I don’t mean to brag but I was working from home before it became pandemic cool! In 2019 when I launched Franki’s Academic and Behavioral Consulting, it made the most sense as a Mom of three to work from home. I loved working in my pjs and connecting with educators, parents, camp professionals, and more through webinars and video conferencing. This gave me the privilege of being able to greet my three kids the moment they got off the bus, have a short conversation about their day, and then send them off for their coveted screen time and retreat back into my home office– aka a corner of my bedroom! While working from home has distinct advantages, my home is full of distractions galore and my ADHD brain sometimes focuses on all of them at the same time instead of giving the attention that is needed to the task at hand. When I found myself doing laundry, rearranging my dining room furniture, or looking at old baby pictures instead of writing an article with a firm deadline I knew I had to ADHD coach myself into a more productive professional. So what did I do? I dusted off my trusty Time Timer- a vintage relic from my classroom days and got to work. This was so effective (of course it was, Time Timer visual timers are the best!) that I reached out to Time Timer sharing my groupie status of their product and became an affiliate. Time Timer shared some of their latest and greatest innovative products with me and I use them all on a daily basis to be the best ADHDpreneur I can be. Here are my top 5 ADHD timer hacks. Which one do you think will work best for you?
1. Allow that creative (and distracted mind) some leeway in a structured fashion. Sometimes my brain craves the stimulation of wandering through the internet. I’ll open just enough tabs that my computer can still function and flip back and forth from the FAAB social media pages, to the latest Time Timer Blogs, to an article I’m writing. This is actually productive in small doses, it fosters creativity! Creativity can be a major ADHD gift and we don’t want to allow for it. So here is how I allow for creative flow without getting totally sidetracked. I look at my “must do” list for the day accounting for firm deadlines, client meetings… and then I determine how much “creative free flow” time I can accommodate. Typically I set my Time Timer MOD for 20-30 minutes pop it in the new Time Timer Dry Erase Board and write the next “must do” task down right there. This allows me to enjoy my creative time and puts me right on the correct trajectory the minute the timer goes off. I use the visual and auditory modes for the timer for this purpose. This way I can completely lose myself in the creative process, glance over and visually see how much time I have left and be assured that the auditory beep will break that hyper-focus when needed so I can start on the day's essential projects.
2. As a private practice therapist with back-to-back telehealth clients, I need to stay on track with session times. Not only do I do this for my clients’ benefit I also want to protect that 5 minute cushion between patients so that I can refill my water bottle and take a deep breath or two! I use my Time Timer Original for this task and turn the auditory feature off, so I don’t disrupt my client’s talking when our time nears an end. This allows me to inconspicuously look over and see a quick visual of how much time is left without having to constantly look at a clock and then do the math! I can easily see if we’ve used a quarter, half, or more of our time. As a bonus my pediatric clients like if I put the timer in camera view so they have this visual tool at their disposal as well.
3. I run workshops for educators, mental health professionals, parents and more as part of my business. Sometimes we are on a webinar together and sometimes we are in person. On webinars I continue to utilize my Time Timer Original that is always set up in my office “corner.” When I travel, whether it’s to the next town over, across the country or even out of the country to speak my Time Timer MOD (I like the tie-dye one!) comes with me. This allows me to properly pace my presentation whether I’m given 20 minutes or a full day to cover my topic.
4. As an entrepreneur, consultant, author, therapist and more… I need to use every moment at my disposal to work on long term projects while also being on time for a myriad of commitments. I’ve been lucky enough to film several interviews right from my desk with local news crews, podcasts and cable access magazine shows. As you can imagine these make me a bit more nervous than my day-to-day video meetings. I want to be able to complete my other “must do” tasks throughout the day without being completely distracted with anxiously checking my watch, worried I may lose track of time completely. I use my time timers with the audible option switched on to alert my busy ADHD brain when it’s time to save my project, log in for my interviews and fix my camera, sound and lighting so it’s just right, while leaving some time to freshen up my lipstick!
5. It is a giant misunderstanding that those with ADHD can’t focus! We are champion “focusers” (I hear once you publish a book, you are allowed to make up words!!!) The real obstacle is that we try to focus on everything at the same time! I will often try to take advantage of my work from home life by making dinner and catching up on emails simultaneously. This can work brilliantly with a few tools in place to assure those emails get attended to and I don’t end up with burnt chicken. I use the magnetic Time Timer TWIST in my kitchen daily. It sticks right to my fridge. This allows me to set a timer and have a visual of how long that sheet pan dinner will need to stay in the oven. The magnetic capability assures that I won’t have to go searching for my favorite timers that the other ADHD brains in my house have utilized and left somewhere…under couch cushions, under their beds… and anywhere you can imagine!
These are just a handful of my favorite ways to use visual timers to keep me on task. What are yours?
About the Author:
Franki Bagdade owns and operates FAAB Consulting, which offers school and camp consultation as well as training for professionals in education, camping, and mental health fields. In addition, Franki recently launched a solo private practice as a clinical social worker specializing in ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, Emotional Regulation, Executive Functioning, and Parenting Support.
Franki’s first book, “I Love My Kids But I Don’t Always Like Them,” was published in October of 2021. It spent several weeks on the Amazon New Releases Best Seller charts in the category of “Parenting Children with Disabilities.” Franki has written several articles for publications such as Metro Parent (Metro Detroit), Chicago Parent, American Camping Association-Camping Magazine, Autism Parent Magazine (UK), Respectability and more.