Whether or not someone is diagnosed with ADHD, this type of neurodivergence seems to be prohibitive to the idea of planning one’s day. Many clients with ADHD have complained about feeling overwhelmed around the pressure to “get things done.” Some exhibit real anxiety when they describe rising each morning to a “blank slate,” while others become paralyzed at the idea of a “to do list,” fearing that such a thing will only highlight their ineffectiveness.
HOW DO I PLAN WITH ADHD?
Here are 7 tips that might be helpful in reframing the idea of planning in a more manageable way.
1) Be honest!
Acknowledge that planning is hard: If the notion of setting goals for the year or month is overwhelming, listen to yourself and try scaling back your planning to one day at a time.
2) Schedule your planning.
Since planning itself is an activity, put it on your calendar and allow yourself time to complete that task. Consider which planning method (phone app? Paper planner? Sticky note?) might work best for you.
3) Plan ahead.
Maybe at 10am you’ve just had breakfast, and lunch or dinner is the farthest thing from your mind. However, you know that you’ll be hungry again at some point. It can be helpful to earmark certain hours for feeding yourself. Same goes for sleep, any appointments, and even connecting with a loved one.
4) Pay attention to your ultraradian rhythm…
…and plan accordingly. If your peak productivity times are the early morning and late afternoon, consider allocating harder tasks during those times. Similarly, if you know that you get sleepy after lunch, plan to take a short rest so that your brain and body can gear up for a later burst of energy.
5) Map out your tasks.
Be specific about the step-by-step process, and thoroughly think out how each task will go. Don’t assume that “cleaning” will take only 10 minutes if you haven’t considered all the tasks that fall into that broad category.
6) Boost your accountability.
If involving others helps you to stay accountable, consider taking a screenshot of your daily plan, and send it to someone who will check on your progress. (In a way that honors your boundaries, of course!)
7) Celebrate the little things.
When you’ve had some success, acknowledge it with a small treat. Know that it takes time to form new habits, and any success means you’re doing the work.