Time & Productivity

15 Time-Management Tricks for ADHD Brains

Time management is tricky for ADHD brains. Good thing we are so good at devising clever, unconven-tional solutions to tricky problems. Here, our readers sound off about the techniques that help them keep track of time.

Neatly Arranged White Colored Wall Clocks Displays Different Time on Solid Blue Background.
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Ask anyone with ADHD for time-management tips, and you’ll undoubtedly get a mix of unconventional yet brilliant strategies. That’s because ADHD brains are required to think outside the box on most things — especially keeping track of time and staying organized.

From unconventional reminder systems to literal thinking caps, indispensable apps, and, yes, some conventional organizing tools, here are ADDitude readers’ answers to the question: “What are your best strategies for time management at home and at work?”

Time Management Tips from ADDitude Readers

“As each day winds to a close, I make use of Gmail’s built-in task reminder feature and pick three items that are going to be my main focus for the next day. I never have more than three tasks on my plate at any given time. It prevents me from getting overwhelmed with trying to prioritize.” —Karen, Washington

“For everyday tasks like taking my ADHD medication or making sure my dog has food and water, I use the Any.do app. It sends pop-up reminders at exactly the time I need to do the task. I use the app only for things that are absolute musts. For the ‘shoulds’ and everything else, I use my bullet journal.” — Krystal, Florida

My smart watch has a vibrating timer function. I use it to help with time blindness. If I’ve started a load of laundry, for example, I set my watch for 30 minutes. When my watch vibrates, it re-minds me to put my clothes in the dryer so they’re not sitting in the washer.” — Kelly, Michigan

[Get This Free Download: 19 Ways to Meet Deadlines and Get Things Done]

I use every avenue of reminders possible to keep myself on track: Write it on my wipe-off fridge calendar, write it in my agenda, put it in my Google calendar, ask my phone to remind me, etc.” — Ella, Canada

I use the body doubling technique (virtually) most days with one of my best friends who also has similar time management issues. We remind each other to stop and eat or take a break. We cheer each other on when all we feel is overwhelm and impostor syndrome.” — Kat, New York

If I am really worried about forgetting to do something, I write it on my bathroom mirror with a chalk pen. And when I really must focus on a task that I’m not excited about, I put on a special hat that I only wear when I’m working. I think it helps because I see the hat as part of my ‘hustle mode’ uniform.” — Kristen, California

“Being retired and empty nested was horrific for my time management. I am useless at self-imposed deadlines. I trick myself into getting household tasks done by inviting guests and setting alarms to get those dull chores done. Even though the alarms are irritating, the system works most of the time.” — Corinne

[Read: Do You Shine Under Pressure? How to Manufacture a Sense of Urgency]

I keep a diary and notebook with me at all times. Every morning, I refer to these when I write a detailed plan for the day. Some points on the plan are broken into smaller manageable chunks. P.S. It is generally much easier to get going with the plan after brisk exercise.” — An ADDitude reader

We use a whiteboard calendar for our monthly schedule. It has a notes column where I write weekly meal ideas, appointments, and anything else I may need.” — Sara, Alabama

“Being able to visualize time, having an alarm, and setting realistic time frames for tasks and/or projects that need to get done helps with time management. I also try to be kind to myself when I’m late, or when my estimated time frame is off. Because no one is perfect, especially me.” — Chera

A buddy (my housemate) checks on me to make sure I am on task. I’m usually not, and she breaks the trance that has taken my attention away from what I need to be doing.” — Susan, Michigan

I use a Time Timer to gamify tasks that I don’t enjoy doing. For example, I like to see if I can beat my record time for putting away dishes or cleaning the floors. That way, I won’t get distracted by other things or go on a hyperfocus cleaning tangent.” — Mollie, Ohio

At work I have an electronic diary in Outlook that gives me 15-minute reminders before appointments with customers. This tells me what’s coming up and reminds me when a customer’s appointment needs to wrap up soon.” — Sammie, United Kingdom

I use the Pomodoro method, paired with peer accountability. I message a group of friends, all of whom have ADHD, to see who else may be interested in doing Pomodoros together. We set our timers and check in again at the end and beginning of each Pomodoro round. This helps me to actually take breaks and stay focused on my intended tasks.” — Kimberly, California

“I try to build my life around my brain as much as possible. I schedule less, not more. It’s easier to meet obligations when I’m not harried and hassled. The concept of ‘time management’ is very industrial and robotic, and I’m tired of trying to fit into such an unnatural state of constant efficiency. But real life does require appointments and deadlines, so I make my yes’s count, and I try to schedule things around my capabilities.” — Amanda, Canada

Time Management Tips: Next Steps

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