The Best ADHD Time Management Hack To Instantly Improve Your Life

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ADHD time management is so difficult!

Figuring out time hacks and healthy habits is an inside job for each of us, and even more so if you struggle with ADHD. 

It's totally possible to improve your ability to navigate in time and space — with or without ADHD.

Most changes, no matter how small, come along the way as part of a journey toward aspiring to manage time more effectively

The key to creating good ADHD time-management skills is to gather enough evidence about yourself in order to design specific systems that work for you.

RELATED: 5 Strategies To Cope With ADHD When Working From Home

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to ADHD time management.

It seems everyone with ADHD at some point seeks the "holy grail" of time management. In their mind’s eye, somewhere out there exists some concoction, silver bullet, magic pill, potion, or elixir to hack endless time troubles.

However, there's just not one simple, black-and-white solution for anyone.

Time management is an immensely complex personal journey, not a destination.

So, if you’ve looked, yet never found your magical time hack, maybe it’s time you looked a little deeper. Your actual time-management hacks may be hiding in plain sight.

Instead of searching for something outside yourself — such as the newest planner or the hottest new app — let’s look at what you already do for creative clues.

Start by looking at yourself and your habits.

Reality has predicted the only true universal hack is to use your past time behavior to develop habits specific to your needs, vocation, and lifestyle. Therefore, perhaps the most universal ADHD time-management hack that’s missing for all of us is a new mindset.

In other words, you must flip the script! Instead of looking for an external fix, tool, system, or hack, start with yourself. You are the common denominator to managing time.

So, instead of looking outside yourself, start with you. Get curious about what you already do — and don't do — that either helps or hurts you.

You see, your time problems aren't solved outside of yourself.

Develop personalized ADHD time-management hacks.

Since no ADHD time-management hack works for everyone, the key to consistently getting time on your side is to develop your own habits and tools.

This will help you be able to trust yourself. Ideally, your ADHD time-management skills must solve for your specific executive functioning struggles.

Employ your "working memory." 

"Working memory" is known in psychology as an executive function of the brain responsible for short-term memory concerned with immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing.

It's your ability to keep thoughts in your head and remember them later on, which can be a real challenge for someone with ADD or ADHD.

So, whether it’s a thought, an interesting article, or a great new idea, your time-management system needs to help you instantly capture random bits of information.

Working memory is the brain's ability to keep thoughts in mind, and remembering to remember things that occur over time. So, if you struggle to remember, the easiest way to hack your time trouble is to support this glitchy executive function.

In other words, you need to figure out a way to capture any new information so you can hold it and retrieve it later.

RELATED: 8 Surprisingly Simple Ways To Get (And Stay!) Organized When You Have ADD

First, let’s start with how you capture your ideas now.

When you want to remember something spontaneous, what do you do?

Do you grab a pen to write things down on the first available piece of paper? Do you mark up your hands to remember?

Maybe something sparks an idea while you’re at the grocery store, and you pick up items along your path to remind you of things to do?

How’s this strategy working for you? Can you find information consistently and instantly when you need it?

The average human brain can only keep about four sets of information in working memory at one time. But of course an ADHD brain may even struggle to remember that many.

So to boost your brain’s ability to recall information, you must figure out a way to capture your thoughts and ideas reliably and easily.

Write things down — but remember to look at them again in the future!

Writing things down helps boost your memory, but many people don't do this.

With so many apps and digital approaches, people have tried everything. Some people use a talk-to-text app, some text messages to themselves, others snap photos, and some even write on their hands.

These are all great to "capture" ideas, however, many people with ADHD make the mistake of never checking what they collect along life’s way, and therein lies the break in the system.

One of the best ways for most ADHD folks to remember things is to write them down. What happens when you write items down is that idea comes out of your head and land on paper.

Creating permanence in memory.

Writing creates "permanence" and brings "weight" to an idea. When you write, ideas run through the part of your brain responsible for linguistics.

Different brain functions are used to categorize information, and writing builds redundancy. This enhances your ability to recall information later. Writing also allows you to read it and process it differently.

But if you don’t have a capture system to easily write things down, it can become a source of pain. And in the absence, many people turn to a more instant, yet less-reliable solution.

If you’re constantly using random paper scraps to jot down notes yet losing them, you're only partially solving your problem.

You're solving for the working memory gaps by identifying your brain's need to write things down, which is good. Now it's time to build your awareness around the real problem. And it's not random scraps of paper.

You now need to solve the need for "permanence" to create a capture approach you can stick with for a while and tweak as you go.

For you to be more effective with time, you have to find a simple, easy way to take random thoughts and ideas out of your head and put them in a place where you can find them later to act. Ideally, you're supporting your brain's ability to remember.

Create a "landing zone" as an information capture technique.

Your time-management system needs to include an easy, consistent, and comfortable "landing zone" as an information capture technique.

So with ADHD, hacking your time management system begins with trying several approaches, then deciding on one way to capture thoughts, ideas, notes, appointments, and tasks consistently first.

Once you decide, you need to give working memory solutions a fair try. Aim for at least 21 days to see how you do, and then decide whether it will work for you.

Effective ADHD time management has to do with building self-awareness and shifting habits.

With ADHD on board, self-management is challenging already. And let's face it, time management is really self-management.

Therefore, the keys to managing time effectively though, are not found in any hack or best tip. Instead, managing time more effectively has to do with managing yourself.

Improving your ability to manage time is directly related to your capture, retrieval, remember, and action system. When you are able to instantly, reliably, consistently capture information, you will have solved a key ingredient to a forever time management system.

RELATED: 6 Common But Often-Overlooked Symptoms Of ADHD In Adults

Cena Block is a productivity consultant and certified organizer coach (COC) for professional women and entrepreneurs with ADHD. She is also the CEO of Sane Spaces and creator of the Time & Space Style Inventory.

This article was originally published at Sane Spaces. Reprinted with permission from the author.