After I developed my routines, I began to see just how much effort and time it takes to run my life. Nobody else I know needs to take time at the beginning of every single day to set two alarms for every item on their calendar (including meals). I’ve gone over the routines time and time again, trying to find anything to cut or to shorten. At this point, I think I’ve trimmed as much as I’m realistically going to. I’ve reached the point where eliminating would cause more harm than the time it takes to do the task.
On average, it takes me 4 to 5 hours a day to complete my routines and that still seems like a staggering amount of time to spend on anything. I’ve been wracking my brain and creativity trying to come up with a solution to give me more time in my days. And recently I’ve implemented something that seems almost magical to me.
I don’t have a dishwasher unless you count my hands, and while I do love cooking, I’m not so fond of cleaning up afterward. Add to this the fact that any time I cook a meal from scratch, not only does that take time, but it creates more time needed for clean up. I also struggle with digestive issues and occasionally need to limit my diet to very simple and easily digested foods. In what I consider true ADHD fashion, I have combined these challenges and reduced the impact of both.
I am working diligently to produce a variety of premade and frozen meals. The benefits of this are numerous. Firstly, when food is made in large amounts, the preparation is far more efficient. For example, it is more efficient in terms of time and possibly even power/gas to bake eggs in a casserole, then slice them for 7 breakfast wraps than to cook two eggs 7 times. Second, the clean up is once, instead of multiple times, and the dishes are reduced to one plate for each meal eaten. And that isn’t even taking into consideration dietary preferences, health, and cost.
While doing research, I discovered not everything freezes well, as might be expected. However, if a salad dressing (such as Miracle Whip) is used, instead of mayo, tuna and chicken salad sandwiches become a freezer option. Yogurt is another thing that freezes very well. And did you know that hummus is freezer friendly? I didn’t, until a week ago.
Not everyone has the time, skills, or inclination to invest time in this way. The basic concept, however, of investing time in order to have more of it later, is a stellar one. Folding laundry is another example of a time investment. Sure, it’s entirely possible to leave clothes in a hamper and dig around looking for socks every morning. But that takes far longer than putting everything away all at once.
Another very specifically ADHD time investment is a technique I try and employ and recommend to clients called the two minute rule. If something takes 2-5 minutes to accomplish, do not put it off until later or write it on a list. Do it as soon as the task occurs. Because our brains have a way tricking us into thinking things will take very different amounts of time than they actually will. In the case of small things, we often grow them in our imaginations until we are convinced they will take much longer and much more effort than they actually will. And apart from anything else, I feel really silly writing something on a list when it would probably have taken less time to simply do that task.
Technological automation is another form of time investment. I’ve experimented in a small way with websites such as IFTTT and the things that can be accomplished by our devices is astonishing, to me. If you’re even less technologically inclined than I am (and believe me, it’s only the simple language of IFTTT that allows me to use it) automation can also be applied by sitting down to write a fill-in-the-blanks form email that is frequently sent. Or setting up accountability to accomplish a task that’s been put off. Or hiring an accountant to file taxes.
Investing time is a concept that has limitless possibilities. The challenge for many of us with ADHD is that it’s almost the exact opposite of how we are used to thinking. Anyone who struggles with this brain type will probably tell you they live their lives reacting, to the next crisis, rushing to keep appointments, grabbing things and running out the door. A constant whirlwind of frantic activity trying to catch up. Time investment is pausing to consider what can be done now to benefit the future. And possibly putting in more effort than is strictly necessary right now to pay off in the future.
What things in your life could benefit from an investment of time?
Freezer Egg Wraps
Makes approximately 12 small size wraps.
(Created by my mother-in-law.)
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1 cup cheddar, grated
Diced sweet bell pepper, diced ham, crumbled bacon, chopped spinach, sliced green onion, diced tomato.
Saute butter, onion, garlic until soft. Set aside.
Note: omit this step if it’s too much bother.
Scramble eggs in a large bowl, add cheeses, salt and pepper, optional ingredients of choice, onion and garlic mixture, and mix through.
Grease a 9” by 9” baking dish and pour in egg mixture. Bake at 375°F for 30-40 mins, or until firm and a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Slice into pieces the correct size for a wrap.
Note: this recipe should make approximately 12 small size wraps.
Place a slice in a wrap, fold up, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze. Best consumed within three months.
Note: as an option to ensure the wraps do not become soggy, freeze the slices wrapped in plastic wrap and add the tortilla wrap directly before heating up.
Remove plastic wrap and heat wraps in microwave, toaster oven, or conventional oven. Experiment with 30 seconds to 1 min for microwaves and toaster ovens and 3 to 5 mins for ovens at a time until the wrap is warm but not burned.