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I’ve Tried Everything! This App or That App?

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

There are many productivity and time management apps out there and I am often asked which ones I recommend. Here is the thing…most of the well-known apps are not geared toward the neuro-diverse/ ADHD brain. Actually the standard tips can even be counterproductive.

More often than not, these strategies sound like they should help, but end up posing yet another challenge for teens and adults with ADHD.

Here are two very common strategies to avoid and ways to tweak them for yourself or your child for greater success…

1. The 2 Minute Rule would say that if you are doing a task and something comes up that will only take two minutes…Do it immediately. This seems reasonable enough until you consider the ADHD weakness often connected to time estimation and time management. The task you thought would take 2 minutes actually needs 10 or 15 minutes of focus, and then afterward you have to remember to go back to what you were doing earlier. This rule also asks you to prioritize what just came up as opposed to what you’ve determined is the most impactful or essential thing you could be doing.

Each time we move from one task to another, we are adding transition time — the time it takes to pull yourself away from whatever you were doing, change gears and then move on to the next task.

Better idea: Write it down. Rather than stopping in the middle of a task, carry a notebook and jot down the tasks as they come up. You can also use the notes app on your phone or device to record the tasks on a list. Designate specific time during the day or each week to review the written list and complete the tasks.

2. Hardest First or not. Many have recommended tackling your hardest task first thing in the morning so that everything that follows seams simpler and quicker. With ADHD it is important to consider the degree of focus and the energy level one experiences at specific times throughout the day. For many, mental and physical energy peaks at specific times of the day and a demand for high levels of focus in the morning can be extremely overwhelming.

Better idea: Start small and warm up to the bigger tasks by starting with easier ones. Every time you start losing traction on the larger task, return to a task that’s shorter, easier or more energizing, and as soon as your brain kicks in, return to the more daunting task.

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