Add Structure to Your Day to Live Successfully with ADHD
Having a structured day – of course allowing for surprises, because every day is full of surprises – is the best way to keep disorganization in check when you are managing life with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Just like every other American child, my girls loved summer vacation. But for me, I struggled. Our family just runs so much more efficiently during the school year when our days have structure. As a family dealing with ADHD, having structure during the day is about the only thing that keeps us sane!
Over the summer, bedtimes slowly worked their way closer and closer to midnight. This, of course, throws off the entire next day as I noticed our wake-up times moving further and further away from 7am. I am lucky to have a flexible work schedule, but it really became more difficult as the summer went on to get everything done during a typical day when you start off “behind the 8-ball.”
Having a structured day – of course allowing for surprises, because every day is full of surprises – is the best way to keep disorganization in check when you are managing life with Attention Deficit Disorder. Setting up routines during the day can assure that all of your to-do list actually gets accomplished.
Dana Rayburn, author of the ADD Success newsletter and an ADHD Coach, offers some simple tips for planning out your typical day:
1) First, pick one small thing that, if done regularly, will make your life easier -- making the bed or sorting the mail. JUST ONE THING! Yes, you want it all to be perfect right away, but tackle one important task first, and then move on to the next. It will give you a great sense of accomplishment.
2) Next, figure out an easy way to do it (when, how often). Avoid the ADHD trap of making things too complicated or too perfect.
3) Create reminders to keep you on track. This step is VERY important – I like setting an alarm on my iPhone. I even create motivating titles so that at least I get a little chuckle with my reminder.
4) If you have a hard time doing one thing, don't give up. Try a different approach - Often a small adjustment is all you need. For example, some families review their upcoming week on Sunday night. But maybe that doesn’t give you enough time to pick up that poster board for your child’s science project or buy the appropriate ingredients for the dinner menu for the week. Try getting up 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the family on Saturday mornings, and you may find that this helps set your week off on the right foot.
5) When you can do that one thing consistently for two weeks, you're ready to add another small thing.