A Simple Conceptual Trick for ADHD Time Management
Imagine if there were a handy tool that helped you stay focused on a given task; improved your ADHD time management; and generally boosted your productivity.
There is such a tool, and its many benefits are the reason it is one of the hot buzzwords in personal productivity: “Theming” your time and tasks. I’ll show why it works to help with ADHD time management challenges, and provide a couple of easy applications…
Theming offers real benefits for ADHD time management challenges.
How Theming Helps with ADHD Time Management
Theming – conceptual ways to organize your time and tasks — creates significant efficiencies, reduces your stress level and frees up more time.
Yes, all these benefits accrue to those who theme. Whether you theme your days of the week, your months – or just theme a chunk of your daily schedule, you can really boost your output and preserve your sanity with this indispensable tool.
Our Brains Need External Structures for ADHD Time Management
We ADHDers, more than anyone, need external structure to compensate for the absence of structure in our brains. We typically create external structures with tangible tools like to-do lists, calendars, notes and apps.
But we can also use conceptual tools that interface with these tangible tools.
And that’s what theming is. A structuring of your calendar and workflows around concepts – or themes – that help you better manage your time, tasks, priorities and goals – throughout your day, across your week, for the month or even the coming year.
Let’s see, for instance, how theming your days could help with a couple of…
Classic Productivity and ADHD Time Management Situations
For many of us, it’s hard to stay on task. You’re working on an important task and you remember – Oh! I really should renew my auto insurance before the end of the month. And if you’re the least bit self-aware, you’ll worry that if you don’t do that right now, now that you’ve remembered it, you’ll forget about it. So you might interrupt that important task to go do that. Not efficient!
But what if one of the days of your week, say, every Tuesday, were themed as your administrative day? For stuff like expenses, paying bills, renewing things. All those somewhat important things that rarely have to get done RIGHT NOW, but that can turn into real headaches if NOT done at some point soon.
You could just put that in your calendar for next Tuesday, and for now, just forget about it! And stay on the important task you were working on. You shouldn’t have to have a mental wrestling match every time you remember something or something new pops up! Theme the days of your week, and these things will now have a home – a storage bin — in your workweek.
Another classic productivity problem: As you begin your workweek on Monday, you have so many to-do’s, it’s hard to sort through them all to identify what your priorities should be for today. Then you have the same problem on Tuesday. And on Wednesday. And just trying to get prioritized becomes a very taxing thing!
But what if, in addition to your Tuesdays being themed for all your administrative stuff, your Mondays were themed for another kind of work, Wednesdays for another, and so on?
This would simplify your prioritization on any given day. You’d spend less time analyzing tasks and stressing over which to work on today.
As productivity strategist Mike Vardy says, “Knowing what the day ‘means,’ allows me to get to the things I need and want to accomplish. And as a result, I have less decision fatigue and even more energy when I spend time with my kids.”
[Importantly, we’re not saying that you can ONLY do those things on THAT day of the week — you’re just making sure there’s that “storage bin” for those tasks in your week, and that you’re tackling some of them on that day.]
If these examples have piqued your interest in the potential power of theming, here’s one more way to theme…
The Power of Monthly Theming
Monthly themes provide an overarching focus for a given month. This is great for major, mid- to long-term initiatives — those important tasks and projects that we ADHDers most often struggle to keep moving forward and finish.
Think about classic examples like, “Ya, I’m gonna finish writing that book/paper/presentation!” or, “I’m gonna finish painting the dining room/cleaning the garage/doing my taxes (on time)!”
Well, yours truly, a champion ADHDer, has been using monthly theming with great success. For example, this year January was my Finish Writing the Book month (Done!). February was Market the Book (Done! #1 Best Seller! Yay!). March was Revamp the Crusher™TV Website (Victory!). All big projects. All helped along with monthly theming.
And how exactly did monthly theming aid my ADHD time management along the path to these multiple victories? With these themes kept top-of-mind every day throughout each month (by way of sticky notes, automatic alerts popping up in my iPhone calendar, etc.), I gave myself a prioritization compass each time I sat down to plan my day. Add to that a strong, nagging desire to succeed and some other fundamental adult ADHD-crushing strategies I use and teach, and voilà! Very powerful.
I LOVE theming, and you will, too, if you give it a chance.
Which Way to Theme Is Best for You?
There are a bunch more ways to use theming to remedy your ADHD time management challenges. I devoted a full episode of Crusher™TV to this topic, and I shared details of how I use daily theming, and how the co-founder of Twitter uses it. I also share how to use Yearly Theming and a powerful tool called Horizontal Theming. You can preview Crusher™TV Episode 84 to 5 Ways to Theme Your Time and Tasks by clicking the image below.
P.S. You can watch that entire episode of Crusher™TV along with over 80 others on topics like procrastination, getting prioritized, quieting your mind, and more. Become a trial member for a buck and cancel any time you like. Again, it’s Episode 84 , and you can preview that episode here: