Throughout the Fall we are working toward creating, managing, and improving our routines. For those with ADHD, maintaining routines can be a challenge because of focus, distractions, and interest. It is not for lack of intention or motivation that gaps occur. Lack of consistency is a struggle. With strategies, it is possible to adhere more consistently to routines. Check out these ways to establish and maintain routines.
Establish routines with ADHD in mind
Knowing how you work best is the best start.
- Start small with adjustments to your routines. These small starts prevent being overwhelmed. A micro-step makes a difference. According to Thrive, the tiniest step forward can help you build the routines you want. A micro-step toward better productivity starts with spending 5 minutes prioritizing your to-do list each morning.
- Establish an environment that supports your routines. Placing your medication in a place where you see it each morning supports taking your medication regularly. Walk your environment to learn ways you can make it more empowering.
- Use reminders and leverage technology to support you. Using alarms with certain ring tones for certain tasks reminds you to initiate that routine. Use a variety of timers to remind you to start and end your routine. Make routines visual with charts and checklists placed strategically to cue your routine.
Empower time management to support routines
Time management focused on ADHD strengths helps you be more consistent in your routines.
- Know yourself and how you work best. Do you need a set time block for a routine or do you need a workflow that includes a series of steps? In either situation, walk through your routine to be sure you have established sufficient time to start and complete your routine.
- Account for or eliminate transition time. Transitions are difficult for those with ADHD to switch between tasks. You can factor in transition time to allow for the completion of the routine. If possible, eliminate a difficult transition to ensure your routine begins.
- Create external support for your time management. These are both physical support and in-person support. Physical support can be a clock, a timer, a phone, or a device. Our friends and colleagues support your efforts by being team players in your routines. Those around you can remind you and help you be more consistent.
Create a strong foundation for routines with self-care
There are always times when an oops will occur in your routines. Be kind to yourself and get back on track the next day. If you find there are too many oops, look at the structure of your day to find ways to create a better scaffolding.
- The best routines start with a great bedtime routine. Start small by creating an hour of wind downtime to get ready for bed. You will nee this time to prepare mentally to get to sleep.
- Positive affirmations and re-focusing perspectives help keep your goals of consistency possible. “Don’t give up on the person you are becoming.” Find a mantra that supports this effort.
- There is a fine balance between rigidity and consistency. Allow for some flow of flexibility in your schedule to accommodate unexpected events. Also, balance structure and overcommitment. When you are overly optimistic about what you can accomplish in a day, regardless of how important it all is, you will not be able to maintain your routines. Keep a positive attitude about routines and you will become more consistent.
- Remember that consistency does not mean perfection. It might require you to create data to support your success. Find your own success number rather than 100%.
Establishing and maintaining routines will require some extra effort for individuals with ADHD. It is the hardest part of all routines. By starting small, leveraging external aids, and empowering time management for the way you think, you will create consistent routines. The big picture is about creating a structure that gives you ample opportunity to thrive.