Four Tricks to Get Back On Track

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:

  1. Make it easy, make it quick.
  2. Find ways to make it interesting.
  3. Up the ante of doing or not doing it.
  4. Get a buddy to do it with you.

Here are some applications to help you get the idea.

  1. 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).
  2. If you need to exercise and like numbers, keep statistics on your progress (the “make it interesting” trick).
  3. 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).
  4. 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?

4 thoughts on “Four Tricks to Get Back On Track”

  1. 1 Compete with yourself or with someone else.
    2. Set a timer and compete with the timer.
    3. Turn it into a game.
    4. Set a reward for doing it, something you really want.
    5. Find a way to break all the rules and still get it done.
    6. Future pace what the future effects will be. Is it worth it?
    7. Think what would a person that could do this be able to also do. Do I want to be that person?
    8. Mindmap it to find the way to do it that’s the most fun.
    9. Imagine you’re competing in the finals of a world contest and you win a million dollars if you complete it in X amount of time. The race is on. What will you spend the money on? Now use all the ADD creativity and ADD hyperactivity you can muster to WIN.
    10. Become curious about what will be the first interesting thing about this, and then hyperfocus

  2. Hey Rick, it’s good to hear from you! I love this list. Thanks for sharing. Making a task into a game by racing or competing or designating a prize for “winning” work really well, especially if you’re competitive by nature.

    Another trick is something *you* taught me: penalize yourself for *not* doing it! I used this with one client, and after having a good laugh about it, his chosen penalty was to flush real money down the toilet if he failed to meet his goal. It worked like gang-busters and he was able to keep himself motivated and on track through a particularly difficult period in his life.

  3. Sarah, your idea of flushing money down the toilet is an excellent example of being motivated by pain instead of pleasure. Almost all the so called “success” books focus on motivating with a reward, but in reality many people are much more motivated by avoiding pain, than by achieving pleasure

    And when you customize the solution like you did above, you get a much higher success rate.

    You have to admit, it would be pretty tough to watch money being flushed down the toilet. Great idea.

  4. well, I just typed a long comment and somehow lost the page and here I am again. This whole day has been what you described. BUT, it lead me to your website and blog – via blogsquad. I’ve been trying to get a blog going and have set it up all by myself, which is why it is not yet mapped both ways to my website. STUBBORN. Always trying to do it all. Loved your flushing money down the toilet metaphor. Thanks VERY much for that reminder. Love your site. thanks, judi jerome
    First Attempt:

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