Personally, I have heard it from so many people so many times, “April will you just make a freakin’ to-do list already,” and I tell those people the same thing I tell everyone who tries to tell me what to do, “I know, I should.”
Recently, I decided that it was finally time for me to take on the dreaded to- do list. Honestly, I struggle to get done even the simplest of tasks. My ADHD needs discipline and I have made the decision that the little bastard is finally going to get what it deserves.
I have spent the last month perfecting my to-do list. I have learned a few things about myself through this whole experiment, and yes I’m going to share them with you. First things first, I hate to-do lists, but they are a necessary especially for me. Even if you life is not in complete disarray, a to-do list can still help. Here are my own experiences.
A to-do list does not need to be 15 ½ pages long. Take 15 to 30 minutes and write down everything you want to get accomplished the following day. I was reading an article the other day that did a good job of getting on my nerves. It stated that you should not add little things that you have to do every day, such as brushing your teeth or making your bed. This article went on to say that by listing these insignificant tasks you are just giving yourself a false sense of accomplishment. I say, “Boo, to that man!”
You need to write down anything that you are liable to forget about. If you are suffering from ADHD, you often forget those little things. If you are constantly forgetting to brush your teeth or make your bed, you add them to your to-do list, and these things start getting done, well then yes by all means pat yourself on the back.
When I go to make my list for the following day, I write down every little thing that comes to my mind no matter how big or small a project maybe. If any project gets completed I take a few seconds to feel good about myself. This takes me into rewards. If you do a really great job at something take a few minutes and go have a cookie. Enjoy your victory, you deserve it. Smile, breath, and eat your damn cookie. (I’m eating a cookie, right now.)
Especially when starting out with your to-do list, do not add too much. Commonly people with ADHD over estimate how much they can get done in one day and the amount of time that each item will take. This practice will only lead to disappointment and discouragement. If you think a project will take you 30 minutes, allow yourself 45 minutes to get it completed and DO NOT schedule too much for yourself. I cannot stress this enough.
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, ADHD, or any other form of mental illness any professional will advise you to exercise. Stop putting the exercise off and just add it to your list. I spend 15 minutes in the morning each day exercising. Added together it is almost 2 hours a week, not too shabby. For me, it really does help to level me out emotionally.
Once you have everything figured out for the next day, number everything according to importance. Complete task 1, move on to task 2, and so on.
What I really want to stress her is that you need to find a technique for a to-do list that works for you. What works for me, may have no effect on you. So experiment with different things. If you try one thing and it does not work, do not beat yourself up. Move on to a different technique. You will find something that will work for you, just don’t give up.