In a household with several members with executive functioning challenges, I am always seeking new ways to handle our issues with time management, motivation, procrastination, etc. All the things that come with the very creative or ADHD type of brain. We may be lacking in these skills, but we can still learn how to manage and cope with the help of some alternative approaches.
When I began thinking of my schedule in terms of Energy Management vs Time Management, things started to get a lot easier and I was able to go easier on myself as well. This is the concept of determining your patterns of energy during the day vs putting the same amount of weight on each to-do item and just running down your list. It’s much easier to get things done when you manage your energy and work on things that fit your own unique daily pattern.
Time is not infinite (darn), even though it might feel that way. Every morning I wake up and the day seems full of endless possibilities, and like I have oodles of time to get things done. I have a very poor sense of time, and always have. My poor mother had to deal with this when I was younger and I struggled to get ready on time. It wasn’t until I got a map app on my phone that I realized driving actually takes time and you can’t just teleport to your destination. Meaning, the time to leave for an event isn’t always 5-10 minutes before it starts.
Additionally, some days have lots of appointments or meetings and have more structure, but the days when it’s more open, it can be dangerous for people like me. I have a tendency to think I have hours and hours of endless time to do my work, but then realize the afternoon is here, the kids need me, or I’m tired and need a mental break. We all have periods of the day where we might have more distractions or have lower energy. If you try to do harder tasks during that time when the family needs you, or you are tired, your to-do list might not be getting much shorter.
So what can we do about this? I find that when I gently structure my day in terms of energy and focus, I can actually get quite a bit done.
For example, I tend to have more energy in the morning, right after my cup of coffee. I try to schedule certain work projects or tasks during that time of day. Then I like to take a break in the afternoon for household routines or quick errands, so I’m taking care of our family’s needs during a time when I might not have as much mental energy, but still need to get things done.
In the evening, I’m usually mentally checked out and I try to allow for some rest and reset time. So, I do the kitchen clean-up and help the kids with anything they need, but other than that, I try to relax and do light household admin tasks or just veg out. Some nights I have to push myself to get a work project done, but I do my best to do that only when absolutely necessary.
How can we determine the best pattern for ourselves? I knew I focused better in the morning, so it was easy to shape my routines around that as my core deep work time. If you aren’t too sure, you can try a few different patterns out and see how it goes. There are no rules to this.
Have you found that you are more mentally alert in the morning or afternoon?