Building a Routine

Building on my post about executive dysfunction, I want to build a basic morning routine for my days off so I have something to get me through those times when I can’t rely on executive function to help me figure out what to do next. I’m not completely sure how to impose that kind of structure on myself when there are no concrete external forces driving me and I don’t have complete control over my environment or schedule, but I believe I can figure it out if I keep trying things!

First, I probably need some idea of what the routine should consist of, or what constraints limit my options. For example, I usually don’t feel well enough to shower until after food and meds, so the shower needs to be after those things in my routine. I need to make sure I have food and meds as soon as I’m able once I get up. I’m supposed to take my thyroid meds first thing in the morning and wait an hour before eating or taking the rest of my meds, so I need to make sure I take my thyroid meds right away so as not to make myself wait longer for food. I need to make sure I’m ready to start eating breakfast, taking meds, and drinking coffee when that hour is up so I don’t put that off too late. I need to find a way to transition from breakfast to showering without dawdling for an hour on my phone or in front of the TV (I don’t even like TV usually, but I can’t pull myself away).

Depending on the day, there may be people running around the house doing things, or people talking, or the TV may be on (let’s be real, the TV is always on if the rest of the house is awake). I need to find strategies to not be distracted by all these things. Maybe I should spend the morning in my room at my desk as I wait/eat breakfast?

Based on this, I think a basic morning routine might look something like:

  1. Take thyroid meds as soon as I wake up and set a timer for when I can eat
  2. Prepare breakfast and coffee ahead of time
  3. Go sit at my desk while I wait for the timer to finish (check email or read)
  4. Take meds, eat breakfast, and drink coffee at my desk when the timer ends
  5. Go take a shower and brush my teeth
  6. Get dressed
  7. Start the rest of my day!

Some of these might need more detail if I keep getting stuck. Sometimes it surprises me how much I need to break things down into smaller steps! I might even need to write out all these steps and put it by my desk to remind me until it becomes habit. This also gives me an idea for a to-do list, since I’ve identified at least one barrier to my theoretically ideal dysfunction-busting routine!

This cements what I already know, that I need to revamp my desk area enough that I can always easily access the chair and the top of my desk. I need to cut down clutter by making sure that everything has specific places I can put it away, and I need to make a regular thing of putting stuff where it goes. I know I’m physically limited, and I will put off tasks that take more effort, so I need to keep in mind accessibility as I set up my space. I may need to get rid of some things. The important thing is that I can quickly and easily get at the things I need, that I know where to find everything, and I can quickly and easily put things away so they don’t pile up. It will take time, but I think I can build up a system of organization that works and a routine around maintaining it so my living space actually functions for me. I think that will make a big difference in my day-to-day ability to function at home. Being able to control my environment a bit more will be helpful!

To Do:

  1. Tidy up my desk area so it’s consistently useable

I have a feeling I’m going to need to break that down into a lot more steps! And in the mean time, I might need to pick an alternate location that will still work okay for not getting distracted in the morning. I’ve been slowly working the last couple months at getting my personal space at home more organized and useable, but I think I need to take a minute to evaluate where I’m at with that and what should happen next. I did a couple big planned-out pushes of rearranging and purging stuff, and now I’m back to prodding things around every few days and then going to sit somewhere else instead. I got the big parts done though!

The big Desk Tidying of 2019 has been bringing into to focus a lot of what does and doesn’t work for me. I’m learning a lot! More on that in the next post, probably.