Don't Let ADHD get in Your Way: Avoid These Mistakes When Making Your Daily To Do List!

So much to do and so little time! I wonder what the average number of tasks people typically have on their daily to-do list? Just from my own experience and working with clients around to-do lists, I would estimate a good 20-25 tasks, give or take a few. For most people, that is just too many!

The first mistake is overestimating what can get gone in a 24-hour period of time. A good rule of thumb is to remember that tasks usually take longer than you expect. In fact, I tell clients to double, if not triple, the amount of time they think something will take. That allows you to build in the buffer time you need to complete the task without feeling stress that you may run out of time. 

The second mistake is using the daily to-do list as a holder for ALL tasks that need to be done, not just the ones for today. This strategy is a dangerous one, especially for people with ADHD. When you see a list of paper with several tasks on it, it’s overwhelming and when the ADHD brain is overwhelmed, it shuts down and does nothing or finds something more interesting to do. 

A better practice would be to have two lists: a Master List and a Daily To-Do List. 

The Master List is a great place to brain dump all of the different things you need to do. Having it all written out in one place, allows the information to be free from your head, so you can think more clearly. From this list, you then choose one to three top tasks to transfer to your Daily To-Do List. 

Imagine looking at a list with three items versus 50…visually it makes a huge difference! You take away all that is overwhelming because now you know what to focus on, there is clarity, and you can start planning how to get just those three tasks completed. 

The third mistake is not updating your lists. In order for your Master List to be effective, you need to visit it often. Delete or cross-off old tasks and add new ones when appropriate. Make sure you're paying attention to your list, is it still relevant? Sometimes projects just sit on the Master List for too long. Try to figure out what’s holding you back, so you can either make a decision to move forward or just dump the item all together. There is no shame in changing your mind! 

The fourth mistake is dwelling on what’s left on the list. I often hear from clients that their week went ok, but they didn’t get as much done as they wished. When asked what they did get done, they always come back with such great updates. They tend to downplay what they accomplished and focus only on the negative and what was left behind. This just isn't helpful in making progress. I suggest flipping your perspective around. Pay attention to what you are doing right and celebrate your successes. Not only is it a healthier way to look at things, but you will feel better and more confident as you head into the next day's activities and lists, and possibly get more done!

Until Next Time....

Take Care,

Nikki