Why Structure is So Important for Adults with ADD

Many adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD) struggle with the same challenges. One of the biggest challenges faced by ADD adults is creating and implementing structure in their lives.

Life without structure can be chaotic and overwhelming. As an adult with ADD, you probably don’t need rigid structure, but some general guidelines to help order your day, your week, or even your month.

When you find structure that works for you and you stick to it, structure takes the pressure off. It allows you to go through your day without having to make too many decisions about what to do or when.

So if structure is so helpful for adults with ADD, why is it so difficult for us to create it for ourselves? Well, when you have a tendency to become overwhelmed with the details of day-to-day life in the way that adults with ADD so often do, creating structure is a skill that doesn’t come easily. It must be learned, often in adulthood.

And, as with learning any skill, the best way to build structure into your life is to do it slowly. I suggest starting with a bedtime routine. In this case, it’s easiest to work backwards:

1. Determine the best time for you to go to sleep each night. Choose a time that will allow you to get a full night’s rest. Let’s use an example to demonstrate, and say 11:00pm.

2. Next, take some time to “get ready for bed.” That might mean brushing your teeth, getting your clothes ready for the next day, taking medications, or whatever it is that you do before you go to sleep. If these activities take about 15 minutes, then you would begin getting ready for bed at 10:45pm.

3. Finally, pick a few “wind down” activities that will help you relax and de-stress. This might include taking a bath, reading, meditating, journaling, or even watching television–provided the shows you choose aren’t intense. Spend about an hour winding down and allowing your brain to slow down so that it’s not racing when you’re trying to fall asleep. In the example provided here, you would start winding down around 9:45 or 10:00pm.

Note: Whatever activities you choose to wind down, make sure they don’t involve the computer! Nothing will wake up the ADD brain faster than email or the Internet.

After you build structure into your evening and find yourself comfortably sticking to it, you can begin to build more structure into your day. Until then, bedtime is a great place to start!

And don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to make this routine stick. You may need to tweak the times and activities to suit you, and you may experience some trial and error along the way.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jennifer Koretsky