Priority Matrix is often recommended to help people with ADHD plan better. That is because implements a simple, time-tested methodology to help busy people focus on what matters. This post is part of a series that asks experts to share their prioritization tips and techniques. Many of these apply to all of us, whether you live with ADHD or not.
Start by using your calendar
The most powerful and easy to use time-management tool is a calendar. There are tons of calendar systems on paper and software. Yet many people fail to make effective use of them. Chris Kille of Capital Bankcard South lives and dies by his calendar: “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not going to happen. This helps eliminate the shiny object syndrome and keeps you focused on the real goal.” Similarly, he advises to “Learn when your most productive time of day is and protect it at all costs. Use that time to really focus on deep-dive stuff and make sure that time is uninterrupted.” That way you can wind down when you’re not “on”, avoiding burnout.
Matthew Vitlin is a financial advisor with ADD, and also he puts a lot of importance on his calendar: “Depending on your situation, you may want to be stricter on implementing this, but try effectively blocking off your day for the various activities that are important to you. Personally, I need to ensure I am spending time with my family, on myself, servicing existing clients, and seeking new ones. But if I don’t block off time for those things, they get absorbed by the ever-growing list of things that require doing. If I block off time to sort, then read, then respond to emails, my brain can move on from that task because I know I have another segment blocked off for emails in another few hours.”
Time yourself to keep improving
Ted Mosby, a freelance architect and passionate camper, recommends timing yourself: “It’s easier to delegate tasks for yourself when you know how much time it takes for you to complete a certain task. Timing yourself or how much it takes for you to complete the task keeps you more organized towards the day, and this way you’ll be able to track how productive you are.“ Over time you will learn about yourself, how you react to various tasks, and how to accurately estimate the time required to complete them.
Time boxing with the Pomodoro technique
Productivity and balance mentor Alejandra Marqués organizes her day around the time management method known as the Pomodoro technique: “This tool is normally designed to work in sets of 25 minutes of focus and 5 minutes breaks, but we need to be aware of the attention deficit and make this technique more flexible. That’s why I encourage my clients to try it in shorter periods, such as 10 minutes of focus and 2 minutes breaks. One of my clients loved it so much that now even her mom is using it.”
Things take longer than you anticipate
There is a multitude of time management systems and tools. Steve Anevski, CEO of and Co-Founder of staffing platform Upshift, concurs that time management is the chief problem for professionals who have ADHD. “So, I recommend investing in a time management app so that you can prioritize things accordingly. You can also set reminders and timers whenever you are working. You should give yourself more time than you think you need. Distractions can cause you to lag, so minimize distractions if you want to manage your time better.”
Busy people like Abe Breuer, CEO and owner of VIP To Go and John To Go, have noticed a pattern: Most of us are just bad at time management, so he recommends planning ahead of time and setting reminders: “Schedule appointments 15 minutes sooner than you think is necessary. Set reminders to ensure you leave on time, and make sure you have everything you require in advance, so you aren’t scrambling for your keys or phone when it’s time to leave.” Better to arrive early and focused, than just in time and all scattered.
Take breaks to avoid burnout
Finally, not everything should be about work. Julia Seraphine, CEO of her namesake social media agency likes to give herself permission to relax: “No person can be productive 100% of the time. Attempting so will produce burnout instead of results. I set hours after work where I completely give myself permission to unwind and feel like myself. I feel a lot of pressure during the day to behave a certain way and deal with high-stress situations. When I come home, I am no longer the CEO, I am just Julia; Allowing myself this treat at the end of the day keeps me human.” Learn from those who have seen farther, and pace yourself. Taking the time to smell the roses will, in the end, pay off dividends.
Come back soon!
As part of our current article series, we will continue sharing tips and recommendations from successful professionals living with ADHD, as well as experts who help them make the most of their busy lives.
If you haven’t tried Priority Matrix yet, take a look now. You might like what you see.