We know that routine is critical for kids with ADHD. But it’s also key for adults. “Without routines, their lives become chaotic,” according to Terry Matlen, ACSW, a psychotherapist and author of Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD. She added that many adults with ADHD simply don’t have an internal sense of structure.
“Adults with ADHD are highly distracted, impulsive and cannot tolerate boredom,” Matlen said. This makes it difficult to accomplish tasks, whether at home or at work. Structure, however, helps adults perform everything from daily chores to demanding projects at work, she said.
It also helps adults with ADHD get moving, said Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, a psychotherapist and author of 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD. “Inertia is the enemy of people with ADHD,” Sarkis said. She likens it to Newton’s first law. “An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it. This is especially true for people with ADHD.”
In short, according to Matlen, “Routines are a way to structure a day and make success possible.”
But people with ADHD tend to eschew structure. Why?
For one, the nature of ADHD makes setting and following routines more arduous. ADHD is an impairment in executive functioning. “This makes it difficult for us to organize our time, set deadlines, organize material for a task, and know how long it will take us to complete something,” Sarkis said.