This article from ADDitude magazine by Noelle Lynn, LLMSW, ADHD-CCSP, is the best article I have seen since this pandemic started on how to stay calm(ish) and productive at home during this quarantine. It’s geared toward those with ADHD, but I think everyone can benefit from these productivity tips right now:
Stick to routines
People with ADHD don’t necessarily thrive with a super rigid schedule, but basic structure and routine is very helpful. It’s so tempting to sleep in, stay in your PJs, eat chocolate straight out of the bag, and watch TV all day while trapped at home. However, if you do this for more than a few days, it is going to negatively impact your mental and physical health.
Why not stay out of the hole, instead of struggling to climb out later? Here are a few specific routines that will help your brain continue working at its best:
- Get up around the same time each day.
- Take your medications and/or supplements.
- Get dressed and shower regularly.
- Schedule your meals and set a reminder to tell you to eat (and eat at a table).
- Find ways to move your body at least once an hour.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Set specific work times.
- Go outside at least once a day.
Finish projects, don’t start them
Suddenly, you have time! You realize there are 100 or 1,000 different projects you’ve been wanting to do around your house for years. This is the perfect opportunity! But wait! Many people with ADHD are great at starting projects, but not so great at finishing them.
Before you start anything new, look around and make a list of all the projects that need to be finished. Then focus on completing those. When you do finish a task, reward yourself! Research has found that even people without ADHD need to connect rewards directly with a completed task. Those who have ADHD need it even more because the reward centers of the brain don’t work as well as they could. So do a happy dance, have a treat, show someone what you finished, text pictures to a friend, whatever it is, do something to celebrate your completed tasks!
Set realistic expectations
When stuck at home with lots of time on your hands, it’s easy to have either very high or very low expectations for yourself and those around you. People with ADHD often struggle to clarify and set realistic expectations, so this is a great chance to work on this skill.
Sit down and make a list of what you expect of yourself and your family, then talk it over with a friend, coach, therapist, or spouse. Make sure to get feedback on whether or not your expectations are realistic and achievable. If you have children at home, make sure to talk with them about your clarified expectations and hear what their thoughts are, too! If you need guidance on clarifying expectations, check out Stephen Covey on this topic.
Manage your anxiety
Those living with ADHD often also experience anxiety. And nothing produces more anxiety than constant exposure to breaking news on a viral pandemic. Instead of constantly checking your Facebook feed, leaving the TV news on all day, or listening to one dire news podcast after another, consider limiting yourself to one to three articles or reports a day from reliable news organizations.
Notice your procrastination
You just finished eating dinner at the table. You get up and walk to the living room to turn on the TV. Your dinner dishes are still on the dining room table, and your pots and pans are still in the kitchen. Before you sit down and turn on the TV, notice your procrastination. Bring it to your brain’s full attention and say “I am procrastinating right now.” Don’t judge your procrastination; just notice and observe it. Get curious about it. Realize that you can create the space in your mind to make a choice about whether to procrastinate. You never know — maybe sometimes you’ll find yourself choosing not to procrastinate.
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