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Do You Make To Do Lists But Then Don’t Follow Them?

Posted on February 23, 2015

 

While I’m on vacation, please enjoy this article, written by guest author, Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed. Read more about Ariane at the end of the article.

 

Do You Make To Do Lists But Then Don’t Follow Them?

 

If you are like the hundreds of people who tell me they make lots of lists, but have difficulty following them or even finding them, you are not alone!

Difficulty following lists is very common among people with a creative or right-brain dominant personality style as well as with ADDers. In addition, people with certain kinds of brain injuries or head injuries may find it easy to “make” lists, but have much trouble “following” lists. There are many psychological, neurological, learning style, sensory, and even genetic reasons why some people are not good at “following” written instructions of any kind, including their own lists!

I’m going to spare you the theories, but promise me you’ll stopping beating yourself up! It’s not that you are lazy or procrastinating…it’s how you are wired. So let’s accept it and work with it. Even though it’s not easy for you…there are some tricks to making your lists easier to follow.

Here’s the thing about making lists. Writing itself is a very effective way to clarify what’s on your mind, process information and enhance your ability to remember things. So there is a good reason to keep on making your lists! They help you:

  • Remember things better (just like taking notes)
  • Slow down your brain to the speed of writing so that you can think more clearly and get your ideas out.
  • Articulate your ideas.
  • Reduce your fear that you will forget the items

Before we look at ways to make lists easier to follow… let’s look as some of the things that make them more difficult to follow. Lists may be harder to follow if:

  • There are too many items on it
  • Handwriting isn’t clear or the lettering is not big enough
  • You use light colored ink or pencil
  • The paper used is colored and does not provide a high contrast with the ink used
  • Action items aren’t listed in order of priority and you have to scan the whole list to decide which things to do next.
  • Item don’t list all the information you need to act on it, e.g. for some people, if they don’t write the phone number and have to hunt it down, they will skip write over that item on the list.
  • The spacing between the items is too close.
  • More than a day or 2 goes by before you look at it again (particularly if you have ADD, the list may lose all sense of urgency)
  • You have any kind of reading or vision difficulties such as a mild dyslexia
  • You are stressed when you look at the list
  • You have lots of other ideas going through your head when you look at
  • The items are so brief that you forget what was actually meant. For example, I have seen many examples of people writing things like “Call Doctor” and then forgetting which doctor and why.

There are many more items I could add, but I think you get the idea. Everyone is different in terms of what works best for them, but here are some tips that might help you make your lists easier to “follow”.

  • Limit the items to 4 – 6 short items on them
  • Use very clear large lettering, I use a black Sharpie for lists I really need to follow
  • Put lots of space between items. This makes it easier for your brain to focus on one item at a time.
  • Put a little box or circle in front of each item so that you can check it off when you are done
  • Put high priority items at the top, lower priority in the bottom half of the list.
  • Use color or other visual cues to help you highlight the highest priority items: e.g., highlighters or my personal fave is to draw “clouds” or “bubbles” around the most important things.
  • Use brightly colored paper with high contrast to your ink.
  • Use a TO DO notebook that is ONLY for Action Items. Put a removeable tab or post-it on pages with open items in your notebook.
  • Don’t mix things you would “like to do” with things that you really “will or must do”. One trick I’ve used is to turn the notebook upside down and use the back of the book to capture “brainstorms” and “ideas” or use a separate notebook all together.
  • Some people need “novelty” to help stimulate their brain to pay attention to their lists, so using different color paper and highlighters may be effective. So if you are the types that likes trying out new ways to make your lists, have fun with it, but be aware that if you try lots of complicated software to do lists you are probably wasting a ton of time learning and setting up new ways to do your lists. Try to restrain your “novelty needs” to simple, easy changes.

 

Alternatives to linear lists and paper may also help you follow lists better. I use different methods for different kinds of lists. Some of the tools I use:

  • Digital Recorder
  • Calling in to my Voice mail
  • White boards (I have a couple small ones that I use like pads of paper, and one on the wall fo rwhen I need to move around to think/)
  • Mind Mapping
  • Flip Chart that I hang on a nail on my office door
  • Post-it Flip Charts that I hang on my wall.
  • Magnetic pads for my refrigerator
  • Chalkboard in the kitchen

You may need to experiment with alternate ways to find the best way for you to make your lists, and you may need different kinds of lists for different things. Some people need to stick to one kind of list, others need the diversity.

Give yourself permission to play and experiment till you find methods that not only attract you but are easy to read and follow later. Another option is to just give yourself permission to make lists with the intention of helping you get things off your mind without the expectation that you have to follow them! If they helped you remember, and you did the action item without looking at your list. That’s good enough.

© 2008 Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed.

Would you like to simplify your life and get more organized? Get her free e-book let with strategies for “Simplifying your Life” at www.arianebenefit.com Ariane has been quoted in Psychology Today, the Wall Street Journal, and Ariane has over 25 years experience helping businesses and individuals cultivate personal growth and enhance performance by learning life-changing skills, attitudes and habits.  Visit her popular Neat & Simple Living Blog at http://blog.neatandsimple.com

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Need more help? Join the Queens of Distraction so I, along with your fellow Queens, can help you stay on track all while cheering you on and offering support and strategies: www.QueensOfDistraction.com.

 


15 Time Management Tips for Adults With ADHD

Posted on February 10, 2015

Woman waking up Late

 

 

By guest author, Cassandra Greene. Cassandra is author of the eBook “How to Conquer ADD“. Check out her blog for more great tips and information at http://conqueradd.com/blog

An adult who has ADHD tends to be impulsive and restless. At times they may have a difficult time paying attention. ADHD can make time management quite hard. Some of the symptoms of adult ADHD can mean that you are not aware of time passing, predicting how long a task will take, monitoring your work and making adjustments. If you have adult ADHD, here are some tips on how to manage your time better.

  1. Create a New To Do List Each Day

Every morning you should make a list of the things that you want to accomplish for the day. Make sure that you keep your list realistic so that you have a better chance of getting to each thing. Your tasks should be arranged in order of importance. Each task should be assigned a specific time of the day. As you complete each task mark it off.

  1. Check Your Planner 3 Times Each Day

Having too much to remember is a problem for everyone, but can especially be difficult for adults with ADHD. Make it a habit to put each of your activities and appointments on your calendar. You can use a smartphone app, a day planner, or a regular desk calendar. Keep the calendar in one spot and make sure that you check it at least 3 times each day. Make it a habit to check it during the same times every day.

  1. Organize Each Room in your Home

Take on one room of your house at a time and begin organizing it. Start with the easiest room and do not become overwhelmed by “getting organized.” Organization time should be scheduled into your planner and use a timer in order to manage each work session. Start out by putting things where they go and throwing out anything that you do not need. When going through items have a keep and toss pile as well as a separate box for items that you want to go through later.

  1. Create Daily Organizational Habits

Do not think of becoming organized as cleaning up. Instead, think of it as a plan. If you keep any items they should have a place to go. Every day schedule ten minutes to pick up and return your things to where they belong. If you take something out, put it back. Keep mislaid items and papers in a box and go through this at the end of each day.

  1. Create a Rotating Menu

Menu planning may be a bit difficult. To overcome this and better manage your time create a list of 10 dinners or a regular rotating menu for dishes that can be easily cooked. Try to keep the ingredients for each of the menus on hand or list the necessary ingredients on index cards that can be taken with you to the grocery store. Keep a “free” night on your schedule so that you can order carry out or share the cooking responsibilities with other members of the household.

  1. Create a Mail Routine

Create a system for sorting your mail each day. A special area for important mail such as bills, bank statements, etc. should be created. Plan a set time each week to sort through the mail to file important documents where they need to go.

  1. Create a Budget

People with ADHD often have difficulty managing money. One of the reasons for this is impulse buying. Take an electronic device or notepad with you when you are shopping to write down everything that you spend. Knowing what you spend each month and what you spend it on will help you better manage your money.

  1. Electronic Reminders

Forgetting your medication, meetings, deadlines or any of your other responsibilities is common for adults with ADHD and can create problems in both your work and social life. One way to help you remember is to set electronic reminders for your events. You can set your smartphone or computer to alert you 5, 10, or 15 minutes before each event on your calendar to help you stay on top of things.

  1. Work Distractions

One of the biggest challenges for adults with ADHD is work distractions. There are several strategies that you can implement to help you better manage your time at work. First, turn your phone off and schedule set times to check your voicemail each day. At work, ask for a cubicle or office that is quiet. If possible use a white noise machine or headphones to drown out all of the other sounds at work. Finally, work on a single task at a time.

10. Fighting Boredom

 One of the many problems for adults with ADHD is that they get bored easily. This is especially true when completing routine tasks. One of the ways to help you save time and meet your deadlines is to break up some of your larger tasks into smaller ones. After you complete a small task, take a small walk, even if it is just to the bathroom at work and back. When attending meetings, make sure to take notes to help alleviate boredom.

11. Take on Fewer Tasks

Simplifying your surroundings will help you keep better track of your belongings. It will also help to remove some of the distractions that may keep you from focusing. This can work for your schedule as well. Do not start a new project until you have completed the one that you are working on. Do not overschedule yourself by taking on too many tasks at one time. In order to stay focused you may need to practice saying no to any new tasks.

12. Exercise

 Studies have shown that getting regular exercise may help a person with ADHD better manage their symptoms. The movement can help you channel some of your extra energy. Karate and Yoga are great choices for adults with ADHD because they provide the opportunity to memorize movements.

13. Set 15 Minute Blocks for Tasks

If you are struggling to start a project try setting a timer for fifteen minutes. During this time you focus on that single task. When the time expires you can decide if you can go for 15 more minutes. If you can focus and go on, reset the timer. Keep resetting the timer for 15 minute intervals until you can no longer focus. When you can no longer do anymore, try again later in the day.

14. Color Coding

One of the best ways to save time and to help you be better organized is to use color coding. You can color code notes, folders, and files. In your planner, use different colors to highlight different areas of your life such as work, family commitments, and dates with friends, and appointments.

15Use your To Do Lists as a Guide

 Look over your to do lists. Are there a lot of unfinished tasks? Why? Did you try to complete too much at once? Did you commit to too much? Did distractions keep you from completing your tasks? Use this knowledge to help you create new to do lists in the future. These lists can also help you come up with different ways to work more efficiently in the future.

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Want more help? Join the Queens of Distraction so I, along with your fellow Queens, can help you stay on track all while cheering you on and offering support and strategies: www.QueensOfDistraction.com .

 


Penny Williams Reviews The Queen of Distraction

Posted on February 04, 2015

PennyReview

 

Thanks, Penny Williams, author of Boy Without Instructions, and What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD for your great review of my book, The Queen of Distraction.

Read it HERE.


7 Surefire Tips to Deal with Clutter Right Now

Posted on January 26, 2015

organized

 

I was talking with a friend online who was in the middle of clearing off the major clutter on her desk. For those without ADD, that seems like a simple enough task. But those if us with ADD, it is a monumental endeavor. Where do you start? Where do you put stuff? Save? File? File where?

Decisions, decisions. What if I throw it away and find I need it someday?

What if I put it away and can’t find it?

How did this problem start, anyway?

Often times, clutter happens because of one of three situations:

  1. You don’t have time to put it away, so you dump it…somewhere.
  2. You have no idea where to put it because it doesn’t have a home.
  3. You figure you’ll do it later because there are more interesting things to be doing than putting something away.

Then before you know it, you’ve got piles. And more piles, and they grow each day, until you get completely overwhelmed.

Yet, with most people I know, including myself, we’re somehow able to find whatever it is we’re looking for, somewhere in the pile. Unless it’s something super important, like your tax form.

What to do? What to do?

When I hired a professional organizer many years ago to help me set up my home office, the first thing she taught me was to make a home for everything. Photographs, bills, receipts, etc etc.

Here’s what she did:

She held up one item at a time and asked me: where is the logical place for this to be? Filing cabinet? Linen closet? Office supplies closet? So little by little, we began setting up homes.

That made it a LOT easier to get things put away where they belong. But it didn’t solve the clutter issue because of the other two situations I mention above: You’re in a rush so put it off or you don’t want to be bothered with a boring task.

So let’s get down to the dirty truth that few ADD experts talk about:

You can get your stuff under control, but it’s might hard to KEEP it under control. And then we spin and spin, anguished over the piles we create shortly after having eliminated them. And that, my friend, can assault our self-esteem, make family angry with us and put us straight into a stinking depression, even.

Here are some tips to help you deal with the magical piles that keep re-appearing no matter what you do to tame them:

  1. Do your best to tame things as best as possible but do NOT expect perfection. Say it again: DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION.
  1. Do not let your clutter define you in a bad way. It’s a microcosm of your brain, which is usually splaying thoughts and ideas all day (and unfortunately, all night for many of us). The thoughts, plans, poetry, inventions, worries, obsessive thoughts and more…swirling throughout your brain, plop down on your counters, dining room tables and more. It’s simply a symptom of how your brain works.
  1. Every time you enter the area that is upsetting you, put away 5 things. Or 3 if you don’t have enough time.
  1. Invite a friend or family member (one who’s totally non-judgmental) to help you. Or buddy with you: they can be paying their bills while you are filing yours.
  1. What I do when I get overwhelmed with a tableful of clutter is throw everything in one big box so that the surface is now less horrifying to look at. Then I choose a time to begin going through the box to put things away.
  1. Make a date with the clutter. Mark it on your calendar or planner. Then spend 15 minutes only on it. If you find you have the energy to continue, go for it!
  1. Take a before/after photo of your space. Tape it to the wall so you can remember that you CAN do it and also to remember how GREAT it feels once it’s done.

Purging is frightening for many. We hold our identities, our special memories in “things” so that it’s hard to part with them. For me, I have the toughest time throwing away purses or shoes because they’ve been so much a part of me for a long time. Try taking a photograph of something you know you need to get rid of, but can’t.

Lastly, think about how you feel when you see the piles and replace that thought and feeling with: HOW would I feel if that space was cleared out? Let that thought guide you into getting started.

You can do it!

Want more help? Join the Queens of Distraction so I, along with your fellow Queens, can help you stay on track all while cheering you on and offering support and strategies: www.QueensOfDistraction.com

What areas are the hardest for you to keep tidy? Have you found tips and strategies that work for you?

Please share below in the Comment section.

 

 


Did you Miss My Webinar with Rick Green on Women and ADHD?

Posted on January 25, 2015

RickGreenTerrySeminar

 

In November 2014, I was Rick Green’s guest (from totallyADD.com) and presented a webinar on women with ADHD titled, “The Queen of Distraction.” Did you miss it? Watch the archive HERE.

 


Today’s Funny

Posted on January 23, 2015

Sky


FREE webinar! From Chaos to Calm: Keys to Helping Your Complex Kid!

Posted on January 23, 2015

Elaine

 

Elaine & Diane with ImpactADHD.com really know how to train parents of kids with ADHD! If you want help getting this year off to a GREAT start, sign up for their FREE webinar, From Chaos to Calm: Keys to Helping Your Complex Kid! Learn 3 essential strategies for managing ADHD with calm and confidence. Register today.

https://ie114.infusionsoft.com/go/ChaosCalm/terrym2442


Short Survey to Help Kids (and their Parents) with ADHD

Posted on January 19, 2015

 

PennyPlease read this note from my colleague, Penny Williams. Your participation could help many, many children with ADHD (and their parents):

My name is Penny Williams, I am the mom of a 12-year-old boy with ADHD, and I’ve published two books on parenting ADHD so far, “Boy Without Instructions” and “What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD.” My goal for my next book on ADHD is to help parents truly understand their child’s perspective, limitations, gifts, and view of the world. That means I have to gather what it is like to grow up with ADHD from adults with ADHD in order to succeed at this goal. This survey is the first step to learning more about being a child with ADHD. The survey will only take about 20 minutes and you can submit it completely anonymous if you’d like. Thanks for taking the time to help kids with ADHD be better understood by their parents! Here is the link: bit.ly/ADHDsurvey


Why is it So Hard to Stay on Track? Take the Challenge!

Posted on January 13, 2015

superwoman2

 

In my last blog, I wrote a humorous piece, titled Terry’s Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions. If you missed that, you can read it on my website HERE.

Why tongue in cheek? Because research shows (mine, anyway), that the vast majority of people who make New Year’s Resolutions never follow through on them. They are typically self-defeating which only makes us feel depressed at yet another failure. This is especially true if you have ADD, because, well…we tend to be super harsh on ourselves to begin with. If we can’t remember to buy eggs at the market, how are we supposed to remember- and follow through- on starting an exercise program?

Part of the problem is we either have too ambitious a plan (I will go to the gym every day) or we forget or procrastinate. The end result? Another reason to feel crappy about ourselves.

Stick with me here, ok? I challenge you- right now- to choose ONE small project, task, or mini resolution that you are pretty certain you can stick to and feel success with. Maybe it’s getting to work on time for a week. Or filing 10 pieces of paper away. Or finding that book that’s overdue at the library.

Are you on? Take Terry’s Mini Resolution Challenge and post your plan below, in the Comment section.  Then check back in a week (set a reminder on your computer or smart phone) and let me know how you fared, again in the Comment section. You can do it!

Need some extra help? Join The Queens of Distraction and watch your home and/or office become organized and enjoy daily progress with your fellow queens and me as you get your life back on track.

 


Only 1 Day Left to Sign Up at Special Rates: Clear Your Clutter with Me!

Posted on January 05, 2015

TerryandQueensUSE

 

The Queens of Distraction ADHD New Year’s Special!

 Only 1 DAY LEFT TO JOIN AT SPECIAL RATES

Tick Tock Tick Tock. Don’t let the ticking clock distract you from things you need to be doing, like:

  • Filing papers (after you find them, and we’ll help you do that!)
  • De-cluttering your living/work space
  • Working on projects that are due tomorrow (or today, or yesterday)

Come hang out with me in a secret, private room online with other women with ADD, who “get” your challenges and are there to offer support.

We meet throughout the week to get a handle on what is driving you CRAZY. It’s all about taking charge and finally making that decision to dive in. Be a part of this special group- we hold each other accountable but with compassion and understanding. Because we “get” it- we live it!

Come connect with other women with ADHD and feel safe, accepted and understood. Welcome home!

 Register today HERE and feel the relief of getting your life back under control. But hurry! Special rates end January 6! That’s tomorrow night!

Questions? Email me at Support@QueensOfDistraction.com