What Do I Have 'To Do'?

Dec. 4th, 2017

One of the hallmarks of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD is frequent switching and changing of organizational systems. This can and often does continue after diagnosis and treatment. A lot of us have this nagging feeling that if only we could find the perfect system then everything else would fall into place for us.

This idea is only partially incorrect. While no organizational system, app, program, strategy, or task manager will do the work for us, trying to get work done with a system that doesn’t suit us isn’t productive either.

It’s all about finding where the problems lie. Is it that we don’t know what to do next because all our to do’s are scattered to the four winds on paper, napkins, emails, and phone notes? Or because everything is gathered and laid out in an orderly fashion and we are paralyzed with indecision and anxiety?

I recently overhauled my entire task management system. I knew there were elements (such as my routines and alarms) which were working very well and I kept these. Other than that, however, nothing escaped intense scrutiny and eventually the cutting room floor.

My main problem was I kept trying to keep everything I needed to do in my awareness at all times. I was so afraid to forget anything that I was totally overloaded with information every day. This was the hardest thing to overcome while going through the process. The anxiety that this new system would cause me to miss deadlines and forget vital information was ever present and hard to ignore.

Another nagging doubt was that simple fact that we ADHD individuals are on a constant search for the perfect system. Was this overhaul nothing more than a quest for the impossible? Whenever these thoughts occurred I countered them with one simple idea:

“The bottom line is, if it isn’t working, something needs to change.”

I now have a system that fulfills 90% of my task management needs. It keeps the information I need in front of my eyes and stores the information I might need in easy reach.

Everything to do with life management is in my main reminder app. It’s a relief to know that if I’m not feeling well or have a sudden crisis that this short list is all I need to focus on to keep my life running smoothly. Everything else, be it business maintenance, agreements with clients, knitting projects, or writing ideas is stored in a separate information platform. And I can relax knowing I have a system that will direct my focus there often enough that what needs to get done will get done on time.

I’m not giving many details here because what I ended up with probably isn’t really of any benefit to anybody else because it’s so exactly customized for me. The chances of someone else using the same combination is remote. What I do advise is this:

When considering what to use as a task management system, first outline what you want it to do for you. This will make it a whole lot easier to find the right program or app or combination thereof. Start with the need, then find the software or hardware to fulfill that need.

What do you need from a task management system?