I’ve been gone and am a little behind (what else is new). So was delighted when Homey came up with this great post, comparing living with ADD ADHD to living without it, like her husband does. Of course, he’s obviously a little exceptional, but he still helps make the point. Homey is exceptional, too. I continue to be amazed at all she accomplishes, ADD ADHD or not. She’s the planner maven, so she thinks her post is about planners, but I think it’s about living and coping.
So I’m coasting today. Enjoy:
My husband, David, and I are very different in the way we go about our day-to-day activities. He’s a remodeling contractor. He has a planner I set up for him and he sort of uses it. He mainly uses the blank paper to write notes or to-do lists. He frequently writes lists on random scraps of paper and throws them away when they’re done. He doesn’t write his daily plans on paper. He doesn’t have printed routines or schedules or to-do lists. When he’s working on the house, he just does the next thing and he intuitively knows what that is. He cleans as he goes, picks up after himself and doesn’t forget (usually) important tasks. Did I mention that he’s a born organized? He just knows what to do and he does it.
I’m a full-time homemaker. I blog, spent lots of time with my grandkids and take care of the house. I cook, clean, pay bills, grocery shop, etc. And I can’t live without a planner. I write anything and everything down. I am NOT a born organized and I don’t intuitively know what needs done next. I have ADHD and it’s a real pain in the butt when it comes to managing my home and my time.
However, I can accomplish almost as much as David does but I need a little help doing it. My brain doesn’t work as efficiently as his does so I have to compensate a little – okay, maybe a lot. The compensation comes in the form of my planner.
- He has a lot going on his brain but somehow he’s able to process it and put it in its rightful place inside his brain. I have a lot going on, too, but I can’t process it. It overwhelms me. I have to get it out of my brain and on paper. Then and only then can I put it in its rightful place.
- He makes a list, does it and then throws it away (he doesn’t always make a written list – often he keeps it in his head). My response is much more complicated. I make a list. Then I rebel against the list. Then I decide maybe I’ll do a few things on the list or maybe something else. Eventually I get some of the stuff done on the list. But I never throw it away because there are unfinished things on the list and I need a record in case I have to look back to see if I did something and when. But I still do better than if I didn’t have a list.
- He intuitively knows what to do next. I don’t have a clue. Because of my ADHD, everything seems equally important. And there’s so much I think I need to do that I don’t know what to do next. Since I don’t have that intuition that he has, I have to make a list – actually, a daily plan. A list doesn’t always cut it for me. I need to plan out the day and figure out what I need to do and when I might be able to do it. If I simply wing it, I won’t get anything done or I’ll get the wrong things done. And getting the wrong things done is almost as bad as doing nothing at all. So he can plan his day in his head but I have to do it on paper.
- He has a routine and follows it. I have to thoughtfully create a routine, write it down and then remind myself to follow it. I have a page in my planner that includes my routines. It may seem silly, but it’s the only way I will consistently do them. I know that sort of contradicts the idea of a routine (something you do automatically) but trust me, I have to do it this way.
- He’s motivated. He knows what needs done and he does it. Period. That’s it. I, on the other hand, lack motivation and have to find ways to create it. I use games, strategies, rewards, stickers – whatever it takes. Sometimes it’s as simple as writing things down and marking them off. He doesn’t need the satisfaction of marking something off. I do.
- He cleans as he goes. He sees something that needs done and he does it. I see something that needs done and I add it to my list. I’ve gotten better at cleaning as I go – by following his example – but I’m still not great at it. But I have learned that when I see something that needs done, to write it on my list. We both get it done – it just takes me longer.
ADD/ADHD makes time management much harder, but having the right tool, in my case a planner, can make the difference between success and failure. Without my planner, I flounder. With my planner, I can defeat (or at least cripple) my ADHD and accomplish great things. David might be superman all on his own, but with the help of my planner, I can be super, too.
Thank you, Homey
Quote o the Day: The two secrets of life are showing up and hanging in there.
. E J Khantzian, MD
Hi Homey. Great post. As we both have ADD, we both have a lot in common. AND, I was amazed at how much your husband is like my wife – able to complete the necessary tasks without writing anything down. I wish I was able to do that! I hope your husband is more patient with you than my wife is with me. Although she’s more understanding than in the past, she has a difficult time with how different I am from her!
Hi Scott. Thanks for your reply. Your idea should be quite helpful for me. I plan to try it out. I definitely need shorter lists!
And thanks to you, especially, Doug! Jeff
you’re welcome. and thank you for commenting
My husband is actually really patient and understanding with my ADHD. And his experience with me is helping him deal with a guy who helps him out now and then with his business. His friend has ADHD but I don’t think he knows it. Some of the things he does are so frustrating to David but he at least understands why he’s doing them.
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homey – so one of the advantages to a spouse of an ADDer is they can better understand other ADDers? I will point that out to my wife. When she’s in a very good mood.
thank your for the comment
Great piece, Homey.
And kudos to you, for figuring how to make a planner work for you — and working it. I know it must be a pain in the butt. But trying to go through life without it is probably a bigger pain. Good for you, for rising to the challenge!
That’s the truth, Gina.
Scott – sounds like really tailoring the list strategy to your own needs and its really working well for you. good job. i need the shorter lists too, in fact plan to write about that soon.
as always, thank you for commenting
Great post! Thank you Homey and Doug!
I have lists of what needs to be done, projects I would like to do if I have extra time, a work list, a “today” list, and even a “project security list” where I put all of the projects so I don’t have to look at them on my normal list until I choose to put them there, when I am ready to start doing them. It seems complicated, but it is working more and more. I used to just spin and wonder why even though I thought I was busy I wasn’t getting the right things done. I’m finding shorter lists work better for me, so sometimes just choosing a couple of things off the bigger list and writing them down on a short list really helps. That is basically from Doug’s book.
All the best, Scott
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I love the idea that you need to have a “project security list”. I have lots of projects in back-up too, because I lack either the time or the money, and because there are so many. It really must be an ADD/ADHD thing, because no one else I know really has projects. For anything.