Last night I was out with some friends and we started talking about Attention Deficit Disorder. I don’t remember why, but I ended up sharing the story of telling my mom about my son’s ADD.
I was trying to find a way for her to understand ADD, and I thought of something that happened to me all the time. I would be making dinner, and need something from the pantry. At the time, our pantry was located in our laundry room. I would go into the laundry room, and notice that the dryer had stopped, so I would take the clothes out and fold them. Then I would take the clothes upstairs and put them away. While I was up there, I might notice something else that needed to be done – straightening a room, or cleaning the bathroom sink. Eventually, I would end up back at the stove, and find that I needed something from the pantry….
When my mom heard this story, she laughed and said, “That happens to me all the time!”. My friends had the same reaction – they all said that they had days when they worked and worked all day and yet seemed to have nothing to show for it at the end.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone who has “disappearing days” has Attention Deficit Disorder. I’m sure everybody has that happen once in a while. But for people with AD/HD, it’s a more-often-than-not kind of occurrence.
In fact, I had one of those days just the other day. I spent the entire day running errands and doing things at home, and yet at the end of it, there was very little I had accomplished, and none of it was on my to-do list.
I think part of the problem is that we don’t put enough structure into our day; it’s certainly part of my problem anyway. It’s not enough for those of us with AD/HD to write down a to-do list, we need to go a step or two further and schedule time to do it. That means actually writing it down just like you would if it were a doctor’s appointment, and then honoring it as you would an appointment with someone else.
While you’re making those appointments, you need to also remember to keep it realistic. We have a tendency to expect too much out of our days, as though we are Super Woman and can get twice as much done as the average woman. Sorry – we do occasionally have those days when we seem to operate in warp speed and can tons done, but for the most part, we probably accomplish less than the average woman on any given day. That’s OK; we all do the best we can.
So aim for just a few personal appointments in a day, and be sure to allow plenty of time to do them. That’s another thing that people with AD/HD are really good at – underestimating how much time they will need to do something. A good rule of thumb is to estimate how much time you’ll need, then double it. If you get it done sooner, that’s great. Now you have extra time to do something else, or to just relax.
There are more reasons for our “disappearing days” – I’ll tackle those next time.