Organization as an author with ADHD

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Behind The Scenes | 0 comments

HELLO, LOVELIES.

Today, I thought I would share a bit about what it’s like to try and stay organized as an author with autism and ADHD. It’s not always easy, I’ll tell you that. Which is exactly why I use several tools and techniques to keep on track. If I don’t, I’ll just end up hyper-focusing on something completely unrelated for hours on end and then I’ll be back to square one on the project I was supposed to be working on. Just, you know, with even more frustration and self-loathing, and if you’ve ever experienced that, you know just how awful it can be.

HOW I STAY ORGANIZED

My autistic brain loves making spreadsheets and lists. I love the process of making them. I’ve always loved creating things (shocker, I know). My AHDH is good with that, too. Now, following these lists and spreadsheets? Not so much. Aside from my time blindness making me either overshoot or undershoot how much time a task needs to get done, my ADHD is the biggest hurdle in keeping organized and on time with my projects and work. That’s not necessarily how it is for everyone with ADHD, but that’s how it is for me. If you wanna learn more about the life as a creative, I have a blog post about the struggles of being an author. You can read that blog post here to get a broader view of this topic.

The one thing that really helps me is having someone present with me as I work on a project. Be that whether they’re just in the same room as me or if they’re actively pushing me to work. Having a PA for the past few months has been a great help! She’s always pushing me, but not so much so that I enter the ADHD state of ‘I was already going to do that, but you told me to do it again, so now I can’t do it at all’. Yes, that’s a very real thing and it annoys the bejeezus outta me because I can’t just tell my brain to calm down so I can get that thing done.

Executive dysfunction portrayed by a woman sitting on a green sofa with her face hidden in her hands

BUT AREN’T YOU JUST LAZY?

I’ve heard so many people who don’t understand ADHD tell us ADHD’ers that we’re lazy and to just make a plan or list. First of all, ADHD’ers aren’t lazy. We have this lovely little thing called executive dysfunction. What is that you may ask? It’s our brain struggling with memory, attention, and self-regulation. It makes it extremely hard for us to organize, remember instructions, stay on track, and complete tasks such as following a list.

Now, as for making lists? I don’t know a single ADHD’er who doesn’t make tons of lists and checklists. We do. Our brains just make us forget about those lists or make us unable to follow them. Though it doesn’t help if we’ve made unrealistic projects or given ourselves inadequate time to finish said projects, either, which we often do because of our time blindness.

TRACKING TIME

One thing I’ve been doing lately is tracking my time. Not just my writing time, but everything involved with my business such as website updates, writing blog posts , cover designing, and editing. I originally started tracking my working time because my new insurance requires a certain amount of time spent working per week and I want to ensure I always work at least that amount of hours or more. But I also just really enjoy being able to see what I’ve spent my time on.

I’m using a program called TimeOps (not sponsored, I’m just a huge fan) to track my time and have been using it for two months now. I am very happy with it! It lets me input a project and a description when recording the time. It also has this lovely feature where you can see your time per day, week, or month which makes it so easy for me to check that I’ve hit my goals. I don’t have to do any math which is such a plus for me because the time I would spend trying to figure out my time per week, I can now spend being creative and writing!

THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE

Another way to ‘track time’ is to use the Pomodoro Technique when writing (or doing any other task that requires focus). Maybe you already know this technique or perhaps you’ve never heard of Pomodoro. In short, a Pomodoro is traditionally a kitchen timer often shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato), but it can be any timer. Your phone works just as well as any other timer. Now the Pomodoro Technique? That’s where it gets interesting.

A Pomodoro timer on a note pad with a pen beside it with a woman typing on a keyboard in the background.

The technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 80’s while he was a university student struggling to keep focused. You use the timer to work focused for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break, and then you repeat three times before you take a longer twenty to thirty-minute break. You can always modify the length of the work- and break times to suit you better. I’ve done that many times with great success!

The Pomodoro technique works very well for ADHD’ers, but it can be great for anyone (maybe it could do wonders for you and your next project?). I’ve used this technique successfully for about a year. It keeps my brain focused while it also rewards my ADHD with breaks. It also keeps my eyestrain to a minimum when I’m not hyperfocused on working at my computer for eight hours straight.

I use a little note block to write down how many words I get per 25 minutes(or however long I decide my working time should be). That way I can also keep track of my writing speed. Using this technique generally doubles my word count per day, so it works very well when I remember to use it.

If you want to know more about the Pomodoro Technique and ADHD, you can check out this YouTube video.

TO-DO LISTS

Another thing I use a lot are those pesky to-do lists I mentioned in the beginning of this blog post. I use them to not just write down my tasks (be that for work or otherwise) but to write down things I would otherwise forget. This could be a thing I remember while I’m working on something else and if I don’t write it down, I will most likely forget about it. This is often how book/story ideas come to me and there’s no way I want to forget those!

Thank you so much for reading this blog post about how I try to stay organized as an author with ADHD and autism! I hope you’ve gained some new knowledge that might help you keep your next project more organized. If you have any tips or tricks for time-tracking or organization in the workspace, please share them in the comment section below! I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Which tools help you stay organized?

Until next time!

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