Tips and Tricks to help get yourself from unmanageable chaos, to organized chaos.
Procrastination, Routine, and Project Management
In Part 1, I talked about some of the Symptoms and Superpowers of A.D.D.
Part 2 was all about Treatments and Mindset.
In Part 3, I’m going to share simple tips that have helped me to establish routines, tricking myself to take action, helping Big projects become manageable tasks instead.
Are you struggling to get started on a project?
Do you avoid the high level thinking required to help your company grow, because thinking is hard?
Set a timer for 7 minutes. 7 minutes is enough time to feel like you are racing against a clock, but not so much time that you will forget you’re timing yourself.
The point is not to time your task, but to trick yourself into feeling the dopamine needed to get the task started.
This trick works for anything. Sometimes if I can’t start cleaning my kitchen, I’ll challenge myself to load the dishwasher in under 5 minutes. Once I start loading, my mind is usually immersed in the task within a couple minutes, and eventually I don’t need the timers because I am engaged and focused.
Create Your Anti-Schedule
When I hear the words “schedule”, “habits” and “routine” I feel an internal stubbornness set in. I dislike routine (while also craving it).
So how does someone who hates routine, develop one?
I don’t have the answer for you, but I’ve tried many things, and here is what works for me.
Schedule Free Time
After every large block of work in my day, I try to schedule 30 minutes to 1 hour of free time.
When I used to create schedules for myself, I always made the mistake of not scheduling in my free time during the day.
I’m a visionary and I crave space to be creative and to get dreamy. How else will I continue to come up with the big ideas?
However, as a business owner with ADHD, I can easily sit down and hyperfocus on work for 6 hours without realizing it. I won’t stretch, eat, or even spend time with my family. When I do this enough times, I start to resist going to work in the morning. I procrastinate because I fear as soon as I start, I won’t stop working.
Allowing myself free time in the middle of the day feels like I’m doing something delightfully sneaky…but really I’m making myself take a break so my brain can work better again and dream up new fun ideas!
Set phone alarms and calendar reminders for everything
It’s so easy to get distracted, but setting alarms has been the biggest game changer for me. Before I started using alarms daily, I would quickly forget my schedule, and hyperfocus on whatever was in front of me. Then I’d magically remember a meeting 2 minutes before it was supposed to happen. I’d try to pull everything together, but would feel frazzled and unprepared when I arrived.
Now, If I Have a zoom meeting at 2pm, I set an alarm for 1:40pm and 1:52pm. My 20 minute warning helps me to begin the process of disengaging from the work I’m focused on. It reminds me that a meeting is coming. The 8 minute alarm brings me the dopamine I need to quickly stop my task, gather any info I need for the meeting, and gets me to my Zoom Meet on time.
I’m guilty of being a software hoarder. I’m always looking for the next best thing to solve all my problems, but I’ve learned that no software is perfect, and ultimately the simplest solution is often the best for me.
One of the most basic tools I use is a master list spreadsheet.
I don’t love spreadsheets, but it’s not something I often look at. My executive assistant keeps the list updated, and helps me to decide what is most urgent, especially when everything feels equally urgent to me.
Adding a level of urgency column, a due date, and a “who” column, helps us to keep me on task and on time. Most importantly, my VA is the person who actually is responsible for collecting the information, adding and removing items from that list. We also keep a sheet for completed tasks so we can actually see the progress we are making.
Break It Down
When starting a large project, figuring out where to start can feel overwhelming. I learned a cool trick many years ago that has helped me tremendously.
Break up your Task into smaller 10-20 minute segments, and then keep the list somewhere in order of the time it will take. When you have a couple free minutes in your day, you’ll be able to start and finish a smaller parts of your project without feeling overwhelmed by the overall project.
You can also use project planning software but I like post-it notes and 4×6 index cards as visual tools, because although I run a paperless business, in my heart I’m still a paper person…