This has been the most 'productive' year of my life in a lot of ways. I've found new methods and tools to keep me on track with my projects, and discovered that I was already doing a lot of the right things without knowing why. It's also been emotionally tough to look back on my life up to this point from this new perspective. I've spent a long time convinced that my lack of productivity was a moral failing, instead of the result of brain chemistry and unrealistic expectations.
ADHD can affect people's emotions, organisation, perception of time, ability to concentrate, activation, and more. I notice all of these effects in myself, to varying degrees, but difficulty with activation is the symptom that's caused me the most pain. What is activation? There's a longer description at that link, but essentially it's the function that lets you actually get down to doing things. Impaired activation is what makes the difference between me sitting down and writing an article well before the deadline, and me spending a weekend staring at my computer screen in agony, because I know what I want to write, the program is open, and I—just—can't—do it.
I've spent countless hours in that latter state over the years, frozen and unable to understand why, when I wanted to work on my homework, writing project or job application, it was impossible to just start. Getting a diagnosis and medication has helped a lot, both practically and by letting me forgive myself for what I assumed, in the past, was laziness. That's not the end of the story, though. There are a lot of tools and methods I use to help myself manage everything I want to do, some old and some new.
Tools (the least interesting bit)
I use Beeminder to track things I want to make habits, like practising with Duolingo and filling out my timesheets for work. I love the output graphs and reminders; unfortunately, the financial sting for derailing doesn't work as an incentive for me at all, so I cap my pledges fairly low and resign myself to occasionally paying out.
For to-do lists, I use Todoist. It has a very usable app, again with reminders, and integrates with Beeminder (via Docket—thanks, Tom Parker!), Google Calender and holaSpirit, which we use at my work. Todoist also has the nice feature of being able to automatically reschedule overdue tasks, handy for when a couple of dozen have built up and start putting you off opening the app!
I also like sensory cues to myself that it's time to get down to work (whether for my job or personal projects): for example, putting on over-the-ear headphones or making a fresh cup of coffee.
Long before I realised I had ADHD, I could tell that the Scrum process we follow in my job as a software developer at Liip was really helping me get stuff done. Working in short sprints, with a review and reset every two weeks, prevents tasks from dragging on forever with no resolution. Having a sticky note for each task, on a highly-visible Scrum board in the middle of our workspace, helps me keep all the things I'm working on clear in my mind. Well, actually, sticking them up there lets me clear them out of my mind, so I can work on one thing at a time.
The daily standup meeting is possibly the most helpful aspect. Sometimes I really need to say things out loud before I can do them, even if it's just, "I'm going to finish the [foo] ticket and then pair with Michelle on the [bar] thing." Honestly, it also helps a lot that the rest of the team knows what I'm working on. There's no space for me to wriggle away into my own daydreaming world, which is good, because all I would do there is panic at not knowing where to begin.
Pair programming all the things!
The thing that helps me the absolute most—with activation, organisation, all the rest—is having someone else around who gets it.
Sometimes it's as simple as joining a friend for writing sprints, because working on my novel happens ten times as reliably when there's somebody in the room with me. It can be blocking out time on a weekend with my partner to plan a conference talk I want to give ... and in that case, 'planning' might look like me talking, him taking notes, and me being amazed that, out of thin air, my talk has a structure I can easily fill in.
Sometimes it means my partner reminding me to go to bed and get up in the morning. Other times, it's me asking him to tell me to do a task, because without that prompt, I'm stuck. This could be embarrassing, if I let it be. I prefer to focus on all the stuff I'm getting done, now that I've accepted the extra help I need to do it.