What do you do when you have too much to do
Hiya. Your friendly neighborhood therapist has ADHD, two businesses, a spouse, three kids, 6 animals, a house and garden, and a LOT of projects. As I write this, I'm sitting here vacillating a little wildly back and forth between whether I should sit and write, as I had planned and scheduled, or get up and do any of the 78865476 other things I see needing my attention.
So I thought I'd write a little about my process. I use a lot of different "productivity tools" - here are some that work the best for my brain.
A frequently rotating schedule of regular tasks
Knowing that Wednesdays are my day to clean floors, and Tuesdays are my day to set my weekly business plan is helpful for remembering that there are regular tasks that I need to get done. I like doing them on a weekly rotation because there are plenty of weeks where the task doesn't get done, but it's okay. Wednesday will come around again and my floors will keep til then. I do not add Wednesdays undone regular tasks to Thursday. I let them goooo.
A few brief daily routines
The power of a good routine is kind of amazing, but it has to actually work with your life. I am not going to wake up at 4am to exercise at this point in my life. But I can take a walk, most days, after my clients and before dinner. And then I can build on that, since I already have shoes on, and water the garden right when I get back from my walk. And get the eggs from the chickens, since I'm out back anyway. I bring them to the kitchen, and oh hey - time to start dinner. Boom. A multi-part routine that works. I can then consciously add to it, gradually, knowing that there's already an established natural routine. I can add drinking a cup of water, or 25 squats, or whatever the heck I think would be helpful. And I'm more likely to succeed because it's linked to the other pieces.
As much as I can, I tie the really important to do items, or the ones I'm most likely to put off, to someone else because I am far less likely to forget or reschedule. I have a regular writing group, a coworking marketing group, and regular video calls with a few friends and my VA. We meet via zoom, and depending on the group sometimes check in, sometimes turn video off and just get to work. They're not long chunks of time -- 15 to 30 minutes. But it's amazing how much can get done when you have a mission and someone else working beside you.
Accountability to someone else
I now have someone that I can message and say, "here's my to do list for today" or "this event," or "for the book launch" and that person puts it in Airtable, my favorite content management tool. But before I hired a VA, I often (read: daily, at least) would send my to do list to my sister, a friend, or even more effectively - I'd post it on my Facebook wall. Getting it to other people like that helped motivate me tremendously. Especially if I came back to update it.
alarms on phone
No, I will not just remember to move laundry, call that person back, put the cover back on the grill... I use alarms on my phone primarily for all the little house things that I know will slip my mind.
email me about it
If someone else verbally asks me to do a task, it has become my habit to tell them to email me about it (and/or text, and alarm on my phone!) In my mind, it doesn't happen unless it's written down. I don't just use this with students or clients -- my inbox has plenty from my husband too!
wall calendar AND fridge calendar AND bullet journal AND google calendar
No, it's not excessive. Yes, I use them all. I need things to be front and center! Bullet Journals alone don't work, because I can close them and leave them in my bag. Wall calendar alone doesn't work, because it doesn't travel with me. Google calendar on my phone alone doesn't work, because the tactile experience of writing lists and reminders helps me remember and plan. So yes, I use a combo of all the things. And yes, it takes time out of my day to go through and update them all, but even that repetition is helpful for my brain. And I love pens, planners, and office supplies......
I use the wall calendar for big monthly overview of appointments, for a weekly list, and a daily goal list. My kids get into this calendar, so we make sure to put the games we want to play, etc on this list too. My fridge calendar is one week at a time and has meal plans and work schedules - because those two things are most related in the planning. My bullet journal has a monthly spread, weekly overview, and daily pages. I go much, much more in depth in my bujo. I write goals, priorities, lists, and track things like mileage, water, book sales, and more. My google calendar connects to my online appointment scheduler, so gets updated without me sometimes! I also make it a point to put appointment details in the notes - the address of appointments, the phone numbers - because I need the info right there in one place when I look at my schedule. I also use google's task list for my weekly task reminders, and this is where I put monthly things, like refilling medication, or doing billing and paperwork.
Boundaries, and getting okay with disappointing people
For the love of all that is good for your brain, learn how to say no sometimes. I have PLENTY to keep me busy, all day every day. If I said yes to every request, big or small, I'd spin myself into the ground and never be able to crawl out. If you can set boundaries for outer-circle people -- like only respond to student emails on Monday and Wednesday, that makes life easier. I've had to get better at setting boundaries for inner-circle people too. For example, if my husband says, "hey do you have time to pick up the dry cleaning" -- I have to stop and think about if I honestly have time! I might not today. But I could on Thursday. Or maybe not at all this week. Or, I need to be home for 6 year old's piano, would he like to do that and I'll pick up the clothes? Or - just - no. If you struggle with this, practice saying this out loud to a mirror. Cheesy, but effective.
If you struggle with any of this - know you're not alone. Get in touch and we can figure out systems that work for YOU. Along the way, we will work on repairing the negative messages you've likely internalized from years of people saying you're scattered, flaky, irresponsible, forgetful, or unreliable.
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