Maya Tackles Planning with ADHD
Last week the AM ADHD Success Club focused on planning with ADHD. The different types of planning and how to fit them in your life. This is a key step for living easier with task lists. Here’s what Maya, our guest blogger, thinks and experiences…
Having limited success with task lists and planning and feeling like the poster child for how not to plan, I struggled with how to blog about my journey to success. Eventually, I realized that I needed to combat negative thoughts by following Dana’s ADHD Success Club advice by noticing what is working and what needs work.
As a teacher of nearly 21 years, I’ve written curriculum, planned lessons/units, created yearbooks, and led other teachers. I should have this whole effective planning thing down–right? Admittedly for my first 17 years teaching, many days I would shoot from the hip reassuring myself that I knew my content and where I was going, yet with this mindset at the expense of my students, I often veered from my intended course and limited the quality of teaching and learning.
Likewise, haphazard planning of life limits the quality of my life. Self-defeating thoughts prevent my journey to success unless my insights are followed by adjustments that improve my success in planning with ADHD that propel me into action.
Maya’s Tips for Planning with ADHD
Right now I am trying to make sense of where I am and where I need to go. Here are my insights based on the past two modules:
- Make lists visible. Notebooks unopened do me no good. First, I made my task list in a notebook, but after two days of an unopened notebook, I transformed my lists to Google Tasks.
- Figure out what works for me. In the Google Task app, I found that I made my daily task list way too long. A long list I can’t accomplish creates mental defeat. I also found that I wasn’t opening the app regularly. I tweaked this by going hybrid. Now I keep my task list on a Post-It attached to the back of my phone. No app or notebook to open–a single Post-It waving in my face each time I touch my phone. Note: heavy duty Post-It required. Plus, the physical act of writing by hand seems to help me remember what I have to do and celebrate what I get done.
- Be a pessimistic planner. Dana explains completing tasks often takes longer than people with ADHD realize. The daily Post-It helps with this as the space is limited, and I can only put 4 or 5 items on it. Match the amount of work with the time I have. Put the calendar and tasks side by side to make sure I’m planning realistically based on my schedule.
- Plan less. Experience success. Because of testing, tutoring, and meetings my planning/task time has been limited over the past few weeks. When I considered my limited planning time, I was able to accomplish what was on my list. This experience of success relieves my mental outlook from the daunting task of planning.
- Set reminders. A reminder to plan for the day and one to plan the week will help. Plus, certain tasks need reminders, too. I do have to work on not ignoring the beep of the timer.
- Plan and execute tasks even when life gets too busy. Last week with little time to plan I spiraled into overwhelm causing more undone tasks to build. Instead of drowning in despair, I need to be aware of busy times and just plan less on those days. Match the schedule with the tasks.
- Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. Resist the urge to complicate systems. The Post-It note seems to simplify my system. For me, the less complicated my systems are the more success I’ll have in maintaining them. Plus, I need to resist the urge to try what is new and shiny because that won’t help me as I continue to build on what is working.
- Tweak plans real time. Life happens, and the day changes. Tweaking to dos is okay and even necessary.
- Plan ahead. Last week it seems like so much was sneaking up on me that I couldn’t control. This week is equally busy, but I should plan ahead in order to get things done and be ready for each day.
- Forgive and celebrate. Yes, I backslide. Yes, I fumble. Yes, I forget. Dana says, “Remember, you’ll forget.” With those things in mind, I should avoid being too hard on myself when things don’t go as I’ve planned. Plus, I should celebrate small successes.
To my ADHD brain, there is nothing appealing about planning. To ADHD, planning is mundane, menial, and routine. What does appeal to me is having a better quality of life and living successfully with ADHD. To that end, I’m going to have to face what Dana said, “Planning is often the difference between ADHD success and struggle.” I know that well in both teaching and life. At this point, I could pull up documents that show I have planned teacher lessons daily and monthly for 3 years. If I can manage to fill in all those boxes, certainly I can consistently keep up with 3 to 5 things I’ll do each day.
With my eye on the prize, my outlook positive, and my adjustments small and ongoing, I know I can continue to build for success with ADHD especially if I focus on planning with ADHD.