One area where ADHD affects me the most is my memory. I have to use to-do lists, reminders, emails, and so on just to get things done and not miss appointments. Even then, I still forget things.
After 45 years of having ADHD and not realizing it, I’ve unknowingly developed coping strategies to help me function productively. In addition to the tools I mentioned above, I use habits to help me remember.
For example, a few months ago, I visited our family doctor about having my prostate examined. She thinks I’m still not quite old enough, so it didn’t happen. But we did discuss my health generally. One thing she recommended was taking vitamin D daily. Apparently, researchers have found that most Canadians don’t consume adequate amounts of vitamin D each day.
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I always struggle taking vitamins, medicine, and the like, but I knew that if I created a habit of it, I’d remember to take it. I decided that I’d integrate it into my morning hygiene routine.
I have a morning routine I stick to in the washroom. It helps me remember everything I need to do to get clean and prepare my body for the day. In the shower, I was my bum, then shampoo my hair, shampoo my beard, condition my hair, condition my beard, wash my body, wash my face, and rinse. Even so, if I am too distracted with my own thoughts, I occasionally grab the conditioner without having shampooed first. Luckily, I notice right away.
After I towel off and exit the shower, I brush my hair, brush my teeth, use mouthwash, apply deodorant, apply beard oil, style beard, and moisturize my hands. I decided that I’d take my vitamin right after I use the mouthwash. I always rinse out the mouthwash cap, and I figured I could just fill it with water, which I could then use to wash down the tablet.
And this goes for anything I need to get done.
Here’s another example. Every Wednesday night, I run a bunch of errands. I always do them in the same order: drop children off at activities, take recycling to the depot, buy groceries, fill the gas tank, and (if the weather is warm enough) wash the van. Doing it this way means I don’t come home with an empty gas tank or full recycling bins.
This is the same reason I always put my keys in the same place and hang up my clothes on the same hanger.
Every day is filled with habits for me. And when combined with other tools, such as reminders, to-do lists, and email, they help me stay on track.
Do you create habits to help you remember things? Tell me about your habits in the comments below.