The little decisions you have to make each day really add up. But those choices that may be so simple to some—like what to wear or what to pack for lunch—can cause a major headache for adults with ADHD.
Experts call this phenomenon “decision fatigue,” which is the exhaustion that sets in from the stress of making too many decisions. (Here are other common symptoms of adult ADHD.)
If you can eliminate decision fatigue (whether you have ADHD or not), you;ll likely improve your productivity and energy levels, according to psychiatrist Susan Samuels, MD, of New York Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine. Here are some tactics you can try to add more routine and consistency to your day.
Don’t hit the snooze button. Not only will this steal precious minutes away from your morning routine, but it also forces your brain to decide each time whether you want to go back to sleep or drag yourself out of bed. Eliminate that decision and just get up on the first alarm. (Easier said than done, we know.) Try the old trick of putting your alarm on the opposite side of the room so you have to get up just to turn the dang thing off.
Pick a work uniform. Have a handful of shirts and pants (or skirts and dresses) that work well together and make them your go-to outfit for work. That will eliminate the mental headache of assembling an outfit each morning.
Have the same breakfast each morning. Okay, it doesn’t have to be exactly the same. For example, maybe your staple breakfast is avocado toast or granola, fruit, and yogurt, but you still have the freedom to use whatever fruit is in your fridge that day.
Establish a menu of themed dinners. “Debating what to cook or order for dinner each night can be mentally draining,” says Dr. Samuels. Some common examples include reserving Mondays for leftovers, Fridays for pizza, and Tuesdays for tacos (of course).
Keep a running grocery list. Don’t clog up your brain by trying to remember all the ingredients you need to buy for tonight’s casserole. Write it down so you can use that mental energy for something else.
Be a themed gifter. For example, always get a book for your niece, a gift card for your uncle, a visit to Six Flags for your daredevil son.