I love watching people with ADHD master the skill of working a plan. It's something that many take for granted. If so, they have never seen the light go on in the eyes of a mum who realises that she can get through her huge family-related workload if she breaks her day up into visible (and sometimes audible) chunks. Or the student who realises that he can stay on top of his assignments if he works out a system that suits his learning styles and personal commitments. One of my best coaching moments was when Michael, (Scientist-in-the-Making), SMS-ed me to say that he didn't need to see me for a while because his studies were going so much more smoothly since he learned to plan his time. My goal is always to coach myself out of a job!
Of course, it's possible to be really good at planning your days on paper, but still be totally disorganised. For example, some people are Master Planners, producing colourful masterpieces in 3D, spending hours and hours drawing them up, and then ignoring them. Which means they have to start planning again - and again and again. A sort of "Procrastination by Planning". One client told me that if she could get her plan to look absolutely perfect, she could start her studies. We both knew, deep down, that perfect was never going to happen for her, and she settled for "workable". So, merely allotting a time slot to an activity won't get it done. You actually have to work that plan. And that is another tricky skill to master. Coaching helps to develop strategies aimed at establishing the sacred habit of checking your plan at intervals best suited to you. For some, daily checking is sufficient. Others need to set regular timers throughout the day to ensure that they check their plan regularly. That way they are less likely to go down the "Oh Look - Shiny!" route. Another valuable lesson associated with planning is this: The only plans that work like clockwork are Royal Weddings. And why do they run so smoothly? Because they are rehearsed a gazillion times before the event. When you design your weekly planner, you do your best to allow for disruptions. You include all the commitments that you can possible think of for that week, and identify the best possible times for tasks you need to complete. But, as John Lennon said: "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans". And you don't beat yourself up when life happens. Instead, you make a note of the disruption to your plan, and bear it in mind when you plan your next week. That way, you get better and better at anticipating disruptions, and allowing for them in your plan. Eventually you get it right! When Planning, Remember
1. If you plan to do tasks, you are more likely to tackle them
2. Check your plan at least once a day and follow it
3. No beat-ups if life gets in the way - unless you are Royalty
4. When planning, refer to previous days/weeks. Learn from successes and challenges
You have to start somewhere - give it a go today!