I decided to take some time to consider the most important advice that I would give someone as we approach the new year. I think that as January approaches, I would encourage everyone to buy a planner or calendar for the year 2011. I have worked with several individuals who have come to me with difficulties related to ADHD or anxiety and often the first thing I tell them is to go out and buy a planner. I truly believe the value of keeping a record of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks cannot be underestimated.
By keeping a planner or calendar, you can enormously increase your ability to manage your tasks and goals. I have found that many people experience a great deal of anxiety because they are struggling to maintain a great deal of information in their immediate awareness. Any single person is likely trying to remember to mail the electric bill, pick up milk and bread, and finish an important project. Attempting to keep all of these items in your memory will likely lead to a lack of organization and a great deal of anxiety. By writing these things down in a planner, you are able to assign these tasks to specific days and times. Then, you will give these items your attention at those times, rather than trying to constantly keep them in the back of your mind until they are completed. Furthermore, you will be able to able to avoid the stress and anxiety of missed deadlines and overdue bills.
An additional benefit of keeping a daily planner is being able to track your accomplishments. I have spoken with many people who lay in bed at the end of the day wondering if they have accomplished enough. By writing down your daily tasks and then diligently crossing them off when they are completed, you are able to look back on your day and clearly see what you have accomplished. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Crossing off your tasks when they are completed is just as important as writing them down in the first place! Being able to look back on your day and see that you have completed all the tasks you had planned for the day provides a sense of accomplishment that encourages you to continue to work toward your goals for the following day.
I encourage anyone looking to improve their sense of wellbeing for the new year to begin keeping a daily planner or to use their daily planner more faithfully. The organizational and motivational benefit truly cannot be underestimated. I wish you a more organized and less anxious new year!