Turf traditional time management

ADHD Business Tips - Turf traditional time management

Let’s face it: traditional time management advice often feels like it was written for a completely different species when you’re an entrepreneur with ADHD. Those color-coded planners and rigid schedules? They can make us feel pretty good in the moment, but practically speaking they might as well be written in hieroglyphics. But here’s the thing to remember – your brain isn’t broken, it’s just wired differently. And I know I bang on about it, but that difference really can be your superpower in business if you learn to work with it, not against it.

So, even if it’s just for today (or the next 10 minutes!), let’s throw out the old rulebook and explore some unconventional strategies that better suit the ADHD brain. Trust me, I’ve been there – staring at a to-do list longer than the Nile, wondering how I’m supposed to tackle it all. But over time, I’ve discovered that embracing our unique cognitive strengths can lead to some seriously game-changing productivity hacks.

Timeboxing: Your new best friend

First up, let’s talk about timeboxing. This technique is a bit like interval training for your brain. Instead of trying to force yourself to focus for hours on end (which, let’s be honest, is about as likely as a penguin learning to fly), you work in short, focused bursts.

Have you ever felt like certain tasks are black holes, threatening to swallow your entire day? They’re the kind you can easily procrastinate on because there’s never enough time to start AND finish them. Sometimes your whole list might seem so black-holey that it’s impossible to choose where to start, so you end up doing nothing at all. Ugh!

In these situations, timeboxing can become the ADHD entrepreneur’s secret weapon against timewasters. Here’s how it works:

Imagine you’re setting up invisible fences around your tasks. These fences are your “timeboxes” – specific chunks of time dedicated to a particular activity. They can be as short as 15 minutes for a quick email check, or as long as a few months for a major project phase – but let’s focus on the shorter kind here. The key idea is that each timebox comes with its own goal (or goals), a deadline, and sometimes even deliverables or milestones.

Here’s the kicker: when your timebox alarm goes off, you stop. Full stop. There’s no requirement to keep going, and you can go ahead and call it done. Then take a step back to see how you did. Did you nail your goals? Get halfway there? Barely make a dent? This isn’t about beating yourself up – it’s valuable data for future planning.

Let’s say your office looks like a paper tornado hit it (we’ve all been there). Instead of letting “clean office” loom over you all week, set a 30-minute timebox. When that timer dings, you’re done, even if you only managed to clear off your desk. You’ve made progress, and more importantly, you’ve kept that task from derailing your entire day.

And that’s the thing to remember – timeboxing isn’t about perfection – it’s about progress and protecting your most valuable resource: your time and focus. For ADHD entrepreneurs, it can be a game-changer in tackling those tasks we tend to either avoid or get lost in for hours. So, grab your timer and start fencing in those time-suckers!

A disclaimer:

You might get to the end of your box and find yourself saying “just five more minutes” or “I’ll finish this one last thing” and while timeboxing purists might say “no way” to that, I say trust your instinct. If creating a timebox has helped you find your flow with something you’ve been putting off long term, and it’s easy enough to keep going, just carry on with it – but don’t forget to keep a fence in place! Moving the fence, rather than removing it completely, will help to avoid spending more time than you have or want to devote to a task.

Leveraging the power of hyper focus

Now, let’s talk more about that double-edged sword of ADHD: hyper focus. You know, that state where you’re so engrossed in a task that the world around you disappears? It’s like having a superpower, but one that doesn’t always activate when you need it to (an often when you need it not to!).

The trick is to identify the tasks that naturally trigger your hyper focus and leverage them. Maybe you get into the zone when you’re brainstorming new product ideas or diving into market research. Whatever it is, schedule those tasks for when you typically have the most energy. Read more on harnessing your hyper focus.

I once met an ADHD entrepreneur who built his entire business model around his ability to hyper focus on coding. He’d work in intense 4-hour blocks, then take the rest of the day off to recharge. His unconventional schedule raised some eyebrows, but his output was consistent, and pretty impressive.

Interest-based prioritisation: Following your passion

Here’s a radical idea: what if, instead of prioritising tasks based on deadlines or perceived importance, you prioritised based on what genuinely interests you? I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out.

When you’re genuinely excited about a task, you’re more likely to start it, stick with it, and do it well. So, when you’re deciding where to start or what to do next and you’re not feeling particularly inspired or motivated, look over your to-do list and highlight the stuff that excites you the most. Pick something, create a timebox and get started.

But what if there’s nothing on your list that genuinely interests you? If this is the case – and it’s a common occurrence – I’d be pondering if you’re in the right business and would encourage you to consider exploring that further. perhaps with a coach. If it’s not the norm but for whatever reason it happens that you’re stuck with a bunch of lacklustre tasks lingering on your list, try reframing them and looking for ways to make them more fun and engaging.

For example, “Update website content,” could become “Craft a digital presence to wow potential clients”. “Follow up with unpaid invoices,” turns into “Treasure hunt: Reclaim hard-earned gold” or “Write social media posts” becomes “Spark conversations and build a community of raving fans.”

Instead of “Organise email inbox” you might write “Declutter the digital maze and uncover forgotten opportunities.” And rather than “Prepare for client meeting” you can plan to “Strategize the path to becoming the client’s superhero.” It’s the same task, but suddenly it feels a lot more enticing.

Only you know what kind of things appeal to you the most and the key is to tap into what naturally excites and motivates you. Maybe you’re driven by competition, creativity, or the thrill of problem-solving. Use language that speaks to your personal interests and makes the task feel like an adventure or a challenge to be conquered. This mental reframing can help transform tedious tasks into engaging missions that your ADHD brain is eager to tackle!

Embracing unconventional routines

Who says you have to work 9-to-5? Your ADHD brain might be at its best at 11 PM, or maybe you’re a crack-of-dawn creative genius. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you (usually) get to set your own schedule.

I have an ADHD business owner client who does her best work in three 2-hour sprints throughout the day, with decent breaks in between for exercise, errands, and family time. She was initially worried about what clients would think, but she found that being upfront about her unconventional schedule actually impressed them. They appreciated her honesty and her commitment to working when she was at her best.

Movement & sensory breaks: Fuel for your brain

If you’ve ever found yourself fidgeting during a meeting or doodling during a call, you’re not alone. That restless energy is your brain’s way of trying to stay engaged. So why fight it? Incorporate movement and sensory stimulation into your day wherever you can.

Try standing desks, walking meetings, or even a mini-trampoline in your workspace. Keep fidget toys on hand for when you need to focus during calls. One ADHD entrepreneur I know swears by her under-desk bike pedal – she says her best ideas come when her legs are moving.


Try the “10-Minute Sprint” technique:

  1. Choose a task you’ve been avoiding or struggling to start.
  2. Set a timer for just 10 minutes.
  3. Work on the task with full focus until the timer goes off.
  4. When the timer rings, you have two choices: a) Stop immediately if you’re not feeling it. b) Keep going if you’ve found your flow.

This technique challenges the traditional idea that you need large blocks of uninterrupted time to be productive. It works well for our brains because:

– It’s low-pressure: 10 minutes feels manageable, reducing overwhelm.

– It bypasses procrastination: You can do anything for 10 minutes.

– It leverages hyper focus: If you get in the zone, you can ride that wave.

– It provides a natural stopping point: Helps prevent getting lost in tasks for hours.

Try this for a week and see how it impacts your productivity and task completion rate. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection!

Here’s the truth: there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to time management, especially for ADHD business owners. The key is to experiment, be patient with yourself, and find what works for you. Your unconventional methods might raise a few eyebrows, but they could also be the key to unlocking your full potential as an entrepreneur.

Remember, your ADHD brain isn’t a liability – it’s an asset. It gives you creativity, adaptability, and a unique perspective that can set you apart in the business world. So don’t be afraid to challenge those traditional time management techniques and do what works for you.

Your business – and your brain – will thank you for it.

See you next week,

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