Friday, June 12, 2020


I'm so excited to announce that this blog is about to have IT'S OWN WEBSITE!!! No more will be limited to the boring themes and limited capabilities of Blogger! On the new site, we're moving to bigger and better things! ANNNNNDDDDDDDDD we're launching tonight!

Just like my current blog, it will have all of my same blogging posts, but we will now have a forum to discuss tips, tricks, and stories about ADHD. Expect cooler colors and prettiness! Also, expect that I have spent way too much time on picking the right shade of green or beige for random things! Lol.

New Website!
New Forum!
Easier navigation!
More coolness and pretty things!
Much excitement!

Thank you to all of YOU for your support!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

ADHD and Spending Money

Saving with Impulse Issues is Tough

My husband and I are opposites when it comes to money. Surprisingly enough, HE'S THE SPENDER!!! Expensive hobbies and nice cars are things that cost us thousands per year. I typically invade Pinterest and don't actually pull the trigger on buying things... unless it's home decor... Even then, the thrift stores and "great deals" can add up. Fast. $5 a day is $60 a month! Ouch!

The Breaking Point

Before we had kids, I was trying to make the whole "animals are babies" thing work. We had 2 cats and one german shepherd puppy in an 800sqft apartment... Yeah... Too much to handle. We reached our breaking point when we noticed the puppy was having medical issues and we had to give him up. (They were a lovely family with 2 acres of fenced land and two other shepherds that loved dogs. We were sent lots of pictures showing how happy he was.) We were a little broken. If we couldn't take care of an animal, and kids were important to us, how could we move forward?

That Book My Parents Gave Us...

Yeah. The finance book my parents gave us on our wedding day... The Dave Ramsay book... We pulled it out and started slow. We didn't read it cover to cover, but we did find the income ratios in the back of the book. When we compared our expenses to what we were making, we realized that "zero budget" does not mean assign every dollar you own on a different bill. We traded in the used Audi that was a "good deal" for a much cheaper car and started to work on our debts. At this point, I was fully on board, but hubby, master of the finances and the spender, was only partway there.

More Problems

We had freed up more money, but hubby didn't want to have tons of savings just sitting around, and although we were putting more money toward bills, we weren't sacrificing in lifestyle. At this stage, we were better. We bought a house. We had a son. And we were stable. Perfect! Right?

We had a HUGE bump in the road when we decided to move internationally. Hubby applied for the job and we moved... 2 months later. We sold the house, use the money to pay off the debts, and set aside cash for our renting deposit. Two years later we were living the high life and still not saving enough. We also paid for a trip to Disneyland on a credit card... With flights from Germany... I wasn't involved in finances still, so when I asked "are you sure we can afford this?" And hubby said yes, I believed him. It's not his fault, he just didn't want to save up and we WERE making a lot more money. His thought was we'd be able to pay off the trip quickly. But we didn't. We ate the debt. And then when we had to move out for hubby's mental health (He was a military contractor and they were having him work 12 hour nights, 7 days a week, for 2-3 months at a time AND we had a newborn.)

Actually Getting Better

We had to borrow $10k from my parents. I was so upset with myself that I was so blind to everything going on with our money and my ADHD was out of control. The stress of dealing with G's preschool that viewed ADHD as coming from abuse, living in a country where you don't speak the language, and having a newborn with zero support was debilitating. When we came back to the US we started living and breathing everything Dave Ramsay. My son knows his name, people. My 4-year-old was involved in getting out of debt.

What Did We Change?

With ADHD, staying "gazelle intense" was pretty much impossible for us until we found ways to get our mental health in check. It meant therapy, meds, and lots of free activities that could keep us busy and away from expensive hobbies. We lost weight by doing better eating and joining a gym.

Staying Busy

Since we had lived in Florida at the time we found out that Bush Gardens had a yearly pass that was the cost of one daily ticket. You just had to pay for parking. No blackout dates. We spent a lot of our holidays and "I'm bored" weekends doing that which saved a lot of money. We looked for free tours and anything else we could get our hands on. Did you know Disneyworld did free character sing-alongs (before COVID, unsure of current activities) on their campground resort every weekend? A gym has childcare and cost us less than $50 a month for both kids, AND they have a hot-tub. I made a rule that the hot-tub was a reward, so if I was on the treadmill for 10 minutes I could go sit in it.

Better Eating

Our local grocery store had meal kits with recipe cards on them. Everything was pre-measured and there was so much less to think about when cooking. It reduced the stress of eating at home and changed our eating-out habits dramatically. We lost a ton of weight and were able to keep up with the kids better.

Where Are We Now?

We still have debt, but we've paid off close to $100k so far and are on track to be debt-free by the end of this year. We have monthly "dream meetings" to remind us what we're doing and why buying 15 bird decor items or computer parts this month isn't a priority. Or tools. This month's expensive hubby hobby is tools... But what I will say, is having our money set up in a much better place has made my symptoms WAY better. It's made hubby and I much better parents to our kids. The stress of money is painful, but even as a stay-at-home mom, I've had a valuable role to play in our family getting on track.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Build (Time Management Series Part 2)

Building the Schedule

If you're lost on what building has to do with time management, the time management Planning Post will help you start at square one so that this stage is a breeze.

Now that we've put together all of our tasks into groups it's easier to assemble all of the pieces. As much fun as it is to dive in, look at your goals one day at a time. For my example, I'm going to say that "Day 1" is Sunday, but know that your "Day 1" should be a relative day of rest before you jump into the week. If you need to change things up a bit because your life doesn't mold to the 7-day week model, that's okay, too. Make your test period match your own life.

Gather Your Materials

Do you have your notecards sorted by priority? Do you have a pen? Do you have a notebook or other paper as well as your schedule? Awesome! Let's get started.

Making the Schedule

Preparing the Schedule

  1. Make Sure You're Ready
    • Take one last look for any appointments that you wrote down in a notebook in your purse. Complete the task building from the previous post (linked above).
  2. Daily Emotions
    • Think about where you tend to be emotionally through your day. Do you have a hard time waking up? Are you emotionally fried by 3:00? Are you so hungry you can't stand it by 5:00?
    • Write down any patterns you find on a separate piece of paper when it comes to emotions, so we can schedule the right breaks and tasks to minimize problems in your day. 
  3. Consistent Distractions
    • Do the kids always wake up from a nap at a certain time? Are they dying of hunger and need a snack at 10? Does your husband/wife come home at a consistent (ish) time? What time do you usually have work meetings? Are you constantly helping your spouse get out of the door on time?
    • Write these down next to your emotional notes. This can help you avoid snapping if you're interrupted consistently and maybe help you plan a task that is near the solution to your interruption or make the task set lighter to avoid problems.

Assigning Tasks

Use your notecards to easily shuffle around task groups without erasing, ripping papers, or deleting everything on your document to fix one little thing.
  1. Set Your Appointments
    • Anything that you agreed to do at a specific time, do those first. Everything else can be wiggled around a bit, but these are set in stone.
  2. Set Your Mandatory Anchors
    • Your "anchors" are going to be consistent nearly every day. They are your routines. You wake up, have breakfast, start work (or someone does), have lunch, finish work (if not you, your spouse), family time, eat dinner, and go to bed. These things will (almost) always happen, so it's important to start with what we know.
    • YES, family time is mandatory and needs to be consistent. This is the time that even if you're sucked into a project you will force yourself to be present.
  3. Important/Urgent (At least one!)
    • These are time-sensitive and they must be done well. So look at your deadline and the time it takes to do the task group.
    • The longest task that has the closest deadline gets the distraction-free, emotionally balanced time slot, and a 30-minute break immediately after. Trust me. You need the time to emotionally celebrate the win and then take a few breaths to let the stress actually leave.
    • If you have another task that's due on the same day, add that task. If the work required is high for this task group, take your next 30-minute break. If it's low, you can stick to a 15-minute break.
    • DO NOT fill this day entirely with Important/Urgent tasks. It's tempting, but you'll be emotionally drained at the end of the day. Try to spread your load where you can.
  4. Important/Not Urgent
    • You promised to look over your cousin's manuscript, but you only see him 3 times a year. Look for a time when things aren't hectic, but if one or two small distractions that you can predict are there don't stress about it too much.
    • Make sure to plan for the distraction and prep your space for fixing it. I suggest making a symbol on your planner to let you know that there's an extra caveat to this time. Maybe a squirrel sticker?
    • This should still be in a place where emotions aren't high.
    • If you still have a 30-minute break, put it here.
  5. Not Important/Urgent
    • First, take a minute to decide if these are worth holding on to. Scheduling family Christmas photos might be worth it, but that sale..? Maybe not. All of your tasks take up emotional space in your day, so use your time slots wisely.
    • If it is still a must-do then these can be done when you are not actively distracted, but maybe more emotionally spent. If you can leave the house and do these tasks without extra people, that can be a bonus.
    • Plan on having a 15-minute break after these task groups.
  6. Not Important/Not Urgent
    • These must be a pure fun sort of thing or trivial enough that it's worth doing. If you have a break in the day, squeeze these in around your other task groups.
    • Even these can need a 15-minute break to help you get in the zone for something else.

Double Check Your Appointments, Routines, and Deadlines!!!!

ALL DONE! Move to your Test Phase!!

Intro & Planning (Time Management Day 1, Part 1)

Agile Project Management For Home Use

In my last post, I briefly talked about applying the Agile method of project management to our regular lives, but here's a quick recap.

Agile (or Scrum) is a project managing method that software and app developers use to deliver a working product quickly to their customers that they intend to improve with frequent updates. Because it's meant to be quick and ever-changing I think it works well with ADHD. It gives us a great framework to start from and lets us see our schedule as a "Test" rather than a pass/fail chore list. We are constantly learning and adapting, which means that we need to have a schedule designed to adapt, too.

In Agile they have something called a "Sprint" which lasts between one week and one month. For our daily lives, we'll have it stick to one week. Each "Sprint" has four stages, the Plan, Build, Test, and Review stages. They sound intuitive, and for computer programming, they are. My adaptation requires a little more explanation, but it follows the same principals.

  1. Plan (Day 1, Part 1)- This is where we brainstorm tasks, find out how long they take, and group them into routines for efficiency. We also decide what their priority level is.
  2. Build (Day 1, Part 2)- This is where we move our routines and task groups into our schedule.
  3. Test (Days 2-6)- This is where we actually go through our week and see how well the schedule works. You will probably find things that need small changes, or learn new things about your day. Even if you have a rough week, we can see where our "experiment" went wrong.
  4. Review (Day 7)- This is where we think about our week as an outside observer and come up with new ideas to make the next one better. If you get stressed at a certain time of day or find that you have things next to each other that don't seem to mesh, this is where we can tweak small pieces of our schedule to make everything more efficient.
With all of this in mind, it's important to know that your schedule will get better and easier over time. Each time we go through a step it will be easier and faster than the last time we did it.

Planning is the First Step

When we start our planning phase of making a schedule, it's the dreaming stage of your schedule. The goal is to write down everything we want to do, decide how much time each task takes, and not feel like we didn't accomplish everything we set out to do during the day. This process is called Time blocking.

How Do You Accurately Time Block?

The Part We Know How to Do

  1. Brainstorm Tasks-
    • Grab a large stack of notecards and write down just the name of every task that you want to do. You want these cards to be movable so you aren't throwing away entire notebooks because of a small mistake or epiphany while you're making your plans in future steps. Think of the things you do all the time, and add in any one-time appointments or commitments for the week.
  2. Frequency-
    • On the front of each card, write down how often each task needs to happen. Is it every day? Weekly? Monthly? Just Once?
  3. Expected Times-
    • Leaving as much working space as possible, write on the back of the card how long you think that card's task should take.

The Part We Never Actually Think Through

  1. Add Prep Time-
    • Think about the time that you need to gather the things required to start your task. If you don't need anything to accomplish your task, add five minutes to use the bathroom or get in the right frame of mind.
  2. Add Travel Time-
    • Is it a 15-minute drive to work? Add 15 minutes to your work time, and then add an extra 5 minutes for small problems, like missing a turn or forgetting something at the house after you left the neighborhood.
  3. Add Problem Time-
    • Think of one problem that happens whenever you go to do each of your tasks. Do you search for a pen when you fill out paperwork? Do you have to find the shot records for your son's vaccines? Think of that problem and round the average amount of time it takes up to the nearest 5. Add that time to your task.
  4. Actual Time of Task-
    • Now you should have a closer-to-accurate task time that is put nicely on the front of your task card. 

Making Routines and Task Groups

  1. Put Routine Tasks Together-
    • Things that you do around the same time should be put into a routine group. When you wake up, you get dressed, take a shower, brush your teeth, and brush your hair in the bathroom and possibly at the same time. This routine can be considered the "Morning Routine" and they can be paperclipped together since you can't leave any of these tasks undone or shuffle them to other times in the day. Look for other routines like making food, eating lunch, and wiping off the table. Make a routine card that sits on the top of your stack.
  2. Put Related Tasks or Projects Together-
    • Look for tasks that can be done either in the same space or have common threads. If one of your tasks is to do crafts with the kids, and another is to clean the room that you craft in, lump these two things together to save transition time. When you have your routine together, make a label notecard, and paperclip them.
  3. Timing Your Routines/Groups-
    • Add up all of the actual times on your cards and round up to the nearest 15 minutes and write on the back of your card.
  4. Editing Your Routines/Groups-
    • If any routines last for more than one hour, consider breaking them up to allow for breaks in your schedule. Some things may have to be lengthy; Cooking dinner, eating, and clearing the table takes more than an hour. Others might be better broken up, such as long stretches of paperwork or big exercise routines. Relabel groups as needed. Having a few long tasks that are by themselves is helpful, too.
  5. 5 More Minutes-
    • Add 5 minutes of clean up/reflection time to the end of your routine. Trust me, even if it doesn't make your space fully clean, it will make it less daunting later. The reflection can help you tweak what your realistic routine time looks like so it can be perfected over time.
  6. Actual Routine Time-
    • Now you have the true time it takes you to complete your routines and task groups, you can write those times on the front of your card.

Prioritizing Your Cards and Adding Essential Non-tasks

  1. Make a Priority Grid-
    • Separate a piece of paper into 4 sections- Important/Urgent, Important/Not Urgent, Not Important/Urgent, Not Important/Not Urgent.
  2. Sort Your Tasks-
    • In the grid, important is defined as "bad things will happen if I don't do this", and urgent means "doing this has a time limit". So clipping coupons can be important if your food budget is tight and it is also urgent because the coupons expire and you'll run out of bread in 3 days. Organizing the pantry is important, but nothing bad will happen if it isn't organized right away.
  3. Label Deadlines-
    • If a group is in the Urgent column, write down its deadline on the top of the card. If you don't have a set deadline, and you have double-checked that it truly is urgent, make one.
  4. Add Missing Schedule Cards-
    • The cards that you MUST have on your schedule but could be overlooked are:
      • Breakfast (30 min)
      • Lunch (1 hour)
      • Dinner (1 1/2 hours)
      • Family Time (1 hour)
      • Bedtime (1 Hour)
      • Chaos Hour (1 Hour)
        • This is the time on your schedule where you complete tasks that were unfinished due to... whatever it was. A butterfly. A toddler pulling on your arm. Your boss giving you a new task that needs to be done... Anything.
      • 30 Minute Break (x2)
      • 15 Minute Break (Make as many breaks as you have routines/groups)

DONE PLANNING!!!!! Take a break and get ready for Part 2!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A New Time Management Plan (Start of a Series)

I Know How Long Things Take, Things Just Go Wrong.

I think this is how EVERY ADHDer feels about time management. We're not always great at it. I personally coined the term "I'm always 1 hour early or 2 hours late" in highschool. When I had kids I started having irregular appointment times and it threw a wrench in how I operated. When my phone navigation told me there was a traffic accident and 10 minutes was added to my trip, it made me 15 minutes late because I took a wrong turn or two during the reroute. I couldn't find my keys, or my hairbrush, or my wallet. I spent another 10 minutes looking for them... All these normal things compounded into an avalanche of chaos.

People without ADHD naturally take all of these pieces into account and have a general sense of how long things take. They have the memory to know that these things happen enough that they need to be planned for. I don't naturally remember these things, which is a symptom of ADHD. This means that I have to really work through each piece of the task and preparation, then be able to change them as necessary. I'm not a naturally flexible person, so I must make systems that plan on being flexible.

Planning on Being Flexible?

Yep. You have to find a way to build your plan that involves things going wrong. Promises and plans are made to be broken if we aren't already equipped to handle them. With time management that means having a lot of whitespace in the schedule to make up for small problems or interruptions. It also means a constantly updating system for getting through the day.

Time Management Takes... Well... Time.

When I say updating the schedule constantly, I don't mean making a brand new schedule where everything is entirely thrown out the window every day or every week. We want to have some relative constants in our schedule that we can use for muscle memory, but knowing that things can change or we can discover new things about ourselves that will benefit the schedule. Kids are born, take naps, take fewer naps, go to school, have summer vacation... Those things can make an ADHDer panic and revamp everything about their lives when really, all we need is a small update.

Related Spoiler/ Thing I Just Found Out About/ Skippable Backstory

In my spare time, I've been trying to develop an ADHD friendly planner or Bullet Journal page. [No promises YET] When I was talking to my husband about my plans he let me know that it was a lot like something he does as a high-level computer guy. "That sounds like the Agile (Or Scrum) method", to which I said "Huh?" This led to a bit of research and a total 180 on what I thought I was working on. This is what teams use when making videogames or other products that need to be made quickly, and don't necessarily have to be 100% perfect to start. Think of how your phone is constantly getting updated to make it work better. This is the method that the developers use to make sure that what they are doing is both what the customer wants, and can be fixed quickly if there's a problem. In the world of computers, they do a monthly update but for a mom/computer muggle who just wants to make life easier, I'm sticking to one week and filling all of the team's hats.

How Did Your Tangent Affect Scheduling?

What I learned was to take my schedule into workable chunks that are easy to work through. It's changed my system for managing time when you aren't home or you have actual projects you need to do. So, this is a more in-depth process with very different results and a more flexible approach to time management and making routines. It also gives me cooler words that remind me that changing things or not getting everything right is okay.

Parts of an Evolving Schedule

In the computer world, this is referred to as a "Sprint". I'm just going to lay it out there as a weekly plan. When you put this as a regular "work week" it starts as Sunday and ends on Saturday. My weekends are relatively free, but my goal is to make this as flexible to any schedule as possible.
  1. Plan- (Day 1, Part 1)
    • This is meant to be a rough sketch of what you want. For me, I'm using this to create and prioritize task blocks and routines without assigning them spaces. I just want to get all the ideas down and understand what those ideas mean.
  2. Build- (Day 1, Part 2)
    • Putting all the pieces together in a way that makes sense and doesn't conflict with other obligations. This is where we actually play with our time and use our priority list to make things happen.
  3. Test- (Days 2-6)
    • This is where we actually use our schedule and see where our conflicts are.
  4. Review- (Day 7)
    • This is where we look at all the things that went right, all the things that went right, and do what we can to fix the problems. Every week is a TEST, not the final product.
I love the way this feels in my brain. I've instantly turned into a time scientist who is watching myself from the outside and not thinking in terms of failure or success. This is an experiment and no one knows what the results are, not even me!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Autopilot (Making Habits)

ADHD and the Stay at Home Mom has Moved! To see this post on our new site,  CLICK HERE  !