"You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine."
- John C. Maxwell
I used to think I was picky. Things had to be done a certain way, in a specific order, in a manner that made sense to me.
But when I was diagnosed with ADHD, I realized that I wasn't just picky - I had unconsciously developed routines and strategies to help me survive in a non-ADHD world.
I like to say that people who have ADHD love routine as a noun but hate it as an adjective.
So, having routines that help us plan, schedule and remember serves us very well but when those routines become mundane and monotonous, we tend to let them slide. It can be difficult to find balance between developing routines that help you succeed and keeping them interesting enough to avoid getting bored with them. This is exactly why I'm here today - to talk about how to develop routines that serve you.
Through my own experience, and through working with others, I've discovered that the key to finding that balance between developing routines that you stick to is all about developing unconscious habits. One strategy to do this is to look for places where you can eliminate the sense of choice.
Eliminating choice means that it's not optional, you can't put it off for another week; you just have to get it done now.
For example, some people wash the dishes every evening after their last meal of the day. They don't even think about it - they just do it. Others look at the pile of dishes and think, "Hmm, I don't feel like cleaning those tonight. I think I'll watch TV instead."
By reframing your mindset, you make sure you have no option to procrastinate. You might create a rule for yourself that you can't watch TV in the evening until the dishes are cleaned and put away. Soon, you won't need the rule - it will become a habit that you no longer have to think about.
There are other little tricks you can use to help yourself create a routine. You can...
- Set yourself an alarm on your phone,
- Program Suri to speak to you,
- Leave Post-It notes around your home in strategic locations,
- Or create a mental association with a separate task that reminds you to do the one you always forget.
For people with ADHD, the trick is to get those new habits to a place where you don't have to think about it, you no longer frame it as a choice and it becomes a regular part of how you function in the world.
It will take some time and you may have incidents of relapse, but that's where it can be helpful to have someone like me in your corner to support your efforts to change and offer suggestions to help you along your path.