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7 Effective ADHD Time Management Strategies for Adults [2024]

Effective ADHD Time Management Strategies

Managing time when you have ADHD can definitely be a bit tricky, but don’t worry—there are plenty of strategies that can help you sharpen your time management skills and keep your schedule on track!

ADHD can make it tough to stay focused, keep organized, and stick to tasks, as the National Institute of Mental Health points out. This can make it challenging to manage time effectively, especially if you lose track of how much time has passed or how long something should take.

But here’s the good news: time management is a skill you can learn and improve! With a bit of planning, focus, and forethought, you can develop techniques to help manage your time better. 

Once you start mastering these strategies, you might find that life becomes a bit smoother and less stressful. Let’s tackle this together!

Managing time can be a real challenge for individuals with ADHD, as highlighted in a 2019 article. Those with ADHD might find it tough to plan effectively and keep track of time, which can impact productivity and increase stress in various settings like school, work, or daily life.

A 2019 review also points out a possible link between ADHD and how time is perceived, suggesting that more research is needed to fully understand this relationship and other related executive functions.

Here are some specific time management challenges that people with ADHD might face:

    • Gauging the passage of time accurately.
    • Estimating the duration needed for different tasks.
    • Remembering time-related information.
    • Sequencing events properly.

It’s important to note, however, that these issues don’t affect everyone with ADHD in the same way. Each individual’s experience can vary widely.

ADHD Time Management

Here are some effective time management strategies person with ADHD:

Breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, often referred to as “Task Chunking” or “Task Segmentation,” is a fantastic way to tackle big projects without feeling overwhelmed. While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who coined this method, Francesco Cirillo, the developer of the Pomodoro Technique, is one of its most notable advocates. This approach can really help in maintaining focus and momentum, especially when you’re juggling multiple tasks.

In addition, regarding to Task Chunking, here are some practical tips

    • Breaking tasks into smaller, manageable chunks can alleviate feelings of overwhelm and maintain focus.
    • Categorize Tasks: To chunk tasks effectively, categorize them based on their nature or priority. This helps in organizing and prioritizing tasks efficiently.
    • Set Sufficient Time Aside: Allocate appropriate time for each task to ensure it is performed adequately. Proper time allocation prevents frustration and enhances productivity
    • Ban Interruptions: Avoid interruptions during chunked time slots to maintain focus and productivity. Setting boundaries and being fully present during tasks is crucial
    • Increase Chunked Tasks: To enhance long-term productivity, gradually increase the number of chunked slots in your calendar. Listing all relevant tasks and expanding categories can boost efficiency

Time blocking is like creating a special plan for your day, where you decide in advance when you’ll do each of your tasks, just like planning out a day of fun activities. 

Imagine you have a day ahead of you with different things you want to do: homework, playing video games, hanging out with friends, and maybe some chores.

Instead of just hoping you’ll fit everything in, you schedule specific times for each activity.

For example, let’s say you decide from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM is for homework, 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM is for playing video games, and so on. You put these plans into a calendar, almost like making appointments with yourself. This way, you’re not just wishing you’ll get everything done; you’ve got a clear plan to make it happen.

Here’s how it works for adults:

They might block off time for meetings, individual work tasks, personal stuff like calling a friend, and even breaks like lunch. They use tools like Google Calendar to color-code these blocks, making it easy to see the day’s plan at a glance.

The trick is not to pack your calendar too full. If every minute is scheduled, any unexpected thing—like a surprise visitor—can throw off the whole day.

So, it’s smart to start by scheduling only the most important things, especially those tasks that you might not look forward to. After trying this out for a week or two, you can adjust your plan, maybe adding more tasks or giving yourself longer breaks, depending on what works best for you.

This method helps you make sure you have enough time for both work and fun, and it keeps you from feeling too overwhelmed. It’s all about finding a balance that lets you get things done without stressing out.

Creating a distraction-free and minimal work environment can also make a huge difference, particularly for those with ADHD.

It’s like clearing out the physical clutter helps clear up some mental space too! I’ve personally experienced a significant boost in focus after switching to a cleaner, more organized setup. 

My workspace is simple with white walls, good lighting, and tidy cable management.

Plus, using noise-canceling headphones can block out external noise, helping you dive deeper into your work or studies. Personally I‘m using the Sony WH-1000XM5

Finding activities that you find genuinely interesting can also play a crucial role in managing ADHD effectively. Since our brains crave dopamine, engaging in enjoyable work or turning study sessions into fun activities can enhance focus and retention. 

Tools like Quizlet or listening to music can transform a mundane task into something much more pleasant.

Giving yourself some buffer time is a lifesaver when you have back-to-back commitments like meetings or calls.

Allowing extra time for unexpected interruptions can reduce stress and often leads to higher productivity levels.

When combined with task chunking, this strategy can indeed be a game changer, helping you meet deadlines with less hassle and more efficiency.

Jordan Wright, a clinical associate professor of counseling psychology in the department of applied psychology at NYU and Clinical Advisor for Parallel Learning, suggests building in breaks throughout your day.

He says, “Brain and body breaks are important for everyone, so make sure you schedule some downtime, whenever possible.”

These breaks can also include moving your body. Philips suggests doing a few stretches or walking around the office in between meetings or tasks.

To make managing ADHD more manageable, consider using some handy tools designed to support productivity and organization. 

ADHD planning tools can also be a big help in structuring your day or week ahead, while notice boards or whiteboards are perfect for keeping important reminders in plain sight. 

However, the fast-paced society comes with dozens of tools, finding something that suits you is difficult, so below we will show you how and suggest some tools that you might find beneficial.

To help you narrow down your options, here are some features to consider when choosing the right tool:

    • Tailored to your challenges: Some tools enhance productivity, while others help you keep track of to-do lists and remember important dates and details.
    • Intuitive and easy to use: Certain tools might be complex and challenging to use. For instance, a productivity app like Notion might require some learning and take time to set up effectively.
    • Accessibility: A good tool should be easy for you to access. Some apps may only be available on specific platforms, like iOS or Mac, while others might not work on desktops.
    • Affordability: Some digital ADHD tools operate on a subscription basis, and others can be accessed through a one-time payment. There are also completely free apps. It’s important to choose one that fits your budget.

No one solution fits all. Some people work better with apps that send reminders, while others might prefer a productivity tool that turns tasks into mini-games with rewards.

ADHD-Friendly Environment

Navigating time management with ADHD can be smoother with the right tools and techniques. If you are looking to find a suitable tool to manage your time effectively, below is a summary and analysis of 3 tools in 3 time management fields that I found promising:

Todoist is a fantastic task management app that’s perfect for anyone with ADHD looking to streamline their daily tasks and projects. It’s designed to help you focus by breaking big projects into manageable sub-tasks and organizing them in a clear, easy-to-follow way.

With features like task prioritization, reminders, and progress visualization, Todoist helps reduce the overwhelm and keeps everything you need in one spot. This minimizes the need for switching between tasks, which can really help maintain your flow and productivity.

We’re always working to make Todoist even better, tailoring it to the unique needs of our ADHD community.

    • Advantages: Designed for ADHD, minimizes switching tasks, enhances focus on priorities.
    • Disadvantages: Frequent updates as we improve.
    • Pricing:
      • Pro: $3.99/month or $36/year (Early access: $28/year with code EARLYBIRD)
      • Business: $5.99/month or $60/year (Early access: $48/year with code TEAMBOOST)

Todoist isn’t just an app; it’s a tool that turns your task list into a clear and actionable plan. It’s all about keeping you organized and productive, making sure your tasks work for you, not against you.

Many individuals exhaust considerable time searching for the ideal planner, only to use it briefly before it’s neglected. I’ve observed that my clients often lose track of sticky notes, paperwork, and tasks. However, they invariably have access to their phones or computers. This is why I suggest using Google Calendar.

Google Calendar is an exceptional, no-cost app for time management and scheduling that assists in visualizing time management and breaking down extensive projects into manageable tasks.

For those with ADHD, it’s vital to tailor it to suit your specific needs. Once customized, it can greatly enhance your productivity.

    • Advantages: It’s free, has an easy-to-use interface, integrates with Google Meet, allows for publishing calendars online, subscribing to other calendars, managing multiple calendars, and features beneficial for ADHD like color coding and alerts.
    • Disadvantages: Requires setup knowledge to optimize its use, lacks integration with other video conferencing tools, and managing multiple calendars on mobile devices can be visually cluttered.
    • Pricing: Free with a Gmail account.

For someone who juggles multiple tasks like myself, Google Calendar is indispensable in organizing my schedule and time more efficiently.

I appreciate that my computer, iPad, and phone all sync with my Google Calendar. The synchronization is smooth and keeps me informed about all my meetings and events.

Forest is an engaging app designed to enhance your focus. When you need to concentrate, you start by planting a virtual tree in the app. As you work, your tree grows, but if you exit the app to browse social media or engage in other distractions, your tree will perish.

As you accumulate periods of focus, you can cultivate a beautiful virtual forest, discover new tree species, and even contribute to planting real trees through the partnership with Trees for the Future. A novel feature allows you to plant trees collaboratively with friends, where the survival of everyone’s tree depends on each individual’s focus, adding a layer of communal motivation.

The app also offers a fun quiz to help you discover your personal flower, adding a charming touch to the experience.

    • Advantages: The app makes focusing a game-like experience, supports a mission-driven organization, allows for personalized ‘Allow Lists’, and enables sharing your forest with friends.
    • Disadvantages: Requires active engagement to open and use the app, available only on iOS and Android, and is primarily suited for focusing on one task at a time.
    • Pricing: $3.99, plus additional in-app purchases.

“It’s fantastic because it operates like a mobile game, yet it actually helps you gain time instead of consuming it.”

For someone who faces significant challenges with studying due to ADHD, this app provides a structured time limit with real consequences for non-compliance, such as the death of the plant you are nurturing, which then remains as a permanent record in your forest.

You don’t want your plants to die, so you stick to the app’s rules and accomplish what you initially planned. It’s tough to motivate yourself on your own, but this app assists in this regard. It’s not flawless, but it’s a helpful tool, making it worth trying out.

ADHD-Friendly Environment

Managing time effectively when dealing with ADHD is challenging, but it is entirely possible with the right strategies and tools.

By understanding the specific difficulties that come with ADHD, such as difficulty in estimating time and sequencing tasks, individuals can better tailor their approach to time management. 

Remember, the key to success in time management with ADHD is finding the tools and techniques that work best for your individual needs and consistently applying them. 

With persistence and the right support, I believe people with ADHD can master the art of time management, leading to a more organized and less stressful life.

Hope you have a nice day!

Additionally, you can read the full guide on how to manage ADHD here

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