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Routine Is My Friend … And My Enemy

routine things on a list
How to cope with routine

Routine is what makes it easy for me to know where I am and what I’m doing.

But a lack of routine can make me pay attention.

Those of us who thrive on “flying by the seat of your pants” kind of excitement know that whenever we’re in situations that can change in an instant we are so solidly in focus that it feels like we can rule the world.

And when we’re just doing the same old same old from one day to the next, week after week, month in and month out, we can easily forget the simplest and most obvious things.

And yet …

When we are in that busy and focused mind set we can also forget some of the routine things from our lives that onlly require us to consult our routines in order to recall, but we don’t.

In fact, we can’t. We’re locked in to the details and on target of whatever the intense project we’re immersed in.

We can be the person at work that caught that one detail that looked completely innocuous but turned out to be the one thing that could have sunk the whole thing … and still have forgotten to leave work and meet our partner at that restaurant for the celebration of our first wedding anniversary because we took our printer apart trying to fix a paper jam and decided to just completely clean the whole thing and reassemble it before going home.

On the other hand

We can be at home, doing the laundry and the cleaning and the dishes (don’t laugh, it could happen) and get so caught up in the routine of it all that we are carefully ironing socks and wondering where our spouse is when we were supposed to be all dressed and at that same restaurant mentioned above for the same function.

Routine can make us too comfortable to be able to respond to the day’s needs.

So which is better?

Neither, it seems is better. But that’s because what we need isn’t routine or the lack there of, it is structure.

We need our lists, and we need our coping mechanisms, and we need to respect them.

I aspire to this,

I want to be the guy that people point to and say things like, ADHD can’t be that bad, he has it and he gets along great. And I want to be that guy so that I can take a minute and say, “No. It is that bad. You have no idea what it takes for me to be this functional, but you’re going to have an idea of it in a minute, ’cause I’m going to tell you.”

And quite frankly, I don’t want my structure and my coping and my lists to work all the time. I want them to fail every now and again. And I want that so others can see that it isn’t as easy as they think it might be, and to remind me that I need to continue to respect the structure.

Routine Is My Friend … And My Enemy

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. (2019). Routine Is My Friend … And My Enemy. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Nov 2019
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