ADHD at Home and Work: 46 Small Steps to Save Time

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Working with Executive Functioning ChallengesGuest post by Sue West

Below is my ever-growing “simple ways to save time” list. These are small, mostly easy ways to save time. No big overhauls. Small things to simplify.

Working with Executive Functioning Challenges:

  1.  Please, stop trying to “keep it all in your head.” Write it ALL down. Keep a list, use a notebook or planner to hold everything. Keep a calendar and schedule your day’s tasks and appointments.
  2. Break up anything you work on into 5 to 15-minute tasks. Great to slip into those slivers of time during the day. Easier to start/not procrastinate. Greater positive feelings of accomplishment which feeds motivation.
  3. Create your day’s plan, even on the weekend.
  4. Appointments: Choose your best time, not theirs. Ask for what you need.
  5. Look at your week as a puzzle. Sometimes, the pieces need to be moved around, made smaller or turned a different way. Especially if something big has happened, look at what you can drop, simplify, or move to a later date. A little planning makes life simpler.
  6. Know your strengths and talents well. If it’s not your strength, it will take more time. You may benefit from hiring an organizing or productivity coach to help you discover your best way to work with your strengths rather than always struggling with your challenges.
  7. Consciously decide whether everything on your to-do list deserves your time and attention. If you don’t do a task, what happens and what would you have more time for instead? Could you do a better job at …. ? Delegate, swap or share at home and at work. It doesn’t have to be permanent.
  8. Learn how to delegate well and without guilt. You’re teaching others to do what you already know how to do OR you’re giving away work someone else is really good at and would enjoy working on with you. At home and at work. We can’t be good at everything. We are imperfectly perfect.
  9. Duplicates are wise, sometimes. Pens. Keys. Wastebaskets. Certain books. Flashlights. Glasses. So you don’t have to look or return to the house.
  10. Decide faster and with less information. Make this question a habit when you sense you’re acting slowly and using up time. What else do I need to know to decide?
  11. Beat Procrastination. Decide now… or choose a time later, maybe with help, to make the decision. It also helps to decide on the first step and just begin.
  12. Don’t use evenings to make difficult decisions. Your brain is likely tired out.
  13. For home: Do less:  You may choose to lower your standards a little.  Set up simple routines to cover basic necessities, like dishes, laundry and picking up. There’s no shame in getting help for your least favorite chores. You might be surprised at how reasonable some of these services are because our culture is changing. A housekeeper may be just what you need.  Try the grocery service delivery or the packaged meal concept. It doesn’t need to be every week, though it can be. Think of the hours you could save.
  14. Declutter, 15 minutes at a time.
  15. Know what IS important. This will help you limit time wasters. You’ll get pulled into what’s important, where you really want to spend the time.
  16. Use a launch/landing pad at home, for leaving and coming into your home. Put things there, as you think of them, which need to leave the house. It eliminates extra trips when you forget something. (For help developing your own Launchpad, see hazel Thornton’s  Six Organizing Systems Everyone Needs.)
  17. Set out clothes night before. Make the lunch(es), too.
  18. Teach kids chores; they will need these life skills before you know it. Start with one chore and choose the child who is most likely to latch on to this and work it, together.
  19. Buy fewer clothes. Know your colors. Decide if you spend less time shopping on the internet or at stores. Less clothing means less time on laundry, too.
  20. See how your time is really being used. Use the notes or reminders on your phone to keep track. Try tracking every email you send or phone call you make… Just one day is revealing.
  21. Share household responsibilities equally between you and your spouse.
  22. Multi-task in smart ways: walk the dog for your exercise; dog walk with your kids for more family time, etc.
  23. Do things right the first time. Fewer redo’s means saved time.
  24. Finances: Make the bigger decisions based on what you value most. To make it easier, take ONE step towards what you want. If your priority is your children, for example, can you cut back on work hours, change your scheduled time to begin or end your day, or perhaps consider a less demanding job? Talk to someone to figure it out financially.
  25. Know your business expenses and household expenses. Create a “what to spend on” plan together [and therefore, what is not a priority for spending]. Without some limits, you may not have money for what is coming up and might be more important.
  26. Determine a usual or average monthly expense amount. This means choices are done ahead and less emotionally. Less discussion time about where you’re spending your money.
  27. Money: Buy less. Walk around the store once more before actually purchasing. If shopping virtually, leave some items in your virtual shopping cart, walk away and come back in another day.
  28. Buy fewer clothes. Know your colors. Decide if you spend less time shopping on the internet or at stores. Less clothing means less time on laundry, too.
  29. Limit dinners out. Some nights are for cooking bigger dinners and others with evening activities can be for simple meals. Make enough for leftovers. Plan ahead even if it’s just a few days. Stop the last minute evening grocery store trips.
  30. Time: Use your timer and clocks everywhere (at home/at work) for a better sense of time passing and the value of your time. That will save you time.
  31. Get up 15 minutes earlier or go to bed 15 minutes later.
  32. Get up at the same time daily. It gives your body a better sense of time, which will follow you during your day.
  33. Leave for work 15 minutes or more earlier. Set a timer to get yourself out on time.
  34. Limit online time. See how much time you’re online and compare it to other things you say you want to do.
  35. For work: Set a clear scope for any project you work on. Keep it small and simple. Test it. Use feedback; you’ll waste less time creating something people may not want and expectations are clearer.
  36. Limit the amount of time you spend on projects. Set a timer. A time limit lessens the perfectionism demons. Set the time ahead… this is worth x amount of my time.
  37. Group together similar kinds of work, e.g., writing vs. emails vs. phone calls. Same skill, single tasking =more productive and efficient time use.
  38. Set your alarm for about 45 minutes before you’d like to leave for the day. Use that time to wind down, wrap up things, and review the plan for the next day. [Not to finish tasks.]
  39. Clear communication and expectations mean fewer difficult conversations crop up later. Get clearer and more direct in what you say and write.
  40. If more than a couple of emails go back and forth on the same topic, pick up the phone. It’s faster to meet sometimes.
  41. Write simpler emails. The more you write, the more you draw in the other person with longer answers.
  42. Use fewer “cc” people who might pop in and add more to the conversation. If they need to know, they can be in the “to” line. But that decision will limit how many are on the message.
  43. Read email a few times a day. Otherwise, shut it down. Turn off the beeps and notifications. They interrupt your mind and pull you off track; that takes up extra time to get back to where you were.
  44. If it is a task you do often, write down the steps next time as you’re doing it. Can you create a template? Delegate it? Simplify it?
  45. Self-care: Exercise, movement, meditation. Even a few minutes a day will exercise your brain and give you clarity. And that saves time.
  46. Find a hobby. Rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit to be more efficient.

Guest post by Susan Fay West, Certified Organizer Coach®, ADHD Coach, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, and
President, Institute for Challenging Disorganization

Click to find out more at my website and blog here. 603.554.1948 (office)      603.765.9267 (cell)

She also has a self-coaching workbook, Change your Habits: ADHD Style ($18, soon to be on Kindle as well)

Article originally published as 46 Small Steps to Save Time 

(Photo courtesy of twobee/ Modified on