As I sit down to write this, I’m restless for many reasons. The ticking clock on my living room wall is suddenly louder — loud enough to interfere with the task at hand. Choosing to write at night, long after my medicine has worn off, is a challenge. But for someone with ADHD, simply getting out of bed can be a challenge.
Maintaining some sort of a routine amid distractions from kids, work or the constant news cycle is hard for anyone. But for people with ADHD, a routine is absolutely necessary — and we’re used to fighting to create one despite the ever-present chaos in our brains. Those of us with ADHD are used to not being able to focus, and have developed tools to deal with it.
Whether you have the disorder or are just having trouble concentrating on your must-do tasks, here are a few tips to help out.
Make a To-Do List for Your To-Do List
And stick to it. Write down the smallest tasks if needed. I write down “finish coffee” on my to-do list because I’m bad about making a cup and drinking half, then getting distracted and forgetting it’s there. If you know, you know.
Set a Timer for 45 Minutes.
It’s not too much time, so make it your goal to focus hard and make those 45 minutes count. Reward yourself by taking a 5 to 10 minute walk around outside to ease the restlessness. Come back inside and set the timer again.
Get Up and Get Dressed.
Even if you change from your nighttime gym shorts and t-shirt to a daytime t-shirt and gym shorts, the act of putting on fresh clothes signals routine. Wash your face, brush your teeth and do anything else you’d normally do before work.
Eat Your Protein
This is just a general tip. Protein improves brain function, and if you’re on a stimulant for your condition, the protein will help it be the most effective.
Make a Standing Desk/Workspace
Standing tends to help satisfy my restlessness. I put my computer on top of a shoebox on my counter so it’s at a good height. Plus, you don’t want to end up looking like you belong at the top of a tower in Paris in 20 years.
With ADHD, I crave routine, certainty and stability, because I know my mind lacks all three. I work hard on a daily basis to acquire those things, and the global pandemic has taken them away. Sure, I’m not the only one feeling unstable, uncertain and lacking a routine. But, imagine always feeling lost. Pandemic aside — imagine struggling to figure out what’s going on because your brain can’t sort through the information being thrown at it.
Navigating these world changes is chaotic for everyone, but those with ADHD are used to the chaos. So, maybe we’ll come out of this okay. In fact, I think we’ll come out stronger because this is what we’ve always done.