CV BOOST! How to be Organised (from an ADHD Sufferer)

This week, rather than things to directly add to your CV, CV Boost is centred around how to organise effectively and and thus manage your time more efficiently in order to be able to cram in even more things that will pretty up that CV and help you stand out high above everyone else.

I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and it is a disorder that causes those who have it to be inattentive, hyperactive or a combination thereof. Inattentiveness is categorised by an inability to focus on a particular input stimulus whilst hyperactivity is categorised by an inability to filter input stimuli they need to focus on from all of the other stimuli in the background. Those with ADHD are often described by others as being unfocused, impulsive or having a short attention span. Neurochemically, people with ADHD typically have a lack of dopamine, a chemical which is associated with provoking activity and making you feel motivated. Non-sufferers can sometimes display symptoms (I mean, come on, who hasn't procrastinated before in their life?) but they do not chronically interfere with day-to-day life like they do for those who have the condition.

So at this point you may be asking yourself, 'Why is someone with ADHD giving me pointers on organisation and time management? I thought people with ADHD were notoriously bad at organising their lives?' In all fairness, if someone leaves their ADHD unchecked you would probably be correct. However, with the correct strategies and maybe medication, one can manage their symptoms well and succeed just as well as their peers. Today I am going to share with you some of the strategies that really help me and my hope is they (assuming you don't have ADHD) should work doubly well for you.

1. Get a strict regime and stick to it

Eating, sleeping, medication, all of the mundane stuff that I have to do habitually is put into my regime. ADHD really messes with my executive functioning, but timetabling my life really helps take the strain off. If you can reduce some of the tasks you have to do in a day to habit or to a timetable, then you can do them without thinking about them. This will de-clutter your mind so you can focus better on other, more important things.

Everything you have to do in a day gets a time slot and it gets done within that time frame. It also helps if you have a group of tasks in your regime that can all be done in quick succession. For example, 'check diary' and 'read over lecture notes'.

Now I'm not suggesting you should take it to the extremes that I do by planning tiny things like toilet breaks, but structuring your day can really help maximise your productivity. In particular, timetabling tasks such as checking social media and e-mail so you do them in a particular time window within a day and only within that particular time window can really help avoid you becoming distracted whilst doing other things that are more pressing and require focus.

2. Use a good journalling system to organise your life tasks

Finding a way to streamline the mass of things you have to do can be tiring and exhausting. If you're anything like me planning things in your head will not be in any way efficient and you will find yourself forgetting things.

A system I like to use is the Bullet Journal. It is a paper system that allows for neat and easy forward planning on a daily and a monthly basis as well as spaces for planning out different projects. It is simple enough where you can also customise the system to your liking. It's basically the classic diary but tweaked so that it's not quite as rigid while adding to it's functionality. You could also simulate the system on an app like Evernote if keeping everything in once place works better for you. I don't normally endorse things, but hey, it's free. I could explain exactly how it works, but the short video below can do it far better than I.

3. Break tasks down into lots (and I mean lots) of ridiculously simple steps

On the surface, this isn't really new advice. If you’ve ever looked into how to enhance your productivity you'll have probably come across the advice to break a big task down into smaller steps. But sometimes even once you've done that getting started and staying on task can be daunting. This is why I advocate taking this approach to the extreme and really simplifying things down to the bare bones.

Productivity broken down into nibble-sized pieces

For example, for the checklist pertaining to writing this article I had items such as 'Walk to your computer', 'Open the word processor' and 'Type out the title'. Doing these things took me about 2 minutes total and probably constituted about 1% of the task at hand. However, being able to being able to officially clear 3 tasks that I had set myself got the reward circuits in my brain buzzing, which made me want to dive into the task at hand and get it done. It also just helps you produce better work in general because breaking down tasks in this way means that you cannot avoid thoroughly planning a task before getting started which means that the finished product will be far better than if you just winged it. I personally love doing this in my bullet journal, because as well as having a checklist for a particular task, I can also set aside a two page spread in which to make notes and mind-map.

Out of all of the strategies I use to keep my life in check these three things have by far helped me more than anything else. I have found that these things alone have let me fit far more into my day than I thought possibly could fit. But that's not to say these are the objectively best ways to do things. It might be worth researching productivity and organisation hacks yourself, as you might find a combination of similar but different methods that work even better for you. But for now take these tools, go forth and become an absolute behemoth of productivity.