When you have an Autistic Spectrum Condition or ADHD, time can lose any real meaning. Tasks you don’t want to do might feel as though they take forever and you begin to procrastinate.
Alternatively, you might get so absorbed in a task that you lose track of time altogether. You know those days when you look at the clock and wonder where all the time has gone?
In the last blog we looked at planning your day. A really useful thing to use is a day planner which has times mapped out for you. I use Google calendar and it sits on my desk top all day so I can keep referring to it.
Every morning plan into your daily diary the things you have to do that day. Put in anything you must do at a certain time and make sure you give yourself plenty of time in your plan to complete the task. Give yourself more time than you think you need. For every 30 minutes of time you think it will take you to get somewhere or complete a task add 10 minutes. You can always use any spare time for another task or to take a break.
Colour code your tasks. If they are really important and must be done – like and appointment or remembering to pick the children up from school (!) colour that block red for example. If it is important but it doesn’t really matter too much when it is done then perhaps it might be orange. If it needs to be done but, if necessary, could be left until later or another day, then make that block green. You might also colour blocks different colours for different tasks – I make personal tasks red, work tasks green and things I must do for/with my son blue, then they are easily identified. In Google calendar you can do this easily by setting up a list of different accounts or colour them in editing.
Keep a to do list beside it – for anything that doesn’t make the calendar because there is no set time necessary then write a list beside it. Google calendar has a task list beside it where you can tick of things as you do them. Or buy a weekly diary or daily planner that has a blank page on the opposite side for notes.
Don’t plan more than you can realistically manage to achieve – you possibly already tend to underestimate how long it will take you to get things done. Check your diary first before committing to something new.
Saying “no” can be quite liberating! If you are in the middle of something and really can’t spare the time, however tempting it might be, then saying “no” really is the best solution. You can always plan the good things in for another time. If it was yet another task then it is better to do the one you were working on well and complete it, than take on extra work and not do anything well. Think of various situations and practice how you will respond so that you are prepared.
Learn to delegate tasks. You don’t have to always do everything yourself! In fact, delegating the task to someone else may not only relieve pressure on you but will get it completed, and done well. Work out which of the tasks you have on your list that can be done by someone else, without making their life too stressful too. Just make sure you choose the right person to delegate the task to because ultimately you are responsible and you don’t want to outcome to make your task even harder.
When you have to travel, plan to be early and set up reminders to leave. Try writing down appointments for 10 – 15 minutes earlier than they’re really going to be, or setting clocks and your watch several minutes ahead. Don’t let yourself lose track of time or get distracted. Use alarm clocks, online reminders or timers to tell you when it’s time to go.
You may find, due to your ASC/ADHD, that you are impulsive and jump from one subject to another, so that completing tasks can be difficult. Remember, big projects are really just made up of smaller tasks to get to the end result, so break it down into smaller steps and plan in each step. Every book is made up of individual chapters! Keep the bigger picture, or book!, in mind. If you get stuck or fixated on a step, consider if extra time on that step really matters for the end result. Or, can you even do things in a different order to get there in the end?
Always plan in treats. You really need that breathing space in between meetings and other appointments so you can relax and gather your thoughts. If you find your attention wandering during a task, especially from something boring or repetitive, do something else for a few minutes. Work with frequent planned breaks, such as 30 minutes on and 5 minutes off. Knowing the treat is coming up will help to keep you motivated for just a bit longer.