Stressed at the Speed of Life?

Are you feeling stressed today? The pace of our daily lives is so overloaded with choices, decisions and must do’s that we can easily feel overwhelmed. We are influenced to different degrees by everything that is around us. The weather, the news, the traffic, our boss, our family obligations and responsibilities and all the options and choices we are bombarded with takes up brain bandwidth and contributes to our stress level. There are some things that are beyond our control, but there are also things that we can control, that can lessen the pressure or stress we feel. First, let’s figure out…

What’s Stressing You?

  • Communication happens 24/7
  • Online ordering done in one click
  • Less staff so more work – is it any wonder you feel like you can never do enough?
  • Less control over your own calendar
  • Unlimited choices
  • Distractions everywhere
  • Interruptions
  • Lack of boundaries around work and home time
  • Lack of sleep – have your hours of sleep decreased? That can cause difficulties with focus, working memory and other executive functioning skills needed throughout the day

What Can You Control?

Stress is defined as, “ a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” (Oxford). How can you reduce that tension?

  • Stop tolerating things that you do have control over. As mentioned in our July newsletter, change is hard but sometimes we don’t even recognize that we should or need to change something that is causing us stress simply because we don’t take the time to look at it. Is it fear of change, is it an old limiting belief that is no longer true or just a big “BUT” that gets in the way? ( I would do that but….).
  • You can say “NO”. This is a tough one because there are so many choices, but are you really making a choice going along because it is easier?
  • If you are frequently distracted by your phone, (it’s a quick dopamine hit) you have the power to decide how often you will check it. Keep a tally of each time you pick it up in one day and you will be surprised. Set a reasonable number of times to check it (if your job communicates that way, this might not be possible). Turn off the general notification sounds and pick specific tunes for text messages from important people that you don’t want to miss. Most notifications can be sent to your fitbit or smart watch, so you really won’t miss them. You are also less likely to be distracted if your phone is not nearby. Also, you can set up the “Do Not Disturb” for an evening free of “squirrel!”
  • Interruptions from people can be politely deferred for a short time if you are in the middle of something. If you allow the interruption, know that it may take you 50% longer to complete your task and you may make more errors (Brain Rules by John Medina p. 87) If interrupted by your own thoughts, write it down and get back to work rather than running off to do that “one” thing.
  • Stop multitasking – you are actually switching between things and losing attention to details and adding time onto each task
  • Declutter – that’s right, clutter can increase your stress. Click here for more insight.
  • Create a simple, nightly reset plan to prepare for the next day and start fresh
  • Lessen the strain on your memory by setting specific days for certain tasks. A basic week plan might have a laundry, grocery, bills, cleaning and/or decluttering day.
  • Take time to take care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep and reduce the stress you can control with clear boundaries.

A stressed brain does not think as easily as a non-stressed brain and learning can become more difficult. We all know the health impacts of chronic stress. For those with a neurodivergent brain, you may need to work harder at controlling your environment to make it work FOR you and not AGAINST you.

Taking time to look at what you can control and doing something about it, can really make a difference. The world is stressed enough, do we really need to allow it to impact our health and our homes?

Please share your strategies on my Facebook page.

Top Three Challenges (and Solutions) for Back to School

The kids are back in school. YAY! Take a moment to celebrate the start of the new school year with all its possibilities. September is often a great month for establishing new habits and routines. If you feel that the mornings are rushed or you are frustrated when it comes to homework time, then read on for some solutions to help.
Three common challenges once school begins:
Challenge 1: How do I make morning routines work so I am not guiding or coercing my children and teens every step of the way?
        • Start with a set bedtime and figure out how much time it takes your children/teens to get into bed (this helps them wake up rested)
        • Have a prep time before bed when kids put their clothes out for the next day, pack up the backpack and place it near the door and decide what they want for breakfast, lunch and/or snacks. Find the water bottle and rinse out. Charge devices in a central spot and not in the bedrooms
        • Put alarm clocks in their rooms and show them how to set the alarm for a reasonable time to wake up (we don’t want the slow movers to have to hustle – but you also don’t want too much extra time for them to get distracted)
        • Set a timer as a warning for the bus (Alexa works great for this)
        • Depending on age, create a list, picture or have a mirror for them to check that they have everything they need to be ready before they head out the door. No slippers allowed
Challenge 2: How do I get my kids to get started on their homework?
      • Everyone needs a break after school. It is a great time for a snack break and a little physical activity. Both of those things will help stir up the dopamine needed to reactivate the brain for homework. Usually, 30-45 minutes is plenty.
      • Take the time to find out how their day went while things are still fresh in their mind. Don’t try to solve their problems but show them that you are truly listening and hearing them by using reflective listening.
      • Set a specific start time for homework and have a reminder timer set so they can hear it
      • At the beginning stay close by (and pretend you are working on something) just to see if they can get themselves started or if they might need help
      • If a timer is motivating you can ask your child how long to set it for and then allow them a short 5-7 minute break when it goes off. (Set the timer for the break too)
Challenge 3: How do I get my kids to finish their homework in a reasonable amount of time?
      • Most homework subjects can be completed in 30 minutes or less so setting a timer for about the same amount of time makes it easier to take a break after one subject is completed
      • Reduce the distractions – Move the cellphone away from the work zone just enough that your teen will need to get up to check it. After a while, they will turn the notifications off and/or stop getting up to check it. That also means no TV on in the background or younger siblings making loud noises nearby. It is hard enough to concentrate on homework without wondering what they are missing out on too.
      • Don’t book an afterschool activity every day of the week. Kids need a day that they can recharge and have some fun before they hit the books.
      • If your child struggles to stay focused, think about creating a buddy study time with a friend. It works like a “body double” where they have a better chance to stay working as long as their friend is working too.
      • Timing is key. Homework done after dinner takes longer to do as the blood that should be in the brain, is busy digesting dinner in the stomach. Homework done 2+ hours after school, has interrupted that “student” mindset and can take longer to get back into the “work mode.” Ideally, within 45-60 minutes after arriving home is the best time to get focused on homework.
      • For elementary and middle school students, homework should be able to be completed by dinner. That gives the rest of the evening for R & R. When teens feel they have the entire evening, until bedtime to complete their work, they often find it takes them that long or longer. Then they wonder why it is difficult to fall asleep when their brain is still processing the last 30 minutes of work they did. Setting boundaries/limits around homework time and keeping to the same start time each day will help your children get more done in less time.

If routines, habits and homework are constant battles in your home, and you would like to increase cooperation, communication and lower the stress level in your home – then let us help. Contact us today about coaching.

Back to School and Life Edition

Are you prepared for another school year? I recently looked at the list of supplies that some schools are asking for and it can easily become overwhelming – especially for the students to keep organized.

Preparedness – what does that mean? Webster defines it as, “the quality or state of being prepared.” To be prepared, means you are ready to do or deal with something. Let’s use that as our “working definition” for back to school. What does your family need to do to be prepared for back to school?

Let’s break it down into three big categories:

1. Routines

2. Organization

3. Supplies

Routines

  • Let’s start getting kids to bed earlier and waking them up around the time they will need to get up for school. Sometimes we like to use just enough time to get up and out the door and others need wake up time, time for meds to kick in or just a slow wake up – so make sure you allow enough time for whatever your kids need.
  • Morning routines are easiest if there is a set order to the actions the kids need to do and they have memorized that order. Having a list that they can check if they forget, may save you from repeating yourself (fingers crossed). Also, it is better to ask, “what do you need to do next?” instead of telling them what to do. You might want to set your alarm a bit earlier than that so you have time for yourself to get ready or enjoy that first cup of coffee.
  • A homework routine that begins around the same time every day and a space to do it in. Doesn’t matter where it is, but it should have access to supplies they might need so there are fewer distractions. Minimize distractions and be sure to have a homework buddy your kids can call for help. This is a great time for you to “body double” with kids that have a hard time getting started on their work. Use this time to deal with your paperwork within sight of where your kids are working. Kids can create their own homework routine in our Super Skills for Students Class starting October 4th for Middle and High School students.
  • Set up for tomorrow including setting clothes out each evening, repacking backpacks and putting them near the door. Figure out what is for snack and/or lunch and breakfast. Make sure ice packs are back in the freezer. Are you heading to work? Pack up what you need and make the decisions tonight rather than in the morning.
  • Weekly clean out routine on Sunday as you prep for the week ahead. Everyone needs to know what is going on in the next week and having a family meeting can help. A good time to clean out your pocketbook, backpack or bag and maybe a quick check of the car too – how’s the gas level?

  Organization

  • Key organization tips are to have a landing pad near the door where backpacks, jackets and shoes can be left the night before. Good place for your keys, bag and anything leaving the house.
  • Set up the bedrooms so that kids can easily find their clothes. All clothes should fit into storage whether that is on a shelf, in a bin or basket or in a drawer or closet. The easier to grab, the more likely they will. Too many clothes can often make it difficult to make a decision – help them put together 5 outfits for the week and use a sweater hanger in a closet. Hooks are very handy for sweatshirts, sweaters, etc.
  • Calendars with the schedule of activities, where everyone can see it and it can be reviewed for those kids that don’t like surprises. Advance notice of what is coming up each week and reminders or a visual schedule in a place to be easily seen. Talk about the upcoming year – listen to your child’s concerns and take them seriously. Visit the school if they are switching to a new building – make sure they know where the cafeteria is and the bathrooms on each floor and the fastest way to their locker.
  • Make sure all supplies fit EASILY into the backpack – kids will not fuss with lunchboxes they need to stuff into their backpacks – they are more likely to leave them somewhere. They do not need to take the entire package of #2 pencils with them. Keep the reserves at home along with extra paper, project board, markers, etc. that might be needed for a project. That will save you a trip to the store at the last minute.
  • Charging all devices in one spot each night.
  • Write down the necessary passwords and log in steps for accessing grades and homework as well as, remote learning if needed and have your children do the same (get a copy of those).

 Supplies

  • When buying supplies don’t look for the cheapest, but look for the most durable. Kids are rough on their supplies, especially binders. The binders should open easily with one hand, not two and be no bigger than 1.5 inches (it can hold 350 pages)any bigger and it is difficult to fit into the backpack and it weighs more. Backpacks should not weigh more than 10% of your child’s weight.
  • Food – Breakfast ideas that kids can prepare for themselves or make ahead ideas to easily grab.
  • Have handy snacks, drinks, and lunch supplies or set up the school account (have reserves of their favorites)
  • Medications for colds and flu, and also covid tests, to have on hand. Masks too, just in case we revert back.

Celebrate by taking a picture before they head out. (Taking an “after” pic might also be memorable.) At the end of the day, celebrate by doing something special but keep it low key as they will be tired. For kids, it is like starting a new job, there are a lot of unknowns but it is also a fresh start and the opportunity to shine. Keeping the stress level down in the home can make it a smoother year. Good luck!

PS Other articles from our Archives you might find helpful

5 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before School Starts

Change Your Mindset – Raise Your Self-Esteem

Five Super Strategies to Knockout Stress

Helping or Hurting? The Dilemma of Enabling vs. Empowering

What Is Bugging You?

UpLevelI recently read UpLevel Now by Ursula Mentjes and it made me stop and think about a few things. The book is divided into chapters that are major life categories like health, friendships, money, spaces, time, etc. The author asks questions and gives examples of things you might be tolerating without really realizing it. She shares her experiences in each category with suggestions to help you “uplevel” or kick it up a notch. At the end of each short chapter, she asks three questions.

1. What are the top 3 things you are tolerating in this area?

2. What are the top 3 things you would like to change about that area the most?

3. What is one step you can take right now and when will you take it?

Change is hard but sometimes, we don’t even recognize that we should or need to change something that is causing us stress simply because we don’t take the time to look at it. Is it fear of change, is it an old limiting belief that is no longer true or just a big “BUT” that gets in the way? ( I would do that but….).

Up-level according to the Free Dictionary is an idiom, meaning “to make progress or improve in a specific skill or area of one’s life.” So, for instance, if you wanted to UpLevel your life you might consider ways to get healthier, have less stress, maybe you want to consider switching jobs, end a relationship that drains you, or just get organized enough to be able to find your keys every day. Whatever it is, you first need to figure out what is holding you back?

Maybe you think it will only happen that once, but then weeks or even days later, it happens again. Or the “It’ll go away” pain that doesn’t and you realize you have been tolerating it for 3 months! Or is there some fear from your past that keeps getting in the way? Sometimes it does take frustratingly long to finally realize a change is needed.

What are you tolerating that if you weren’t you would be happier, healthier, richer, better organized or more productive, or whatever it is for you?

If you have ADHD you may have learned early to adapt and change on a whim, you may not have taken the time to look at a problem long enough to think about changing it, instead you end up continuing to tolerate it and just accept it as the way it is.

Yes, ADHD can get in the way and make some things more difficult for you but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to change it. A big part of coaching is helping people figure out what is getting in the way of them leading the life they dream of. Then breaking it down into manageable parts so that they can come up with strategies, habits, routines and ideas to make it work for the way THEY think. Other people’s suggestions don’t necessarily work for the way you think, but you have to stop and really think about what will work for you.

Also, sometimes lower self-confidence can also play a role. Maybe you feel you don’t deserve to get rid of that problem once and for all – but you do. Read that again….YOU DO!

Three coaching questions:

      1.  Think about what impact it would have on your life, if you were no longer tolerating “x”.
      2.  What is it costing you to do nothing about it?
      3.  Make just one small change at a time (when will you do it?) and watch what happens.

Looking for more help with this – Email to set up an introductory call to see if coaching is right for you.

***********

Attack Procrastination….Here’s How

Late againProcrastination is something everyone has experienced. Although there are many reasons for it, understanding why you do it won’t necessarily help you get things done.

Delaying or putting things off until the last minute can sometimes work to motivate as there is nothing like a hard deadline to bring on the hyperfocus. Hyperfocus can be helpful, and many people falsely believe that they work best when under that kind of pressure. The problem is they don’t remember how awful they felt for the next three days. When you depend on your adrenaline to get you through a project you are using up your reserves and sometimes there is a price – your health.

One idea that I am thinking of using is declaring one day a week as Anti-Procrastination day. I believe it comes from the Fly Lady but I found it on Diane in Denmark. Wednesday is Anti-Procrastination day and she suggests completing one or more things that you have been putting off. She typically focuses on small things so there is a feeling of accomplishment. Just taking 15 minutes can make a huge difference but I’ll need more. Keep a list going so that you can get right to the tasks on Wednesday.

Since we are talking about procrastination, I have to ask….are you reading this because it is of interest or are you procrastinating on something else with a higher priority? No judgement here. You make your own choices. Let’s talk about 5 common procrastination pitfalls.

  1. I don’t feel like it right now, I’ll do it later

This is sometimes called “discomfort intolerance” when you think about the task you need to do and your body tenses or you suddenly feel overwhelmed and realize you can’t work on a task because you don’t “feel” like it.

      • Admit it….you are never going to “feel like” doing it. Now figure out why. Is it boring, difficult or time consuming? Are you clear on the steps to completion? Are you afraid of failing or succeeding?
      • Schedule a time to work on it – even if just a little piece of it. When that reminder goes off, get to it.
      • Time yourself. Often time estimates of how long things take can be really off.
  1. Too many things to do and I want to do it all
      • Figure out what is really a priority and what is not rather than what is just easier or more interesting to work on.
      • Limit your to do list to 3 things that are important to you and keep the rest of the items on another list.
      • If nothing is a priority, then nothing will get done. You should be looking at quadrant 2 activities/tasks not quadrant 4 (Eisenhower matrix).
  1. Distractions are everywhere
      • According to one article, each time you hear a ping or a ding from your electronics, you are losing 10 points off of your IQ even if you don’t give in to them. Turn off all notifications or go on airplane mode and/or use focus mode which limits the distractions you can see on your device.
      • When internal thoughts distract you, while you are working, take time to write them down instead of jumping up and dealing with them. Each break in your focus can add 20 minutes to your project/task while you regain the level of focus you had before you were distracted.
      • Check in with your body before you start working. Do you need anything? Should you bring a drink or small snack with you so you don’t need to get up from your work?
  1. Instead of “now” and “not now,” think of “present you” and “future you”
      • Handling things in a timely manner helps “present you” stay calm and prevents “future you” from becoming frantic. What can you do today that will make “future you” happy or less stressed?
      • Take a look at your systems and processes – are there any improvements you can make, that will make your life easier in the future?
      • Learn from your struggles. If you faced a challenge and solved it, document it for the next time. Learned a new skill, found a helpful app – keep track of them for next time.
  1. Change the negative into positive
      • Science says our brains tend to focus on the negative as a safety measure, so we need to be aware when that happens and up the volume on the positives. Create a victory list of what you did accomplish instead of a longer to do list for tomorrow.
      • Stop the negative self-talk. It doesn’t help you get things done, instead it stresses your brain and makes it harder to think.
      • End the day on a positive note. Cross off those things you accomplished and celebrate. Add to your victory list and then go do something that makes you happy. Life is not about what you did or didn’t get done. It’s about who you are becoming.

Let me know what you have been procrastinating on over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.

Got 5 Minutes?

Time timerTime is our most precious commodity. If we don’t use it, we lose it and it is one thing we can never get back. Sure, we can try to pack more into a day but often that leaves us feeling overworked, exhausted or stressed. Ever feel cheated that you didn’t get to do what you REALLY wanted or needed to do?

Instead of cramming more into our day, look for a few spaces between tasks, errands or transitions. I am sure there are several five-minute blocks somewhere in your day. For today, let’s assume you found 3 blocks of 5 minutes = 15 minutes total. You decide what works for you. Just don’t overdo it  trying to get one more thing done and make yourself late.

Now how will you use those 5-minute blocks? You can decide your three big categories, and then list ideas under each. My three categories are listed below with some ideas to help get you started. Use your imagination and make it work for you. I have seen how having a specific time limit can help motivate us for unpleasant tasks every week during Work It Wednesday when we use 3, 25-minute blocks to get things done (contact me for zoom link to join us at 10am ET). Let’s use these blocks to improve our lives.

Self-Care

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Go outside and breathe
  • Stretch my muscles
  • Call or text a friend
  • Meditate (yes, even 5 minutes is beneficial)

Declutter/Organize

  • Put away the winter jackets and boots
  • Clean out and organize a drawer
  • Remove 5+ things no longer needed or wanted
  • Toss/recycle today’s junk mail and catalogs
  • Declutter a shelf or clear a counter of all non-essentials

Family

  • Spend 5 minutes with each child and listen
  • Plan a family activity for the weekend
  • Make a meal plan for the week
  • Go outside (take a walk, shoot hoops, swing, etc.)
  • Do a 5 minute (maybe longer) reset to be ready for tomorrow

Creating routines and habits that keep the family organized impacts the level of stress in your home. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in five minutes. Feel free to build onto the momentum as we have seen how clutter and disorganization can impact mood, weight, stress and health.

Let me know what you are most proud of doing in your 5 minutes over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.

Is it a Routine or a Struggle?

Routines not struggleThere are numerous theories about how the brain works, but what I have come to believe is that we can think of the brain as having three parts or personalities. They are the “robot”, the “Yoda” and the “monkey” brain.

The monkey brain is the emotional part of the brain, it is what happens when our self-control is gone and our emotions take control.  It is the brain that doesn’t think before acting and is often full of movement and impulsivity.

The Yoda brain is the brain we use for learning and making decisions (when emotions are not involved), it is the rational, thinking brain.

And lastly, the robot brain is the brain that controls our habits and routines. It is preprogrammed to do things automatically with little or no thought involved. The robot brain does not create habits on its own, especially if ADHD is involved. It takes training and practicing and often some tweaking before a set of actions can become a habit. Once there is a habit, the brain can relax and just follow through the motions without having to use up its decision-making energy.

Routines that use the “robot” brain can save you time and brain energy. When a habit or series of steps becomes automatic, you no longer have to think about what to do next. You probably already have several routines that you do each day.

ROUTINES

  • Does your morning start the same way each day?
  • How about your evening, does it have a routine?
  • Does your work day have a routine?
  • Bill paying?
  • Dinner routine?
  • Tax routine (Quarterly taxes or April 15)
  • Laundry routine?
  • Weekly reset routine?
  • Planning routine for the week?

You get the idea. There are plenty of opportunities to create a routine that helps you get through your day without using up valuable brain bandwidth.

Where Could You Use A Routine to Save Time and Energy?

  • Are you frequently late for work or appointments?
  • Do you need to get groceries before you can cook dinner?
  • Have you ever missed a bill payment or paid a late fee?
  • Is your home cluttered and/or disorganized?

If you answered “yes” to even one of the questions above, then a routine can help.

Create a Routine

First, pick a problem to solve. Why is that a problem? Now, think about what it would be like if that was no longer a problem. How would your life be different?

Next, pick three steps (yes, just three) that you think are important for this new routine you are creating. It may not be the entire routine, but it is the 3 most basic steps to get you started. Now close your eyes and run through those steps in your mind. Does it flow smoothly or should you do the steps in a different order?

An ADHD brain can struggle to remember the order of steps which makes each day a new pattern. This doesn’t help create a routine and actually uses MORE brain power and decision-making energy. The idea of the routine is that when it is automatic, you are saving brain power and energy because there is no thinking involved.

Finally, find the order of steps that works best and “practice” doing it until it becomes a habit. Then you can slowly add more steps to the routine, making sure it works for you and the way you think.

It has been suggested that linking a new habit with an already established habit can make an effective “trigger” to start the new habit. Is there something you already do that you can link this new routine to?

Once you feel the first routine is working you can either expand it (although don’t make it complicated) or you can start to develop another routine to help yourself solve another challenge.

Habits are tricky things but once they are established – the benefits far outweigh the struggle at the beginning. Keep at it. We are here if you would like some coaching to help you design and navigate establishing new habits and routines.

Planning for the ADHD Brain

There once was a Mama Bear who felt like she was part “day planner, authoritarian, and task master.” Every day she would go through the calendar and the to do list. She would gently remind the little bears what activities they had or what they needed to “get done” and also prompt the Papa Bear of what he needed to remember too. Often the Mama Bear would mention a task or problem that needed fixing, and unless it was urgent, or Papa Bear had free time at that moment….it often went undone. This continued for years until the Mama Bear realized she was doing all the remembering and everyone was depending on her to think for them and still things were not getting done.
So, Mama Bear, being the “organized” one decided to teach the big bear and the little bears how to plan for themselves.
Here’s what I learned from her:
            • Create a list of all the tasks you want/need to remember. Often our brain will wake us up in the middle of the night because it doesn’t want us to forget something. Often, we think we will remember in the morning, but we don’t. List everything you can think of. Yes, I know it can be overwhelming, but your brain is trying to hold onto all of it anyway so, why not help it. This is commonly called a “brain dump.” Don’t let the undone to do’s keep you up.
            • Put everything on it, even that project you “hope” to get to someday but make sure that it is in the form of the smallest action you can take. Redo the dining room is too big of a project, so you should write down the steps that are involved. (Helpful apps: color noteEvernoteTrellotodoist, etc.)
            • Write down any deadlines or due dates and be sure to highlight those things that need to be done in the current month.
            • Estimate how long those things will take – be realistic.
            • Pick the three top things you want or must do tomorrow
            • Now either add them into your calendar or set aside a “block” of time (preferably each day) that you will tackle those tasks.
            •  Create a planning habit where you look ahead at your week, add in any appointments and then pick 3 tasks off of this master list. Don’t cross them off your master to do list unless you ACTUALLY complete them. Don’t add more than 3. When you do complete them you can go for more but 3 is a successful day.
            • Celebrate your successes. Remember you will always have a list – just make sure it has what is important to you. Life will get in the way….so start each day fresh and don’t carry things over from the previous day unless you really have to.
            • Pick the important things to do and not the “easy” things if you want to really work your plan and not just engage in “Procrastivity”.
Papa Bear now has his own master list, and he and Mama Bear discuss the upcoming week (and the to dos) each Sunday over breakfast. And that makes Mama Bear very happy:-)
If you struggle with task management and completion, give coaching a try. You guide the process. Baby steps in the right direction will still get you there. Good luck!
***********

Do You Suffer From Procrastivity?

Stickies everywhereProcrastivity is part procrastination and part activity. We all know that procrastination is not a good thing. It means putting off things that you know you really should be doing. However, procrastivity is when you “put off” (procrastinate) on what you REALLY should be doing in favor of another activity that also needs to be done but is less brain taxing. Sure, the (less important) task needs to be done and you want to feel some sense of accomplishment – but, should it be the priority? Probably not. You will feel the cost of it later when the real priority is due. For example, doing laundry instead of the taxes.

Do you procrastinate, because….
• You don’t understand what you need to do?
• It is a boring task?
• It is too hard or complex?
• It takes “too much time” or you just don’t know how long it will take?
• It has too many steps?

So instead, Russell Ramsey, Ph.D., notes in his article in Psychology Today, that when you surrender to procrastivity, it may be because the activity is maybe more hands-on, or has a routine to it that you don’t really need to think about. It is often an activity where you can see the progress and know what the end point looks like. For example, you know when the laundry is done but not necessarily how long it will take for the taxes to be done (which usually feels like forever!).

What can help?
It is important that at some time you complete the task that you have been procrastinating on. If you have ADHD it might be when the deadline gets closer and you use that adrenaline/anxiety push to get you through it. But what does that cost you? Stressing yourself out to get something accomplished can have all kinds of serious effects – think stress, high blood pressure, fatigue, lack of sleep, weight gain (from feeding that cortisol monster) etc. That’s a high price! So, what can you do instead?
First of all, be careful what you put on that “to do” list. Make sure that you are listing tasks and not projects. A project is anything with multiple steps. That’s why kids can never “clean their room” because it is really a number of separate things to do and not just one thing. Keep that in mind when you want to write “do taxes” when you really mean, collect documents for taxes. Sure, it might make your list look longer but I would encourage you to only put down 3-5 tasks for the day. The rest of the list can “live” somewhere else and you can pick from it each day but don’t overwhelm yourself by listing everything you wish you could do today.

Ramsey also suggests making the task more manual or action oriented to get started. It may be collecting what you need to start the task and putting them where you will be working. Then decide what the next step should be. Once you get the task rolling you might see that it is not as bad as you thought and you’ll keep working. Be careful though, make sure you know the minimal amount of time you are willing to commit to the task. Then if you go over – hurray! If you don’t – at least you did what you promised yourself. Take pleasure in that.

If you are suffering from overwhelm and feel that you will get to the task after you do “x” or “y”, or when you feel better – I have to tell you it doesn’t work that way. You can’t wait until you feel better or get “x” done – so you should just set a day and time where you will commit to working on it. Then keep that promise.

Getting started or task initiation is one of the executive function skills that those with ADHD find the most challenging. Often the first thing that happens is that the “planning monster” takes over. Creating a long, but beautiful to do list doesn’t help you get to the action piece. It may in fact overwhelm and paralyze you. Breaking it down into its smallest steps and lowering your expectations to completing 3-5 tasks rather than 25 will help you build that action muscle. You might also discover that the feeling of accomplishment helps you complete more.

Clothing, Closets and Drawers, Oh My!

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Are you overwhelmed by the decisions around what to wear today? When was the last time you said, “I have nothing to wear?” Yet, are your dresser drawers and closets overflowing? Let’s talk about taking care of all that “inventory” and how you can make it less stressful.

Clothing and taking care of it can often be a pleasure and a pain. “The average family of 4 completes 8-10 loads of laundry per week. Depending on how often the wash is done, the time spent will vary, but, on average at least 8-hours will be spent on washing, drying, and folding clothes”. If you or your kids have more than a load of laundry each, twice a week then you might want to reconsider your options.

How much is enough? Only you can decide. If you like spending your time doing laundry and all the clothes can fit in their storage spaces, then don’t worry. If, however, you can’t fit all the clean laundry in their storage spaces or you find yourself constantly with a backlog of laundry – then maybe you have too many clothes. I once had a client that complained about always being behind on the laundry. She found it difficult to “catch up” because that meant 6 loads of her clothes and many more for her husband and children and the household (sheets, towels, etc.). If the laundry was able to be completely caught up, she would not have had space to put it either.

Marie Kondo suggests collecting all your clothes in one pile and then deciding whether to keep it or not (does it spark joy?) Since we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time – why are you allowing the other 60-80% to clutter up your life? How frustrating is it to look in the closet and not find anything you WANT to wear?

Adults

  • Do I wear it?
  • Do I like how I feel and look when I wear it?
  • How many do I have?
  • Do I have space to store it?

If you hesitate to pass it along, then store it for a few months out of your closet but still somewhere where you can access it. If it is out of sight, it is not stressing you out or making your decisions more difficult when you are trying to get dressed in a hurry.

If you are not ready to tackle your own closet….

Kids grow fast. Why not start easily with clearing out what no longer fits or what your child does not wear. For younger kids, be sure to ask if it is easy to put on and take off. (As an educator I saw many students struggle with a stiff jean button when racing to the bathroom).

Kids probably need about two weeks’ worth of every day clothing. That way they have enough to change during the day if necessary and still be able to make it longer than a week before laundry needs to be done.  Kids want to be able to see what they want to wear quickly and easily – here’s where the Marie Kondo method of folding can be helpful. All shirts can be seen at once and pulling one shirt out does not mess up the rest of them. Rolling is another option that can also be helpful.

Drawers are complicated. There are too many steps for them to put clothes away or even to grab clothes to put on. Often, you’ll find the drawers stay open and the pile of shirts is a mess from where they pulled out the shirt on the bottom. The same thing applies to the closet. Do you know how many steps are involved in hanging something up?

Also, a hamper filled with clean clothes often does not get put away and ends up becoming the laundry hamper again – and the cycle continues (except that this is unnecessary “do-over” work and added wear and tear on the clothes).

Kids

  • Do they fit?
  • Does my child wear them (Easy to put on?)
  • Does my child like them?
  • Is there storage space for all their clothes?
  • How much do they really need?

Once you are able to reduce the “inventory” you will see that the workload decreases as well. What would it feel like to start the week with all the laundry done? Then it may be a matter of doing a load of laundry here and there throughout the week in order to have just a bit to finish up on the weekend. Some organizers suggest a load of laundry a day – but I know somedays are busier than other days. Trying to get the load all the way to finished (meaning put away) can be a challenge. Pick days and times you know you can get it all the way to completed before you start. Also, do you know how long it actually takes for your washer to complete a cycle? Figure that out and you can plan better – same for the dryer.

Clothing is one of the more challenging things to organize and maintain. You may have noticed during this past year+ of pandemic that you tend to wear the same things. Take advantage and cut down your inventory and you may find you have more to wear than you thought.