Living with ADHD can be exhausting. But even at the end of a long day, responsibilities pile up. How do you recharge to stay focused… when your focus has lost its focus?
This week’s show is anchored around a recent article by friend-of-the-show Casey Dixon. Her ideas were inspirational for us and spurred our conversation today. Plus, thanks to a listener question, we get to wax dreamily about our ideal ADHD home!
Links & Notes
Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon
Pete: Hello, everybody and welcome to ‘‘Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast’’ on Rash Pixel FM. I’m Pete Wright and right over there. Look, it’s Nikki Kinzer.
Nikki: Hello everyone. Hello Pete.
Pete: Hi Nikki. How are you?
Nikki: I’m good. How are you?
Pete: I’m feeling great.
Pete: Energy is high. I have my trademarked beads from James Ochoa. Future guests once in future guests once in future King of the ADHD podcasts, I’m wearing them today.
Nikki: Yes. Good energy.
Pete: Always feel great when I’m sharing some James Ochoa energy. We are not talking about James yet.
Pete: That’s weeks down the road. But today, we are talking about we have a disappointing change in our schedule. It is a sad and disappointing change and that is that our guest here was that was supposed to be here, has taken ill.
Nikki: Yes. She got a bad cold and no voice. That’s Casey Dixon.
Pete: The voiceless Casey Dixon. Casey is a past guest of the show. We were excited to have her back to talk about a new article that she has written and talk about her work and around energy after hours. So we’re gonna continue to talk about that today without her, and she has had pledged to join us again in a few months once our schedule is clear up again. So that’s it. Sorry to Casey and looking forward to having her back down the road. Before we dig in though, we have some questions and feedback that I just want to share if that is okay with you.
Nikki: Yes, please.
Pete: All right. Last week, we did the episode on whether it’s time to look for a new job, job changes. And, you know, I feel like I feel good about that episode, but we did get some feedback from a listener in particular, and I think it’s representative of a position that I just want to make sure is expressed by us on the show. And that is that it may have appeared like we were ignorant of some other issues around job lock in and why people don’t just go get a new job. And I hope that it didn’t come across that we were, or that I was in particular in any way flippant about why individuals are staying at there are jobs. That was not my intention, but I do wanna share this from listener Kelly who I think thoughtfully represented this view in particular in a DM thread with me.
‘‘Hey Pete, I was looking forward to the job change episode and appreciate this topic being addressed. Although I always find it disheartening that more factors aren’t considered when discussing job change. Many people, myself included, are job-locked for many reasons other than fear of change. For example, health insurance for expensive chronic conditions or simply being uneducated and underqualified for occupations outside of food service or retail, which is the second most popular occupation in the country, barely under government jobs. I don’t think I’m the only listener-starving artists with ADHD who can’t seem to figure out how to break this cycle. I love this podcast. I look forward to listening and feeling encouraged by you and Nikki weekly. But I feel like sometimes the podcast caters more toward a middle-class college educated ADHD crowd, like people who are working in office jobs and balancing family life.’’
And so we had an engagement there and she did acknowledge, I think I was a little impulsive in writing. My frustration comes from my own situation, which may be more unique than I sometimes think it is. Just frustrated that I’ve worked the same job I hate for so long for the insurance. This is not the only time I have heard this struggle that, you know, we’re, we are all locked into positions that we hate for various reasons. And in particular in this insurance economy that has a lot of us, I think feeling like prisoners of our own healthcare for this very reason, right?
And so I think that’s a struggle. I don’t have an answer for this. I don’t know that, you know, and I’ll let you speak for this. Nikki and I don’t intentionally target this show toward anybody particular demographic and we have a people, you have clients from all sorts of demographic backgrounds. And so, you know, our effort only has and has always been that you can take with you whatever from our conversation best works for you and put the rest on shelf somewhere. Our intention is not to offend or be overly prescriptive beyond our station in particular. And I hope that comes across more than anything else. But I love that, you know, listener Kelly was, well first of all, brave enough to share this directly and thoughtful enough to put it in the way that she did. And I just wanna acknowledge it that this is really hard for a lot of people. And if it came across like we were making it too easy, then I want to ensure you that was not our intention.
Nikki: Well, and especially with any kind of change, life change, you know, whether it’s a job, moving, anything like that, it’s gonna take a lot of consideration, a lot of processing, talking it through, pros and cons. I mean, there’s just so many different components that our one conversation is certainly not going to cover all of that. And I appreciate it, too. And I thank you for writing in and like you said, Pete, you know, this podcast is meant to be for anyone with ADHD doesn’t matter. And hopefully you can take something out of it. And I think our biggest thing is just inspiration and hope that there are other ways to do things and, you know, like you said, take what you can. Absolutely.
Pete: All right, so thank you Kelly. You’re the greatest and we appreciate that very, very much. Okay. We also have a listener question. I feel like I’ve been reading a lot, but shall I read this?
Nikki: Yeah, well, of course.
Pete: All right. ‘‘Hi. Thank you for being such a great resource as I navigate the challenges of my ADHD.’’ You’re welcome. Thank you for listening. ‘‘My husband and I are building a new home in 2020. My ADHD brain is spinning. However, I’m trying to see this as a blessing by designing our home to best accommodate my personal challenges. What design suggestions can you offer to make day-to-day life at home with ADHD manageable? Like dream accommodations. Any advice or tips on preparing for the move that have come up since the moving episodes?’’ Oh dear. That was some time ago. Yeah. ‘‘How do I narrow down all the ideas I’m collecting in Pinterest?’’
Nikki: Oh gosh. There’s a lot going on here.
Pete: I know. So much.
Nikki: First of all, my head is spinning for you for building a new home in 2020. Oh my gosh. The stress and pressure of that is crazy. But I think it’s wonderful that you are excited about this and I think it’s great that you’re looking at the accommodations that you could potentially put into this home. I love that. I think it’s a great idea. As far as the moving episodes go, not much has changed when it comes to basic moving, you know? Right. So I think that definitely review those and look at how, I think there’s like three different episodes to that series or at least to. So I would definitely review that. I don’t know about you Pete, but there’s a couple of things that I would probably recommend as far as like accommodations and that is definitely, one is having a command center wall.
Like have a wall in a space where everybody’s seen it and whether you have a family or it’s just you or it’s just you and your husband. I think she mentioned it, it was her husband. I don’t know if she has kids or not, but it definitely having a command center wall where you can put your calendar and, you know, important notices and reminders and just have that out in the open.
Pete: And I think, you know, as long as you have the opportunity to dream big, think about these intentional spaces around your command center. One of the things I find, you know with folks who try to do command centers in their homes is they just don’t have a very intentional space for it or that space is too small in a number of dimensions. One, it might be designed around, you know, an 11 by 14 whiteboard, which is not big enough, right? And two, it might be a large wall that’s perfectly sized to fit all of the different things you wanna put on it. And a station, maybe a little desk for, you know, resources, but it’s in a hallway that’s only three feet wide. So as your family grows, more than one person will never be able to stand and, and address this board because it’s just too tight of a space. So as you’re having your home built, be cognizant of these stations where you’re going to need sort of natural meeting space, right, gathering space that’s not just living space.
Nikki: Right. Absolutely. That’s a great point. I like the little idea of having a little desk underneath the command center. That would be a nice little way of like making sure, I don’t know, notes or bills or mail is being taken care of. And there’s a lot you can do with that. I like that.
Pete: Absolutely. Especially as so many of us are, are more mobile with like iPads and laptops and things. It’s nice to have a little flat space that you can go sit down under your command center, crack, open the laptop and start typing out, you know, a couple of quick things while you’re looking at your giant family calendar, whatever. I think there’s something really to that.
Nikki: I think that when it comes to like organizing and just placing things into your home, just remember that out of sight is usually out of mind. And so open shelves are a great thing, especially in closets. So if you think about your master closet, you know, have some shelving, right? Because that’s gonna be great rather than just everything being hang up because that’s usually not the case. It doesn’t get hang up. So, you know, have some open shelves. Hooks are a great thing because if you don’t wanna hang up something, you can just hook it. I think that’s a wonderful little accommodation to have.
Pete: And I would say not just for clothes, right? Close are one thing. But anything that can be hung should be hung. Like it’s great to hang stuff. And I’ll say for the live stream I’ll demonstrate my new favorite product. Can I?
Pete: This is my most exciting thing. It’s the 3M command strip. Have you played with these things?
Pete: Okay. So command strips it’s like a new sort of Velcro. I actually keep many unopened packages of command strips here and it’s like Velcro, but they have this little tab on them. So you put them on your wall and then if you wanna get rid of them, you just pull this little tab and it stretches out the adhesive on the backside so it doesn’t damage your paint. And you can see everything in my office behind me for those who are on the live stream has been hung up with a command strip of some size or sort. And that means that I can go up two doodads on my wall like this.
Nikki: Oh look, there it is.
Pete: And pull it right off the wall. This is actually a decoration. It’s a wooden decoration that has been one of those tchotchkes on my shelf for the longest time. I love it. I never have space for it. It’s a fun thing to just pull off the wall and then put back on the wall. It’s not messy like Velcro. It’s the Velcro itself is like a plastic. And so you just snap it back on the wall when you’re done. Every whiteboard in our house, every clock that’s hanging on the wall, it has all been done with command strips, no holes and super flexible for moving things around.
Our giant in our kitchen is mounted on the wall using command strips. So if we wanna go into the living room and have a bigger family planning meeting, I literally just yank it off the wall and take it into the living room and then put it back on later. I keep these box of command strips in my briefcase so when I travel I can put stuff on the wall next to the bed in hotel rooms. Like I’m serious. I’m a lunatic for this stuff.
Nikki: I can tell.
Pete: But if you build like stations around your house, you can be very flexible with new kinds of ways to use wall space and be intentional about where you have little nooks and crannies and open shelves and space to hang things. That is my plug.
Nikki: Pete you need to take this recording, this little piece of recording and send it to the 3M company and then you need to say you’re…I am your new spokesperson for this and this is how I deeply believe in your product.
Pete: I am deeply inspired, yeah. All of these sound dampening pads, all command strips.
Nikki: All, all of those strips.
Pete: I love you command strips. Thank you for making my life better.
Nikki: That’s funny. All right. Moving back to the moving question, so Pinterest, oh my gosh. Pinterest is such a rabbit hole and I can only imagine what her little Pinterest boards look like because I’m sure there’s so many different ideas. You know, maybe our listeners will have an idea, so this would be great to put out to them too if they’ve been in the situation before. The only thing that I could come up with is that yeah, go like start a new board.
And I know that sounds weird, but I can just imagine you probably have all of these like saved items and I almost would say, okay, maybe go through like the kitchen stuff that you’ve saved, but then save the kitchen posts to a new board that really are just the ones that you’re gonna actually look at. Like not just ones that you save because, Oh, that’s a good idea. Oh yeah. Maybe, maybe. Like get the maybes out and actually just create boards that you know, really are the things that you want to have in your home. But again, this is tough. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. This stumped me.
Pete: No, you actually, you’re thinking exactly the same way I think. I was not thinking about continuing to use Pinterest though. I was thinking get your top ideas out of Pinterest.
Nikki: Yeah. That might be a good idea.
Pete: Yeah. You know, there are some top tier ideas that you actually will start to think, Oh, this is something that actually would make sense. It’s not just delightful, but it actually might really affect my house in a positive way. I am going to take that and send it to a Trello board or send it to do it or send it to wherever you’re actually managing your project or ever note. Whatever it is, get it the top ideas out of Pinterest because Pinterest is a snake eating its own tail, right? The more you are on Pinterest, the more Pinterest encourages you to tag and save items and pin items to your boards. And I think Pinterest is exceptional at that. It is exceptional at driving you to engage in ideas like that. And at some point you have to stop the cycle, right? You have to take the best ideas and move them someplace else so that you can do the work.
Nikki: Right, right. Because yeah, you can be there all day. And this is what Pinterest is for. You’re building a new home.
Pete: That’s right.
Nikki: I mean you’re the ideal client. Yeah, definitely.
Pete: Yeah. But I think that’s the idea of thinking about what is the tool used for and know that there are better tools for project management and those sorts of things than Pinterest. It’s not designed for that. So there you go. I think Nikki, actually this question is super inspirational to me and I think that, you know, maybe as we get into 2020, we should regroup on our moving episodes with the intention of building a dream ADHD house. I think we can go deep and we can develop our own Pinterest boards and do a new episode to refresh the dream home, the moving episodes. What do you think? I mean.
Nikki: I think so. That’s such a great idea.
Pete: Thank you everybody over at Feedspot for naming our humble podcast one of the top ADHD podcasts. You can find the link in the show notes, jump over there and see some other great ADHD podcasts as named by a Feedspot over there. It’s really fantastic. And thank you everyone for supporting this show on Patreon. It is because of our patrons supporters that we continue to grow the show, to add more services to members, to bring in great guests and to continue to serve as a resource for the ADHD community. Members get access to monthly workshops with Nikki and myself. They also get access to worksheets and forms to help you manage your day with ADHD. In the basic tier, you get entry level access to our online community, the ADHD group over on Discord or Facebook. And you can actually join the conversation there and be a part of a fantastic and growing community supporting one another with ADHD. If you’ve ever been touched by this show or anything that we have done in our work here, we encourage you to think about joining the ADHD podcast at patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. Thanks everybody.
All right. Would you like me to do my Casey Dickson impersonation for the duration of this show and then you’re just interview me and I’ll just be her because I could. She’s delightful and no. I feel like you’re not thinking this through.
Nikki: Oh no. I am definitely thinking this though. But I am gonna talk about our article and you and I are gonna talk about her article and give her full credit for this article. And it actually came our way because the Patreon member posted it into our Discord channel and said, Oh we need to talk about this. And then everybody else was like, “Oh, I have that issue, too.” And that’s retaining energy at the end of the day. And the actual article title is called, “How to Recharge Your Tired Brain After Work.” And it was “Attitude” magazines. So if you go online, well we’ll have the…
Pete: Yeah, we’ll drop in the show notes.
Nikki: The show notes, but you can read the whole thing.
Pete: And we should say as a reminder to everybody, if you want to jump directly to this episode to see the show notes and the complete transcript of this episode, you can do that at takecontroladhd.com/podcast/404. That is the episode number, /podcast/404.
Nikki: Is that 404 also like the little thing that comes on the website?
Pete: It is when a page is not found. Yeah. That’s weird.
Nikki: I know, isn’t it? But every time I kept seeing episode 404, that is what always came to my mind was the little.
Pete: Isn’t it funny that an episode number that is the moniker of the last website asset is also the episode in which our guests is lost. Casey Dickson, 404.
Nikki: So true.
Pete: So true.
Nikki: She’s lost in the 404.
Pete: She’s lost in the 404. Anyway.
Nikki: Okay, here we go. The challenge here is you’ve worked all day, you’re tired, and you’re not really in the mood to do anything more but then just go home and relax and you certainly don’t wanna do more work at home, right? And if you are a parent, that’s just a whole another ballgame, right? Because now you have to go home and be a parent and balance time parenting and also your own personal downtime. So I know I experienced this, I’m sure you do too, Pete.
Pete: Oh yeah, yeah. Well, and it’s one of those things for me, it’s we’ve talked before about ADHD and like thinking as being a high calorie exercise.
Nikki: It is.
Pete: Right. I find after a long day, after a long day, standing at the mic after a long day, you know, writing whatever it is that I’m doing, I don’t just feel tired, right? It’s a sense of, okay, what I call around the house, it’s a bone weariness, right? It is to my very core that I just have no animation. I’m just done. There’s just no energy. And so that parent role becomes a real challenge because I could, I mean, I really just could sit down on the couch and not move and not watch anything, not listen to any of that. I could just exist in stasis, but then there are, there’s driving needs, there’s all kinds of requirements of my time. And I find that I just wander around like a zombie on those days. I’m exhausted. I can still, like, I’ll move, I’ll find, you know, that sense of momentum, but or inertia, but I can’t function, which makes me not a participatory parent or spouse. That’s really hard.
Nikki: Well, and it is hard and I think that like, I know and once I sit down, I’ve said this before in the podcast, but like once I sit down in my chair and I have my iPad, I’m done. Like you’re gonna be lucky if I get out of the chair. And if I do get out of the chair, it’s to go to bed. So yeah, there’s some things I need to make sure I do before I get, you know, in that chair because it’s not a good thing.
Pete: Well, and that’s a signal, right? You’re also sending a signal to your spouse and your kids that, you know, they’ll know that that is signal to transition, the day is over when mom hits that chair.
Nikki: Right. Exactly. Well, I thought that was interesting because in the article, Casey actually says that the problem isn’t a lack of motivation, but it’s more of a case of properly refueling. And so, you know, I think of refueling, I think of getting gas right in that car so that it can go again. And so instead of trying to push through something, which doesn’t work, because we tend to shut down if we are really, especially if we start going down that shame and guilt, I should be doing this, but I’m not, you’re gonna tend to shut down and not do anything anyway. So what she’s saying is don’t try to push through it, but actually listen to your body and acknowledge what your brain needs and then give it what it needs to refuel.
So some of the ideas I incorporated here are ideas that she had and some ideas that I’ve had. And then Pete, I want you to add anything that you think would help restore that, that brain energy. One of the things that I talked to my clients about is having some transition time between work and home, just having some space. So if we’re rushing, rushing, rushing, and we’re rushing from one place to another, you know, it’s gonna feel chaotic. It’s gonna feel tiring, right? So if there’s a way that you can just give yourself some space, change your mindset, and really practice that mindfulness of what role are you leaving and what role are you going into now. And you live by yourself, that’s still a really important transition to have because if you’ve had a busy day and now you’re going home to relax, or you’re going home to work on chores or whatever it is that you’re doing, you have to have that transition time. Does that make sense?
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And transitions, as we have talked about before, transitions are incredibly difficult with ADHD. And that includes transitions, you know, sleeping to wake, wake to sleep. If you don’t have this kind of, this sense of refueling space and transition, if you don’t intentionally approach transitions, it can be very jarring.
Nikki: Absolutely. Yeah. And inside of this, this space that you’re giving yourself, there’s some different things that you can do. Meditation, this is an excellent time to practice your meditation just by giving yourself a few deep breaths. If some time to just again, make that transition. Exercise is a great dopamine hit. So if you’re feeling really low energy, jump rope, do some squats, get out there, walk the dog, that is gonna make you feel better. It is going to make you feel a little more energetic than you did when you first came home. Playing with your pets, right? You know, throwing a ball or we’ve got two new little kittens that we like to play with and that’s totally fun and it makes me happy. And you know, it’s those things that bring joy that you wanna pay attention to because that will give you that energy. I had somebody tell me that at the end of the day they like to shower because to them feels like that’s just rinsing off their day and they’re going into the evening. Great idea.
Pete: I actually love that. And I will say I have adopted that and I become an evening shower. Are you are you a morning showerer or an evening?
Nikki: I’m a morning.
Pete: You’re a morning showerer.
Pete: For me, I just discovered that if I take a shower at night, that warm water, everything, it helps me ease that transition to sleep. And as somebody who’s struggled with sleep, I’ll take anything I can get. And that’s been a lovely change in my life personally.
Nikki: Yeah. Yeah. Love that. Music is something that definitely puts me in a different mood and energizes me. So that’s something that I would encourage people to do, especially if you are making dinner, you know, or something like that, putting some music on so it’s just not feeling so tiring. Connecting with people that feed that energy, being around happy people, being, you know, I think any kind of that good connection can make it big differences to fill in that space. Pete what do you think?
Pete: Well, the only thing that hasn’t been mentioned in the list that I would advocate for is diet throughout the day. I mean I find that, you know, having a dose of solid at the right time during the day, it is enormously helpful at fueling me through difficult transitions or getting me to the end of the day and being a better parent and a participatory kind of homework dad and those sorts of things. So I have a couple of staples, whether it’s an there is some wonderful like energy bars, like protein energy bars. Trader Joe’s has these little packets, like these little squeezy packets of just like a little almond butter and honey that you don’t even put on anything. You just tear it open and suck it down, right? It’s just literally a jolt of slightly sweet protein.
And if I have one of those at four o’clock in the afternoon that’ll, I can ride through dinner and the evening usually just kind of okay. The challenge comes when I let my energy drop too far, then it’s just way too hard for me to rebuild. So I find that metering, if I make a mistake and I go instead for the empty calories, grab a bowl of chips or something like that, you know, then I’ve lost it. Like I’ve made a bad decision and I’m not gonna be able to recover largely. You know, I’m done.
Nikki: Now that diet, it makes a lot of sense. Definitely being intentional about that. So there’s a couple of points that I wanna talk about when it comes to this whole idea of what you’re gonna get done in the evening. The first point that I wanna talk about is the expectations of what we think we can do and what needs to get done. And then the second piece I wanna talk about is how to get what needs to get done. So first thing is expectations. I think our expectations are way too high on what people think that they can get done during an evening and what they think they should get done in an evening. I just, I don’t think they connect.
If you worked all day coming home and trying to get 10 things done off of your list is just not reasonable. There’s not enough time, there’s not enough energy. And so one of the things that I would say is that we have to really look at what we’re expecting from ourselves and decrease those expectations. Let go and be okay with this. You have not failed if you can’t get everything done on your to-do-list. You know, this is just the way this is balance. You’re gonna have to be able to let some stuff go and be okay with that. So I would limit your list of maybe one or two things that you’re doing in the evening.
Pete: Yeah, I would say one, right? If you’re lucky and you have the energy to say this is a perennial challenge. And I feel like acknowledging that there are work and career tasks and there are personal tasks that you cannot do on work or career time is really important. Like, that’s not, I get that. And I experienced that. And I also think that it’s important to acknowledge that you’re gonna have to make some sacrifices if there are things that are critical for you to get done for your personal life financial life, whatever it is that you can’t do during the day. And the trick is, as Nikki says, I think you overwhelm yourself with an evening list and there’s nothing more sort of dehumanizing than coming home after a long day even if you’ve had a great day of accomplishing things, only to find an evening list that is truly exhausting.
Nikki: Right. And overwhelming. Well, and something that I want the parents out there to think about, and especially if you have small kids or you have children that are in school and they need your help with homework, they are your priority. And so that is something that, you know, is that acceptance piece of knowing that you know what, the house is gonna be a little messier and that the laundry is gonna be backed up. But this is just where we are in our life right now. This is the chapter that we’re in because I’ve got these kids that I need to take care of. Single parents, I mean, by golly, you know, you have too much to think about in too much on your plate, to worry about every single to-do-list in the evenings. So, you know, I think it’s also kind of checking in with what your values are and priorities and making sure those things are getting done. Again, it’s not that you’re not gonna get to this list, it’s just a matter of the tiny, you know, it doesn’t all have to be done today. And so being able to kind of spread that out and not feeling bad about it.
Pete: This is where that ideal calendar for me really comes into play where I can look at my time after work and I can say, okay, I know I have some requirements. The priorities are be a dad first, get dinner, get the kids fed, keep them healthy, get them working on their homework, help where I can, get them processed through bed, teeth brush, get them, encouraged them to get to sleep in the reasonable hours. So those are the requirements. Those are the non-starters. And then what time do I have left? Usually, it’s brief before I’m completely out of steam. And that usually means I got one thing maybe I can do. I’ve got, you know, I can check the bank statement. I can, you know, pay the mortgage. I can whatever it is, if I plan something else, it just won’t get done and I’ll go to bed feeling terrible. There is no shower that can wash that off.
Nikki: No, no. Well, and then prioritizing what that one thing is I think is important that we talk about too, because I think that one of the downfalls is that everything feels important. And so when everything feels important, it’s really hard to decide what to do. And so now you’re stuck in decision mode. Plus you’re feeling like everything has the same importance even if you know logically it doesn’t. So we’ve talked about sort of how to prioritize before in the past. And there’s really three things that I look at first as kind of a starting point is do you have a deadline on anything? So if you have family coming over this weekend and you need to clean up your house, that may be a deadline for you. So you’re gonna have to break, and I am gonna talk about breaking projects down in just a second.
But let’s say that you do have family coming, that may be your priorities to get the house clean, but you can break that down, which I’m gonna talk about in just a second. But impact, right? You know, who is this gonna impact? And so if there’s a high if somebody is waiting for you or this has a really high impact on you for some reason that may be, that’s something that you go to first. Time, you know, again, in the evening, you don’t have a lot of time. So you probably don’t want to start something that’s gonna be really time-intensive. So you can choose that way too. Maybe some of the smaller five-minute tasks make more sense doing in the evening rather, and keeping the longer things over the weekend. You know, something like that. But again, going back to just choosing one, maybe two things at night at the most.
Pete: This is very much where that skill of breaking down bigger tasks and projects into small, they’re smallest atomic units of work comes in really handy. If you’re not practicing that, if you’re not building checklists around that skill then you should be doing that. And this is a great place to practice with your personal deadlines.
Nikki: Absolutely. Yeah. And I again, I’m gonna give you a very specific example of how to break something down so small that you’re still getting it done but not taking a lot of time during the evening to get it done. But one other thing I wanna talk about when it comes to prioritizing is also that intentional planning, which you were talking about a little bit before too. If you can decide what you’re gonna do before the day comes, before the evening comes, that actually makes a big difference because if you haven’t decided what that one task is gonna be, then you’re spending your evening trying to figure out what that task is and then you are probably more likely to procrastinate and not do anything because all of this other stuff is coming in your mind. Well, everything’s important. I don’t know where to start. You know, I’m overwhelmed, I’m tired of these, not gonna do anything. But if you’ve already made that decision that on Monday, this is what I’m gonna do in the evening, it eliminates that wonder and then your chances of actually getting it done increases by quite a bit. So that plan, right. Making the decision ahead of time and planning for it.
Pete: This is one of the, you know, when we talk about tools, and I don’t wanna sidetrack too much, but we talk about, you know, the tools that we use to keep track of these things. This is where things like, you know, to-do-list and things, things in particular is such a great little application because it allows you to have kind of here’s the stuff I’m doing the day and you can set a deadline of evening for things that you’re gonna do after work and it’s just such a nice concise thing. You can look at it and say, okay, I have 15 things on my evening list. I’m gonna space those out over the next two weeks. Do one a day. If you have a list, if you have something to look forward to, by the time you get there in the evening and you’ve planned for it, your brain will already have been processing and then you can just get to work. It makes you more efficient and quality will be better when your energy is already compromised.
Nikki: Absolutely. Okay. So the second piece to this is we need to talk about how to get these things done, right. You’ve made the choice, you’re gonna work on this thing. What is it? Think about our getting started strategies. So we’ve talked about this before. You know, what are those strategies that you can depend on if you are avoiding a project or you’re procrastinating on something. One of my favorite is favorites is the Pomodoro. Just do one Pomodoro to get started, 25 minutes, set the timer. You can be done if you don’t wanna do anymore, but just think about those things that have worked for you in the past to get started. But this is where I wanna talk about breaking down your project.
So my example is, let’s say you have a big pile of mail and it’s been sitting there for a long time and it keeps getting added mail day after day, it keeps getting added. Paper, paper keeps getting added. I think that’s what I wanna say. I heard that twice. I’m like, that doesn’t sound right. Yeah. But this is how you can break it down. On Sunday, collect your mail pile, make sure that the mail is all in one spot. That’s all you’re doing on Sunday. On Monday, get rid of the junk mail. So go through your pile and just get rid of the junk mail. That’s all you’re gonna do on Monday. On Tuesday, with what is left, sort out what’s action mail, which is anything that you have to do, you know, whether it’s a bill or RSVP, something you’d have to do. You have to do something with it. Okay. And reference mails, just that mail that needs to be filed. So that’s all you’re doing on Tuesday. And then on Wednesday, you can take that pile of action mail and do whatever needs to be done. And then on Thursday, you can file and get rid of anything that you, you know, reference stuff you can just file and put away or scan, right? And have that be taken care of. And then by Friday, your mail is done.
Pete: Right. And you get some days off because it was still Sunday. Look at that.
Nikki: So this is a way that you can really take something and break it down into really small pieces. None of this is going to be incredibly time-sensitive, I mean, and time-consuming because you’re not doing it all at one time. You’re doing a little bit each night. And you can do the same thing. Like I was saying before, if you have company coming over, you know that they’re coming over the next weekend. On Sunday, you know, clean the bathroom, one bathroom, you know. On Monday, clean the guest bedroom whatever it is that you have to do, but just do one little thing at a time. And it really does make it a lot less overwhelming. And it’s more realistic because you’re more likely to do it and get it done?
Pete: Well, and you know, I wanna throw in one more point that with a shout out to our adult students right now because I know that, you know, so many people are, they work all day or they work crazy shifts and then they have to find a way to study and write papers and do all those things. And I wanna just wow, as a friendly reminder, if you are adept at breaking down your work into these atomic units, then you will have more time to budget, larger stretches of study and you will still find over the course of a week that your mail gets taken care of, right? Because you will habituate those little tiny, tiny units of work and that’s a big deal when you’re trying to in effect manufacturer fresh time units for yourself.
Nikki: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I have one more point.
Pete: Do it.
Nikki: The importance of downtime. So I love my downtime. I love going on vacation. I love just like hanging out outside on a summer day reading a book.
Pete: I live for it.
Nikki: I feel no guilt about that at all. A house could be falling apart behind me and I’m like, I don’t care, right? But I know that’s not, you know, that’s not always the case and it’s certainly not the case most of the time for really anybody. But I do think that somehow in our chaotic lives, rest and downtime has lost its value and people aren’t valuing it. They feel guilty if they’re not doing enough and they feel guilty if they are rusting. And I guess, you know, my point is that when you sit down and you really think about everything you’ve done in a day, you’re doing plenty people. I mean, you’re doing a lot, right? So having a little bit of downtime in the evening, you have 24 hours in a day. Some of that time you’re sleeping, most of that time you’re working, having two hours in the evening to yourself is not asking a lot when you really think about everything else that you’re doing.
So I think that having downtime, it does prevent burnout. I have had a couple of clients who are really on the verge of burnout because they’re just working too much. They’re doing too much. And so at some point we have to figure out, you know, what has to go, you know. Is there something that has to go and what is that? Because this burnout can easily turn into depression and that’s just not a good place to be. So, you know, I think it’s just a matter of finding that balance. And, you know, making maybe some tough decisions, but just not settling that. Don’t settle for anything less than not taking care of yourself. Does that make sense? Did I say that right?
Pete: Don’t settle for anything less than taking care of yourself, not taking care of yourself.
Nikki: Not taking, I’m not sure.
Pete: You should take care of yourself.
Nikki: You need to take care of yourself. Set boundaries, eliminate. Do whatever you need to do. Connect with others, right. Be happier. Find out what brings you joy. And lead by example. I think that that’s something that we can do, too. Being busy seems to be this like badge of honor, right? Oh, I’m so busy. I’m so chaotic. You know, everybody says that, but what if somebody actually said, “Hey, you know what, I’m doing great. I have like work is don’t go on good and I’ve got a couple of hours in the evening to hang out with friends and just do whatever I want and I’m relaxed.”
Pete: There’s nothing that’ll change your view on that a busy as a badge of honor than being on the business end of a cardiac event. So like there’s a very real connection and we take that for granted. We take our health for granted, our mental health, emotional health, physical health for granted as a result of this. So great, great. Kind of a, it’s not meant to be a downer of an ending.
Nikki: No, I mean, it’s meant to be, to take care of yourself, make yourself a priority. Enjoy your life, not everything is a to-do-list.
Pete: That’s right. There you go.
Nikki: You know, let some stuff go.
Pete: I’m gonna go just start deleting things from my to-do-list. You’ve inspired me. I’m done, hanging it up. That’s right. I’m just gonna go roll around in the yard. That’s all I need to do. Thank you everybody for downloading and listening to this show. We sure appreciate your time and your attention on behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright, and we’ll catch you next time right here on ‘‘Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.’’ This podcast brought to you by Command Strips. Take command of your walls. Thank you, Louis.
Nikki: That’s funny.