At a recent Catalyst for Change North Coast Adult ADHD Meetup participants shared what was challenging them most and a common theme emerged – the need to bring more structure to their days.
Structure can be elusive to the adult with ADHD. We understand what it looks like and how it can benefit us in getting things done. We can readily give examples of when we benefited from it: the structured days we experienced in school, the structure imposed by particular types of jobs, or the structure created when caring for another. We understand that without structure, we can find ourselves aimlessly floating through our days and we also understand that having structure can result in us getting more done. Creating structure isn’t usually as easy as it seems like it should be though.
One of the easier ways to introduce structure into a day is through a process I call bookending. Bookending is a term I originally used to help coaching students understand how using particular coaching skills at the beginning and end of a coaching session can help give structure to a session. In the same way, bookending your days can support you in bringing structure to them.
Let’s start with a metaphor. Your day is like a book shelf. Each task or activity is represented by a book. Some books are significant and stand well on their own – these are the books representing solid commitments of your time – a job outside of the home, your commitment to care for an aging parent, etc. Others are flimsy paperbacks requiring more support to keep them standing. These books might represent exercise, errands, or other tasks or activities you want to get to, but have trouble getting around to. Without proper support on your shelf/your day your books/tasks tend to collapse on each other. Bookends at the beginning and the end of a day give you basic structure. An additional bookend or two inserted during the day give even more.