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Comply Or Defy, ADHD Reaction To Routine And Structure

Getting to the bottom of things
Getting to the bottom of things

I’ve written about routine and structure before. I’ve blatantly stated: “Structure good, routine bad!”

And I’ve explained it. Structure allows some freedom within it’s confines, providing more of a guide to life. Routine allows no freedoms, providing instead a regimen that allows no room for creativity or variety.

But even structure can be somewhat stultifying. If structure provides a guide, for instance, to let you know what needs to be done, once you start taking care of those things you perceive a schedule or routine.

Once that routine is perceived, you’re going to do one of two things. You will comply, or you will defy.

No way out!

But what if you could comply in a defiant way? What if you could rebel, but keep the peace? What if you could do it, those things that need doing, but do them your way?

I’m suggesting you take little liberties, rock the boat a bit, look for ways to be independent, without breaking the rules … or at least not the big ones.

In my town, I’m able to go online and renew library books that I’ve got checked out, as long as they don’t have a hold placed on them by another prospective reader. When I know a book has to be back but I’m juggling things to do, I’ll often take that task out of the loop by simply renewing the book, even if I’m done with it.

On other occasions I do my laundry the day before or the day after laundry day. I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but it does make me feel like I’ve got control of things.

In my line of work, my other line of work as a contractor, I sometimes will do similar parts of jobs on one day, even if I don’t finish one job before I start the next. (Today I’m working on two different bathroom floors at the same time.)

One job needs to be timed carefully so that the bathroom is out of service for the shortest possible time.

The other one will be out of service for a few days, and that’s okay. There is a second washroom at the other site. So I’ll remove fixtures at that site and then go do the same at the other one, staying on to complete the flooring under the fixtures and reinstall them as quickly as possible.

Structure requires that these things all get done. Routine would have me do them a certain way. Defiance has me finding ways to be a bit rebellious and still get things done.

And that makes me feel like I’m in control, a feeling that’s rare enough in this life, right?

Comply Or Defy, ADHD Reaction To Routine And Structure

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live on the traditional lands of the Chippewas of Nawash in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or 7 generations and my First Nations friend's families go back hundreds of generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I am a freelance writer and I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about living with ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2014). Comply Or Defy, ADHD Reaction To Routine And Structure. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Sep 2014
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