If you struggle staying focused, the morning rush is a doozy.
Let’s face it—mornings aren’t easy for anyone. You’ve just woken up, your head’s still in a fog, and there’s a high chance at least one person in the house will spill their Cocoa Puffs on the floor.
But if you have adult ADHD, the morning rush can be especially challenging. That’s because symptoms of adult ADHD include challenges with executive functioning, or the brain’s ability to plan, react, and get things done. This means little decisions, like what to wear to work or whether or not to check your email one last time before you leave the house can throw your schedule off track, making you feel that frantic morning rush more so than other people.
Here are 9 tips for stress-free mornings to help those with adult ADHD, according to psychiatrist Susan Samuels, MD, of New York Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine.
Write down everything you need to do before you leave, as well as how long it will take you to do them.
Prepare as much as you can the night before. Pick out your outfit, shower, repack your work bag, and even set out cereal bowls on the table. (One less thing to drop while you’re waiting for the coffee to kick in, right?)
Try to be the first one up in your house. Yeah, we’re maybe asking you to get up even earlier, but hear us out: Having the house to yourself as you start your morning routine will eliminate distractions—like that spilled bowl of Cocoa Puffs—while you’re trying to get dressed.
Start your day by making your bed. As much as you might not want to add another task to your morning routine, making your bed sets an organized tone for the day. (Here are tips to keep up your organization at work.)
Skip the social media sesh on your phone. It’s tempting to check Facebook first thing in the morning, but it’s all too easy to lose track of time while commenting on your cousin’s cat videos. If you use your phone as your alarm, consider switching to an old fashioned alarm clock—or try setting your to airplane mode overnight so you’re not tempted by notifications first thing in the morning.
Create a launching pad by the front door. Store all of your essentials there: keys, wallet, cell phone, purse, briefcase, etc. No more last-minute scrambling to find your phone before heading out the door. (Good riddance.)
Divide and conquer morning tasks with your partner (or older children). One of you can get the kids dressed while the other preps breakfast, so neither one of you are too bogged down with extra tasks.
Set an alarm to remind you when to leave the house. If you set it for five minutes before, you’ll give yourself a few minutes to grab your things and get out the door.
Stick to a routine. Whether you prefer to start with a bowl of oatmeal or just munch on a granola bar while getting dressed, try to stick to the same process each day so you can get through the morning rush on autopilot.
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The morning rush is really hectic and
stressful for most adults.
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Let alone if you also have ADHD.
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Adults with ADHD have trouble with
something called executive functioning,
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which is basically a set of mental skills
that allows you to plan, to react and
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to get things done.
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You could have issues organizing and
prioritizing tasks, maybe focusing and
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maintaining attention and
finishing things in a timely manner.
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All of these things are critical in
getting yourself out of the house in
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the morning and getting to work on time.
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So here are a few tips that I recommend
for easier more organized mornings,
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especially if you have ADHD.
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First, write down everything you need
to do before you leave your house.
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Everything from making your bed,
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to putting the kids lunches in their
backpacks, to doing work email check and
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how long each and every one of
those things will take you to do.
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When you have ADHD,
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you tend to underestimate how long
it will take to get out the door.
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Next, get in gear the night before.
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That's when an organized,
calm morning truly starts.
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Do things like pick out your outfit,
shower, maybe even repack your work bag.
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Set the kids cereal bowls on the table.
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This is especially helpful if
you're not a morning person.
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And quite honestly, many people
with ADHD are not morning people.
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Next, if you have kids or a partner,
try to be the first one up.
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Starting your routine without distractions
from your family can go a long way to
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keep you on track.
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Next, consider starting your
day by making your bed.
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It may be counterintuitive to add such a
task to an already hectic morning routine,
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but making your bed can actually start
your whole day on a more organized note
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and make it easier to
find things in your room.
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Also, don't look at your phone
first thing in the morning.
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If you use your phone as an alarm
clock which many people do,
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it's a knee jerk reaction
to check social media or
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to log on to your work email
when you first wake up.
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But resist that urge.
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You're likely to get distracted and
spend more time on this thing you realize.
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Create a launching pad
by the front hallway or
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door where you put everything essential.
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Your keys, your wallet, your cellphone,
your work bag, your headphones.
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When you walk in the house,
everything goes in the launchpad.
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This eliminates that last minute scramble
to find something missing two minutes
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before you need to be in the car.
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Next, divide and
conquer your tasks with your partner.
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Maybe he gets the kids dressed and
you put lunches in the backpacks.
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With ADHD, the fewer transitions you
have in your routine, the better.
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Setting an alarm not just for
waking up, but also for
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five minutes before you actually
need to leave your house.
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That external queue will help you stay
focused and avoid running out of time.
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And finally, try to run your morning
on autopilot as much as possible.
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Do the same tasks in
the same order everyday.
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The fewer conscious
decisions you have to make,
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the less you have to waste mental
energy on focusing on planning.
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6 reasons why ADHD adults hate mornings. A Dose of Healthy Distraction. (Accessed on August 31, 2017 at http://adoseofhealthydistraction.com/6-reasons-adhd-adults-hate-mornings/.)
Adults with ADHD: Strategies for overcoming chronic lateness. Seattle, WA: ADD Family Coaching, 2016. (Accessed on August 31, 2017 at http://addfamilycoaching.com/adults-with-adhd-strategies-for-overcoming-chronic-lateness/.)
Executive functioning problems. New York, NY: Manhattan Psychology Group, PC. (Accessed on August 31, 2017 at https://manhattanpsychologygroup.com/executive-functioning-problems-adults.)
Executive function skills. Lanham, MD: National Resource Center on ADHD. (Accessed on August 31, 2017 at http://www.chadd.org/understanding-adhd/about-adhd/executive-function.aspx.)
How ADHD adults fix their love-hate relationship with routines. Marla Cummins, 2017. (Accessed on http://marlacummins.com/adhd-adults-fix-love-hate-relationship-routines/.)
School mornings without the stress. New York, NY: Child Mind Institute. (Accessed on August 31, 2017 at https://childmind.org/article/school-mornings-without-the-stress/.)