Living with ADHD: Order, Chaos, and the Space Between, Part 2

Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Living with ADHD | No Comments
Living with ADHD: Order, Chaos, and the Space Between, Part 2

The Space Between

In Part 1 of “Order, Chaos, and the Space Between,” I wrote that people with ADHD cannot organize their world the way everyone else does. It’s not possible. The part of the brain that does that has faulty wiring. Without learning to do things a different way than normal people do, we are doomed to live in a more or less controlled chaotic state.

That being the case, what are the choices?

  1. I can give up, tell myself that I have an excuse, I can’t do it, and live in that chaotic place.
  2. I can hire a maid to organize my space and keep it tidy, and a life coach to keep everything else on track.
  3. I can explore this thing and see if I can come with a system that works with the way I’m wired… a different way to do things… maybe find that space between order and chaos.

I can’t really pick choice #1. I don’t live alone and people expect me to pay my bills and get my work done. While I’d love to just pick choice #2, there are things I’d rather do with that money, so I accepted the challenge of choice #3.

Please note that even after 15 years, this is still a work in progress. I have come up with plans that work for awhile and then just fall apart or die of atrophy/apathy. One of the more humorous things about finding this space between is that I have spend many, many hours hyperfocusing on a “plan” only to find it isn’t actually workable. However, I have produced some stunning graphics and charts!

I have worked out very strict schedules where everything was to be done at a certain time and take a set number of minutes or hours. I understand this works pretty well for some people with ADHD. But I think this is where the mix of things that make up who I am comes strongly into play. That right-brained artistic element would rather die than live on a tight schedule.  I go into complete rebellion against my own plan and sabotage it every chance I get. And, yes, it may take 21 days to form a habit according to “the experts,” but even on the outside chance that I make it through the first 21 days (and this is extremely rare), I have found that it only takes me one day to break a good habit.  One day.

After many failed attempts and false starts, I think I have finally devised a plan that works.  It has worked for over three months now. That is totally a record. There is a chart. I’m a visual person.  On this chart there are all those things that need to be done. The things to be done are shown in blocks that are organized by category not by day. There are no time blocks. The only things that are “day specific” are some of the chores. I task myself to spend 30 minutes every day in one room in the house to clean that room. I set a timer to keep myself from hyperfocusing on anything in that room.  I choose each day when this will get done. Sometimes it gets done in the morning, sometimes it gets done later in the day.  Small chunks, no set schedule.  It works for me.

I have established a few routines. I developed a proprietary system of bed making where the bed is about 80% made before I even get out of it. This way, I don’t forget to come back later and make the bed. I straighten the kitchen every morning after breakfast, and again after dinner. But those are the only time-related tasks.

My plan also addresses the whole person. The are columns for Relaxing, Organizing, Feeding the Mind, Feeding the Soul, Work, Chores, Feeding the Body (this is exercise related, not food related). It’s a little different on the weekend than it is during the week. I’m better at crossing of items in some columns than I am in others. It’s not “all or nothing.” It is, as I said, a work in progress. It’s the space between.

It works because it works with who I am, not who someone else is. It works because I give myself permission to not do everything on the list, everyday. And… it also works because the kids are grown and out of the house!


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