You would think that someone with ADD would love working in 15 minute increments. After all, even an adult with ADHD can handle focusing on a task for just 15 minutes, right?
Wasting 15 Minutes at a Time
For people with ADD, however, deliberately getting started on a task during a small amount of usable time is trickier than it sounds. The hardest part is knowing that it is so easy to just do a few things, anythings, during that 15 minutes because you aren’t really procrastinating or wasting much time. After all, 15 minutes isn’t that much time. As someone with ADD, the possibilities are endless.
You could make that phone call you have been putting off all morning.
Or, you could play a quick game of Candy Crush Soda and make that call after lunch. After all (here comes the ADD brain), what if that call accidentally goes long? What if he asks you to call back in 20 minutes when you’ll be busy doing something else. What if you get distracted (Hey, it happens, right?)?
Plus, there is the rest of your to-do list, which, let’s face it, is starting to look a little bit messy. Maybe now is a good time to rewrite the list.
You get the point. With ADD, it’s very likely we’ll just fitter away the time. We won’t even feel bad about it. I mean, it’s not like you can really do much anyway. You have a meeting in just 7 minutes now.
Pre-Planning the 15 Minute Gap
Recently, I’ve discovered a way to combine my ADD and procrastination habits to my benefit for just this sort of scenario.
Let’s say it is 9:30 am, and I have a meeting at 11:00. There is plenty of time to do some work, and I’m ready. But, there is this phone call that I have to make, but I’m not looking forward to. Instead, my mind is thinking of all the many other things I could, should, would be doing. I’ve learned long ago that fighting against the ADD brain is a fool’s errand. It’s much better to observe, recognize, and plan around your strengths.
In this case, I commit to myself that I will make the call later.
Of course, this is also a fool’s mission. Making a call “later” is a recipe for making the call never.
Instead, I commit to making the call during the next 15 minute gap.
In this way, I both procrastinate, which makes my brain happy. (It doesn’t consider this procrastination. This is doing what I want to do, which I should be able to do, right?) But, I also create an actual place to do the task.
Now, all I have to do is recognize that there is such a gap. This is the tricky part, because my ADHD brain racing ahead during the day will frequently not consciously notice that I’m sitting in a 15 minute gap. Instead, it will recognize the completion of a task, get happy, look for what’s next, and maybe play a little Paper.io.
So, I also have to anticipate the gaps. By pre-thinking about when those might occur — right before that meeting, right before lunch, right after I publish this blog post — I have a better chance of recognizing when those gaps come.
Using 15 Minutes for People with ADD
How to get more productivity with ADD while using 15 minute gaps.
- Identify tasks that will fit in 15 minute (or smaller) gaps.
- Commit to doing those tasks during the gaps.
- Prioritize if there are multiple tasks. Otherwise, you’ll waste time deciding which ones to do.
- Mentally go over your upcoming day and identify where small time gaps may occur in your plan.
- DO THE TASK in the gap. Don’t lie to yourself. There is nothing worse than lying to yourself. If you committed, do it. It’s only one task.
- If you have more time in the gap, use it for yourself. You’ve moved forward. There’s no reason to try and waste your willpower. Instead…
- Identify the next potential gap and the task you will do during it.