In the last 45 minutes, I have written content for a magazine I produce, dusted my TV stand and shelf, hung a painting in my office, sent an email, pet the dog, ordered something off Amazon, watered a plant, and now I’m writing this blog post. After this, I will continue to work on the magazine deadline, make dinner, clean my desk, workout, and who knows what else.
I am extremely, frighteningly unproductive when I have to stay still and focus on ONE thing. I have ADHD. I partially blame my diagnosis with the ever so common MTHFR mutation, but that is another blog post. What I have found, in my adult years as I try to fine-tune balance and fengshui the chaos of my life, is that I can actually work with this rather than against it.
My method is similar to the Pomodoro Technique, a method of time management that uses a timer to break down work intervals into 25 minutes separated by short breaks. However, my method is much different. I do allow myself to take breaks and I do split up tasks into intervals, but I don’t have the patience and discipline to use a timer. Instead, I just roll with it. I can be working on a task and…. SQUIRREL! I am suddenly cleaning or in a Pinterest rabbit hole.
The strongest element that keeps me on track is an old fashioned list and my highlighter. I have a Weekly List paper pad that I fill out tasks and assignments that I need to accomplish. I try to stick to the days I designated but sometimes I skip over certain tasks (or even get some done early) because I am just not in the mood. I highlight them when I am finished and it’s such a gratifying feeling when at the end of my week, the paper is glowing with neon orange. I may go back to a skipped task later in the week to make sure I stuck with my goals and occasionally some tasks wind up on next week’s list.
This may not be anything profound and it certainly is not jaw dropping information, but there is hope that you can work with what you’ve got. You don’t have to let anything weigh you down or make you feel reluctant to get out of bed. Go with the flow and cross things off your list whenever you feel inspired. Don’t get hung up on pushing things off. Sometimes you mentally just don’t feel like it, and that’s okay. Let your mind be drawn to what it’s drawn to while keeping yourself in check with breaks and a solid list.
I will admit that sometimes I have a day where I simply just don’t have it in me to be productive. I will skip over the tasks, avoid the guilt and let myself have a moment. It will get done tomorrow (or Friday). My main issue with ADHD was forgetting the tasks I needed to accomplish, so having my master list is something that I can always turn towards if I feel off track. I even have a generic daily schedule that I personalized, to remind myself to have lunch or check on certain projects, or to adhere to new habits. I have it hanging up at my desk (should my mind wander) incase I realize it’s 3pm and I haven’t eaten, or to make time to study.
The important thing to remember is to make it work for you. If you have something that creates a challenge in your life, make it pliable and shape it into something that fits with you.