Being productive doesn't mean doing something at every moment.adhd productivity
My struggles with ADHD have lead me to seek out and try many, many different techniques to try and be more productive. No one technique really worked. Sure, they would help for a time, but then I’d slip up once and fall into a period of complete executive dysfunction again. Turns out, the thing that helped the most (besides getting medication obviously) was simply not making myself feel guilty for not finishing all the tasks I had set out for the day.
My biggest struggle is starting something. With mountains of tasks to do, large projects or obligations just loom over me. I tend to go towards the quick things, the small things, because they seem manageable. I have a tendency to want to finish something I’ve started in one sitting, because it feels dirty, or I’m afraid I’ll forget what I was aiming for when I go back to it, or I’m afraid I’ll lose my flow or motivation. How do I combat this? I, or Glitch1, remind myself that just doing something, however insignificant, is an accomplishment in and of itself. At the end of the day, if I only get that one little thing done? I did something today. If I let complete decision paralysis get in the way of doing that thing, I would’ve accomplished nothing. Every little bit counts.
However, some organizational techniques have helped me quite a bit. The biggest thing that works for me is scheduling my day. First, I put in my classes and appointments into my phone calendar, and then fill in the gaps. Starting with meals, I put when I plan to eat breakfast and lunch. Dinner would be good to put in too, but due to my wacky commute situation I end up leaving the afternoon after about 4:30 blank since I don’t have a clue when I’ll end up commuting, so I wing it. Remember, don’t force yourself to be strict to a system like this, since it can cause you to feel more intimidated by your work plan than you do your actual work. After meals, I put in dedicated blocks for working. I usually try to do 1-2 hour blocks, and not right before or right after a few consecutive classes in a row. The most important part after all this, is planning dedicated rest times. One of the biggest enemies to relaxation is that voice in your head saying “you could be doing something productive right now”. No, stop that voice! Breaks are important! When you preplan your work times and break times, you have more incentive that you have a break coming after this bit of work. Once you get there, you won’t feel as guilty for doing something fun or just sitting around, and this gets me out of the loop of browsing social media for hours on end from that guilt saying “I shouldn’t be playing games or reading because I haven’t done anything”.
Alongside scheduling, I also keep a task list on my phone using the default Apple Reminders app, as well as a bullet journal (that I should be more consistent with to be honest). Setting goals for the day, the week, the month, and the year in the journal make me feel even more fulfilled once I cross those bullets off as complete. I only keep the tasks on my phone just for reminders and easily tallying things off in the moment without having to dig out my notebook. I treat my bullet journal as a twice a day thing. In the morning, I review the tasks I had set for today, add things that I missed, cross off things that I’ve done the prior day after I had written them out. In the evening, I review what I’ve done, cross off my tasks that I finished, reschedule the ones I haven’t, and plan out tomorrow. If it’s the end of the week, I write in next week’s template with some tasks or goals for the week, and planned appointments. If it’s the end of the month, I set up the Monthly Log as an overview of events for the month, and goals that I want to get done. The best way to bullet journal is to just use a blank notebook. Again, this lack of forced structure lets you be much less strict about your plans, and if you slip up? no need for blank pages making you feel guilty that you wasted a perfectly good notebook. I highly recommend dot grid paper for this since the bullet symbols are very geometric and neat within squares.
- Start something, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Do you have a dirty laundry pile in your bedroom? Just put one thing in the hamper when you walk by it.
- It’s okay to not get everything done that you planned. Anything, no matter how little is better than nothing, and your tasks are that much less intimidating.
- Didn’t get anything done today? That’s okay. We can’t keep up working on things every single day forever. Take a look at the past week or two and all the things you’ve gotten done. All those little tasks added up, you deserve a day.
- Don’t worry about being strict when organizing. You should never feel intimidated by the act of planning things out, you already have enough on your plate just doing the tasks that need to be done.
I hope these mantras help you as much as they help me.
My headmate (I’m plural by the way, in case you didn’t know). ↩︎