the increase in ADHD parallels the increase in the use of technology, including smart phones, social media, computer games and the Internet. This is why it is more important than ever to avoid outsourcing your life to your electronic devices and improve your time management skills.
In the following lines you will find tips on how to pay more attention to routines and habits in your workday and how this can make your days easier.
How to suppress temptation
One method to structure your workday is to resist the temptation to yield to the distractions of the moment. You may have heard of the marshmallow tests, which indicated young children who were able to suppress temptation in favor of a greater reward later did better both scholastically and socially as they grew older.
A recent article claimed that those youngsters who were able to wait did so by turning their backs to the tempting marshmallow. This is another example of blocking impulsiveness by removing the temptation or at least making it easier to do the right thing.
5 strategies to further improve your time management skills
- Develop routines for priority tasks that have to be done on a regular basis, the most important routine being to look at your planner every morning when you get up. This will remind you of the non-routine priority tasks that you have scheduled for that day as well as items on the “To Do” section of your planner.
- The above routine will help improve the planning function. Whenever you think of something that must be done, jot it in your planner on the day that you plan to do it. Whenever possible, that day should be in advance of the task’s actual deadline.
- Give positive feedback to yourself and others. Margaret Foster, co-author of the book Boosting Executive Skills (Jossey-Bass, 2013), relates the case of a writers’ workshop where students were only allowed to make positive comments about each other’s work. Not only did it make everyone feel good about themselves, each person’s writing improved dramatically throughout the course. Extend this to self-talk as well. Let everywhere be heard an encouraging word. It reduces stress and enhances working memory.
- Prevent the “out-of-sight-out -of-mind” factor from putting you under stress and making it difficult to meet deadlines. If an approaching deadline is hidden from sight (on the next planner page or screen), place a note on the current week warning that a deadline is approaching.
- Make the transition from one day to the next both easier and more productive by developing a routine for closing each workday and starting the next. For example, start putting things away 15 minutes before quitting time, and set the next morning’s priority task on the now-organized desk.
Quick tips to improve your effectiveness
Here are some additional basic suggestions for managing time when you exhibit ADHD-like symptoms. Take a look at these “quick tips” to help you cope.
1. Organize your working area so that everything you use on a regular basis is visible and within reach.
2. Develop routines for repetitive tasks such as checking email, paying bills and writing articles or blogs.
3. Acquire a planning mindset by closing each day with a list of “To Do”s for the following day.
4. Use a planner and use it to excess, blocking off time for projects, recording future “due dates”, follow-ups, appointments, special events, family birthdays and even recording places you visit and people you meet.
5. Assist your working memory by using techniques such as acronyms, visualization, association, and other mnemonic devices described in most books on memory training.
6. Practice stress-relieving activities, since in addition to the usual benefits, reduced anxiety will free up more working memory.
7. Work in short periods of time – breaking longer tasks into “chunks.” Use a timer if necessary.
8. Make up checklists for activities such as travel, shopping, meetings and even for starting the day.
9. Curb lateness by entering the time you must leave your office or home in order to arrive on time. Always allow extra time in the event of heavy traffic.
10. Exercise strengthens executive skills, and research on attention shows that viewing or walking in nature for as little as 20 minutes per week provides the right amount of cognitive input.
Learn more about time management by downloading and reading “Time Management Strategies for an ADHD World” written by Harold L. Taylor.