ADHD Tips To Improve Organizing and Planning

If we have ADHD or ADD, it can be hard to keep track and stay on top of everything we’ve got going on. Starting and completing tasks without getting distracted and sidetracked can be particularly challenging. In this video we learn strategies to stay organized and to break down complicated projects and tasks into smaller steps we can manage without getting overwhelmed.

ADHD Tips To Improve Organizing and Planning

Do you ever get overwhelmed by complicated tasks, struggle to meet deadlines, or have trouble keeping track of everything you’ve got going on? Planning and organizing, managing time, starting or completing activities, and juggling various responsibilities can be daunting, especially if you have ADHD. In this video, we’ll learn some practical strategies that can help.

The first step to staying organized is to mark everything down in a calendar. By adding all of our appointments, deadlines, meetings, social events, and so on to our calendars, we ensure we have everything all in one place where we can easily find it. We make sure to schedule notifications and alarms. For example, if we’re meeting someone for dinner at 7 and need to start getting ready at 6, and leave by 6:30, we can set notifications for 6:00 and 6:30 to make sure we stay on track. If we have a doctor’s appointment next month, in addition to a reminder on the day itself, we might also want a notification the day before, and perhaps even a week beforehand if we need to arrange time off work or childcare.

Using a calendar and notification reminders for everything can feel like a hassle, but it frees up our minds from having to keep track of any of these details, allowing us to focus our attention on more important matters.

Next is the to-do list. We start with a brain dump, taking a few minutes to write down all of the tasks we have coming up that we can think of, either on a piece of paper, or in a to-do list or brain dump app, or on a whiteboard. And then we ask ourselves, “Is there anything else I might be forgetting?” And then we set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes and write down anything else that comes to mind. Once we’ve added everything we can think of, or our time is up, we now have our overall task list.

We can organize it into different categories like work or school, home, and personal. And then, since we can’t do it all at once, we need to prioritize the items into tiers like urgent, high, medium, and low priority, or tomorrow, next couple of days, this week, and sometime this month. We don’t go through this whole process every time we do a to-do list, maybe just once a month.

And then once a week, we make a to-do list for the next week. And then once a day, we come up with a to-do list for tomorrow. Or maybe we start the day off by coming up with our to-do lists for today. So, we have a few to-do lists—daily, weekly, and medium-term. If something on our list doesn’t get checked off, that’s okay; we just incorporate it into our next daily, or weekly, or monthly list.

The key to an effective to-do list is that each task needs to be broken down into small manageable steps. No steps should take more than 20 to 30 minutes to complete. And if we have trouble paying attention for that long, we can break tasks down into 10-minute chunks.

Instead of a task like “make to-do lists,” which could seem overwhelming, we break it down into smaller tasks: “make monthly,” “make weekly,” “make daily to-do list.” And then we can break these down further into smaller tasks if need be. And maybe once we start, we are able to do all three of these tasks one after another, but breaking it down like this makes it less overwhelming to get started and allows us to stop after any one component, and then come back to it again and know exactly where we need to pick up from.

There are lots of productivity apps that can help with creating and managing to-do lists. I like Goblin tools, which can break a task down into a to-do list and further break down each item on the to-do list. And it also creates to-do lists out of brain dumps. And if you have a productivity app you like, please let me know in the comments.

Now, just having a series of to-do lists can seem overwhelming, so a lot of people find it helpful to visualize everything with a mind map. A mind map is a visual brainstorming tool. It organizes information around a central topic and branches out with related ideas, subtopics, keywords, short phrases, images, and so on, just depicting things however your mind works.

Mind maps are great for things like problem solving, studying, or essay writing, and project planning because they promote creative thinking and organize complex information visually in a simplified manner. We can get started with a brain dump and then add these items to the mind map, or we can just add things as we think of them. And once we’ve broken everything down, we can start adding them to a to-do list and begin taking action. There’s no one way to format a mind map; we can use whatever makes most sense to us and be as creative as we like. For planning and organizing an essay or presentation, we might choose a visual representation like this.

And once we have the whole project laid out in front of us, we can start working on individual parts without feeling so overwhelmed. So, the keys to effective organizing and planning are to have some sort of calendar and notification system that works for us, along with to-do lists that prioritize tasks into small manageable steps, and a process like a mind map to help us break down complex tasks and projects to make them more manageable and less overwhelming.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them on the YouTube video page.