Well, here it is, almost Labor Day. Many families, including my own, are now looking at starting up their “regular” routines again. And many are looking forward to it. I know I am. I had a great summer that included traveling, camping, visiting with people I am fond of whom I don’t get to see very often, chauffeuring my son all over the place, and getting to some projects I really wanted to get done.
What I didn’t do though, is work on this blog. And it isn’t because I didn’t think about it or didn’t want to. What I did was a very ADHD thing. I took time off from a routine, thinking it would only be for a couple of weeks, and then the routine totally fell apart. It’s now been a couple of months since I wrote regularly.
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve got a good thing going. You can trust yourself to do what ever it is on a regular basis. And then in a matter of days it’s like you never had that habit or routine at all? This happens to everyone some of the time, but people with ADHD are particularly prone to this kind of lapse.
We all know that the level of payoff or consequence of letting a routine go doesn’t affect a darn thing. What does matter is the more immediate the payoff or consequence, the easier it is to do something. It doesn’t matter if the payoff or consequence is big, if it’s not immediate, it’s hard to take it seriously. Unfortunately, even with immediate payoff or consequence, there’s no guarantee of follow through.
So now that I’m working to get back on track myself, I thought I’d share four of my strategies for developing routines:
- Make it easy, make it quick.
- Find ways to make it interesting.
- Up the ante of doing or not doing it.
- Get a buddy to do it with you.
Here are some applications to help you get the idea.
- Assuming you brush your teeth regularly already(!), put your pills out next to the tooth brush so it makes it easy to both remember them and take them (the “easy and quick” trick).
- If you need to exercise and like numbers, keep statistics on your progress (the “make it interesting” trick).
- If housekeeping is your bugaboo, invite people over on a regular basis so you’ll have to clean up or be embarrassed (the “up the ante” trick).
- If doing the dishes is something you usually put off, get someone to do them with you (the “buddy” trick).
So, those are my tricks. What do you do to develop and stay with your important routines?