One of my first attempts to manage my ADHD was to write everything down in a reminder app. And I mean everything. I would routinely have fifty reminders firing every day. It was exhausting but, I reasoned, at least I wasn’t forgetting things. My life at the time was simple enough that I never got to the point that I’ve read about and been told so many people get to. That is to begin to entirely ignore all notifications meant to remind.
Many small pieces contributed to changing that way into the ways I have now. I began using multiple apps and programs for different applications, for one thing. I now have distinct apps for routines, task inbox, long-term storage of ideas, task management, and so on. The formation of my routines helped a tremendous amount by itself. Overall though, the main theme I have developed to manage my ADHD is to place everything I need to be aware of into the path I organically walk so I cannot help but see it. Also to have multiple points of awareness bundled up together.
One of the first things I do in the morning, as so many of us do (for good or ill), is look at my smartphone. And so my first routine of the day lives in an easy-to-follow list on there. I do not have to remember every one of the many items of that routine, I only have to remember to start the routine. And by this time I’ve done it so many times that I was able to turn off the alarm that reminded me to start the routine. Starting is now a habit, even if the whole routine isn’t quite a habit yet. The same is true for my other routines. Activate once and I am off and away.
Any time I think of something I may want to do in the future, no matter what category it is in, I have a central place where it goes. I do not have to make any decisions in the moment about when it has to get done and which app is best to store the information, it just lives in my inbox. Then, during my Sunday routine, I process each item in the inbox, one at a time. Once again, I can add things to my inbox in the certainty that they will be seen when I’m in a time and place and able to engage with them and make all the necessary decisions.
One of the biggest challenges of this concept is how much to include in these paths of daily life. Too much and I would ignore some or all of it. Too little and vital aspects get missed out. This is a balance I have only been able to work out by feel and by listening to and respecting my brain and its quirks. It is no use wishing I would just do something when I really just will not. Working with my brain rather than against it has been transformative.
This concept has also meant sacrifice. There are many things I wish I could do daily, but I know in my gut that if I add too many of them, the entire edifice will collapse. I currently have three whole things I am putting effort into every single day, without fail, and that after many years of hard work.
Other examples of this are small but powerful.
I always take my meds and supplements at 8:30PM due to timing for one of them. So, during my Sunday routine. I set a reminder for 8:35PM the day before to pack what I need in my purse for the next evening of any time I’m going to be out of the house after that time.
I sometimes put short-term post-it notes on my phone or keyboard, where I am inevitably going to see them.
Grocery lists are the same way. As long as I remember to bring the list, I will not have to remember all the items. And once the list has been successfully brought along, over time that is a habit, with many things contained into one, because of being certain of running into the next item on the list.
One final example is my task management.
I keep all my currently active tasks in Trello and the ones I have chosen to work on in the next month or so all have due dates. These either come organically from other people (thank you!) or I ask for them, in the form of homework with my coach or accountability from a friend. Trello has a cool little feed where you can see all the cards with due dates together, and in order. I only need to have the item “look at due dates in Trello” in my morning routine and I know I will run headfirst into the thing that is most urgent, in terms of date.
I often have mysterious bruises from bashing into walls and furniture, but in terms of my ADHD management, a lot of stress is relieved by running into everything without having to think about it.
What things do you need to run into in your life?