People with ADHD can spend a lifetime dodging the necessity of organizing themselves. They avoid getting organized the way some people avoid going to the dentist: repeatedly postponing it as the problem gets worse and worse. The task of getting organized, one that bedevils us all, particularly vexes the ADHD mind.
As the new year approaches, I thought I’d share my top ADHD tips on performance management to help you start 2020 on the right track.
10 ADHD Tips on Performance Management*
1. External structure
Structure is the hallmark of the non-pharmacological treatment of the ADHD child. It can be equally useful with adults. Tedious to set up, once in place structure works like the walls of the bobsled slide, keeping the speedball sled from careening off the track. Make frequent use of:
- notes to self
2. Color coding.
Mentioned above, color-coding deserves emphasis. Many people with ADHD are visually oriented. Take advantage of this by making things memorable with color: files, memoranda, texts, schedules, etc. Virtually anything in the black and white of type can be made more memorable, arresting, and therefore attention-getting with color.
3. Use pizzazz.
In keeping with tip on color coding#2, try to make your environment as peppy as you want it to be without letting it boil over.
4. Set up your environment to reward rather than deflate.
To understand what a deflating environment is, all most adult ADD’ers need do is think back to school. Now that you have the freedom of adulthood, try to set things up so that you will not constantly be reminded of your limitations.
5. Embrace challenges.
ADHD people thrive with many challenges. As long as you know they won’t all pan out, as long as you don’t get too perfectionistic and fussy, you’ll get a lot done and stay out of trouble.
6. Make deadlines.
7. Break down large tasks into small ones.
Attach deadlines to the small parts. Then, like magic, the large task will get done. This is one of the simplest and most powerful of all structuring devices. Often a large task will feel overwhelming to the person with ADHD. The mere thought of trying to perform the task makes one turn away. On the other hand, if the large task is broken down into small parts, each component may feel quite manageable.
8. Prioritize. Avoid procrastination.
When things get busy, the adult ADHD person loses perspective: paying an unpaid parking ticket can feel as pressing as putting out the fire that just got started in the wastebasket. Prioritize. Take a deep breath. Put first things first. Procrastination is one of the hallmarks of adult ADHD. You have to really discipline yourself to watch out for it and avoid it.
9. Leave time between engagements to gather your thoughts.
Transitions are difficult for ADD’ers, and mini-breaks can help ease the transition.
10. Keep a notepad in your car, by your bed, and in your pocketbook or jacket.
You never know when a good idea will hit you, or you’ll want to remember something else, it’s a good idea to keep a notepad handy.
If you missed my Distraction episode on Taking Back Control, LISTEN HERE to learn my easy-to-follow strategies for handling life and focusing on what matters most.
*Adapted from Driven to Distraction.