Time Management With ADHD

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I had to scrap my normal episode and talk about time management with ADHD, because I have something I’m really excited to talk about. And, it’s something that’s always been around, but I’ve finally tried it. And, it’s calendar blocking. By no means a new or novel idea, but it’s really moved the needle for me this past week, so I just had to talk about it now.

Before I get too much further there’s a really good tutorial on calendar blocking by Amy Landino on YouTube. I’ll try to include the link in the show notes if I remember. But, if you just go to YouTube and find Amy Landino’s channel, she has a great demonstration on what I’m talking about. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Related: Mothering With ADHD | ADHD Without Insurance

Time Management With ADHD

Color Coding

All joking aside, basically in my example what I’m doing is I’m taking Google Calendar and I’m, anything that’s important to me that I want to get done … and this is anything, not just work-related … If I have to go open a P.O. box, if I want to take my kid to storytime at the library, if I have a really important task, a bookkeeping task, pretty much anything I want to get accomplished. It has a calendar item, is number one. And number two, it’s color-coded by theme.

And, the themes I have are my normal day job stuff, meetings and appointments, which are bright red, and then I have fun little things that make me happy. Like, I’m trying to get up early in the morning and I’m trying to have this whole morning routine situation. So, that’s in a pretty pink color, ’cause it makes me happy. And then, and so on, you get the idea.

And so, this is super powerful. You get a bird’s-eye view of your day before it’s even started. And, if you see a lot of bright red, you might want to double up on that coffee, or maybe slow down on that coffee.

Time As A Commodity

So, it’s been really cool. And, one of the things it’s really done for me is it’s made me really treat my time like a commodity. I don’t know how many of you remember those checkbook ledgers back in the day when we had to balance our checkbooks. This is kind of the same concept. It’s just like you’re treating your time as a commodity. And so, when you set out to do something, and you go to your calendar, do you have time for it, number one. Number two, if you don’t have time for it, what are you going to let go so that you can fit this in?

It’s a really fantastic way of making sure you don’t overbook yourself, which I most definitely did last weekend and now I know better that on the weekends I want to keep things a little lighter than during the week, because we all need a rest period. We can’t run ourselves into the ground seven days a week. That’s just not how it works.

So, I’m going to go down in more detail of a few ways this really moved the needle for me. I’m finally starting to wake up earlier. And, I still haven’t mastered this. I woke up Monday and it was a game-changer. Tuesday and Wednesday have been super-packed for me in terms of my day job, and I have just needed that sleep. And so, I haven’t been sticking to it yesterday and today.

Morning Routine

So, I think the key, and Amy discusses this in her video, is your morning routine starts the night before. You have to go to bed at a decent hour. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep. And, that’s new information to me, ’cause I always say, “Well, I can get by on six hours if I had to.” No. If you try to squeeze by on fewer hours than you need, then you’re completely useless the next day and you’ve defeated the whole purpose.

So, just get enough sleep in the first place or else you’re going to not even be useful when you’re actually working. That’s another point Amy makes really well in her videos. So, the waking up earlier, it’s an aspirational thing at this point that I’m doing half the time probably, but I really want to do more of it. And, any sort of change is going to take time, so don’t be too hard on yourself if this doesn’t happen overnight. I had two false starts before I mastered it the first time.

And then, life’s going to throw you curveballs, so keep going at it. There’s a book called Changing for Good, that I highly recommend if you’re trying to rewire your day or your brain or your lifestyle. And, you know, these fallbacks and these quote-unquote failures, it’s actually part of the changing process. So, it’s not this linear or binary thing where if you screw it up once or twice, all of a sudden you can’t do this.

Keep Trying

It’s well-documented that people who have quit smoking, for example, which has got to be one of the hardest things in the world … I’ve done it and it is super hard. But, a lot of people have two to three false starts. You always hear these cold turkey people, and that’s great for them, but you also need to hear about these other people who had a lot of false starts and failures, and they just never stopped. And, that’s going to be the difference between the you that’s persistent and the you that gives up.

And so, if you’re the persistent person, you’re going to eventually achieve this morning wake-up goal. And, I’m going to report to you on that next week. Maybe I’ll have more progress to report on. I really hope so, ’cause I think it’s a super powerful thing to start your day earlier.

Okay, so, number two. I actually have time for passion projects. This is something really important to me. Adulting with ADHD is an example of a passion project. I’m also helping my father. He’s an artist and I’m helping him with his Etsy store. And, when I calendar block and when I get up early, I have time for those things and I’m not sacrificing other areas of my life. For example, I really try super hard … and I’m not succeeding right now … but, I really like to reserve my evenings and weekends for my husband and daughter, and my extended family when I go visit out of town.

Controlling What Can Be Controlled

And so, I feel like for me, nights and weekends need to be about reconnecting with my family and taking a little time for myself to read a book. And, I’m not there yet. This is one of those things where some of its beyond my control. Sometimes you get thrown these curveballs. But, for the parts that I can control, that’s super important. So, calendar blocking has definitely helped me dedicate more time to these passion projects without the guilt of, this is taking time away from my family or my health or whatever it’s taking you away from.

Number three, I touched on this earlier when I was discussing calendar blocking. When you calendar block you can catch yourself overbooking yourself before it happens. You can get in front of it and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, you really don’t want to be doing this on this day, ’cause you have this, this, and this.”

And, another … well, we’ll get to that later. I’m looking at my bullet points, so we’ll wait for it. I have another cool thing about that.

Okay, so the other benefit, my fourth benefit for calendar blocking is, you become Teflon for dysfunction. TM. I’m trademarking that. Once you start owning your time and respecting your time, you’re going to expect others to respect your time. So, there’s two caveats to this.

People Won’t Respect Your Time

The first caveat is there are going to be people who don’t respect your time. And, you need to have your boundaries, but you also need to have empathy, because there’s a good chance you were that person before, or you are right now. I know this was the case for me. And, not everyone’s the same, but for me, I look back in my career and I remember being that jerk who went up to people with earphones on and trying to talk to them. And, I wasn’t setting out to be a jerk, but now that I value my focus and value my time, I realize those headphone people who are … they have their headphones on for a reason. If they wanted to participate in the room, they would take off their headphones. So, you need to respect their time.

And, for people who aren’t respecting your time, don’t assume they’re being jerks. They just may not have their stuff figured out. They might be struggling with their own management. And so, you have to set boundaries but you also need to have empathy. And, nobody gets anywhere if you just get super pissed off at each other. And that’s something I’ve also learned over my career, is there are going to be times when people rub up against each other. And, the cream of the crop, those people who have been around long enough and have honed in their skills, they’ve learned how to not be rattled by that kind of stuff, and they’ve learned how to either resolve it in a productive way, or they’ve learned that this isn’t something that’s going to change, so I need to find a way to deal with this, or find a better situation for myself if it’s so bad that it’s impacting my wellbeing.

Damage Control

So, if you’re just now entering the career field, if you’re just graduating, this will save you a lot of angst. Is, learn now the things that are within your control and productively try to help the situation. And then, if it’s not going to work, meditate or go take a walk, or find a way that you can kind of manage those feelings, because you’re going to have feelings about that when your time gets disrespected or if someone drops a ball and then it screws up your situation.

It’s a really great skill to have and that’s a really good way you’re going to be able to rise if you can distinguish yourself in that way, because most people are just going to wear their feelings on their sleeve and they’re going to throw shade. And, take it from someone who’s been there, you don’t really climb with shade. Now you can set boundaries. Shade and boundaries aren’t the same thing.

Okay, that was the end of soapbox and tangent number three of this episode. The fifth benefit of calendar blocking is you find new pockets of time. And, this is the part where I … the title of the episode is How I Make Time Multiply. And, this is where the time multiplying happens.

For example, I had my whole weekend blocked on a calendar, which does not sound sexy at all, and it’s really not. But, it’s something that had to happen. But, you know what? I found these extra pockets of time because I had already been working within a structure.

Extra Time Appears

For example, I was feeding my daughter her lunch and all of a sudden there was this extra time. And, it’s time I would normally make goo-goo eyes at her and watch her and laugh or whatever. But, she didn’t want to be bothered while she was eating. She was in her own little zone. And, I was like, “You know what? This is a good time just to let her eat her food and I can squeeze in a couple emails or whatever.” And, it’s not something I would book. It’s more of like the frosting. This is like bonus time that I’m not booking, but you find these little bonus times.

And, that same day she took a nap that was longer than usual. And, I had already finished what I set out to do during her nap and her nap ran long. I was able to do something I’ve never been able to do. And, that is make heart-shaped peanut butter and banana sandwiches for her, which is the silliest way to spend your time but it felt so good. I had these cookie cutters I bought like eight months ago, and I’ve never had time. It’s those Pinteresty kind of projects that you never have time to do and they’re not very practical. Like, what are you going to do with a heart-shaped sandwich, right?

But, it’s these things that just add joy to your life. And, she’s too young to really understand a heart-shaped sandwich being magical … and, actually, she’s not. She kind of smiled, and I’m sure in her baby brain she’s like, “That’s cool.” But, it made me so happy and I’ve just never been able to make time for that kind of stuff. So, long story short, once you gain control of the things you can control, you’re going to start seeing time multiply.

I had to go pick up something from a coworker last night. We met at a gas station off an exit, and I got there a few minutes early. And, I had a book. Reading for fun is another thing I haven’t been able to do, but I had a few minutes and I had my book and it’s just so cool to get into a book again. And, it was this little frosting, this little thing that kind of makes your life more enjoyable, so that you’re not this robot who’s calendar blocking and not doing anything fun. I am definitely not saying forego pleasure. Pleasure needs to be in your calendar. You need to calendar block stuff that makes you happy and that adds frosting onto your life.

Working With Your Brain

Alright, so the last bullet point is, when you’re calendar blocking, you get real smart about the ebbs and flows of your brain throughout the day and the energy levels and the focus levels. I’ll give you an example. There’s certain parts of the day where, okay, any time I’m done with a meeting … and I’m sure this is everybody, but you’re just so drained and you’re processing a bunch of information. And then if you’re an introvert … I’m an introvert … if you’re an introvert you’re also zapped of energy. Being around people, you enjoy people, you don’t hate people, but being around them zaps you. That’s been my experience.

And so, I create really light brainless tasks for when I’m right after a meeting. I don’t book anything that requires deep thought. Similarly, if I have something that’s a real pain in the butt or it requires a lot of deep thought, I’m booking that early in the day while I still am at peak energy level. And, maybe not too early in the day, because it takes me a while for my brain to wake up. And so, when you start thinking that way, you can match the task up to where your brain’s at, at that point in the day, and it’s going to make you way more efficient.

Alright, so those were all my points about calendar blocking and how it’s really made a huge difference for me. And, I’d like to know if you calendar block. And I want to know what’s working for you besides calendar blocking. So, you can reach me at contact@adultingwithadhd.com. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter. The handle is adhdadulting.

And, if you want to learn other tricks and tips, you can check out other podcast episodes or you can visit my website, adultingwithadhd.com. We also have a support group going on there that you may benefit from. And, we dig deeper into these themes that I talk about on the podcast. And, we also have an accountability thread where we’re helping each other directly, one-on-one each week, and really helping each other achieve our goals together. So, if that’s up your alley, come by the website and learn more about that.

And, until next week, happy adulting.

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