It’s a Landslide! How I Face All Those To-Do’s with a Smile and a Strategy

Stuff was falling through the cracks, including myself, when I figured out how to seal them all up.
Family Guy | posted by Douglas Cootey
Completing my To-Do List with Adult ADHD – Without Panicking

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I don’t manage being a dad with ADHD very well. Sometimes life piles up on me, and I have a hard time getting out from under it. This past half year has been particularly challenging because on top of my own disability (chronic motor tic disorder) and my youngest daughter going through volatile changes due to her learning disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and normal teenage drama. On top of all that, I was trying to self-publish a book. It was all too much, and things began to fall through the cracks.

What things? Oh, taxes that haven’t been filed, a storage garage that needs to be downsized and moved to a less costly facility, a backlog of family videos and photos that everybody is waiting for me to organize, my pharmacy insurance that was canceled for some reason, blogging on my own website, and blogging here. I still shower, however. At least I have that going for me. I also remember to eat, as evidenced by my waistline. Actually, I don’t eat regularly. I realized that I haven’t eaten today because I just made a joke about it. But thank heavens I didn’t mess up Christmas!

I do realize that every parent has a hard time juggling life with children, but being a parent with ADHD can be chaotic, stressful, and destructive to self-esteem because the flaws in our world are internal. They start with us, and branch out like cracks on an icy pond. Our entire world becomes fraught with danger. At any moment, the weight of our responsibilities will make our footing give way.

Too much? Paranoid? When you’ve had ADHD for as many decades as I’ve had it, you’ll notice there are times when you begin to feel overwhelmed. Make enough big mistakes, and the fear of catastrophe can have a crushing grip on your heart.

These five tips should help the most disorganized ADHD adult start to reclaim his life. Do you want proof? I used these tips to help me publish a book, save Christmas, and work with a behaviorally challenged child with schoolwork last month.

> Laugh. Did you just forget to transfer money from one bank to the other before your rent check came in because you were busy with the other 27 critical things on your to-do list? (This just happened to me.) It’s hard to laugh at a $36 overdraft fee, but moments like these require a big laugh. Short of finding a time machine, you can’t undo your mistake, and beating yourself up over it will invite depression. Sweep up the mess and laugh it off. At least your bank covered your rent check. You could be living in your car tonight.

> Pick your battles. During periods when you feel overwhelmed, focus on the three most important things. Just three. Put the other things aside. You can’t get everything done at once anyway. Get to work on the most crucial item and kill it.

> Accept that you won’t get it all done. There is only so much time in the day. When things pile up, there isn’t enough time to finish it all. Promise yourself you’ll organize better next time, and refocus on point no. 2.

> Break big goals into smaller ones. When juggling responsibilities with the needs of your kids, it helps to take your top three goals and break them up into smaller steps. That way you can be interrupted by spilled juice, temper tantrums, and booboos get quickly back on track. Here’s how this would work with grocery shopping: 1) make a shopping list, 2) organize coupons, 3) get gas, and 4) go shopping. This may see overly simplistic, but when the kids are fighting, the TV’s too loud, and the toilet is clogged, you’ll be thankful that you wrote out the steps instead of relying on your memory.

> Celebrate your achievements. You could focus on the maelstrom of unfinished tasks that are ripping through your life like a tornado, but what fun is that? Focusing on what you haven’t finished will lead you to paralyzing fear or self-loathing. Instead, pat yourself on the back for what you’ve accomplished, and focus on the next three things.

One frustrating thing about ADHD is that I probably will never master it. Unlike learning how to ride a bike, with ADHD, I never seem to stop falling off. But because I keep getting back up, I get somewhere from time to time—even if a wake of unfinished things is left behind me.

 
 
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