Make tomorrow easier by building these nighttime habits.
Staying productive at work all day when you have ADHD can suck up a lot of your mental energy, so it’s completely reasonable if you just want to kick up your feet and unwind with your favorite reality show (we won’t judge). Evenings can be jam-packed with must-dos (food shopping, cooking dinner, overseeing kids’ homework, and getting through chores) and nice-to-dos (working out, seeing friends, making quality time for your partner and family). Many nights, it’s hard for anyone to get through an overly scheduled nightly routine, let alone for those with ADHD who can struggle with focusing and organization.
But incorporating a few new habits into your evening routine will help you stay on track and help make tomorrow’s to-dos even easier. For a smoother evening with ADHD, follow these tips by psychiatrist Susan Samuels, MD, of New York Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine.
Hit the gym after work. Before going home, squeeze in 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, and you’ll likely be rewarded with a boost in energy and focus for the rest of the night. No time for a gym session? Try to get at least some physical activity by playing in the yard with your kids or walking your dog.
Meal prep for the week on Sunday. Or Saturday. Or whatever day works best. The idea is to make bulk batches of food and organize them in convenient containers for the week. The fewer on-the-fly decisions you have to make about what to cook or eat for dinner on hectic weeknights, the smoother things will be.
Create a “launching pad” by the front door. Keep all your essentials here: keys, wallet, cell phone, bag, headphones, and so on. As soon as you walk home (after sweating at the gym, of course), everything goes on the launching pad. In the morning, you’ll have everything ready to go. No more hunting around for essentials when you’re already running 10 minutes late.
Get organized for the next morning. Pick out your outfit, pack your work bag, and prep tomorrow’s lunch. Here are more tips on having a stress-free morning with ADHD.
Sort and discard mail immediately. Open the mail right over the garbage to get rid of junk mail before it ends up cluttering the kitchen counter. Clutter is a nuisance for everyone, but it can be especially problematic for people with ADHD. For mail you plan to keep, sort it into file folders or bins. For example, have a folder for mail that needs immediate action (like the gas bill, ugh).
Delegate. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Divide up tasks among family or household members. If it’s in your budget, you could also splurge on meal delivery, weekly cleaning, or laundry delivery services.
Follow a strict bedtime and set an alarm for an hour beforehand. “This serves as an external cue to start winding down and avoiding activities that may keep you alert,” says Dr. Samuels. In other words, when that alarm goes off, it’s best to turn off Netflix and avoid starting another episode.
Dr. Samuels is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and clinical pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and an assistant attending psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
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When you have ADHD, getting through a long
day of work, staying focused, sitting
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through meetings, meeting deadlines can
feel downright taxing on your brain.
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So it's only natural to come home,
feel totally fried, and
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let your evening organization
go a little off the rails.
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And you might have trouble focusing
in the evening if your ADHD
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medication from earlier in
the day has actually worn off.
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It's hard for everyone to get that second
wind after work to deal with chores and
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errands and have energy for
their families, but
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especially for those with ADHD.
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Nighttime routines are critical for adults
with ADHD, because they give you structure
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and allow you to start the next
day on a more organized note.
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Here's some advice I recommend to take
the stress out of your evenings when
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you're dealing with ADHD.
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Squeeze in a workout between work and
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You might think that you're
actually too busy to exercise.
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But research shows that 20 to 30 minutes
of exercise, whether you hit the gym for
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a quick cardio workout or
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even play in the backyard with your kids,
can help you focus more afterwards.
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Plan out your dinners over the weekend.
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Some people find it's easier to stick to
the same meals, the same days of the week.
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Maybe Monday's grilled salmon,
Tuesday's chicken and
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your favorite takeout.
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Prepare as much for
the week on Sunday as you can.
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Wash or cut vegetables and put them in
plastic containers, or even cook and
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freeze meals for the entire week ahead.
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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 wallet, your cell phone,
your work bag, your headphones.
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When you walk in the house,
everything goes in the launchpad.
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Carve out time to get organized for
the next morning.
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Lay out your work clothes.
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Pack your work bag.
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Shower, get lunches made and organized.
01:49.980 --> 01:54.490
Many people with ADHD get overwhelmed
by clutter and piles of mail.
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Start by opening your mail
right over the garbage.
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You can throw out anything
you don't want to keep.
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Have bins or folders for
papers you need to file later or
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papers that need immediate action,
like a bill that needs to be paid or
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permission slip that needs to be signed.
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Delegate, delegate, delegate.
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If you hate cooking and just cannot get
organized to do it, consider splurging
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on a meal delivery service or
asking your partner to take on meal prep.
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If you can't manage your piles of laundry,
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a weekly cleaning service
can be game changing.
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If you have kids,
recruit them to do their part.
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Maybe everyone has to spend five minutes
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putting away toys before bed to make
straightening up the house easier on you.
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Finally, give yourself a bedtime and set
your alarm clock for an hour beforehand.
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If you want to go to sleep at 11 PM,
set your alarm for 10 PM.
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This serves as an external
cue to start winding down and
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avoiding activities that
may keep you alert.
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Many people with ADHD are night owls and
have a hard time falling or
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02:58.840 --> 03:03.283
Getting sucked into your social media feed
or a Netflix binge too close to bedtime
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can make it even harder to
fall asleep when you need to.
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9 tips for creating a routine for adults with ADHD. Newburyport, MA: Psych Central, 2013. (Accessed on August 31, 2017 at https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/02/9-tips-for-creating-a-routine-for-adults-with-adhd/.)
32 of the best ways to get organized when you have ADHD. Newburyport, MA: Psych Central. (Accessed on August 31, 2017 at https://psychcentral.com/lib/32-of-the-best-ways-to-get-organized-when-you-have-adhd/2/.)