Deadlines can be scary. These are the ultimate accountability when working on a task or project. You can use these to create momentum and power through to completion with a little insight into setting a date that works taking many points into account, including who is on your team, what resources are available and your work style. Check out these tips on how to set ADHD friendly dates and deadlines for your productivity.
Deadlines depend on how long a task takes and how many tasks are part of a project. Use real time data to determine how much time is needed by using a timer or Rescue Time on your computer. Gather this data early in order to set up your project management. With that data, determine how much time you have available and plan accordingly. One project might take more time and require cutting back on another project. Plan accordingly to set a deadline.
We process information with a variety of time management tools. These include a month at a glance planner, a week at a glance planner, and a categorized list of tasks. Use the tools that help you best “see” the needs of your project and when the outcome works best. When finished, be sure to post your work in segments with dates where you can see these at a glance.
Your list may be a tangled maze of decisions depending on a sequence of decisions. In order to simplify the deadline, list details in order of decision or use a mind map to intertwine decisions. Getting clarity on the sequence and creating a sequence of smaller deadlines helps you complete the project.
You may be given a deadline for a project instead of choosing a deadline You can work backwards to determine the sequence of tasks to complete this on time and the segments to work on.
It may be that you can outsource some of the small tasks in your work. Can a colleague supply data or write up a section for your work? There are lots of creative in person and online tech tools to help you delegate too.
Working in parallel can help you overcome paralysis. Setting a deadline while body doubling can help you come to a conclusion. That body double can also be a person from FocusMate, a tech tool that partners you up for productivity.
While working on a project, the goal can become fuzzy. Be sure to go back and clarify the required outcome. If you are not clear, you will spend more time unnecessarily. Finishing on time is one of the most important objectives too.
Check out which tool you want to use to help you set the deadlines for your next task or project. After you practice, review what worked for you!
Because our pace has picked up, and we love an easy win, I wanted to share some quick and easy tips for productivity. See which one you might wan to try this week.
Every list of tasks has to start with prioritizing. That means just choose 3 Most Important Tasks for the day or the week. Right away you are going to feel less overwhelmed and be more productive.
Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure what to do next? Just add the one next step to your task list.
Spring into action or use this as a warm up to initiate your task, a timer can help you be more productive. You can also use your time with the Pomodoro method, alternating 30 minute time intervals with 5 minute breaks.
You can use automation to help you do your work. These voice activated helpers can add a task to a list, make a grocery list, or set up reminders for your daily routines.
Review your list to see which tasks you can batch-process. Those are initial calls to leave a message or quick email responses. The first step of tasks you hate can be a batch of its own.
You are more productive when you know dates and deadlines. It is a combination of data that drives your planning and accountability.
Too many options can be paralyzing. Keep your choices to three or less to maximize your productivity. Give yourself three options for content for your newsletter or blog, three choices for what to have for dinner this week or three choices of when to meet with colleagues on a project.
Move to a new location to work or add music you love.
Exercise helps us think clearly, be creative and be more efficient.
Take a 5 minute pause. Think about what you are working toward, why it is meaningful and gain fresh insight.
Given our new day-to-day and work environments, it’s a great time to implement and integrate a quick and easy tip that can help you.
Of all the apps that are on our phones, the Notes app is frequently our default app to use. Most of my clients have used the Notes app to capture thoughts, ideas, information and passwords. There is tons of information in this app. However we can add a level of organization to using Notes app that will give it more function and organization. There are many ways to use this app for lists, routines and notes. Here is how I use the Notes app.
The Notes app is easy to use for lists. Add lists would you like to have with you all the time. General lists include shopping, grocery, kids’ clothing and shoe sizes, Christmas list, air filter dimensions, medication list or any list you want to reference while out shopping, at a meeting, at a doctor’s office or away from home base. The lists I use most frequently are for business. There is a consignment list for that three month time, action lists for particular clients and a list of favorite products I share frequently with clients.
Notes app can be a daily routines and reminders list with check lists. Add a list of routines with a check circle starting each item of your list. (Find that check circle on the bottom right of your device while working in the Notes app.) Create the list of what you want your routine to include or a series of reminders for a specific task. As you check off, you won’t forget tasks. Un-check the circles at the end of your work or when you have completed this series of routines. Repeat and use again and again.
Depending on your typing ability, Notes app is a great choice to take notes during for personal reference, during meetings and to capture ideas.
Over the years as I have used the Notes app more strategically. The more I use it, the more I love it!
We are energized by getting stuff done and being productive. It’s central to who we are and what we want both personally and professionally. There are many ways to find your happy place in being productive by syncing with a strategy that uses your strengths and your style. Here are 5 strategies to help you be your most productive.
Organizing is a foundation for productivity.
In a 2008 NAPO survey of 400 consumers nationwide: 27% said they feel disorganized at work, and of those, 91 percent said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace was better organized. 28% said they would save over an hour per day. 27% said they would save 31 to 60 minutes each day.
That was in 2008 and the need for organizing is even greater now. How do you start organizing to be more productive? Start with your desk and your digital desk top. Paper management and digital file organizing are often the biggest challenges. Set up systems for incoming information, documents to reference to and file, and archive information for longer use. Incorporating files into Word and Excel systematically gives you quick access, rather than your computer desktop. Set a time each week to do some organizing to reset your space and gain control of your files. Getting your physical space organized makes it easier to do your work.
People with ADHD tell me that unproductive time occurs when there are too many choices of what to do and too many priorities. That indecision leads to procrastination and slow productivity. Time blocking assigns a task to a time so that there is little or no decision to make. Start with prioritizing to know what is of highest impact and value. Assign that project or task to a high energy time of day. Be sure that time is well protected for that assignment. In this same way, assign self care time as a time block. Often self care falls to the bottom of the list and there is no time do exercise, eat healthy or reset. Having both your highest priority and your self care assigned times through time blocking help you stay productive.
Teamwork can be implemented with many different strategies.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of tasks and projects. We have lots of great ideas, however we can’t do it all at the same time. That is where GTD excels.
There are many distractions and you want to be sure to focus during your work times. This method uses a timer set in intervals of 25 -45 minutes alternating with short 5 -1 0 minute breaks between work.
Pick one of these strategies that aligns with your personal strengths and style. It’s a matter of which of these strategies is a good fit for you. It will enhance how much you accomplish and how efficient you are!
Do you face too many choices of what to do and when to do it? Do you get paralyzed without a plan? Are you distracted rather than productive? There is a way to move to a more structured day to gain control of your time and be proactive about your tasks and projects. Time blocking is documented strategy to be productive and effective. It gives you the opportunity to prioritize.
What is time blocking? Time blocking is a time management strategy where you divide your days and weeks into units of time. Each time block has an assigned tasks or project. It is useful at both work and home to assign rather than choose an activity at a specific time. There are many uses for time blocking. It prioritizes completing specific work rather than chopping up your day with distractions. You can set aside time blocks at home to get your errands done. You can also use time blocks to establish transition time between meetings, activities and errands. Time blocking establishes the “when” of your “what To Do” list. You will be adding an assigned time to accomplish the tasks you have listed. By minimizing distractions, you are setting up productivity success. As Cal Newport writes, “my goal is to make sure progress is being made on the right things at the right pace for the relevant deadlines.” You can have this success too!
Here is how to get started with the time block concept. During weekly planning time, choose your top 3 Most Important Tasks for the week. These are tasks that are required to be done, and may not be urgent and are important. Project forward to see if any responsibilities are elevated to this level. At home this might be personal taxes, upcoming travel, bill paying or administrative time. At work this might be upcoming reports, meetings, or any assigned project.
Set time blocks for the duration that works well for you. As you know about your best work, choose a block of 1 hour or 2 hours, or a specific day of the week. People with ADHD tend to like longer time blocks for 2-3 hours. For me, I like one hour blocks because my energy moves quickly in this time. I use several blocks over a week to complete my tasks. I am a morning person so my best work is in the morning.
Assign a task or project to your chosen block periods.
Work and home successes leads this strategic use of time.
At home and at work there are necessary routines that need attention every week. Here are my favorite time blocks that are common at home and work.
Check to see what is not being accomplished in a week and schedule a time block for this. By time blocking these priorities, you will have a greater sense of control and foundation.
Scheduling time blocks is the answer to your distracted, unproductive day. It helps you accomplish your goals and keep on target. Filling in when to accomplish a task means you are not at the mercy of decision making and paralysis. It’s the best solution for assigning your time and attention to your priorities.
With COVID-19 we are quickly navigating a new normal, that of working from home during a global crisis. It is not the same as working at home over the long haul or working from home during a traditional time. There are 4 essential tips to ensure your success as you continue to work, home school and more in the same space daily. Follow these tips to keep your sanity and work success.
The pandemic requires a lot of emotional and physical well being. Start prioritizing self care. That means creating an environment that supports you and your family.
By now you have been spending time at home adjusting to your new space. You know what is not working for you and your homeschooling.
Over-communication during this transition keeps everyone connected, up to date, and sure of next steps.
Now let’s add back in the rest of the story – those kiddos are home too.
There is a lot of “life learning”going on at this time. Be aware of nuances in you and your family’s transition to work from home. It’s a great opportunity to give your family kudos.
There are times we can work at home regularly or periodically. We may need to work at home to help your family activities, work at home to help stabilize finances with your small business, or work during an intense period of upheaval (think virus.) Working at the office or working at home works best when you have processes, policies and organization about your time. By setting up structure, you are doing your best work. Here are some ways to establish structure that keeps you on track.
Setting up for success when you work at home makes your work more productive!
Truly crafting calendar habits can change your life. Calendars and planners are our road map to fulfill our goals and intentions. With a plan and tools you use well, your life will be easier, more productive and more rewarding.
Most especially at the start of the year, however all year long, we search for creative solutions to calendaring. There are two parts to this search. The search for the “perfect” tool” and the search for how to put it to use. This year more of my clients with ADHD are crafting calendaring habits that are changing their lives.
Get started by finding the right tools. Know if you are a paper, digital or hybrid planner person. I am learning that my clients do best with all three styles and a hybrid variation of these styles. In this case, my clients have a large month at a glance view, a week at a glance view, on both paper on a wall and in a medium sized paper planner. My clients use their phone, laptop and other devices to lay this out too.
Typically I have conversations about having one planner and this is not the case here! While it does add time and focus to maintain these planners, it is valuable because all the view of all the information helps with processing. It gives context to the data. On a month at a glance you see your information in comparison to other activities. On a week at a glance you know what you must accomplish in the short time span. With a digital version, you create recurring events and routines. While investing in these tools, you are investing in the opportunity to process information and keep all your balls in the air.
Front loading is the way to start. This term means to add all dates and plans right away, as soon as you receive the information. It also means to front load the level of work required on a project. Front loading takes advantage of your natural energy and interest in both your tools and your projects. Having these dates, projects and information easily accessible creates a foundation.
There are two elements that keep you on track with your new habits. First, keep adding information and dates as soon as you know about them. This information is in text, email, papers, conversations and meetings. It can be easy to lose track of these. Take time each day to record this in your planner. Second, review your planner each morning and each evening. It is not enough to record and reviewing daily keeps this information top of mind and fresh. When I learn that your new calendaring habits are failing, the root is often these two parts.
A weekly calendar review time keeps you moving forward. Once a week, check in from a big picture and detail view of your planner. This weekly review is familiar to those following GTD. It is time for mind sweep to capture all ideas to keep your brain working on work and not remembering. Capture your mind sweep on paper or digitally, then slot in all the information in your planner. Schedule your weekly calendar review at the start of your week or the end of the week. Planning is what keeps you up to date and on track.
The most important element in your life changing calendaring habits is to not give up. Developing new habits takes time. This is a work in progress each week for you to create a pattern with a combination of dates and projects, as well as work-life integration. Remember if you skip or miss a week, just get right back to your calendar tomorrow or next week. Your tenacity will pay off!
Check out my ADHD Friendly tips here on YouTube.
Organizing your time takes many different steps to get the job done. Having one great calendar and an effective way to manage your tasks and lists are the first step. Carving out a Weekly Planning Time pulls together these great tools. Stephen Covey and David Allen both incorporate this routine into their strategies, as well as Asian Efficiency and The Productivity Show. This time helps you create a proactive plan and gets you ahead of the curve.
What obstacles might you have incorporating into your week this planning time? Be sure to set this at at time that works well for you. In order to be consistent, the time that you work on Weekly Planning Time makes the most difference. How do you do know this is working well? Now you feel in control, ahead in your planning and confident in your tasks and projects.
More time management tips here!