Take One Minute a Day to Reduce Chaos
Living a stress-free life with ADD/ADHD can be difficult, especially when establishing daily routines that come so easily to friends and family can seem like huge obstacles to overcome.
To be honest, keeping an impeccably clean and organized home is difficult for most people – ADD or not. So I’m not going to even attempt to write about that. But with a few simple steps, you can minimize the impact that ADD can have on your life. In fact, you could probably pick just ONE little thing that could go a long way towards reducing needless chaos.
For many people, a common morning stress-producer begins the night before, in the bedroom. If you tend to take off your clothes at night and drop them in a pile instead of putting them away, it’s a pretty sure bet that you are adding extra time to your morning.
My ADHD coaching client, a lawyer, often ran late for her important court appointments. She was a “clothes piler” who let her clothes pile up where she dropped them. When she had to put on a suit for court, instead of locating it quickly, putting it on and getting on with her day, she had to hunt for it in the pile, and iron out the wrinkles. This added an extra 15 minutes to her morning which she hadn’t accounted for, making her late getting out the door.
It would take less than a minute to hang her clothes up as she used them. But convincing herself to take that extra minute seemed an insurmountable struggle, bringing up instant memories of past failures to maintain organized habits.
When you consider one minute to hang up clothes, versus 15 minutes of ironing when you need to get out the door, logic would say that hanging up clothes makes the most sense. Yet, if you’re an ADD / ADHD adult, chances are that logic loses out to impatience in at least one area of your life.
Does ADD impatience win out over common sense in your daily routines?
• Dishes – Do you let them soak, or put them in the dishwasher right away… or have to work at scrubbing off crusted food later?
• Laundry – Do you drop dirty clothes in the hamper… or have to search for them mixed in with clean clothes?
• Papers – Do you label them with name or date, file them… or let them pile up at random with no way to quickly identify them when you need them?
Taking small steps like hanging up your clothes rather than letting them pile up – or cleaning out your closet – or doing the dishes as you use them instead of keeping a messy kitchen are just a few examples of small steps you can take towards removing some stress from your life.
Each of these habits takes about a minute when you do the organized thing right away, versus much longer (and more stressful) when you don’t. But with ADD/ADHD, we tend to choose not to take that minute. Ultimately, when we’re up against a deadline, or we run out of clean clothes or dishes, adrenaline kicks in and we deal with the consequences of our impatience and disorganization.
We all know how hard it can be to change patterns of behavior. We are, after all, creatures of habit, and trying to break our bad practices and substitute them with more efficient, effective and actionable behaviors can be a serious challenge.
How to make one small change a habit
Choose one small action step that you think would help you and your daily routine the most. Here is how to make a conscious and concerted effort to focus on that change and follow through on your commitment.
- For a week or so, write down the small step, and check off each day you do it.
- Write down what got in the way when you didn’t do it.
- As soon as you realize you didn’t do it, don’t just say “oh darn!” Go back and do it. That’s what will form the new step into a habit.
It sounds simple, but small changes will make big impacts. ADDitude magazine recently offered a short list of suggestions on even more small steps that you can take to help improve your quality of life.
Taking these baby steps can go a long way, but, just like a baby steps, you should tread cautiously and carefully forward so that you can remain on stable footing as you move toward improving you. ADHD coaching will support you in making the changes you need to have your best life. Click here to learn more. Give me a call at 914-478-0071 or email me today to learn more or to schedule an initial coaching consultation.