Making Your Mornings Stress-free

Morning Madness

Tim (not his real name) had to get up at 5:00 a.m. to be ready to leave for work by 7 a.m.  In addition to performing routine tasks like eating breakfast, packing lunch, showering and dressing, he spent a lot of time figuring out what to put in his backpack to take to work.  This meant a lot of decision-making and a lot of hunting for things if he decided he needed them, but didn’t know where they were.  He allowed himself two hours to get ready so he would not experience the stress of having to rush.

Debbie found it nearly impossible to get “out the door” when she needed to to make it to work on time.  She worried about the problems she would create with her boss if she arrived late.  She had no morning routine.  She admitted that she spent a lot of time wandering around the house figuring out what to do next.  Deciding what to wear was a challenge and, after she decided what to wear, she had to spend more time figuring out which make-up and jewelry to wear with her outfit.

Solutions for Morning Madness

Tim and Debbie, like many people with ADD (and some without it), have a tendency to stay up later in the evening and have more difficulty getting up in the morning.  Tim and Debbie, we decided, could make their lives easier by taking the following actions:

  • Doing more planning the night before.  Tim needed to decide which items he needed to take to work, put them in his backpack, and place the backpack near the door before going to bed.  Debbie needed to select and lay out her clothes,   eye shadow, jewelry, and shoes the night before.  This would eliminate the need to make decisions and conduct searches for things at a time of day when these adults with ADD are not at their peak.
  • Creating a written list of the tasks they routinely perform in the morning and doing them the same way, in the same order, every day, eliminating the need to think about what they have to do.
  • Consciously practicing the routine for 30 days to make it automatic and easy-to-perform, referring to the list to stay on-task if necessary.

Benefits of Stress-free Mornings

I have seen clients transform their mornings, and succeed in getting every day off to a better start when they were willing to take the above actions consistently until their mornings became easy.  One client even tracked his progress on his electronic calendar and this contributed to his success.  He put stars on the calendar for each day that he performed his morning exercise, spent fifteen minutes planning his day, and arrived at work by the time he set for himself.  At the end of a week or a month, he could pull up the calendar and see how many days he had succeeded in accomplishing these morning tasks.  Seeing how successful he had been encouraged him to continue.

Mornings need not be the most stressful part of the day!  You needn’t  arrive at work feeling like you’ve just survived a hurricane.  By creating and maintaining a solid morning routine, you can get every day off to a great start, and enjoy a life-enhancing sense of well-being.







Never Lose An Important Item Again

My Long History of Lost Items

When I was a kid, I lost lots of important items, not just once or twice, but on a daily basis.  I lost lunch boxes, umbrellas, hats,  gloves, and sweaters.  You name it and I lost it.  I left things at school and was made to walk back to get them.  My grandmother used to say, “When your head forgets, your feet have to pay.”    As an adult, I still lost things, causing myself  a great deal of stress.  I kept four complete sets of keys in case I lost the set I was carrying.  I gave spare keys to every neighbor who would take them.  I lost a checkbook and a wallet, both of which were returned to me by kind people who would not accept rewards.  If you have ADD, you understand because you’re more likely to lose things than people who don’t have ADD.

Things got even more complicated when I got my first cell phone, auto makers started making anti-theft keys, and  far-sightedness forced me to begin wearing glasses.   These are expensive-to-replace items.  When you lose a phone, you have to pay a deductible, even if the phone is insured.  Same with glasses.  Then there is the inconvenience of it all, the hours it takes to replace one of these items.  I was forced to come up with solutions and to follow them or go broke replacing things.

What I Did That You Can Do Too

I did four things that made a difference:

  •  Made a habit of  “scanning the area” every time I leave a place.   I can go to a restaurant and place my phone and glasses on the table or my coat on the back of my chair because I know that I will be “scanning the area” when it’s time to leave.  I rarely have that “sick” feeling when I’m half-way home and realize I’ve left something important behind.
  • Placed a basket beside the front door and began  tossing my keys into it every time I came in the front door.  I even suggested to babysitters that they place their keys and cell phones in the basket if they wanted to so they wouldn’t have to hunt them down later.
  • Designated a place on each level of our three-story home where I could place my glasses and my cell phone and made a habit of placing them there when I put them down to do other things.  Having these items in one of three places saves me from a lot of panicky “mad searches.”
  • Stored important items in my bag all the time so I don’t forget to take them when I go out.  It saves me from reaching into my bag and discovering that I don’t have my phone or, if I do, I can’t see it because I don’t have my glasses.  It goes without saying that there is a designated place for my bag on each level of our house.

My Life Today

Life is not perfect.  I do have to rummage through my bag to find things, but at least I know they are there.   Sometimes others move things.  That’s life in a family.

Taking the actions listed above has allowed me to spend less time hunting things down and less money replacing them.  Running through the house like a maniac screaming, “Somebody call me quick so I can find my cell phone,” happens occasionally, instead of several times a day.