Shannon’s Approach to the ADD ADHD Time Problem — ADD Tip O the Day 614

-and Shannon’s comment was so good I’m just posting it here:

“Agreed. Time is a problem! And schedule what’s important!

What I’m trying out is putting those things in a non-scheduled category of my todo list until they are important enough to me to move to the scheduled part. I’m using the 5 categories published in “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD” by EIleen Bailey & Donald Haupt, M.D.. First book I bought; Doug’s was the second. My time management system is a mix of tips from both, and of course it’s complicated so I’ll (try to!) just talk about the bits that are important for this topic – the categories I use and how I move things between them.

Categories are (paraphrasing), from highest priority to lowest:

Absolutely Urgent = Important to me, my family or my job (and thus things I want to do) and have a due date.
Urgent = Important to me, my family or my job (and thus things I want to do) and don’t have a due date.
Chores = Things I don’t necessarily want to do, but have to do anyway (if chores are important to me, my family or my job then they go on the Absolutely Urgent or Urgent list; if cyclical like housework they get repeating daily/weekly/monthly due dates)
Maybe = Things I would like to do, but they’re not really important, and it doesn’t matter when you do them
Dreams, Wishes & Ideas = Things I might like to do, not important, not time sensitive

I enter my todo items into Wunderlist, an app I like because it syncs across all of my devices and my laptop, and it does most of what I like in a todo app. I then use the “due today” view from Wunderlist each morning to create my 5 item working list. Anything due that day automatically pops up, and I don’t have to see (and worry about) stuff due later. It gets first priority on the working list. If there are spots left on the working list, or if I get through the working list early, next priority goes to Urgent items, and so on down the list.

Stuff like guitar lessons (I’d love to get back into and better at playing too!) start off in Maybe. Once they’re in that category, I tend not to think about them in “as soon as” terms anymore. They’re recorded, and I know that they will come up in my daily process when I have time for them.

If they start to feel more important to me (if I am more often feeling a lack in my life because I’m not doing them, if I find myself thinking about them more often, etc…) then they get moved up the category list to Urgent. If something important to me spends too much time on the Urgent list, I assign it a due date and move it to the Absolutely Urgent list. That’s the part that I’m still trying to work out – how much time on the Urgent list is too much time? For stuff that’s important to my family or job, I use Doug’s 3 day rule – if it’s on there for more than that people are waiting too long and a due date is assigned. But if it’s “just” important to me, like guitar lessons? I don’t know. I’m trying to go with how urgent it feels to me right now, but I’ve only been on my meds a couple of months and I’m still getting the hang of things in that context. Any suggestions are welcome!

So that kink’s not worked out yet, but I am finding this system is keeping me away from “as soon as” thinking, and once something like guitar lessons makes it onto my Absolutely Urgent list, it is scheduled and fiercely defended. So it’s working so far in that sense.”

Thank you, Shannon.

I especially like your comment about “scheduled and fiercely defended.”  We need to fiercely defend our schedules.  We need to learn to say “No”, to ourselves and to others.

ADD,ADHD,attention deficit,adult ADD,adult ADHD, strategy,strategies,symptoms,problems,time,dysfunction,busy,pressure,rush,hurry,attitude,illusion,schedule,scheduling,saying no

You have the whole day ahead of you. But, how can it go so fast!?


Note O the Day:

If someone makes a request of you, and you say “No”, and they get upset, then it wasn’t a request, it was a demand.

Bonus Links:

On the usefulness of  “No”

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Staying On Task

About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at, or (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
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13 Responses to Shannon’s Approach to the ADD ADHD Time Problem — ADD Tip O the Day 614

  1. Pingback: An ADHD Christmas, et al — ADHD Tip O the Day 934 | ADDadultstrategies

  2. Pingback: An ADHD Christmas, et al — ADHD Tip O the Day 934.1 | ADDadultstrategies

  3. Chrystal Coleman says:

    Dianne in the Desert –
    perfectly well said. I have mentioned to Doug that the one aspect missing in his book of strategies is the housekeeping. I have tried using FlyLady, but I don’t think I fully implemented her Control Journal (to be honest). I spin my wheels in housekeeping and it’s starting to really weigh me down (I’m writing this during Covid-19). Thankfully, our family has only lived in our house 2 years, but I’m noticing the buildup of small projects everywhere. I’m at that crossroads point you mentioned because having people over or being “15 minutes ready for company” is a huge priority for me too. I think living in a tidy/clean space helps our brains.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “If someone makes a request of you, and you say “No”, and they get upset, then it wasn’t a request, it was a demand.” I love this! It’s definitely true and I never thought of it that way before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • homey- it helps me when i’m afraid that someone will get mad if i dont do what they want.
      thanks for commenting


      • Dianne in the desert says:

        I have received a lot of responses along the lines of “But I was counting on you……” When a request is made of me, I have developed the habit of asking the requesting party a few questions. Exactly what do they want? How soon do they want this? Who is paying any expenses involved? Why are you asking me and not ? I have learned that giving an immediate “yes” to any request before knowing the facts is inherently dangerous. “But I was counting on you!” means that either they ran out of people to dump their problem on, or it will cost more in time, money, effort, or than they want to invest. I just don’t fall for it anymore, but it took me a long time to learn the lesson….

        Liked by 1 person

        • diane – that is great!
          i use, and teach – “let me think about it.” and “that won’t work for me.” – why not? – “because that wont work for me.” – repeated as needed
          thank you for your comments


  5. Time is not a problem. There is no problem. A problem is a result. The issue is keeping one’s commitments – keeping a promise. If a person makes a promise to you and they do not keep it you could be accepting. If the person consistently breaks their promise, you would certainly no longer trust them. The issue is people break promises they make. Over time they lose trust in themselves.
    To be on time, pay attention to what you commit to do. Look at the CAUSE that is getting you the result. Time as a measurement. Not a problem.

    Feel free to download a complementary 6 Steps to Time Management Mastery for an effective solution to staying on time and keeping your commitments.
    It’s my pleasure to serve


    • Frank – thank you for your free download. I like the tips.
      You’re right, time is not the problem, my difficulty is managing time. I just like to blame Time.
      And another big problem is not keeping commitments, to others and especially to myself.
      And why is that?
      partly because I have trouble managing time.
      and why’s that?
      Because I have trouble controlling my focus.
      And why is that?
      It seems to have to do with the cerebellum, basal ganglia and prefrontal cortex. That’s why I need strategies so much.
      Thank you for commenting

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dianne in the desert says:

    One of my biggest time wasters was trying to figure out how to “Get it all done.” No, that didn’t work. I borrowed some things from Flylady. Her system for staying up on things that needed to be done I my home worked so well that I adapted the system to work for me as a self-employed person. The tool was a “Control Journal” that dealt with what needed to be one inside and outside of my home. Yes, it is all in there.

    The Control Journal comes down weekly when I am setting my schedule for the upcoming week. That means that I have two half sheet notebooks (one is my planner) open on my desk on Sunday afternoon/evening.

    I pull out a blank weekly plan insert for my planner, then open the planner and Cj to the current month. All items on the calendars are written into the weekly plan. Scheduled events are highlighted. Renewal dates for vehicle tags, insurance policy on home and vehicles, warranties, and such are entered in red so they are seen immediately. I do not list my routine tasks as they are already attaché to my page finder, but I do enter th information related to which room in my home will be getting a thorough cleaning because I need to block the time for that.

    There are two other things that I do. I check the program on my computer to insure that the entries there are marked in my planner. I also check to see if items in my planner have been added to the program on the laptop.. Finally, scheduled entries are entered to my phone.

    My routines have ben in place for nearly 20 years and they will not change without good reason. The software on the laptop allows my husband to make entries that I need to be aware of, too. If it is a more urgent matter, we use the phones, of course.

    I use Evernote as an “anytime resource'” for all sorts of things. I can access it from the laptop or the phone. I love Evernote.

    When plans are being made that include other family members, we all use COZI online organizer.

    My work hours are a matter of planning around the tasks that need to be done. I have been at this for enough time to know how much time is needed, so I block out the time in my planner as a visual cue and to keep myself from scheduling something else in a time period used for work. Doing so makes the account easier and prevents missed tasks on my various projects.

    Yes, I know that my system sounds more cumbersome, but all of this is accomplished In less than an hour on a Sunday afternoon or evening. So it is not cumbersome to me because it is what I am used to and this system works for me and my family and associates.

    Dianne in the desert

    Liked by 1 person

    • dianne
      this is great.
      i had evergreen for a while but never used it. might try again.
      I’m looking for an app where I can dictate verbally and it will keep it on the iPhone as a written note.
      i especially like this from you:
      My work hours are a matter of planning around the tasks that need to be done. I have been at this for enough time to know how much time is needed, so I block out the time in my planner as a visual cue and to keep myself from scheduling something else in a time period used for work.
      when we commit to something, we need to protect it.
      Thank you for commenting.


    • shannonell says:

      I love that you have a system that’s been working for you for so long – that’s fantastic. And cumbersome – pshaw! My WHOLE system is way more complicated than what I outlined in the post Doug shared – I only posted the bits that I thought were relevant to the “as soon as” issue!!! But DOING it doesn’t feel cumbersome at all. It feels easy! (unlike the “less cumbersome” systems I’ve been trying to use all of my life that felt like ineffective torture – I think because they were not designed with my ADHD brain in mind)

      And I’m in awe of the fact that you know how much time is needed to get things done. I am seriously bad at that. I’ve always tried to record how long work tasks take so that I can look back at them and use them as a predictive tool – but pre-ADHD meds, I usually forgot to do both of those things – write down my times AND look back at them. I’m finding I’m getting better at that now. A bit. Work in progress!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dianne in the desert says:

        H! I did not do any of it all by myself. I had friends that helped and my husband, too. They did the timing part in an effort to bring about a better awareness for me about how much time is needed to do things. It was not a competition, simply a means to an end. Trying to do anything in complete isolation is too difficult. I did not want perfection, but I did want progress and more positive results.

        Admitting that we need help is one of the biggest barricades we ADDers create for ourselves and it is probably the most destructive. There are times when we do need help. But, and this may be news… Non-ADDers find themselves in the same position nearly as often as we do. We really are human and it is okay to be human. We tend to put ourselves down for what we cannot accomplish and that can add tremendously to the burdens we already carry.

        For awhile, I tried bringing in a housekeeper. Great, right? Wrong! I found myself trying to clean up before she got there so she would not know what a horrible slob she was working for. Duh? We got to be friends and it was her idea that I set up routines for myself to prevent myself from feeling cornered and trying to clean up before exposing my horrible housekeeping. Getting my housework done was a responsibility that I had taken on when I bought my first home. My parents had warned me that it would not be easy… I found out the hard way that they were right.

        Our being human means that we feel things. When the things we say to and about ourselves become so negative that they bring on anxiety and depression, then it is time to examine what we say to ourselves; how we say it; and what we are going to o about it. It is self-destructive and hurtful. We would not do that to someone else. Why do we do that to ourselves?

        It came down to doing what I needed to do for myself so that I could live my life with a degree of success in managing my entire life. I have that now. The time spent to get here was more than 20 years. It was neither painless nor easy. Our own discontent can make us more miserable than anything anyone else says to us or about us.

        I tend to be direct. If my statements come off as seeming harsh, then I will apologize for that, but the statements are my truth. They come from my experience. They may or may not be helpful to someone else, but they are reflections of what I have done over the course of my 68 years. There will never be a “one size fits all” solution to the human condition whether ADD is part of the situation, or not.

        Liked by 1 person

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