There are all sorts of goal setting and productivity guides out there. I’ve tried Francisco Crillo’s Pomodoro Technique and Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. Zen Habits I really like, the Pomodoro technique, I’m less behind, although I still use some aspects of it. The essence of both techniques work for all sorts of people, and are especially helpful for towards goal setting for ADHD adults.

I used to get very stressed at the end of each year, writing down all my goals and staring at the vast amount ahead of me in panic. This year, I devised a new technique which has helped me understand how the goals fit into my life. Without understanding how your goals fit into your life and your lifestyle choices for the future, you can’t evaluate how successful you’ve been at them.

This year, I started out by dividing the goals into three segments, 1.Personal Passions, 2.Personal Development and 3.Professional Development. They were ordered according to how excited I felt about beginning work on each of them. Prioritisation is important. Tim Ferriss uses the Pareto Principle for this, suggesting  you eliminate all but the 20% of tasks that help you accomplish 80% of your work. Leo Baubata suggests that you should only have one or two big goals for the year.

Telling someone with ADHD they should only have two big goals for the year is pointless. We’re interested in so many things, and we’d like to do them all! Once again, I wanted to accomplish too much in too little a time. This is where the reflection of how these goals fit into my life came in.

First, I simplified them. For example, I looked at the tasks set out under ‘professional development’, the column I was least excited about, and wondered how to combine them. Usually, there is a core at the heart of all of the tasks. In my case, my rusty math was holding me back – learning tricks and hacks along the way to fill in the gaps would cost more time than going back to basics. Also, the idea of learning math again excited me. This made things a lot clearer, and I felt striking everything off that list and replacing it with this new goal was the right thing to do.

After, I allocated time within the day to accomplish these goals. These times aren’t huge blocks, they’re mostly between 20 to 45 minutes, sometimes going up to 90, but most of them are short. The next step I took was to create rituals that would help me accomplish these goals. I analysed when the best time for different tasks were, and made time for these on a day to day basis. I also considered that my energy is highest in the mornings, and therefore the things that matter most should be done then.

By breaking goals down in this way, simplifying them and ritualising the effort, I leave enough time and mental space for other things. We mustn’t forget that we all need time to dream.