A Schedule Can Feel Daunting
One of the big contradictions of ADHD is desperately needing structure, but absolutely hating it. But what if I told you that as a stay at home mom, I kind of have both and it's working really well. Now, I know that sounds really confusing, but when G, my gifted ADHD 6 year old, was sent home to social distance, I panicked and didn't know what to do. I wasn't holding the house very well with S, my 3 year old, and having an extra person in the house while my husband worked from home was panic inducing. I used my hyper-focus superpower and researched schedules, ADHD, and motivation. This sucked up maybe a week and the house fell even further behind... (Oops.) But what I learned has been invaluable in actually making my own schedule.
The Ten Minute Rule
We talked in my last post about how things don't have to be "done" to reach a goal, but I feel it's important to yell it to the roof tops. Make your daily goals small enough that you can manage them without triggering my "Wall of Awful". When it comes to cleaning house, you can decide what works best for you, but I decided that 10 minutes was what I could handle. If you're doing the math and noticed that that's not enough time to clean my house, you'd be right, but I'm spending that amount of time (at minimum) in each room of my house.
Spread It Out
Okay, so we've cut out the stress and decided to spend ten minutes in each room. GREAT! So if we live in a 5 room house, that's an hour! This is where we need to put on our breaks, and... well... take a break. Take a lot of breaks, actually, because we have a limited amount of executive function to give. This means that our time is limited where we can really focus and work toward a task. ESPECIALLY if it's something we hate or triggers the Wall of Awful. Research has shown that the best ratio for most people with ADHD is ten minutes of focus, three minutes of mindfulness, and 10 minutes of rest before starting your next task. That said, I'm still on my mindfulness journey and I'm just not great at it yet. My kids are a big obstacle to meditating through a lot of my day. To fix that, I've made my breaks longer to help the kids and stop my brain for a bit before moving on. This means I schedule at most, two activities per hour, but try to stick to just one.
Work With Your Natural Rhythm
Now we have tasks, we have breaks, and we're ready. Right? Nope. Now we need to think about our current daily pattern in an honest way. What do I mean by that? I mean, when do your meds/coffee (if you have them) kick in? How do you wake up in the morning? Are you jumping out of the covers because you can't sit still, or do you fight your way out of bed after an hour? When do you start to feel burnt out during the day? When you're making a schedule, you'll need to figure out what your best productivity times are and plan on those being your "small break" moments. Likewise, if you have tasks that take longer, or you tend to hyper focus on them, plan on having a big break after these kinds of tasks. You'll need the recovery and transition time to deal with these.
Plan on Chaos
Irregular tasks/appointments was somewhere that used to get me stuck, but with the schedule I have a "make up task" section for anything I might miss because of a doctor's appointment or for things that I need to get done, but it isn't a daily thing. Something will always go wrong, or maybe you're overwhelmed and need a break. It's important to have a back up slot ready for those times.
Make your tasks short, think 10 minutes if possible.
Plan on long breaks. For every 10 minutes of work research shows a person with ADHD should have 3 minutes of mindfulness and 10 minutes of rest. If you're not great about mindfulness (like me) plan on it being around 20 minutes.
Think about your emotions and behavior patterns. If you're not a morning person, burn out in the afternoon, or have a waiting period for your meds to kick in you'll want to think about which tasks you can handle at which times.
Plan on things going wrong by making a "make up" section in your schedule. This lets you plan for doctor appointments, needy kids, or just needing a break when things get to be too much. This is the place to put any sort of task you missed or need to move around for something else.
My Starting Schedule:
Click Here for my Most Recent Schedule