When Will Then Be Now? Time Management Struggles
I have exactly two times that I can understand: now or not now. This creates all kinds of problems with being a functioning adult. Anything that is “not now” might as well be never. It goes away and I just forget about it. Whether it’s a bill, a bit of housework, a card or gift that needs to be sent, or whatever, if it’s not scheduled and doesn’t need to be done RIGHT NOW, it ceases to exist in my mind.
If it weren’t for the fact that I do laundry every Sunday, I’d only do it when I realize I’m out of underwear. If I’m mailing your Christmas gift, expect it around February. My regular bills get paid during my “desk dates” twice a month, but anything outside of those has to be left out on the kitchen table or it won’t get paid.
Real life example: I need to change the lightbulb on my balcony, but I can’t figure out how to take the fixture off, so I need to call the apartment office. However, this is not pressing. I can get along just fine without that, at least until the evenings get dark too early. So every now and then I try to turn on that light and remember that the bulb is out, but because it’s after hours at that point I never remember to actually call the office. It doesn’t have to be done NOW – in fact, it can’t be done until the office opens the next morning – so it becomes “not now”. This light has been out since early spring, and it is now October.
This is why I suck so badly at time management. When I was in school, my parents just kind of took it as read that I would be up until midnight the night before a paper or project was due. I thought that was just how you did things when you had a deadline because I couldn’t understand the idea of getting things done before they were due. As the deadline approaches, “not now” morphs into NOW, and then I can remember to do whatever it is.
I don’t know how to get around this. I have a planner, which I barely use. I have a to-do list app that’s set up like an RPG (Habitica – it’s really kind of awesome), and I do use that, sort of. I can make an ongoing to-do list, track habits or set up recurring tasks for various days of the week. But somehow setting deadlines and goals is kind of beyond me.
It creates issues with my job performance, which I’ve become very adept at covering. My diagnosing psychologist implied that, due to my high IQ, my half-assed work looks comparable to the average person’s good work. That’s certainly how I made it through school. My parents (one of them an English professor) encouraged it to the point that I thought that was what you were supposed to do in high school – learn to be a bullshit artist. That skillset has kept me employed, but it’s also kept me at a level far beneath what people think I “should” be able to do.
And now here I am, looking at trying to be self-employed, with all that that entails. I truly wonder if I’m capable of it. I keep thinking that if I found the right planner, I could do it. But then, I hear that’s so common there’s a term for the right planner: “planner peace”. If I could schedule my days very strictly, I think I would be alright. But I also know that there are so many days where I can’t make myself do much of anything. I wish I knew how other people do it.
Does anyone have advice on time management for Aspies? Recommendations for a good planner that lets you plan a whole day by the hour? Or any way to find some kind of middle ground between NOW and “not now”?