Why I’m Writing This Post
Time management hasn’t been an easy journey personally. I’m at a point now where I’m regarded as having a good understanding of the topic, but it doesn’t feel like long ago that I stuck out from my colleagues and classmates. No matter how hard I wanted to get my life together, I couldn’t.
I’ve always been different from others and while I like myself, it still created tension with my jobs, relationships, and ability to live my life on my terms. After bouncing from doctor to doctor, a good therapist encouraged me to get tested for autism because of my unique profile.
I received my ASD diagnosis in July of 2016. As I’ve been getting to know more about the symptoms and challenges, I’ve also been able to find more creative solutions to my time management woes.
Part of creating my personal blog was to help others find inventive ways to improve their time management and productivity. I’ve also learned a lot of unique tips that have helped me with symptoms of ADHD, Autism, and Anxiety.
What is Neurodiversity
Neurodiversity is a relatively new movement that believes that many neurological conditions are actually normal variations in human behavior. The belief is that while individuals who have conditions across the neurodiverse spectrum think a bit differently from the norm, their ability to think differently is a benefit.
The ability to see the world in a different light actually improves education, offers benefits to the workplace, and increases empathy and understanding toward others.
Common conditions of neurodiverse people include:
- Social Anxiety
Despite the benefits of thinking differently than many, there definitely are unique challenges that neurodiverse individuals face. Common problems neurodiverse people face include:
- Executive functioning challenges
- Rigid behavior
- Social isolation
- Uncomfortable in new situations
Neurodiverse people are fully capable of learning the same skills as those who are ‘neurotypical’, or not neurodiverse. The biggest challenge is finding unique ways to support neurodiverse people and help them overcome challenges in order to bring out their strengths, too.
After being diagnosed with autism at 28, I felt empowered to find different ways to improve myself because I knew I had many unique strengths. I believed with persistence and effort, I would eventually come across a method that would help me learn to organize my time better.
Thankfully, only four months later, I started my first bullet journal. It was my first taste of how creative options and education can bring a huge improvement to neurodiverse personal development.
Bullet Journals are Neurodiverse Friendly
One of my favorite things about bullet journals is that there is no one type of person who solely benefits from this creative type of time management. In the bullet journal community there are many neurodiverse individuals who thrive with this system.
I’ve now been using the bullet journal system for over 18 months. There definitely have been bumps in the road, but I believe there are many unique reasons why I’ve been able to stick them out in ways I couldn’t with other time management programs.
Combine Creativity and Structure
I’ve found from experience there are many neurodiverse people who are incredible artists. They thrive being creative and making with their hands.
The problem with a lot of pre-structured planners is they don’t allow for a lot of ‘forgiveness’ if you make a mistake, or don’t use it. While I’m relatively regular with my bullet journal, if for some reason I missed a month, for the most part, I can just flip to the next page and start afresh. For somebody who has a tendency to panic at blank pages, this was incredibly valuable.
The other thing is that many prestructured planners are not built in ways that allow me to doodle, experiment, and add exactly what I need to help me function. Bullet journals allow me to create the exact structure I need, be creative, and helps me with some of my challenges in other unique ways.
Trackers Help Find Patterns
I love keeping trackers in my bullet journal. There’s something super satisfying about getting to check boxes in as I complete a task! But the other super valuable aspect using a bullet journal is that I can track my moods, my goals, my habits, my sleep, my health, and so much more.
Neurodiverse individuals may struggle with understanding how their bodies work; it’s a challenge to connect how my mood affects my goals, how my sleep affects my emotions, and so on. Trackers basically do that work for me. I can let my medical profession see my trackers at appointments to see if they can provide any insight on how I can make improvements with my daily living.
Ability to Observe Growth
Before I started my bullet journal, I had challenges connecting the ‘dots’ of my journey. To be more specific, I had a hard time understanding how far I’ve come in life and all of the progress I’ve made.
I look at my first bullet journal and see all the progress I’ve made over the last two years. Being able to see how far you come in a short amount of time helps to remind you how strong you really are.
Supplies I use:
Time Management Tips for Neurodiverse people
If a bullet journal does not sound like your cup of tea, there are other options to help improve your time management.
Use Wall Trackers
Trackers aren’t exclusive to bullet journals. I recall in the past, I enjoyed using trackers on posters you can stick up on the wall. Write down tasks and activities you’d like to track, and put them on the wall instead. Take five minutes at the same time daily to go through and update your trackers.
Get Support for Limitations
If you have a documented challenge and work with a medical professional, you may be able to request support services. If you struggle with time management or executive functioning, you may find meeting somebody one hour a week to prove useful in going over your schedule and tasks for the week ahead.
Use Interests for Motivation
Neurodiverse individuals are some of the most passionate people on the planet when it comes to activities they love. Some ways you can learn to improve your time management is to use those activities as a means of motivation toward getting to enjoy them.
For instance, you can combine this tactic with trackers by saying if you do a task every day for a month, you could buy tickets to see your favorite band in concert.
Or, use your favorite activities in other ways! Decorate your planner in your favorite stickers. Watch your favorite show; but only after you do the dishes.
Find Your ‘Why’
If you struggle to complete tasks, another way to frame your mindset can do wonders. If you don’t want to do something right now, try to think of the long-term implications of the task you would rather delay. Would not doing the task cause more harm in the long run? Would doing the task cause you a really positive benefit? Understanding your why can have a huge impact!
Make a Routine
Routines can be a bit tricky to set up initially. But once in place, they can help to guide you complete your to-do list and daily activities. Try to do things at the same time every day. Make a special way of how you clean your house that will help develop muscle memory to the task.
Individuals who are neurodiverse often find a lot of value in developing consistent routines. The trick is not to do too much, it’s better to start small than it is to try to do everything at once.
Everybody Can Find Time Management Success
Neurodiverse people admittedly have added challenges when it comes to managing their time management. With some creativity and willingness to succeed, there are useful tools and tips that match almost any person’s needs.
Even though individuals on the neurodiversity spectrum have different requirements when it comes to completing tasks, with a little creativity and a lot of patience, it’s very easy to find ways to find time management strategies that work for us.
Do you fall on the neurodiversity spectrum? What tips have you tried that increase your productivity? Tell me in the comments!