You just woke up. Well, you woke up 3 times and this is your final wakeup. You promise yourself that this is the day/or week that you make it to work/school on time. Time management is a recurring obstacle in your ADD/ADHD life and overcoming it was even part of your New Years’ resolution. Let’s examine the tactic that I am guessing you use:
Do your basic routine
Handle anything new to prepare for the day
Plan to leave at #ish
Simple right? I disagree! Wipe that sleep out of your eyes and let’s look at the problem together. Creating a morning plan in a sleepy stupor will usually end with a race to the door without your car keys. While planning one day at a time seems feasible for a short term attention span, you are probably missing out on a greater tactical command called “mindful planning”. This analytical approach incorporates your true needs as a priority and provides room to tailor your morning program to your style. Although it’s uncomfortable to wake up earlier than desired, a diagnostic is meant to accurately find ways to improve your life, it’s not meant to be nice.
The Score ≠ Your Feelings
When we roll out of bed and create guesses our plan, we are using opinions instead of facts in the game of math. And although you may have a fully capable and highly functional brain, I am not trusting your half baked judgements at first light. And neither should you! Our goal is to create successful results by working with a score. The score is any truths/facts supported by data. And since time is probably the best marker for reality that we have… Welcome to reality!
Now, it’s not totally your fault. Having ADHD, we are known to be time blind. This term indicates a common fault in our executive functioning. We lack proactive thinking, mental foresight and memory retrieval that piece together the puzzle of schedule planning. As puzzle pieces have a defined boundary, so does our day. I understand that time can seem as abstract as an invisible fence. So, wouldn’t it be great to know the boundaries?
Set up a Morning Routine “The Flight Plan”
Let’s break down your morning together. First, define your goals:
To help set goals for your morning routine, we begin by working backwards. Imagine you are trying to catch a plane every day. It is both important that you arrive on time and imminent that the plane will take off without you if you are late. While traveling we take time seriously, and we measure our markers by subtracting time from the deadline to the start line.
What is your “gate arrival” or goal for arriving at work:
___ = X
Now subtract ten minutes
(because you never know who you’ll be behind:
X - 10 = ____
How long does Google say it will take you to arrive?
X - 10 - Travel time = Your Departure Deadline
QUESTION: Why a 10 Minute buffer?
ANSWER: Early is on time and on time is late.
Adapt to this new value by leaving space for the unexpected, emergencies and unknowns such as: gas station lines, wardrobe malfunctions, buzzing cell phone, or when your child's’ shoe goes “missing in action”. A sacrifice of free time, will secure that you are ready for your first meeting, every day.
Prioritizing: Now Vs. Not Now
Now that you have a clear boundary for home departure, we are going to work backwards again and set up your actual wake up time. Now, wake up times may feel like a personal choice, but again, if your mode of operation is tardy, then you are choosing an opinion instead of a fact. Let’s do the math because the reason you were late yesterday is because you chose your optimistic opinion over reality. Our goal is for you to start off with a big win, stroll into work without stress!
Start by creating 3 Columns across the top:
On the left, list all the actions that are Regular, Occasional and Randoms (ROR) that can happen in a morning.
Before you apply the new “flight plan” tactic and work backwards with time, we are going to quantify how you choose to spend that time. Assign each action in either of the 3 categories based on priority. (graphed above)
Now estimate how long each of your items last and at what time you plan on executing the task. Give a little extra to wonder, distract and help others in your household.
For the first few mornings, utilize this system by printing out the ROR flight plan and checking your time to see if your estimates are correct. Give all of your commitment to Column A and practice until memorization while building a foundation. You will eventually know the system so well that you can use scratch paper or narrate your morning expectations. If you are a hard sleeper, try setting yourself up the night before. Tweek times and make notes where you can. This is your morning and our goal is to get you ROR out of bed, instead of Yawn;)
The goal is to create a system that incorporates mindful choices before you become a reactional, impulsive, forgetful race driver. This mindful practice means that you trust yourself in creating awareness to the situation and developing solutions to former errors.
Creating a visual plan for someone with ADHD is an important aspect for all types of general management. Not only will it make an invisible boundary visible, it will provide tools to control intentions, short term memory and distractions as these are typical ADHD obstacles. Developing a model like this gives the creative ability to design short and repetitive deadlines.
Take your time, instead of letting time take you.
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