How to maintain a schedule for ADHD
The ADHD afflicted person struggles to get to meetings or scheduled events on time. You forget appointments, or create scheduling conflicts by double-booking activities. You can be chronically disorganized, and this sabotages effectiveness and productivity. Take comfort. You can learn strategies that can turn the tide of bedlam and put you back in control.
Get an appointment book or planner. Unless you have many appointments every day, a weekly planner will probably provide enough space to write down appointments, and it will allow you to get a bird’s eye view of each week. Get a planner that also has a “To Do” list or “Notes” section for each week. Use it every day. Don’t trust your memory. Write down the date and time of your appointment or activity at the time you schedule it. Do not take shortcuts. Don’t write the appointment down on a slip of paper and figure you will transfer it later.
Start using a “To Do” list every day; use the “Notes” or “To Do” sections in your daily planner. Use the list to keep track of things you need to do each week, especially if they affect your schedule. For example, if you need to make phone calls or contact people to set appointments, write these tasks down. If you need to obtain or organize information or material before an appointment, put this on your daily list. Write into your schedule the day and time when you will do these tasks.
Use the planner every day, throughout the day. Whenever something comes up that needs to be taken care of, immediately write it down. As you deal or dispense with the items, cross them out. This will help motivate you to continue to develop your organizational skills.
Create daily and weekly routines to trigger, and eventually internalize, reliance on the planner. For example, if you have a routine coffee schedule, start using your coffee breaks as a trigger to look at your planner. Likewise, use transitions as triggers. Right before you start a scheduled meeting or event, look at your schedule to see how much time you have allotted for that appointment. When you complete one event, look at your planner to see what comes next. Note how much time you have before the next item on the schedule. If you tend to “get lost” in a task and run over time, use a timer.
Do monthly or quarterly planning. Create your long-term schedule of fixed commitments. Look ahead 30 to 90 days, and write down all meetings, appointments, deadlines and due dates. Highlight especially important appointments, dates and deadlines.
Do weekly planning. At the beginning of each week, review upcoming appointments. Transfer items from your “To Do” list to the schedule to designate a day and time for each one.
Get in the habit of looking at your schedule for the next day every night and prepare for the day ahead. Write down reminders of what you need at the top of your daily schedule. Set your alarm to allow plenty of time to wake, dress, prepare and travel to make your first scheduled event or appointment. Look at your schedule every morning.
Establish daily and weekly routines. For example, set up times each day when you will make phone calls. Write down each call you need to make, along with the phone number and a reminder of what the call is about. Include in your daily routine a time when you will organize your work space and eliminate clutter. This can be a good prelude, warm-up or transition activity, or you can use it to diversify your schedule and break up stretches of more mundane tasks.
Take advantage of your varying energy levels throughout the day. If an activity is boring or difficult for you to concentrate on, schedule it for a time of day when you are more alert and have better concentration. Experiment to find when you do your best work.