Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5 Tips for Adults with ADD/ADHD

1. Marry well - pair up with someone who has great "executive skills." And find someone who "gets you" - someone who understands what a partner with ADHD brings to the table. To remind yourself, you might google "positive qualities of people with ADHD" and watch it blow up. You are probably creative, energetic, spontaneous, and fun to be around. If your partner loves that about you, and is better able to do some of the planning ahead, catching details, and goal-oriented targeted worrying, you guys might make a great pair.

2. Get a crackerjack assistant - or see what you can outsource, or see how web-based personal assistant services might work for you, or talk with your supervisor about moving some administrative support your way. What could you do (Carry the pager one extra weekend per month? Clean the break room fridge?) in exchange for two hours per week of clerical services by someone already in the organization?

3. Find a great personal planner or smartphone app, and use it for every commitment, every relationship, and every obligation. A calendar is not a scolding reminder of doctors' appointments. It's your number one tool for making sure that you are living the life you are here to live. With any luck you've got 85 years or so here on the planet. Minus your current age. Multiplied times 365. That's how many days you've got to play with (or work with). Now how do you want to use them, what do you want to do most? Write it down, break it down, and then schedule it.

4. Use a "single in-box." See David Allen's "Getting Things Done" for a great discussion of this. In your work or home office, the single in-box is an actual physical "box." In your planner or calendar app, this "in box" is your To Do list. Yep, the To Do list is a virtual "in box." It's the one place where you write down all the things you need to do, want to do, hope to you. All the phone calls you need to make, websites you want to check out, songs you want to download. One list. In fact, let's go ahead and do it; you know those 4 or 5 things that are banging around inside your head right now? The thing with the snow tires, the email from your sister, the umbrella insurance policy you wanted to check out? Write it down now. And then tomorrow when you're doing your regularly scheduled deep-checking-in with yourself (see #5), you'll review that list and move the most important ones to your calendar.

5. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier every day. Get up. Pull out your planner or your calendar app (both you and your phone are fully recharged at this point), and look at your schedule with an eye towards "what do I want to do with the time I've got today." If you're working two jobs or raising children by yourself you probably don't have too much unstructured time. And so you, of all people, have got to take this question seriously. What am I going to do with the one or two unstructured hours I have on my calendar today? What about that to-do list of everything you need to do, want to do, or dream of doing? (See #4 regarding the To Do list as an "in box"). Which one of those pops out at you right now as the most important? Alternatively, answer this question: What's the one thing that I've been putting off that would make the biggest positive difference in my life right now? So in the morning, before the day has quite started to come at you, sitting there quietly with your cup of coffee, you'll ask yourself: "What am I here to do? To Be? To have?" And you'll determine how your calendar reflects that right now.

Good luck!

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