It’s time to get strategic around Christmas

It’s time to get strategic around Christmas.

If you’re a person who finds organization a challenge the rest of the year round, it may reassure you to know that you’re not alone in finding Christmas a mega-challenging time.

Christmas is a crazy-making time precisely because all the challenges come at once. That means all the strategies we need throughout the year are needed more than ever. You will need to bring out the strategies, tools, and techniques you have for managing yourself and your stuff to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Unless you want to start your Christmas preparations months before the merry day (and personally, I find that prospect extremely unappealing), all the preparations need to be done within a fairly short period over a few weeks. On top of all the other day-to-day stuff which still needs doing.

Just the kind of thing that we ADHDers find challenging. There’s so much to do and so much to remember. That’s because there is a lot to do in a short timescale. In some ways that can be a tremendous advantage for those with an ADHD brain. We are great at sprints so you can view a time-limited event like Christmas, just like a sprint or series of sprints. It’s only a few weeks away, and then it’s finished.

What kind of strategies are particularly useful at Christmas time?

  1. Simplify: 

 Instead of feeling bad because you haven’t time to personally send out 100 cards to all your friends, relations, and people you want to thank at the end of the year, why not take the pressure off yourself and send some of your greetings another way, which doesn’t involve doing it all at the same time? People will be glad to hear from you anytime; it doesn’t necessarily have to be done before Christmas day, does it?

2. Do what you can in advance to make life easier on the day:

I have spent nearly every Christmas Eve of my life hurriedly wrapping presents at the last minute, but not this year! This year I will be relaxing with my feet up, with my presents already wrapped and under the tree. I set myself the challenge of completing this just a bit at a time so that on Christmas Eve, I can focus on enjoying the company of others without this task hanging over me.

3. Ask others for help:

Attempting to do all of the Christmas preparations on your own can be a recipe for martyrdom and resentment, especially if you’re providing meals for people. You won’t get brownie points for feeling put upon!

For some reason, our ADHD brains think it is necessary to do everything ourselves, even if we nearly collapse with the effort. Delegating can help you by reaching out to others to see what part of the preparations they would be willing to take on and share. If you ask yourself, “What’s preventing me from asking for help?” you may come up with some interesting answers that could help you move forward.

You can feel calmer and more in control by using straightforward strategies such as these examples to reduce the overwhelm that comes from having so much to do in a short time.

Simplify – reduce the sheer number of Christmas things to do.

Do what you can in advance – by doing things in advance, you clear your path for a more effortless and enjoyable time on the day itself.

Ask for help – many hands make light work, and are you aware that people love to help?

Why not pick just one thing you will do differently this year to make Christmas less stressful and more enjoyable? After all, if you end up having a good time, it’s much more likely that others will too.

The Impact of Being Able to Have a Break from Caring.

Image of mother and young adult female

The Impact of Being Able to Have a Break from Caring.

It’s Carers Rights day on Thursday 24th November. But wait, you may say, what is a carer and who are they caring for?

Firstly it’s important to distinguish between a paid support worker or personal assistant and an unpaid carer. A carer means someone providing unpaid care.

When we talk about carers we are referring to people who are unpaid carers of someone with a condition, disability, illness or of someone who is older. 1 in 8 people in the UK are currently caring for someone.

Carers rights include:

  • The right to a Carer’s Assessment and your identified needs being met
  • Rights at work and the right not to be discriminated against because of your caring role
  • The right to be recognised as a carer
  • The right to be included in hospital discharge planning
  • The right to register with your GP Practice as an unpaid carer to enable you to access health checks and Covid-19 and flu vaccinations
  • Carers right to a break

You can find out more about the rights and entitlements of carers.  Go here for more information:



What’s it like being a carer of an adult with a neurodivergent condition such as ADHD or Autism?

There’s a lot of concerns and worry that the young adult may not be coping with day to day life.

Carers can spend a lot of their time and energy looking for services which can potentially provide support or help for the young adult, including finding professionals who can undertake assessments and diagnoses.

These carers, who are often the parents of the young adult, may not feel able to get a break from their young adult or leave them alone, or they may have left home but still be needing high levels of support. That could be financial, practical, dealing with services, helping them get organised, providing emotional support, making sure they eat healthily, and keep their homes in a habitable state.

Many parents of young adults with Autism or ADHD and other health conditions as well, who contact me for support or information are unaware they are carers. Some of them are not surprisingly extremely tired and emotionally drained. Having a break from caring can make all the difference to a person’s life. As a carer myself I could not continue to provide care effectively without regular planned breaks from caring.

There are several ways to have breaks that you could consider:

One – getting a break from caring from the person that you provide care for, in other words arranging for someone else to take over from you and provide care instead.

Two – getting a break from your “workplace”; for carers this could mean getting away from your routine at home, and even your home itself. Most people who take time off work take it for granted that they will be spending time away from their place of work, however for carers whose workplace is their home, this aspect is often overlooked.

Breaks can be short like a few hours or a day out for yourself, or they can be longer and involve a night or two or even more away from your cared-for person or away from your home.

Things I have noticed when I get exhausted from caring continuously without a break:

I get crabby and irritable.

Life seems less enjoyable and I lose my sense of humour.

Things seem much more effortful, and I have much less energy to tackle the everyday jobs. It’s even harder to summon up extra energy for trips or days out, as I feel too tired to be able to cope with them.

I lose my sense of perspective, and caring seems to take up all my energy.

I begin to feel hopeless and weighed down by my caring responsibilities.

By contrast when I have had regular breaks:

I feel energised and my mood is more upbeat.

My sense of humour returns, and I feel more light-hearted.

I feel able to cope well with the day to day jobs. I can plan enjoyable activities, knowing I will have enough energy to be able to carry them out and enjoy them.

I can broaden my horizons outside of caring and widen my perspective to other aspects of my life.

I feel rested, and that caring is a part of what I do, not the whole of it.


If you are a carer and are feeling you could do with some advice and support, please do get in touch with one of the carers organisations.

Carers UK have a handy database you can search to find your local support organisations:

If you are based in Devon, Devon Carers has lots of information on its website. There is a Carer’s Rights Day being held in the Corn Exchange in Exeter on Thursday 24th November where you can drop in to speak to someone and find out more about what’s available.

Would you know what to do if someone was bullying you at work?

Would you know what to do if someone was bullying you at work? 

It’s Anti-bullying week this week, however it’s not just children who are subject to bullying. Bullying in the workplace is an all too common experience for people with differences, people with ADHD and/or ASD being no exception. If someone is behaving towards you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, then it’s worth asking yourself whether bullying could be behind it.

What constitutes bullying?

Bullying can be outright rudeness or arguments, or it can also be less obvious than that. It can take the form of piling work on someone, excluding or ignoring a person or their contribution, spreading malicious rumours, undermining with teasing, hurtful comments or slurs, or even denying training or promotion opportunities.

Your rights

If you have a neuro-divergent condition of any kind, it is worth finding out your rights, as people are often unaware of the support they are entitled to at work. Bullying may not be against the law as such, however when it is related to someone’s disability, it becomes classed as harassment, which is against the law.

Who can help?

It can be helpful to keep a factual log of what has been happening to you. If you cannot get the person to change their behaviour by informal means, i.e by speaking to them yourself, or getting someone you trust to support you or speak to them instead, then you could try speaking to your:

  •       manager
  •       human resources (HR) department
  •       trade union representative    

If this does not work, you can make a formal complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure. If after that you’re still being harassed, you can take legal action at an employment tribunal.

You can call the Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) helpline for advice:

Acas helpline

Telephone: 0300 123 1100

Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Acas has produced a guidance leaflet on bullying and harassment.

Download ‘Bullying and harassment at work: a guide for employees’ (PDF, 215KB)

For more information on what to do if you feel you are being bullied go to        

Get Where You Need to Go On Time, even with ADHD.

Get Where You Need to Go On Time, even with ADHD.

Someone looking at their watch to check the time

Getting to places on time, is a common scenario that my clients struggle with. Here’s how I helped one client get to her very first job successfully!

Client X was a young woman who had just landed her first job. She was delighted with herself about how she handled the interview and was looking forward to working in this new position. However, she was extremely anxious about how she was going to get to the job on time each day. According to my client she had a track record of being late for everything. Completely focused on her past negative experiences of being late and with her imagination running overtime, in her mind’s eye she was already losing the job by not being there on time.  This negative belief about herself was threatening to derail all the hard work she put in to get the job in the first place.

I pointed out to my client that she had in fact got to our coaching session in good time and asked her how she had accomplished this. She was a bit taken aback to grasp that here was evidence of her being somewhere on time. She began to realise that her attention was fixated on the occasions she had been late. She laughed and told me she’d used a reminder alarm on her phone. Because she was in the habit of having a phone with her everywhere she went, this worked well for her. Here was one tactic we could put to good use in order to help her get to work on time.

Next, we took an in-depth look at my client’s time estimation skills. I wanted to find out whether her way of judging how long it would take to accomplish tasks could be contributing to her challenges. Those of us with ADHD commonly have difficulties with estimating time accurately, and this can be one of the factors that leads to consistently being late.

We broke down the time after waking into all the tasks my client would need to accomplish before she left the house, and looked at each of them as separate entities. It turned out she was underestimating the time it would take her to get ready in the morning by a good 30 minutes. No wonder she was so often late. She simply had not been allowing enough time for all she needed to do in order to leave the house in the morning. I also helped her to understand that factoring in some time for whatever might arise unexpectedly was a key part of estimating time successfully.

 As a result of this new understanding, my client was able to adjust the time she would set her alarm to wake up and wake up 45 minutes earlier.

At this point my client said she already felt far more confident about getting to her new job on time, but there remained a tiny bit of uncertainty. As there were a few days left before the first day, I explained to my client that practising first with the pressure off can be a valuable way to start creating a new habit. She was very enthusiastic about this idea, and realised that in this way, she could tweak her timings if anything cropped up that she had forgotten about.

One week later when we met again, my client was excited to report that she had practised for the few days leading up to her first day at the job and had indeed discovered a couple of tweaks to her timings which she had addressed. She proudly told me that on the first day of her new job, she had arrived on time! On top of this she said the feeling of being in control of her time had allowed her a calm and confidence which made the whole day go well. This was a new and extremely positive experience for her.

Here’s what you can do to help yourself be on time:

  • Find out which negative beliefs about your capabilities may be getting in your way. You can certainly get a coach to help you with this.
  • Look at strategies you already use successfully in other parts of your life.
  • For issues with time, use timers, alarms, and reminders to help you.
  • Examine your time estimation skills for what you are trying to accomplish. Are you over or under-estimating time?
  • Chunk things down into their constituent parts so you can see them more clearly.
  • Factor in some contingency time for the unexpected.
  • To create a new habit, start practising when the pressure is off.
  • Make adjustments and tweaks as required before any critical points.

By selecting the right strategies, ADHD doesn’t need to be a barrier to getting where you need to be on time and in control.

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If time management and/or organisation are a challenge for you, please do get in touch to check my availability for one to one coaching.

I’m coach Anna Schlapp, B.A., ACC, coaching people with ADHD and other co-occurring conditions for 8 years in the UK and worldwide. You can get in touch with me here