I haven’t accomplished anything I wanted to do before I turned 30.
I’m accumulating things to do every day, but I don’t have time to do any of them.
Have you battled thoughts like these before? You’re not alone. In our quest to do all the things, we ADHD’ers risk ending our days, weeks, months, and years feeling like we’ve done none of the things.
At least, none of the things that matter most.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I love decluttering my home. Purging unneeded items has begun to feel liberating, as though every surface I clear allows me to breathe a little deeper.
But what about the other side of decluttering — the intangible side?
Cluttered time, scattered focus.
We don’t just clutter our lives with stuff. We overspend our time and attention every day. By the time we finish saying yes to another volunteer commitment, watching our favorite TV show, scrolling through our Facebook news feed, and reading our way down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, we’re on empty. It’s probably long past bedtime. Worst of all, we’re no closer to reaching our big goals.
Of course, getting organized with goal-setting and time management is a must. But just like there’s no use sorting your closet into labeled bins if it’s full of junk you don’t use, you can’t organize your time if you’re spending it willy-nilly.
Filling your hours and your days with whatever comes along, sounds like fun, or seems like a good idea at the time is exhausting. Your brain literally cannot attend to it all while maintaining a grip on your true priorities.
Unfortunately, the only way to increase your attention to what’s most important is to cut back somewhere else: weed out as much external distraction as possible. This holds true for nearly everyone in our chronically overcommitted society, but none more so than ADHD adults. Since we begin with a smaller pool of focus and willpower, we must spend it wisely.
This year, I’m examining how I spend my time and asking some tough questions: Is this worth the raw quantity of time I’m spending on it? If I used that time to work on my stack of unfinished fiction writing, what could I accomplish?
Some of those choices will hurt.
Some of our family’s so-called sacrifices have been effortless. We cancelled our cable television subscription several years ago and haven’t regretted it for a minute. Our trio of streaming services allows us to watch our favorite shows intentionally, not by channel surfing or turning on the TV for background noise.
Others have stung a little more. When I began working on this blog two months before its launch, I quit World of Warcraft. I left behind an entire social group, a guild full of nerdy LGBT adults. I still think about my friends there and wish I had access to our guild chat, but the blog isn’t where I want it to be. Until it’s on cruise control, I can’t afford another time commitment.
This month, I deactivated my Facebook account. It’s supposed to be temporary, but I’d love to work out the logistics of leaving the site permanently. Quitting for good will require some bigger sacrifices, though. I’ll have to weigh those sacrifices against the cost to my creativity and personal goals.
Letting go of anything can be painful, but especially so if it’s a favorite downtime activity, a long-standing volunteer or social commitment, or a video game addiction. But don’t shy away just because it’s uncomfortable. Try your best to be objective. Honor your own values and ambitions, not the impulse of the moment or fear of how others might react.
Of course, this is easier said than done. If you’ve been down this road before, what tips can you share? What helped you choose which demands on your time to eliminate? When have you fallen off the wagon?