Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been spoken of more often in recent years. We often associate this condition with children; however, it also affects adults. In this blog, I will be discussing the role that routine can play in relation to both child and adult populations.
The nature of ADHD is often simplified to lack of focus. However, there is more to the disorder than this. ADHD affects decision-making and emotional regulation via the pre-frontal cortex. Routine aids in goal-setting, time management, and self-care for neurotypicals. Of course, these are a few advantages of having a fixed daily schedule or a loose weekly routine. Daily, weekly, and monthly planning likely benefits individuals with ADHD similarly to neurotypicals.
As mentioned above, ADHD challenges include impulsivity, time management, and emotional regulation.
Decision making facilitation
A routine facilitates smooth running of everyday tasks since it eliminates the need to make decisions. Knowing what comes next exerts less mental energy and it has also been proven that people are happier when they have fewer choices to make. As for individuals with ADHD, it is also common for them to feel paralysed by the decision-making process.
People with ADHD tend to work harder to carry out simpler tasks (usually due to low dopamine levels and difficulty with maintaining focus, as well as issues with executive function). This can cause an individual to experience more fatigue and mental tiredness. Routines can help with knowing what to expect next and not having to decide on the spot to do something. Overall, having a routine can be helpful in adding some organization to chaotic thought processes, which in turn can cause further fatigue.
Ensuring that you follow through with plans
Low executive function (described above) and dopamine levels are the staple of ADHD. With dopamine being responsible for motivation, it is often one of the biggest challenges faced by individuals with ADHD, especially when following through on a task. A routine can facilitate the process of switching between tasks, as well as allowing more challenging tasks, that can normally be overwhelming, to be completed.
With all that has been mentioned in this blog, one has to note that, for people with ADHD, maintaining a routine can be very challenging in itself. It may also feel boring for some. However, having a form of a routine, whether rigid or more flexible, is crucial in the treatment of ADHD. These are a good number of ways to manage a routine and task-management, specifically for individuals who have ADHD. Working on this aspect with a professional could be one of the positive shifts to help you manage your ADHD.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Jessica Saliba Thorne is a Gestalt psychotherapist. She has experience within the mental health field and sees adults with mental health difficulties, relationship issues and trauma at Willingness.
19, N., & Berg, S. (2021, November 19). What doctors wish patients knew about decision fatigue. American Medical Association.