The Ultimate Time Management Tool for Adults with ADD


to-do-list If you’re finding yourself procrastinating today, then I’ve got a great tip that can help you ease into your tasks and manage your time more efficiently. Time management is one of the biggest challenges that adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) face. A lack of time management skills causes significant stress, frustration, and overwhelm.

While different combinations of tools and strategies work for different people, one time management tool that I insist on for all my clients is a to-do list. When used properly, your to-do list is one of the most powerful tools in your ADD management toolbox.

Some adults with ADD resist using a to-do list because they view it as an enemy, rather than as a tool. The goal becomes to cross everything off the list and be done with it. But that’s not the best way to use a to-do list.

Think of your to-do list as your friend. Your list helps you keep track of what you need and want to get done, as well as what you have done.

Your to-do list as a living, breathing thing. You’ll add things to it almost every day. And hopefully you’ll cross things off it every day, too! Your to-do list will change constantly, and it will always be necessary.

To create your to-do list, use a pad of paper, an online program or document, or whatever feels comfortable for you. Then, at least once every day:

1. Cross off, highlight, or in some way acknowledge everything that you accomplished on your list.

2. Update your list with new projects and tasks.

3. Rewrite your list as necessary to clean it up and make it easy to read.

4. Use your to-do list in conjunction with any other time management tools that you use to help you plan for and schedule in your tasks.

Bonus Tip: You may want to keep a separate list for all those “great ideas” that pop into your head that you want to accomplish, but don’t have the time for right now.

To-do lists are the ultimate time management tool for adults with ADD. Many of us will need additional tools to effectively manage our time, but using a to-do list is a great place to start!


11 thoughts on “The Ultimate Time Management Tool for Adults with ADD

  • May 7, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I’ve learned to love my list! It absolutely helps to look at it as a constant companion rather than an enemy to be conquered. 🙂

  • May 7, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I love my list too! I keep mine in a bound journal that fits into my bag. Everyday I list what I need to accomplish each day. And when I have special projects that I think about, I write them down and then highlight that area so it’s easy to find later on.

    Just the writing down of tasks keeps me from having to think about it again until it’s time for action.

    Kristi’s last blog post..Shameless Bragging

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  • May 16, 2009 at 12:20 am

    I’m often quite scared of lists, but as a result of this post I decided to give them another go. I ended up doing 3 blog posts on the topic in the last week!

    Doing it your way, they’re not as scary as I had thought 🙂 Thank you!

  • July 2, 2009 at 7:47 am

    i also practice this and ever since i started having my to-do list, i’ve become more efficient in life, work, everything! i’m now able to do more fun things, things that i enjoy and love. i’ve become so happy and satisfied with my lifestyle that i thought to myself i needed to share this. now i have my own website helping people design the lifestyle that they want.

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  • July 28, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I use my notebook as a to-do list and it helps me to remember what I should do today.

  • June 10, 2011 at 12:59 am

    This is very similar to the way that I’m trying to start seeing my todo list; it’s easy for it to become a big scary list of things that must be done, but I’ve recently been trying to see it more as just a list of possibilities that I’ve already decided are worth doing. Although I use due dates & priorities I’ve been letting myself just skim through the list & pick what grabs me rather than trying to force myself to start at the top with the most important & urgent things (although obviously sometimes I do have no choice but to do the thing at the top of the list unless I want to suffer serious consequences!). I do start reading from the top, so I’m more likely to do things I’ve decided are higher priority just because they are the first I see, but I don’t use it as the main criteria for choosing what to do.

    I used to get overwhelmed by all of the important things and would end up hardly doing anything at all because I felt I should be doing those rather than the little lower priority things. However, I now reason that if I’ve bothered putting it on my todo list I’ve obviously decided it’s something worth doing, so I don’t worry too much about whether it’s the most useful thing I could be doing & I’m a lot more productive! The energy & sense of achievement that comes with just getting on with things often means I get “on a roll” and find myself with more motivation to do some of the important things. Trying to stop myself from doing the less important things just makes me feel unmotivated and I don’t get anything done!

    Although it’s worth noting that I do something similar to that mentioned here as a “bonus tip” – I keep the things that are “great ideas” but haven’t really been thought through and don’t relate to my current goals out of my todo list so they don’t distract me, although it’s important to go through this list every so often to see if there’s anything I definitely want to do. For someone with ADD it’s easy to come up with hundreds of good ideas but if you put everything you ever think of in your main todo list you’ll quickly get overwhelmed! It helps to have thought about what your main goals are so that you can distinguish between a great idea that needs to go on your todo list (because it relates to something I’ve already decided to do) and a great idea for the “someday/maybe” list (a term I borrowed from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”). I go through my todo list every so often to make sure things haven’t slipped in there that should be “someday maybes” (which happens quite often when I get overenthusiastic!), and vice versa.

  • June 10, 2011 at 8:39 am

    It’s amazing how much more productive one can become when the self-induced pressure is relieved! You have some great perspective, MsHm – thanks for sharing it.

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