I have ADD. For years I struggled with disorganization so great it could easily be classified as a force of nature. Sometimes I wonder if my things actually sprout legs and wander off on their own. Because of this, I’ve made myself into a creature of fierce habit: The only way for me to not lose my keys is to always, always put them in the key basket as soon as I get home. The only way to make sure I don’t forget something important for work is to never let it leave my bag. And the only way for me to remain focused on a creative project long enough for it to become anything is to make it part of my daily routine. (This is the reason behind my early morning writing sessions.)
I carefully regiment my life’s space and time around the things that matter to me. Without it, I quickly become ungrounded in chaos. My life becomes one long fall down the rabbit hole. With my habits, I become a machine. People often ask me how I manage to work full-time, maintain this blog, run Wordhaus, work on my fiction every day, and still find time to exercise, care for my dog, and spend time with my husband. But the reality is, I’ve boxed it all into my habitual routine so well I don’t really think about it anymore. It just happens.
But habits can also trap you, and I get far too rigid about mine. Any time something disrupts my habits, everything goes to shit. Something as simple as an unexpected invitation to brunch on a weekend morning makes my jaw clench. Even now as I write this, my mind keeps sending me a little alarm: It’s not blog writing time, it’s fiction writing time. When we first got our puppy last fall, the constant care and new, daily responsibilities almost broke me. No joke. I was on the verge of tears for about three weeks straight.
And well, here’s the thing: I’ve come to realize that these disruptions, as much as they pain me, are just as important as my habits. I can’t live my life as a machine. I’m not only my productivity. And even though my habits enable me to spend more time on my creative projects, my creativity suffers when I let my habits tie me down.
So, tell me… how do you use daily habits to your advantage or cope with ADD?
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