As an adult with ADD and an ADD Coach, I have observed some skills that I believe are essential for successful ADD management. Last month, we looked at the essential skill of Practicing Excellent Self-care. This month, let’s look at another essential skill: Planning the Time to Plan.
ADDers often find themselves overwhelmed by everyday life. Sometimes, the number of tasks to do at work builds up to the point where you find yourself working long hours to just to stay on top of everything. And sometimes the chores at home, like dishes, laundry, and bill-paying, become so overwhelming that you end up with piles of stuff in every room. These things are common, and there is a simple way to get it all under control: plan.
When you plan to tackle a task, you break it down into simple steps that make it less overwhelming. Here’s an example I like to use: closet cleaning. Let’s say that you have a closet you want to clean out because it is cluttered and disorganized, and you can’t find what you need. There are a number of ways you can approach it. One way is to just dive in. However, chances are that when you open the closet door and see what a mess it is, you may become completely overwhelmed, not know where to start, close the closet door in disgust, and then go watch TV! You’ll probably also feel guilty because you think you should be cleaning the closet!
There’s a much better way to approach this situation: plan for it in advance. Before you ever open the closet door, set aside 15 minutes that you can use to write down some steps. An example of this might be:
1. Donate or throw out all clothes that I haven’t worn in the past year
2. Designate the right side of the closet for work clothes, and the left side for casual clothes
3. Hang belts, scarves, and other accessory items in the middle of the closet
4. Arrange shoes neatly on the closet floor
5. Remove all non-clothing items from the closet
Taking the time to break down the task into 3 or more steps makes the act of cleaning out a closest nothing more than a simple system to follow. It relieves pressure, and often prevents that feeling of being overwhelmed by the mess.
And don’t forget to take your planning a step further and actually plan the time to plan! If you know that you have a two hour window on Saturday to clean your closet, turn that time span into 15 minutes of planning, and 1 hour and 45 minutes of cleaning. Chances are you won’t even miss that 15 minutes you took to plan because you’ll be so organized in your cleaning approach that you won’t waste any time when you’re in the process!