Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tips for Daily Self-Management

For me, trying to self-manage and get through a day with ADHD is equivalent to corralling a herd of wild stallions. I have to remain vigilant at ALL times. I have to remind myself that I have ADHD, self-observe, and use what I call my “survival” strategies. If I don’t, I’ll be left to my own devices—racing across the savannah headed who knows where!

Over the years I’ve learned that these strategies form the foundation that keeps me tethered and allows me to accomplish my goals for each day.

Stay focused—PARK IT!

To combat the racing thoughts that come with ADHD, create a method to “park” them. This could be texting or emailing reminders to yourself, using recording devices, or jotting them down on paper. My preferred method is paper. I keep paper everywhere—in my car, purse, kitchen, bedroom, office, bathroom, on the stairs, by the front door, the garage door. Even when I exercise, I carry paper and pen. By parking it, I won’t forget the thought, obsess about forgetting, or act on it—I’ve parked it and can act on it later!

Keep the day manageable

My motto is, “If your daily list/goals gets bigger than a post-it, you have too much on your plate.” And my post-its are the three-inch by three-inch ones (not the three feet by five feet flipchart-sized post-its).

Visualize yourself in time and space

At the beginning of each year, I print out the next twelve months—one month per sheet. I post them across the wall and fill in ONLY “big ticket” items such as conferences, vacations, or anything out of my regular routine, doctor appointments, visitors, and so forth. As each month goes by, I draw a huge ‘X” through it. This way I can conceptualize time passing, the future and events to come.

Smooth out transitions

Transitions are the bane of my existence. If I do not know what is coming up next I become anxious, panic and at times end up becoming paralyzed. To prevent this, I do the following:

• As far in advance as possible I collect, organize and set out everything I need ahead of time for projects, trips, or getting in the car to do errands.
• I then post notes, such as: “Nancy, remember, conference in 2 weeks!” or “Go to bank at 3 pm!”

Keep perspective

Anyone who has ADHD knows that life can be like a rollercoaster ride—there are ups and there are downs. The problem is we can become very myopic and convince ourselves during the down times that things will never get better. I’ve learned to appoint two to three trusted, longtime friends who know me well to give me a reality check. They remind me I have ADHD, that I tend to think catastrophically, that I tend to forget the positive things, and that within a few hours or by the next day I will have forgotten about it and be “back to normal.”

Manage meals

Set the table the night before. Pre-prepare any ingredients ahead of time—chop any vegetables ahead of time and put them in plastic baggies so all you have to do is throw them in the mix.

Remember to take things to the car when running errands—including your to-do list!

Tape or clip your car keys to whatever it is! Packages, letters, to-do lists, dry cleaning, and so forth.

Manage finances

Use one, and only one, credit card to charge everything, and ONLY do online paperless bills and banking.

Keep track of important things

I always tell someone else where I've hidden a spare key or put an important document. History demonstrates that I'll always forget, no matter how important it is. I also photocopy of all contents of my wallet, in case I ever lose it.

Organize papers

Don't sweat the small stuff! I clump things in categories. Any similar projects get clumped together. Conferences, bills, client work, health, office equipment, etc., get filed into a file cabinet and ONLY "active" projects stay on my desktop, either in wire baskets or expandable flex file folders so I can carry them around with me and work on them in different places.

I hope you’ll find these tips helpful. Until next month,