Invisible Routines

Invisible Routines
Photo by Ginger Hendee / Unsplash

Hey friends,

Sorry for the late newsletter this week, I was doing a bit of travel and the minor timezone shift completely threw off my groove—I basically forgot what day it was entirely.

It's strange how even a small change like that can throw off all of my routine and sense of time. The timezone shift was a mere two hours, but it might as well have been ten hours for how much it disrupted my already limited sense of the day.

This isn't the first time a minor change has thrown me off.

A couple of years ago, we had an issue with our shower and I had to shower in a different bathroom in the house.

Not a big deal, the second bathroom was actually still right next to our bedroom so it was an extremely minor inconvenience.

Or so you might think...

This tiny change completely disrupted my morning routine! I started forgetting to brush my teeth, or use deoderant, style my hair... anything that had previously been done automatically as part of my getting-ready-for-the-day ritual was now in question as to whether I would do it at all.

So much of what I am able to get done in an average day is connected to invisible routines like this that I'm often not even aware of.

I think this is why I am naturally resistant to outside changes to my plans. While I have no problem being spontaneous and impulsive on my own terms, I can get extremely defensive or irritable when some outside force upends my schedule with a surprise twist.

And to be clear, I don't love that I do this! Unexpected plans are part of life (especially with kids), so I wish that they didn't feel so threatening in the moment.

I'm starting to pay closer attention to some of these routines in my life as I focus on some of the entrepreneurial aspects of being an author, content creator, etc.

There's a concept in the business world of an SOP, or Standard Operating Procedure. It's basically a detailed description of what these routines actually look like. Rather than relying on them to happen automatically, you take the time to create a list so that steps are layed out and easy to follow.

I'm trying to remain observant in my day-to-day life for opportunities for a Life SOP. My hope is that by cataloging some of these routines, I will lessen the risk (or more importantly, the fear of risk) of interuption derailing my plans and causing things to slip through the cracks.

I also accept there might not be a solution here. Many things with ADHD aren't about "solving" or "fixing" a situation, but rather about leaning and leaning. Leaning into my strengths and learning about my own patterns.

The more I study and track my behavior, the more I feel like I have a bit more control over it. When I discover something and give it a name, it becomes easier to recognize the next time it comes around.

Being a lifelong student of my own brain gives me just a bit more control over my life.

Have you noticed how small disruptions to your routines can affect you? Any tricks you've tried that make a difference?

I'd love to hear about it. You can email me at jesse@extrafocus.com.

Stay focused,
Jesse J. Anderson

Posts

My tendency to say “I can do that” overshadows the more important questions of “should I do that?” or “do I have the time and mental energy to do that?”

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Things that make me unreasonably angry:

• extremely small injustices
• being told I'm doing it the "wrong" way
• the feeling of airflow from a fan or vent directly onto my skin

(link)