The most impossible task for someone with ADHD is to create a habit.
The Habit loop
1. Decide on a cue
- Pick the thing that tells you it’s time to do the habit (an alarm, visual reminder, another habit, etc.)
- Ideally, a cue is:
- Clear (you won’t miss it, even in a hurry)
- Consistent (same cue every time)
- Doable (you’ll be in a place where you can do it)
2. Figure out the habits routine
- Break down the habit into steps. (this will help you prepare & avoid obstacles once you begin)
- How do I know what the routine should be?
- Consider your goals for the habit
- Don’t be afraid to start small
- If you need to know more, maybe build learning into your routine so it doesn’t keep you from starting
- Rough it out! The steps will totally change, this just gives you a place to start
- After you’ve identified the routine, make a list of the stuff you’ll need to complete it! (then find/download/order/collect it so you’ll have it)
3. Choose your reward!
- Choose a small reward for doing the thing (to help your brain want to do it again!)
- Uh… why do I need a reward?
- Sometimes just doing the habit is enough of an (intrinsic) reward
- If not, add an extrinsic reward!
- It doesn’t have to be big, but it does need to be immediate enough that the brain connects doing the thing to getting the reward!
- So if working toward a bigger goal, consider smaller rewards (stickers! points!… smoothies!) along the way
- If possible, work the reward into your routine
4. Tweak as necessary
- Keep playing with it til you find what works for you
- Ideas for tweaking:
- Keep forgetting to do it? Try a stronger cue. (ones that stand out as weird work especially well!)
- Feeling daunted or overwhelmed? Simplify the routine (even 1 minute/day is a great place to start!)
- Just don’t wanna? Try a more exciting/immediate reward (and make sure you get it! The goal is for your brain to start anticipating the reward & wanting to do the thing!)
- How to Create a New Habit: Note From Future Self by Jessica McCabe
me, I am someone ↩︎