Create a visual aid for what’s due this week
For many ADD – ADHD Adults, feeling anxious and overwhelmed is a common occurrence. It’s a stressful feeling to know you have a great deal to do, but not be able to easily “get your arms around it.” One of the best ways to feel in control of your work and life is to be able to see everything you have to do, and when you have to do it, at a glance.
Create customized “At-a-Glance” forms
You can create your own customized “At-a-Glance” pages on the computer to suit your needs. Excel is excellent for this, but you can also use a simpler method in Microsoft Word.Let’s say you want to be able to look at a month, a quarter or the whole year. You can create a table in Word that divides the page into boxes representing blocks of time. Then, using a different color type for each project, enter milestones or target dates for each phase of the project in its appropriate time box. That allows you to see all your commitments at once, so you don’t take on an additional project during a time when you’re already heavily extended.
Make it simple! Be careful not to overload too much information on one page. When your eyes have too much to look at, you’re not really seeing anything. That can create anxiety rather than lessen it.
ADHD Coaching Example: “Dean,” an attorney with ADHD, worked for a law firm that provided detailed print-outs of all the many steps of every client’s work in progress, and when each step was due. The problem was there was so much information that it was impossible for Dean to see at a glance what was relevant to him! Rather than serving to be a helpful aid, this form provided too much information; it made Dean anxious to look at it. What Dean really needed was a simple template that informed him what he needed to do, for what client, that week and that month. This way, he could determine day by day what needed to get done.
Dean and his administrative assistant collaborated on how to produce a weekly report that gave him just the information he needed in order to do his weekly planning. Dean used colored highlighters for different types of activities, which made the report even more useful as an at-a-glance visual aid.
This simple tool was so powerful in helping alleviate Dean’s anxiety that he found he was no longer waking up in a panic over what he might have overlooked. The hour it took to plan and create it had a huge payback in peace of mind.