Navigating To-Do Lists with ADHD: 7 Things to Avoid

The ‘To Do’ List!!!

woman stood at a white board writing a to do listMany people grapple with ‘to-do’ lists when having ADHD. You’ll be all too familiar with the constant stream of tasks vying for your attention.

With a few tweaks and some smart planning, you can turn your ‘to-do’ lists from chaos to clarity. Here are 7 common mistakes to avoid when you’re putting your ‘to-do’ list together.


1: Overloading Your List

Ever felt overwhelmed by a never-ending list? When you add everything that needs to be done to your list it can become too much. It’s difficult to prioritise and you end up avoiding using it.

Streamline your list by focusing on tasks with deadlines and manageable timeframes. So things that you can get done today or this week.

Save daily chores and quick tasks for on-the-spot action. Anything that will take 2 minutes or less you should do straight away. Do not put them on your list!!

Any big projects you have should be put in a project file where you can break it down into the steps needed to complete it. You should give each step a deadline date for completion. You can then take the tasks from this list and add them to your schedule every week until you complete your project.

There are always other things to get done but you can’t find the time to do them, so have a separate list for these too. I like to call this my ‘wish list’. You can revisit it and pick things from it to get started when you’re ready. Avoid doing too many things at once or you’ll just end up failing.


2: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

A ‘to-do’ list only works if you use it! Get into the habit of checking your list throughout the day, setting goals for morning, afternoon, and evening. Choose a time each week where you can review your project folder and choose any tasks you want to get done from there. Always remember to check your diary too so you can work around any appointments or holidays you have planned and adjust your priorities accordingly.


3: Juggling Too Many ‘To-Do’ Lists

woman ssat at desk holding pen writing a list in a note book It can be hard to be organised when you have ADHD, but it’s important when creating a ‘to-do’ list system that works for you.

Most of us these days have a phone with us so syncing your ‘list’ with your calendar and project folders is simple to do. There are ADHD user-friendly apps and software to help do this. Remember, simplicity is key to staying organised.


4: Dwelling on the Not Done

Celebrate your wins, no matter how small! Instead of fixating on what’s left unfinished, take a moment each day to acknowledge your achievements. It’s great to look back and see how much you’ve actually done.


5: Vague Task Descriptions

Avoid confusion by describing each task clearly. This ensures you’ll know exactly what needs to be done when you revisit your list. A couple of words probably won’t be enough to jog your memory.


6: Ignoring the Big Tasks

Adding a big project to your list will guarantee it won’t get done as it will most likely be too overwhelming. Break big projects down into manageable chunks and schedule dedicated time slots to tackle them. Estimate the time you think it’ll take to do the task and multiply it by 3! By setting aside focused time, you’ll make progress bit by bit.


7: Falling Down the Rabbit Hole of Distractions

We all are easily distracted!!  Whether it’s your phone, email notifications or other things, they all stop us from working on our list of tasks. Identify what your distractions are and remove them or minimise them. Turn off notifications on your laptop or silence your phone and move it away from you if necessary. Staying focused is key to getting through your list.

All in all, having a ‘to-do’ list is a great way to ensure you get stuff done. Make sure you set your goals based on what you see as being valuable and then you’ll have a list that is both meaningful and manageable.

virtual assistant sat at laptop typing

If you need help with prioritising and planning your tasks please get in touch.

Email me jules@purplevioletva.com

Purple Violet – “giving you time to focus on the important stuff”