Get to Know and Love Your ADHD Brain

life-changing routines for ADHD

Life-changing Routines for ADHD

Welcome back, Queen! Today’s topic covers an area that I’m working hard to improve. I believe it will change my life for the better, and yours too!

So what’s one of the BEST things you can do for your brain? Yeah, you guessed it — Build routines. If you struggle with completing tasks, prioritizing, and staying organized, you will definitely benefit from this. 

How can you create life-changing routines for ADHD?

Keep reading to find out!

Read Short Version

How do you build a routine?

It takes planning and discipline, especially when you’re just getting started. But fear not — you got this! We’re in this together.

Let’s start by breaking this up into manageable steps:

  1. Start small
  2. Find the best tool for you
  3. Establish consistency
  4. Allow for wiggle room

1. Start small

You can set yourself up for success by beginning with bite-size tasks. Then, instead of introducing everything at once, you can start by building one new habit at a time. That way, the new habit will stick a lot sooner, and you’re not biting off more than you can chew.

You can build or rebuild your routine by attaching a new habit to one that’s already been established. For example, once you set the habit of brushing your teeth right after using the bathroom, you no longer forget to brush your teeth.

2. Find the best tool for you

Aside from my to-do list app, I’m working to implement additional tools to help me stay on top of my routines. ADHD brains indeed tend to struggle with working memory.

So what can you do if you keep forgetting your routine?

In my living room/kitchen area, I keep a whiteboard hanging up on the wall. I see it right after I wake up, and it’s visible throughout the day. If I forget to follow the routine written out on the board, I take it off the wall and put it right in front of me as I work.[the_ad id=”2795″]

3. Establish consistency

Do the same things at around the same time, every day.

To take out the guesswork and time spent on non-priorities, creating a schedule where you do things in the same order every day can make a difference in your productivity.

This applies to waking up and going to bed. A fluctuating schedule can throw anyone off and may affect your quality of sleep. I’m a mess without proper rest, so it takes high priority even on the busiest days! 

4. Allow for some wiggle room

Follow your set schedule, but allow for flexibility! You don’t need to be on the dot with everything you do. That adds unnecessary tension. Give yourself extra time in between new routines, especially at the beginning. Having an overly strict schedule with no flexibility is more stressful than helpful.

Don’t forget to schedule that essential self-care time!

As adults who are no longer in school and have a schedule laid out for us, we are catapulted into the “real world” expected to figure everything out independently, including the art of structuring our lives. 

You might find that structure sounds boring and repetitive. However, once you get used to a more consistent routine, you can get more done and feel less overwhelmed.

Personally, I like to be spontaneous and often do things just for the quick and satisfying dopamine hits! It can be extra challenging to control my impulses, but I feel more rewarded by following through on the things that benefit me long-term. 

On the other hand, I also get pretty overwhelmed when I continually procrastinate on my priorities, especially when I spend half the time wondering what the f#@! to put on my to-do list rather than actually taking action.

Creating routines and sticking to them is something I’m still working on. But I’m so ready to free up my brain to focus on other things than trying to remember all the things on my to-do list. 

After all, the brain is meant for processing, not for storing. And who doesn’t want more brain space?!

Photo by Blue Ollis on Unsplash

Why build a routine?

Think of a routine as a tool. Creating and maintaining a daily ritual frees up space in your brain and life! When you have a clear idea of what your day will look like, you will have more brain energy to invest in working on important tasks rather than overthinking what you should be doing in the first place.

Less thinking = more doing!

How do you build a routine?

It takes planning and discipline, especially when you’re just getting started. But fear not — you got this! We’re in this together.

Let’s start by breaking this up into manageable steps:

  1. Start small
  2. Find the best tool for you
  3. Establish consistency
  4. Allow for wiggle room

1. Start small

You can set yourself up for success by beginning with bite-size tasks. Then, instead of introducing everything at once, you can start by building one new habit at a time. That way, the new habit will stick a lot sooner, and you’re not biting off more than you can chew.

Pair new habits with old habits.

You can build or rebuild your routine by attaching a new habit to one that’s already been established. For example, once you set the habit of brushing your teeth right after using the bathroom, you no longer forget to brush your teeth.

If you’re like me, you might forget to check your planner or to-do list…constantly. So I’ve turned a screenshot of my to-do list (of no more than 4 tasks) into my screensaver. Then, when I’m about to open my phone and get lost in social media and emails, I’m reminded of what’s more important.

Loving my minimalist to-do list app!

2. Find the best tool for you

Aside from my to-do list app, I’m working to implement additional tools to help me stay on top of my routines. ADHD brains indeed tend to struggle with working memory.

So what can you do if you keep forgetting your routine?

In my living room/kitchen area, I keep a whiteboard hanging up on the wall. I see it right after I wake up, and it’s visible throughout the day. If I forget to follow the routine written out on the board, I take it off the wall and put it right in front of me as I work. So far, it’s been a helpful accountability tool.

Relying on written reminders has usually worked better than using my phone. If I only rely on my phone, I can pretty much count on getting distracted for the next 20 minutes, at least, and forget why I was checking it in the first place.

When I’m on the go, I’ll set reminders on my phone as a backup but reply more on a physical planner. Putting things in writing helps me remember them, and it’s also less distracting than relying on my phone.

Set yourself up for success.

3. Establish consistency

Do the same things at around the same time, every day.

To take out the guesswork and time spent on non-priorities, creating a schedule where you do things in the same order every day can make a difference in your productivity.

This applies to waking up and going to bed. A fluctuating schedule can throw anyone off and may affect your quality of sleep. I’m a mess without proper rest, so it takes high priority even on the busiest days! 

It’s easier on your brain and body to establish a more consistent schedule, and eventually, it will feel more natural to rise and shine at the same time each morning. The same thing goes for turning in at night.

4. Allow for some wiggle room

Follow your set schedule, but allow for flexibility! You don’t need to be on the dot with everything you do. That adds unnecessary tension. Give yourself extra time in between new routines, especially at the beginning. Having an overly strict schedule with no flexibility is more stressful than helpful.

And one more thing to note!

Drop the expectation of perfection. Harder said than done for my fellow perfectionists. 😉 Since life throws us unexpected hurdles all the time, try not to beat yourself up if you fall off track. You can always rebuild and get back on the horse tomorrow. Giddy up, cowgirl!

But…What if I get bored with my routine?

No rule says you can’t switch it up when you feel like your days are feeling too repetitive. So feel free to eliminate what’s not serving you and, likewise, add in what helps you reach your goals.

Do you feel like you have more creative energy first thing in the AM? Then you can rearrange your schedule to work on writing instead of working out after you wake up.

Or maybe you realize that checking your phone in the morning is draining, so you can reevaluate your time in front of the screen. 

The point is to find what works for you and your energy levels.

You don’t have to feel trapped in the same routine for eternity. That’s not fun or sustainable for any kind of brain.

Don’t forget to schedule that essential self-care time!

No shame in needing a break. We deserve it. Carving out time for self-care will only lead to a happier, more balanced self. So it’s just as important as your other to-do’s!

Taking notes from someone who knows a thing or two about relaxation.

Thanks for stopping by again, my lovely new friend. I hope some of these tips for building routines can help you figure out what works for you!

I’d like to know what you found helpful. Also, do you have anything else to add? I’m always looking forward to learning from you, and I can’t wait to see you in the next post.

Love,

Wendy

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2 Responses

  1. Using a planner is a wonderful tool. Even though I don’t have many work appointments now, I still use my planner to remind myself of tasks that are important. And I check it first thing in the morning.

    1. That sounds like a good system to have whether you’re working or not. I still have to get in the habit of remembering to check my planner first thing!

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