Transitions are a part of every day life. There’s big transitions, like going on vacation. As well there are little transitions all day with text alerts, or changing the laundry while making dinner or working on a project and answering a phone call. Whether it is coming and going to work or school or starting or ending a vacation, these times can be especially challenging with ADHD. It’s not easy to switch between tasks. Set-switching, the official name for transitions, is an aspect of self regulation, intertwined with time awareness, hyper focus, indecision and procrastination. The value of transition time, the time between tasks, meetings and family, gives you time to reset and get ready for what’s coming next. For people with ADHD, this is especially valuable.
Build in and write in transition time
Take your awareness of the need for transition time to the next level by building this time into your schedule. You can do this by adding slots of time into your planner. Think through the time needed to transition as it is not all the same. To transition after a meeting, add 10 minutes between meetings and your next task. Add 30 minutes if you want to finalize notes and organize your action plan. For zoom meetings plan on logging on 10 minutes early. Write in the travel time between in person appointments and add a cushion. That means that you will likely be on time or possibly early. Adding in this time lowers your stress too.
Create transition rituals
We can use physical rituals that happen during transitions. No matter if the meeting is in person or zoom, we need time to reset after a meeting. Make it a habit to walk around the office of your work from home office to reset your thoughts and give yourself a physical break.
Movement and breathing can be physical ways to transition. Stretching and deep breathing give us a lift as we move to the next activity.
You can pair a ritual with a transition. If you always have tea with your task, you can pair up to ease the transition.
Use technology to create a buffer
Technology can helping us prepare and transition to the next activity. We can use the “Countdown Method” with multiple reminders set to alert to transition. Setting multiple reminders on your smart devices and home digital assistants reminds you a transition is about to happen.
Giving yourself permission to stay on a task for a duration of time is a strategy too. If you have assigned a single task to a day, such as Financial Friday, then you have permission to keep on that task all day.
Time blocking adds structure to your transition as well. This happens when you set aside to do specific work at a specific time. By deciding ahead of time the assignment, you can transition in another time block without making an additional decision. You are freed up to do the work rather than decide what is the next transition.
Work from home tips
While we are currently working from home, you need stronger transitions to help you work productively and create a boundary between home and work. Here are a few suggestions to create a transition time during your work from home time.
- Walk the dog
- Drink a glass of water
- Add analog clocks to important transition locations
- Create work boundaries with alarms to end the day
Incorporating transition time is a work in progress. Keep it in mind as you start these new strategies.