Many of my clients are very creative individuals. I admire how expansive they think and what they can make with their hands and minds. But they are challenged by the more mundane requirements of adulthood and family life…like opening mail, filing papers, paying bills, submitting health insurance claims, being on time, making house repairs, or just remembering to buy milk. As a result, these individuals with good hearts and a desire to do what is right often feel they don’t match up. They feel shame for not being able to perform as others want them to and as our productivity driven society expects. This describes the predicament individuals with ADHD often find themselves in, but they don’t own the market on this struggle.
What enables a person to take action on tasks that feel so unexciting? What is the motivation or pay off, when there are so many other more interesting things to do? For me, the value lies in completing tasks that ensure my security and sanity. That motivates me. I realize that if I don’t pay my bills I will lose my good credit rating. If I don’t manage the paper influx, I may miss an important deadline. But for many, the avoidance of doing the mundane overrides any such motivation or consequences. The “just do it” approach has some merit, but also has its limitations. It may inspire an action once or twice, but that is not enough. However, committing to “just doing it” repeatedly, could develop into a routine which in turn establishes a habit.
A habit is doing something that doesn’t take much effort. For example, brushing teeth is a routine that becomes a habit. Most do it at least twice a day, without much effort or thought. What other tasks can become so routine, that you don’t think much about doing them? Once you have picked a couple out, try answering the ‘where, how and when questions’ to decide the elements of your routine. For example, I have a morning routine, of which I have grown very accustom. After brushing my teeth, I make my coffee and turn on my laptop. Coffee in hand, I review my email and schedule to determine what tasks I can get done that day or week. I have often considered exercising first thing in the morning, but have come to the conclusion that my morning ‘review and regroup’ routine is a necessity for me. This routine helps me maintain my sanity and be clear about what I need to get done and can get done that day. I am then free to make space for exercise or other more personally satisfying activities.
If being creative is part of what helps you feel sane, turn those mundane tasks into a daily routine, to free up the time and energy to activate your creative self, without looming reminders of undone tasks. Now that I have completed this task of writing a blog, I can start that sewing project, which I find much more enticing.