For all of my adult life I have struggled with getting things done. I've tried the Stephen Covey 7 Habits, I've tried the Franklin Day Planner, I've tried any number of electronic devices...but to no avail.
Partially because I did not know until 3-4 years ago about my ADHD. But also in large part because these tools did not play to my strengths and exacerbated my weaknesses.
If you have not heard of GTD, or Getting Things Done by David Allen, you owe it to yourself to check it out. I have just discovered it and I was hooked after watching one of the many Youtube clips with David Allen as he described the need to EXTERNALIZE all ofo the stuff we are carrying around in our heads.
The other fantastic element of GTD is that it starts with DATA CAPTURE: that is having a simple and reliable system for capturing all of the stuff that requires our attention.
The third element, and this is really key for me, is the concept of NEXT ACTION: having "Send sister birthday card" is a crappy thing to write on your 'to-do list', because the next action is unclear. Instead of being a single entry on the list, it needs to be broken out into "Buy B-DayCard" on your Errands list, and then "Write Note on B-Day Card" on another Action list, sorted in such a way that you are reminded to do this ONLY when you are in a place that you CAN do this action.
This is a gross simplification of course and I am just learning and adopting the system but I would love to hear from others who are familiar with the GTD-type system and how you are making it work for you.
I've been to their website and I had an impression that this is not especially designed for ADD, but rather for general public. I personally think that I would opt with something that is designed with ADD in mind because the reason of our procrastination and unproductiveness might be different from non-ADDer. There are more to it than just being 'overwhelmed' or 'disorganised'. I shared the same experience with you when it comes to reading those self-help, motivating books. None of them worked for me. With that said, I'm not sure if this GBT will work if we are doing it alone. However, with the right person beside us, this might come as a great tool.
Do you have any suggestions on tools/systems? Everyone probably has to individualize their programs, and as I mentioned I really like 3 elements of GTD:
1. Dedicated info capture system - so stickies and scribbles aren't everyewhere
2. Context-based do-lists: buy dogfood does not belong on the same list as complete Work Task, which doesn't belong on the same list as call insurance company.
3. Next Action. Next Action. Next Action.
I hope some of these tools will help, and again I'd love to learn about specific systems for ADHD.
GTD system is effective only as long as people realize the time involved in breaking down all mundane items into simple, effective steps and placing those reminders in the appropriate space. Having a note that says buy bday card on my desk is not effective, having it in my purse is. All of the lists required need to be referenced often, and often, lists, planners, etc. just won't cut it. I have a little recorder for errands instead of a list, which usually just remains in the purse, never to be looked at until it's way to late. In the end, it's about finding what works for you. If someone never goes anywhere without their cell phone, then an app would be most effective. Trial and error, that's the key. Keep expectations real, be happy with small progressive steps and do what it takes to remember the boring everyday items that usually slip out of your head before they can register in your mind.
Externalizing takes practice, lots and lots of practice. Giving voice to the whirlwind of thoughts going through my mind is not something that comes easy after years of being told to "shut up", stop talking and "why are you saying that?" type of questions, to which I never have a better answer than…this is what has popped into my head.
At the end of the day, I find that writing down my thoughts, especially the ones that stay in there, bugging me and growing until I have to act on them, is the best way to make them leave my mind. Once I have expressed the idea on paper, I can "let it go" and move on to the next brilliant thought LOL
Most importantly, keep a sense of humour. The irritations are usually so full of ridiculousness that they are very funny indeed. After all, putting your dirty coffee cup in the freezer instead of the sink is pretty funny. It'll never get washed that way:)