I always struggle with time management. It has to do with the four different aspects of ‘Focusing and Attention’ that Patrick talked about in the documentary, ADD & Loving It?!. The four aspects are: Focusing & Distractibility, over focussing or Hyper-focusing at the exclusion of other things that may be more urgent, Selecting the right thing to focus on, and Switching Focus from one thing to another (Which is why it’s frustrating to be interrupted.) For me the Selecting is a problem. I can walk into a room full of stuff I wanna do and think, “Oh I could work on that. Oh, and I want to get that done. And that thing there is fun, I can’t wait to get to it.” I end up looking at everything I want to do, getting a bit started on one then getting distracted by something else… and I’ve done nothing. Or I end up doing something that’s easy and fun and tactile and dramatic, like emptying out a whole cabinet of old paint cans and sorting them by colour and type and getting rid of the bad cans. A great job. Meanwhile I was supposed to be online moving money into my credit card account to avoid an overdue charge! Or whatever.
There’s a couple of things I do to deal with this. They may sound kind of dumb.
One is I actually say aloud what I need to do. I repeat it. “Pay off my Visa. Pay off my Visa.” Then on the way to get my laptop and log online, if I notice a bunch of DVD’s that I wanted to put away but didn’t, a job that will only take a second… Okay, thirty seconds… I remind myself, “Pay off my Visa.”
For the more creative stuff, like writing, the best solution I’ve found is to sit down and just write something. Anything.
So let’s say I have a 700 word article to write. Rather than wait for inspiration and a two hour gap to sit down and write it, I can convince myself to at least create a Word document on my computer. “I’ll just open a document, and write the title. And throw down three ideas.” I won’t spend more than five minutes. (And by the way, i don’t do this if I really only have five minutes. I do this when I have all day but can’t get started.) Three minutes later I’ve got the document, a title, and a couple of ideas… Then another idea, perhaps one that makes me smile, so I expand that with a couple of more thoughts… and that often triggers something… And I’m writing. Sometimes I’m not, but most times I find myself doing way more than five minutes. Even if I go 20 minutes rather than 2 hours, I’ve now done more than I thought. And the amazing thing for me is when I come back later in the day to add a couple of more ideas (Cause our minds solve problems while we work on other stuff. Read The Breakout Principle by Dr. Herbert Benson & William Proctor) I’m always surprised at how much I’ve done. Ideas I wrote down earlier in the day, or even months ago, spark me and immediately get me thinking again.
There’s a great quote we have in the TotallyADD.com office. I put it over a picture of my wife’s charity group, Malamulele Onward.
And the quote is: “We should be taught NOT to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Actions ALWAYS generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom does.”
Or as Nike put it, “Just do it.”
If you are dealing with ADHD, then “Just do a bit of it and see what happens.”