Before I was diagnosed/medicated, one of the ways that I would regularly overestimate my capacity was to assume that I could get just as much done on a meeting-filled day as I could on a day with no outside commitments.
I’m not sure if the problem was that I was imagining the meetings were taking less time than they were – equating them with a a quickly done task – or that I thought I could scale the other tasks to fit into the time available after the meetings.
I don’t do that regularly any more but every now and then I make that classic me mistake.
Someone asked me yesterday if I ever just did ‘nothing.’
I find it really interesting that I give the impression that I am ‘always busy’ or that I don’t have any downtime.
It’s true that I am always up to something (muahahaha) but it’s not a matter of seeking to be busy or productive, it’s a matter of finding ease by making a conscious decision about how to spend my time.
I know that some people can wander through their day, going from task to task, allowing their intuition to guide them to their priorities.
Thanks to ADHD, that’s not an option for me.
That kind of wandering would be stressful and depressing for me because I can’t rely on my brain to cough up my priorities when I need them.
I *could* spend a whole day filing papers even though I have a deadline because my brain is convinced that I need to get the filing ‘out of the way’ before I get to my writing.
Instead, I choose my tasks in advance so I can be reasonably sure that my efforts line up with my priorities.
Even when I don’t have a deadline, I consciously choose (as much as possible) how I will spend my time so my brain will be quiet.
If I say ‘I’m going to draw until 11’ or ‘I’m just going to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling for 15 minutes,’ then I can do what I planned (most of the time.) But if I just grab my pen or fling myself on the couch, one part of my brain will be constantly searching from planning errors ‘Is this the right thing to be doing right now? Is there something I’m forgetting? Should I be getting lunch ready? Maybe I should read?’
Not having a plan or schedule might be relaxing for you but for me, it’s like inviting an imp into my head. Making a decision in advance is actually MORE relaxing for me because it frees me from the stress of endless options of what I *could* be doing.
And, like I said above, it’s not as if I need to choose a ‘productive’ activity – I just need to have made a conscious decision about what to do.
Of course, doing things this way doesn’t cure my ADHD, it’s just a tool to make things a little easier. It reduces the challenges involved in managing my time and my brain, it doesn’t eliminate them.
Long stretches of time with no decisions attached are frustrating and they’re bad for my mental health. I spend plenty of time relaxing and plenty of time doing ‘nothing’ but making a decision about it in advance makes it true relaxation instead of an exercise in frustration.
PS – I can also change plans if something more fun arises (I am very much pro-fun) but at that point it just becomes a choice between a) the thing I am doing and b) the thing that I could choose to do instead of an endless scroll of all my possible options.