Five Rules for Living Well with ADHD

I presented at a local CHADD meeting a number of months ago on the topic: “Stump the Organizer”, which translates as, “Participants,  bring your best organizing questions and we’ll try to solve them together.”  I’ve learned over the years that those of us with ADHD often share many of the same organizing challenges and we can help ourselves by learning about each other’s challenges and related successes.  As a coach, I believe my clients are the experts of themselves and have answers to their challenges within them.  My job is to support them in accessing those answers.  Using an open discussion format like a “Stump the Organizer” gives participants the time, space and opportunity to formulate such answers.

Because you most likely didn’t get a chance to attend that CHADD meeting, I thought I’d give you that same opportunity to consider the successes of another as a step in formulating solutions to your own ADHD challenges.  Below, I’m sharing some of what works for me in keeping my ADHD in check.   My hope is not that you will do each of these things just because they work for me, but that instead, by considering each of them you might end up devising solutions to some of your own ADHD challenges.

So, here they are, my Five Favorite Rules for living well with my ADHD:

1) Daily Exercise or Meditation – You might think exercise and meditation would have the opposite effect, but actually they each allow me to focus much better throughout the day.  My Toodledo list actually lists “Exercise or Meditation” each day.  I can choose either.  Sometimes I choose both.  There are many reported benefits of each for folks with ADHD.  Exercise is good for everyone and on so many levels.  For an ADHDer, exercise can increase brain chemical levels resulting in increased attention.  When it comes to meditation, I am especially appreciating the book, The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goalswhich summarizes the benefits of meditation and presents an approach for integrating meditation into your life.

2) Scheduling White Space – Scheduling unscheduled time into my week allows me space to think and relax, but it also allows me spillover time for those times when I might not allocate enough time for certain projects. Having that spillover time results in a lot less stress when things don’t go exactly as I’d planned.

3) Keeping a Gratitude Journal – Life with ADHD can be challenging, but writing in my gratitude journal daily keeps me grounded in who I am and all that I have to be thankful for.  Each evening before I go to sleep I document at least three and sometimes many more items that I am grateful for that day.

4) Using a To Do List and scheduling those To Dos into my calendar.  I use an app called Toodledo to maintain my to do list and to schedule items from those lists into particular days.  Those scheduled items then show up as committed time on my calendar, so that I make sure I have the time to complete them.

5)  Last but not least, my favorite rule of living well with ADHD is getting plenty of sleep.  Getting to bed has always been a challenge for me, as there is always one more thing I could be doing and I always seem to get a second wind around 10:30PM that could carry me well into the night if I let it.  The trick for me is to hit the sack at the same time as my husband, who it very regimented with his bedtime.  I may not necessarily be tired, but if I actually get in the bed, and read for a few minutes, I am much more likely to fall asleep than if I stay up later and find myself working into the night.  If I am able to get to bed a little after 10PM, I am almost certain to be asleep by 11PM and am much more likely to be awake and ready to go by 6:00AM.

I am sure you have rules that work for you.  I’d love to hear them so we can learn from each other…



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