Like many people today, do you find life overwhelming? Is getting through one day an exhausting marathon? Does your day include kids to be picked up, doctor’s appointments, bills to be paid, and dry cleaning to be retrieved? Are you afraid to open envelopes for fear of seeing the negative bank balances and the unpaid bills? Are you afraid of wasting time and money on impulsive flings every time you go shopping? It all adds up to a paralyzing sense of doom called overwhelm.
Today’s hectic world puts tremendous pressure to perform on everyone, but if you have ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) the pressure is magnified several times over.
Here are some ways ADHD contributes to that desperate feeling.
Number one is poor organization. It is now recognized that ADHD often presents as chronic disorganization. If you have ADHD, you have difficulty sequencing actions (or papers thus the unmanageable piles). Difficulty organizing the events of the day is just one example.
The second problem is an elastic sense of time. You have difficulty estimating how long tasks will take adding to the problem of planning the day.
The third is what I call the slipping clutch or the getting-started syndrome. When you do fix a time to do a task it still doesn’t get done because you can not start. Instead, you get sucked into the internet or the TV or another low priority activity.
Finally, the lack of boundaries makes it difficult for you to say “no”, so you have too many things to do. Poor boundaries also mean that you absorb more than your share of emotional overload; other people’s problems swamp your brain and make it difficult to think coolly about what needs doing.
Take these 6 steps to plan your day and beat overwhelm.
Stop. Recognize that overwhelm has captured your brain and is interfering with your ability to plan and get things done. Take a minute to observe how you are feeling. Take several deep breaths into the abdomen and exhale slowly.
Listen to your self-talk. Change negatives to positives: tell yourself “you can do it”. Talk out loud to yourself at each step as though you were explaining to another person what you need to do.
Make a list of the tasks you need to do, estimate the time needed including travel or set up time. Then weigh the importance and urgency of each task. Could some items wait until tomorrow or next week?
Consider what help you can get. Could a husband or a friend pick up the kids?
Plan the day. Group tasks according to location. If you have to go out, consider the time of day. If you must drive during busy times of the day, allow for extra travel time.
Write out the day’s route map and put it in your purse or place it where you can’t forget it. Now you are ready to go. Go!
Still having difficulty? A coach or coaching program can help you stay on track.
“Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva
Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Coaching Key to ADDPermission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.
*** About Sarah Jane *** Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. The Newfield Network’s graduate coaching programme “Mastery in Coaching” and a programme “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. She is an American living in Switzerland who coaches in French and English by telephone
(Note: Many links return to other articles by Marla Cummins on her site.)
For adults with ADHD, not being able to remember your intentions is what can sometimes get in the way of following through.
I know from plenty of personal experience with forgetting everything from the mundane to the important, it can be really frustrating.
But, rather than berate yourself because you think you should have a better memory, you can adopt workarounds to help you remember what you need and minimize your frustration.
Below I’ve curated a lengthy list of possible options you can apply to the various situations in your life. And, if you can think of more, please share below.
Short Term and Long Term Memory
First, a little bit about why you may have such a hard time remembering information at the time you need it.
One reason is that short term (working) memory is often weak in adults with ADHD.
That is, you may not hold information long enough to follow through on it. So, you say to yourself, “I need to drop off that folder at Joe’s office before I leave.” Then you turn around to get your jacket, pack up and forget about the folder. All within the span of a few minutes!
Because you do not hold onto information long enough it also does not enter your long term memory. So, it is lost to you until Bill says to you, “Hey, Lisa, I didn’t get that email you said you would send when I saw you in the hall yesterday.”
Challenges with long term memory are also common for adults with ADHD.
This can mean that you have difficulty remembering your intention to do something in the future.So, as you are leaving the office you have this nagging feeling you are supposed to do something before going home. Not until you get home do you remember you were supposed to pick up the take-out!
Also, you may have difficulty recalling informationwhen you need it. You go to the meeting and can’t remember all the details of the report you want to share.
Bottom line. Your memory, like mine, may be more like Swiss Cheese than a trap door. That is ok, as long as you use some of the methods below to help you remember what you need when you need it.
Remembering What You Want
Paper Based Task Managers– If you are looking for a comprehensive paper-based system to manage your to-dos, try the Planner Pad.
Their webpage is oudated, but don’t be discouraged. See this article about why to use it.
Put It Where You Can Do Something About It– For example, when you have books to return to the library, clothes to donate, etc. put them in the car where you can see them. That way you can take care of them when you are out and about. Could save you an extra trip.
Just Do It!– If a task is going to take you less than 2 minutes (literally), it may be worth it to just do it rather than trying to figure out how you are going to remember to do it later. Of course, you want to be careful that doing that task doesn’t take you away from what your primary intention in the moment.
Put It In Your Calendar– You calendar contains the hard landscape of your life. A commitment for a specific day and/or time should go in your calendar. Right away. Even if it is tentative, put it in your calendar and mark it as “tentative” until you can confirm it. That way you will not double-book.
You can find more tips on using your calendar here.
Post It Where You Can See It– Maybe you want daily reminders of how you want to be or what you want to achieve. Whether it is a quote, list or vision board to visually illustrate your hopes and dreams, post it in a prominent place where you are most likely to see it regularly.
Tie It To Another Habit– It is always easier to remember to do something if you can tie it to an already well-established habit. For example, if you are trying to remember to take your meds, put them by your toothbrush.
A Plain Piece Of White Paper– I’ll admit this isn’t the most environmentally sound option. But it is one I use every day. Write the 3-5 tasks you are committed doing each day on a piece of paper and put it where you will see it (middle of your desk, taped to your monitor, on the wall, etc).
Weekly Review– To offset the pull of immediate gratification, the weekly review is the time when you assess where you are vis -a- vis your projects and goals in your various areas of focus, as well as plan the next action steps. By doing this on a weekly basis you can be confident you are remembering your important stuff and time is not just slipping away.
Post A List– When you notice you are out of something, immediately put it on a list that you leave on your fridge or another easily accessible place. That way you won’t worry about trying to remember it when you get around to creating your grocery/errand list.
Read It Later!– We all know what a “time suck” the internet can be. And it may be that you are pulled to reading something immediately because you don’t think you will remember to read it later. Try an application like Instapaper, Readability or Pocket to save articles you come across. And then you can refocus on your original intention.
Electronic Notebook– An electronic notebook, like OneNote or EverNote, is a great place to keep track of and remember all of your random ideas from project planning to lists.
Send Yourself A Message– When you are out and about and something suddenly comes to mind, rather than assume you will remember it later, call, text or email yourself a message. But don’t wait. You know those ideas can be fleeting. Well, at least for me…
Set An Alarm– Use an alarm to remind yourself of appointments. Since transitions can be a challenge, you may want to set two alarms. The first alarm will remind you to stop what you are doing and get ready. The second will be the reminder that it is time to go!
I suggest you don’t use alarms to remind yourself of tasks unless you are committed to doing it at fixed time. Because, if the reminder goes off when you can’t do anything about it, you will learn to ignore those alarms. And they will just become background noise…
Wake up and Reminder Services– You may tend to ignore your alarm, but I’ll bet you find it hard to ignore a phone ringing. Telephone reminder services like Wakerupper or Wakeupland can help get you out of bed or to your appointments on time.
Tracking– In the beginning just remembering the habits you are trying to build can be the hardest part to following through on them. Tracking your progress is a good way to remember.
And an app, like Beeminder, may be the extra support you need. As you track your goals, they will plot your progress on a yellow brick road and if you go off track they take your money!
Meeting Notes– Taking notes during meetings will help you pay attention as well as have the information you need for later. Just as important is reviewing and taking action on your notes soon after.
ADHD Coach– If you are working with an ADHD Coach, take advantage of the accountability support as you are trying to build new habits and makes changes.
Launching Pad– Create a launching pad by the door where you put everything (purse, briefcase, etc.) you need for the next day. You could carve out a small space or use a small table for your launching pad.
Put Your Keys In The Refrigerator– To remember your lunch put your keys with it in the refrigerator.
Share Your Tips
How do you get out of your head and remember what you need when you need it?
Effective time management skills are essential to all adults and children. From scheduling and managing after school activities, to homework, to chores… oh, and your life, too!! Day-to-day demands can become overwhelming and create an atmosphere of constant stress. Who doesn’t want a calmer more efficient morning, a less hectic afternoon, and a more peaceful bedtime? By managing your own time wisely and modeling that for your children, you and your family can experience a more orderly, less stressful day. By becoming proactive in how you approach time you can make a noticeable and systemic difference in the in your life and the lives of your family members.
Many of you already know the “How To’s” of Time Management, yet you still struggle today. The heart of the issue for many goes beyond practical advice. Once we run through some of the valuable systems for keeping track of our lives we can focus on the deeper issue of how we choose to spend our time.
Part 1 – Valuable Systems are the Keys to Good Time Management
In each aspect of Time Management discussed here, I encourage you to have a dual focus. One is on the content – the brass tacks of what needs to be done. The second is on the process. This has to do with HOW you choose to implement what needs to be done. The small picture vs. the big picture. Keep in mind that your goal in parenting is to develop children who are independent, confident and resilient. I encourage you to involve your child in the process of what you are doing as much as possible so that they may also begin to emulate the process you go through to decide how to manage time.
Experiment! There are new types of calendars created all the time. Check out iCal on the Mac. Google also makes a calendar that you can share (google.com/calendar)
Use different colors for different people.
Be sure there is ample room to write appointments
Block out realistic time frames directly on your calendar. Consider how long to get the children ready, driving time, waiting time, etc.
Perhaps circle total time needed for an event.
Consider writing yourself a note on a date sometime before any event that you need prep time for. This will to give you a heads up that the date is approaching. If you use a PDA or computer calendar you might set an alarm for some time in advance.
Here is where we begin our modeling for our children.
For Young Children
The purpose here is to help children understand the structure of a week and a month. Let them see how time flows and certain events repeat. Empower them to look forward to plans independently. You can have one calendar for each child, or one for the family to share.
You can make a calendar together with stickers, colors, etc. Dry erase boards with permanent marker for the days of the week work great.
Use different color markers for each child.
Stickers and/or different color markers give a visual view of their activities and family events.
For Older Children and Teens
Once a child is actively using an agenda book in school it’s a great tool to help them see school as part of their lives. Help them develop the skill of having a central area for their planning. This will give them a greater sense of control and independence as they grow.
Help them incorporate their weekly activities, doctors’ appointments, social plans, etc. right in their agenda book.
Remind them that they must consult with you before putting any plans in their agenda book to make sure there are no conflicts with you and so you can put the plans in your calendar as well.
Teens might enjoy using their computer or phone for their calendar. Encourage them to experiment in developing their own style of organizing and managing their time.
Get organized the night before
Review calendar for the next day to anticipate needs, activities
Look at the weather report and pick out clothes
Pack up backpack
Have cell phone by charger
Write any notes of last minute things for the morning (lunch from the fridge, etc.)
Straighten up room
We can all get lost in our work or play. Having an external reminder that it is time to transition can make it easier to relax and be fully engaged in the current task at hand. Timers are also a great device to help children concretize the passage of time.
Set the alarm on your computer to remind you of appointments.
Kitchen timers are great for helping children transition. Set the timer for the time remaining before dinner or homework time. Let the timer be the reminder – not you. Let them learn to set it as their own reminder when they take breaks for homework.
Purchase a watch with a built-in alarm.
Use your cell phone alarm. It can be set to any ringtone.
5. Staging Area
Here is a helpful tip I learned long ago. Never leave a room to put something elsewhere until you are sure that’s the only thing that needs to leave the room.
Have a spot in each bedroom and one or more in your kitchen for transitions. This is where you will place anything that needs to leave the room next time you exit.
Have your children pick a spot in their room to place their backpacks, school projects, items they need for afterschool activities, etc. Help them develop the habit of placing these items here at night before they go to bed. Having everything in one spot when it’s time to leave will make the morning less hectic for all.
6. To Do lists and reminder notes
For some, the To Do list can be an out of control random scattering of papers. For others it takes on a life of its own as reorganizing and rewriting it becomes a To Do item as well. Still others just avoid To Do lists altogether. Here are some ideas that might help you better manage the process of keeping things in order.
If you are someone who uses a computer regularly, consider using it to manage your To Do list. iCal on the Mac has spot for To Do’s with the ability to set alarms or emails as reminders for specific times. It also allows you to sort based on date or priority.
If not… Try to keep one main pad where you are the most – for many that is the kitchen. Have that pad look different than other pads in the house and save it only for YOUR To Do list.
Consider having a date or date range attached to any item that is not immediate. This will prevent it from blending in to an endless list of things to do.
If your list becomes overwhelming, consider a breakaway list of things to focus on JUST THIS WEEK. Then each week you can pull from your master list and not have all those other items starring you in the face.
Choose a regular time to review your list if it becomes lengthy. For many, nighttime is when the activity has settled and the mind is clear. This is often the perfect time to evaluate and perhaps rewrite your To Do list.
Keep a notepad by your bed to jot down things you need or hope to get done. This is NOT the To Do list – transfer these to your main list the next day. Give your children a special pad for their nightstand and teach them to jot down plans they hope to make or things the need to remember for school.
Place reminder notes in the SAME spot you have designated as your transition area for when you leave a room.
Remember, if you can develop the habit of having a few consistent spots you always look at you are less likely to forget important things. A little later in this article I will focus more on the deeper meaning of To Do lists…
The more activities you do that are predictable, the easier it is to remember and make sure they are done. Like traditions and rituals, routines have a way of calming and comforting, as they are a regular part of our lives.
Choose the same day each week for errands: groceries on Monday, dry cleaners on Wednesday, etc.
Request the same appointment day and time when setting up routine visits such as dental, medication check-ins, counseling, coaching.
For annual and bi-annual events such as physicals, changing Air Conditioner filters, changing smoke detector batteries, choose a month that generally works for you and write a To Do a few weeks prior in your Calendar for scheduling.
Set up a pattern for household chores for everyone. Alternate children’s chores based on the month they are born or something similar. Ex. The child born on odd number month takes out the trash and gets the front seat on odd months; the other child sets the table and feeds the dog.
Keep your grocery-shopping list in the same place all the time and encourage family members to write their requests on the list themselves.
For some people, especially those who spend a great deal of time on the computer, tending to emails can be both time consuming and distracting.
Turn off that “ping”. I learned this one from the late Randy Pausch. That “Ding” every time you receive a new email has the power to pull you away from other work you might be engaged in. By turning off the sound, you regain your control over when you choose to check your emails.
Remove yourself from emails as often as possible. At the bottom of marketing emails, there is usually an “unsubscribe” link. The moments it will take you to do this are nothing compared to the time you will spend deleting their emails each and every time – not to mention the one’s for the companies they sell your email address to.
New ideas are great, but too many of them at once can create chaos and take up much of your time. Try to implement new ideas one at a time. Be sure that the change is a good choice for you and your family. Just because a time management idea works for a friend or neighbor does not mean it will work for you. You may be wasting more time trying to fit yourself into a system that is not right for you!
Remember that each family member has a different learning style and different level of comprehension. What is right for you may not be right for everyone in your family. I love iCal and use it with my daughter. I “invite” her to her doctor appointments, etc. and she “invites” me to let me know about her work schedule. My son, however, hates to have to look at the calendar on the computer. He recognizes that being connected to it too often distracts him.
Learning to manage your time is a process. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. When starting a new plan, praise and encourage your children on all levels of success as they get used to the process. Try to involve your children in the in the decision-making process as much as possible. Solicit their assistance and input as you plan your new strategies.
One of my favorite habits that I’ve created since I changed my life 9 years ago is having a decluttered home.
I now realize that I always disliked the clutter, but I put off thinking about it because it was unpleasant.
The thought of having to deal with all that clutter was overwhelming, and I had too much to do, or I was too tired, so I procrastinated.
Clutter, it turns out, is procrastination.
But I learned to deal with that procrastination one small chunk at a time, and I cleared it out. That was truly amazing.
Amazing because I didn’t really believe I could do it until I did it. I didn’t believe in myself. And amazing because when it was done, there was a background noise that was removed from my life, a distraction, an irritation.
Decluttering my home has meant a more peaceful, minimal life. It’s meant I spend less time cleaning, maintaining my stuff, looking for things. Less money buying things, storing things. Less emotional attachment to things.
For anyone looking to begin decluttering, I’d like to offer a short guide on getting started. Know that this guide isn’t comprehensive, and it can take months to really get down to a decluttered home … but if you do it right, the process is fun and liberating and empowering, each step of the way.
Start small. Clutter can be overwhelming, and so we put it off. The best thing I did was to just focus on one small space to start with. A kitchen counter (just part of it) is a good example. Or a dining table or a shelf. Clear everything off of that space, and only put back what you really need. Put it back neatly. Get rid of the rest — give it away, sell it on Craigslist, donate it, recycle it. The clearing and sorting will take 10 minutes while you can give stuff away later when you have the time.
Work in chunks. If you start small, you’ll feel good about it, but there’s still a whole home full of stuff to deal with. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (Not literally — I’m vegan.) So just like you did one small area to start with, keep doing that, just 10 minutes a day, maybe more if you feel really enthusiastic. If you have a free day on the weekend, spend an afternoon doing a huge chunk. Spend the whole weekend if you feel like it. Or just do one small piece at a time — there’s no need to rush, but keep the progress going.
Follow a simple method. For each small chunk you do, clear out the area in question and put everything in one pile. Pick up the first thing off the pile (no putting it aside to decide later) and force yourself to make a decision. Ask yourself: do I love and use this? If not, get rid of it. If the answer is yes, find a place for it — I call it a “home”. If you really love and use something, it deserves a home that you designate and where you put it back each time you’re done with it. Then go to the next thing and make the same decision. Working quickly and making quick decisions, you can sort through a pile in about 10 minutes (depending on the size of the pile).
Put stuff in your trunk. Once you’ve collected stuff to donate or give away, put them in boxes or grocery bags and put them in the trunk of your car (if you don’t have a car, somewhere near the door). Choose a time to deliver them. Enjoy getting them out of your life.
Talk to anyone involved. If you have a significant other, kids, or other people living with you, they’ll be affected if you start decluttering the home. You should talk to them now, before you get started, so they’ll understand why you want to do this, and get them involved in the decision-making process. Ask them what they think of this. Send them this article to consider. Ask if they can support you wanting to declutter, at least your own stuff or some of the kitchen or living room, to see what it’s like. Don’t be pushy, don’t try to force, but have the conversation. Be OK if they resist. Try to change the things that you can control (your personal possessions, for example) and see if that example doesn’t inspire them to consider further change.
Notice your resistance. There will be a lot of items that you either don’t want to get rid of (even if you don’t really use them) or you don’t feel like tackling. This resistance is important to watch — it’s your mind wanting to run from discomfort or rationalize things. You can give in to the resistance, but at least pay attention to it. See it happening. The truth is, we put a lot of emotional attachment into objects. A photo of a loved one, a gift from a family member, a memento from a wedding or travel, a treasured item from a dead grandfather. These items don’t actually contain the memories or love that we think are in them, and practicing letting go of the items while holding onto the love is a good practice. And practicing tackling clutter that you dread tackling is also an amazing practice.
Enjoy the process. The danger is to start seeing decluttering as yet another chore on your to-do list. Once you start doing that, it becomes something you’ll put off. Instead, reframe it to a liberating practice of mindfulness. Smile as you do it. Focus on your breath, on your body, on the motions of moving items around, on your feelings about the objects. This is a beautiful practice, and I recommend it.
These steps won’t get your home de-cluttered in a weekend. But you can enjoy the first step, and then the second, and before you know it you will have taken 30 steps and your home is transformed. You’ll love this change as much as I have.
By Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net. Mr. Babauta grants anyone the rights to republish his writing. Thank you, Leo. (To see the original article, search for: zenhabits declutter guide
Have you ever noticed that staying organized — or getting started on a project and seeing it through to completion — are all in a day’s work for some people, but for others, they don’t know where to begin?
Well, that might be due to executive functions and how well they are working — or not working. Executive functions are the cognitive skills that give us the ability to focus, plan, and act in a goal-directed manner — and current research shows that these functions are responsible for how effective we are at managing ourselves. Basically, these functions are the CEOs of our brains.
For the most part, we don’t need to consciously access these skills for day-to-day habits or routines. However, when we face new challenges or stressors that is when the CEO must take charge. And when it is not managing effectively, that’s when we forget things, can’t get organized, can’t get started, lose track of time, and lose our stream of thought. It’s behavior that makes some children look unmotivated, uncaring, and, well, unintelligent — while nothing could be further from the truth. By and large, these children are really suffering from a neurologically based difficulty, which results from incomplete or immature development of their frontal/prefrontal cortex of their brains. It’s not that these kids won’t perform, it’s that they can’t on their own … yet.
So how can we help? There are two distinct approaches. First, modify the environment. Help structure your child’s work- space, modify his work, and provide more prompts. Second, model actions and behaviors and join in with him as he works on his skills. Don’t be concerned that you may enable your child. Before he is ready to be independent, he needs to develop the necessary skills. Once the skills are developed, you will be able to gradually lessen your active involvement with your child. It is important to recognize that weaknesses in executive functions are real and neurologically based. There is no shortage of strategies and devices to help children — and adults — improve their executive functioning. Children need modeling. The skills they need to be organized and manage their time effectively are not difficult, but they are not necessarily intuitive. Providing support and guidance, either directly or with outside support, will go a long way in helping your child be and feel successful. Here are some tips for your child to organize school materials and remember important information:
• Think of an agenda book or day planner as your calendar for your whole life, not just school.
• Write all of your school assignments, after-school activities, and social plans here.
• Use a large paper clip to mark the page you need to be on for quicker entry. Binders and notebooks
• Use different colors for each subject binder and notebook.
• For each subject, you will have two three-ring binders. One will be the everyday binder, and the second will be the reserve binder, where all of your papers will be moved to after tests. This allows you to straighten out and empty excess papers so you can focus on the current work. (Note: Check with each subject teacher before removing papers from your binder.)
• Both binders for each subject should be the same color (blue for math, green for science, etc.) and have the same labeled dividers.
• Keep one master reference binder with dividers for each subject. Here, you can keep any material that you might need to use in years to come, such as math formulas, social studies facts or periodic tables.
• Perhaps two of your subjects can be combined into one larger binder or notebook for less to carry.
• Be sure to label everything! Big bumper stickers work great. Have fun, and be creative!
Consider a multi-pocket folder to keep with you all day. It can hold the day’s hand- outs, work to be turned in, and your agenda book. This is an excellent tool for the overall organization of papers to go to and from school. It should be cleaned out each week, by transferring the appropriate papers to either binders or the recycle bin. (An excellent sturdy folder can be found at Nick’s Folders for $3.50. Not an affiliate.)
• Clean out your locker and/or workspace every week, to lessen the chance of losing papers.
• Consider small trays to keep extra pens, pencils, tissues, erasers, etc.
• Keep a dry-erase board or small notepad for writing reminders.
• Try to keep your backpack on the hook, so there is more room to store items.
• Keep an extra pen and pencil inside at all times.
• Look in your assignment book and check your locker’s dry-erase board before packing up for the day.
• When you get home, empty the entire bag near your workspace and sort the contents for homework and notes for parents. • Pack it up before you go to sleep at night, which will decrease the odds of forgetting things.
• A kitchen timer is great for keeping you on task and allowing for time-limited breaks. Set it for various intervals to see if you are on task and on track. What works for you? Set a start time or break time on your computer or cellphone alarm for a discreet nudge. Set an alarm for the time you want to go to sleep as a reminder to pack up, brush teeth, etc.
• Keep a dry-erase board or a small pad of paper by your workspace and use it to jot down things on your mind, so they can be done later and not distract you now. Write out your homework plan for the day — what you will do and in what order? It’s a great feeling to cross items off! Use it to plan out long-term projects or for math problems and other quick temporary notes.
A structure is any device that reminds you, visually, of something important. They work because they interrupt your ordinary mind flow and grab your attention. Some of the best structures come from your intuition and may not seem to make sense at first. Be creative — experiment with different ways to jolt your memory! Here are some examples:
• Wear a rubber band on your wrist when you want to remember to do something, such as breathe deeply, speak powerfully, sit up straight, or take home your violin.
• Put a chair by your door to remind yourself to take along important items tomorrow.
• Send yourself an e-mail, text or voice mail to request that a certain task be done.
• Have some friends over once a month. This can be a structure for cleaning your room or keeping up relationships with friends.
• Devise an intentionally fabricated deadline on the day you start a project — such as scheduling a time to show a friend or family member your completed project.
• Schedule study time with one friend a week for two months to get you to study a particular subject.
• Counting is helpful to make you aware of your behavior. For instance, count how often you participate in class and work on increasing the number each day. Counting does not require you to do anything other than notice, but noting every time you do something heightens your awareness.
• A special slogan on your key chain can be a structure to remember to smile or be positive.
• A toy lion on your desk can remind you to be ferocious in pursuit of a goal.
• Put your keys in the refrigerator so you remember your lunch.
• Make a sign around your work area: “Don’t give in to the impulse!”
• Create a screen saver with one-line, motivational statements.
• A coach is one of the best structures. Text or e-mail your coach every day when a certain task is done.
• “To do” lists are not meant as nag lists — just a place to hold important things. Be creative where you put your notes; try to have it somewhere in your field of vision on a regular basis: the refrigerator, your desk, next to your bed. Try to develop a consistent habit of where you write and keep important notes.