3 Simple Time Management Tools for Adults on the Spectrum
Whether you are employed, self-employed, unemployed, or in school—time management skills are necessary to complete tasks and avoid stressors that come with being pressured by a deadline or feeling like there are too many tasks and no way to prioritize them.
As a self-employed autistic adult with mediocre (at best) executive functioning, many mornings I wake up and immediately feel a sense of overwhelm by the amount of tasks that need to be completed. If I am able to get my thoughts straight about what I need to do that day, I am often thrown a task or errand out of the blue that I did not plan for and my brain goes haywire. Time management and prioritizing tasks efficiently has often felt like an impossible feat for me. If I don't use tools to schedule my time, I end up getting overwhelmed and then I'm not able to do much of anything but curl up under a blanket.
Scheduling times to take breaks, go on a walk and have creative activities worked into my day is part of my self-care and it also makes me more efficient. Knowing that I have MAJOR resistance to time management (even those words makes me cringe), schedules, calendars, etc., I decided to try to trick myself with a few simple tools that don't require too much effort.
Clockify is a free tool that anyone can use. You just have to sign up for an account. Basically, it is a timer that allows you to enter in the name of the task that you are currently working on and press enter. That's it—the timer continues to count and you can see it in your browser window. You can even tag a project or client name to stay extra organized. I also use it when I take breaks—eat lunch, take a shower, or go on a walk. You simply end the task, type in a new task and press enter. This allows me to visually see how my day went—how much time I spent on work and if I took enough breaks that day. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment and helps me to stay focused.
Any.do is a basic to-do list, but it is extremely simple to set up and work immediately. If you are frazzled, overwhelmed or just need to get some thoughts down—Any.do is the one for you (rhyme intended for dramatic emphasis). Beyond just scheduling tasks, this app allows you to quickly set a reminder, share with a contact, or organize tasks into simple categories. There is also an added Grocery Shopping list section that you can share with your partner or roommate, so that grocery shopping can go as efficiently as possible (one of my personal pain points). Any.do also immediately syncs from your desktop to your smart phone for quick access.
3. Focus Keeper
Focus Keeper is a simple app for iOS (iPhone) that allows you to set a 25 minute countdown timer for a single task (you can also change it to less or more time—up to an hour). Once the 25 minutes is completed, it prompts you to take a short break. After four “rounds” of 25 minute periods, it prompts you to take a longer break. This is perfect to use at work, whether you are working in an office or at home. For me, I either find myself completely distracted or in hyper-focus mode where I will work for hours and forget to move my body, drink water or eat. If you need help staying on task and being productive, or if you are someone who goes into hyper-focus mode and need reminders to take breaks—Focus Keeper helps to motivate you to finish a goal or task while scheduling in important pauses. You can easily turn the sounds off or customize it to your liking as well.
I hope that one or all of these tools help you find ways to be successful with managing time and staying focused. Work / life balance is important as well as scheduling in restorative or creative activities such as drawing, painting, or playing with sensory toys.
Comment below with other tools or tips that you have found that help you stay productive and on-task.