Time management for many of us is really about energy management. It is not always that we don’t have enough time to do the things we want to or need to do. Often, when we do have the time, we may find ourselves too stressed, drained, tired, bored or in some other way unable to get our brains activated to use our time the way we intended, or as efficiently as we had hoped. And with many of us staying home to stay safe and having more limited options for social connection and fun, this experience is exacerbated.
Now imagine that you are able to activate your brain and feel energetic, happy and motivated. How would that allow you to experience your day and use your time? How would that affect your productivity, efficiency and effectiveness?
ADHD and Leadership Coach Tamara Rosier, PhD, developed the Solve- It Grid Tool specifically to address this issue. She describes it in detail in this Additude Magazine Article.
Briefly, the Solve - It Grid has 4 quadrants. The Green zone consists of activities that are fun and emotionally stimulating - tasks you enjoy and feel energized by. The Blue Zone consists of activities that are fun, but are not emotionally stimulating or energizing. The Yellow Zone consists of activities that are neither fun nor emotionally stimulating for you - tasks you might consider mundane, boring or tedious. The Red Zone consists of activities that are not fun, but are emotionally charged - usually stressful in some way. Here is a visual I created of the grid:
7 Suggestions for using the Solve-It Grid Time management tool for ADHD adults
Think of tasks and activities that you engage in or would like to engage in and start putting them in different quadrants according to how you respond to these tasks/activities and what they do for you
Think about your typical day and see what zones you are spending time in. Are there patterns? How balanced is your day?
Be mindful of having sufficient Green Zone activities. These are not just “nice to have” but necessary to being able to activate your brain and be productive. Think about the green zone as the activities that charge your battery by increasing dopamine, thereby allowing you to do the mundane/ boring tasks that need your attention. Green zone activities increase your productivity, and give you an increased sense of happiness and well being.
Be aware of having too many red zone activities. These are stimulating and activate your brain too, but typically by boosting adrenaline and cortisol. This is stressful on your body and drains your energy. You may notice you do not sleep as well, or feel overwhelmed, wired, restless, and unable to turn “it” off. All of this can be self sabotaging in the long run even if it works in the moment.
Be moderate with the Blue Zone activities. These are relaxing if used in moderation, but can be mind numbing if used in excess. These activities are useful to unwind or turn down mental chatter, say during breaks or before bed. But they don't serve you as well if you find yourself using them to escape from your responsibilities, or becoming overly engrossed in them.
Be strategic with your Yellow Zone activities. When is the best time for you to engage in these mundane tasks? For example, first thing in the morning? right after your green zone activities? When you have a half hour block of time? When listening to a podcast? Also, how many tasks feels just right to you? 3? 5? 10? More often than not, we have too many things on our to do list that fall in the yellow zone for the day, and as a result don’t get any done or feel a sense of accomplishment. Consider engaging in yellow zone tasks right after you activate your brain with some green zone activities, limiting the task list to what you can get done and building on that success.
During these difficult times, be kind to yourself as you try to find your balance. Remember you are doing your best with the options you have right now.
And finally, play with this tool and use it creatively to meet your needs. There is no right or wrong way, only the way that works for you. This is only a tool to be used for your benefit, not a set of rules that you have to live by. Have fun with it!
Rosier, T. (2017, September 14). Time on Your Side. Retrieved from https://www.additudemag.com/time-on-your-side/