Why holidays always throw me off and how I get back on track

I wish I was this motivated when it comes to getting back into my daily routines...


Are you having trouble getting back into your normal routine, after the easter holidays (if they are holidays where you live, obviously)? Because I do. And it’s so annoying.

Generally speaking, I’m a sucker for routines. I have my life strongly structured, and I like it that way. It helps me be a functional adult. Thing is, my routines are all set around mine or my boyfriend’s workday/week. So when there are any public holidays, like Good Friday and Easter Monday are where we live, that seriously throws me off. Like, I had big plans, I was going to be productive, use the extra free time to clean and get extra blog work done, take care of my tax report, and get out into the sun. Wanna guess how much of this actually happened?

I mean, I wasn’t completely unproductive this weekend. I did a bit of dusting, a bit of writing, and I even cleaned the kitchen sink for the first time in forever. But it really wasn’t what I had planned. I find this super frustrating. I have no idea how to avoid it, though.

My problem is this: I need my daily structure to get started doing things. Meaning, I need to have my usual “wakeing up all the way” time after breakfast, usually until 7:30 am at the latest, and then I get off the couch and get moving. If I sleep in until 10 am, then lounge around on the couch, the earliest I’m going to do anything is when I get hungry and make lunch. Which definitely isn’t before noon. So without this routine, that gets me started in the morning, it’s almost impossible for me to start doing something. And I mean, yeah, it kind of makes sense not to use extra time off to do even more stuff than I usually would, all the time. But this weekend, I really could have used that time. Seriously. With the boyfriend and myself having been muggle sick for most of March, there’s so much stuff I could have caught up on. But I didn’t.

I’ve been trying for a while now to find ways to adjust my daily routines for days off. But I can’t figure out how to do it. Basically, if I want to be able to be even a little bit flexible, because I definitely need days when I can just do whatever I want, and not worry about it, my brain doesn’t really let me get back into any kind of routine. So there’s no way I’ll manage to slack off during the morning, and then start doing some work in the afternoon (unless that work is for other people, of course). Nope. If it’s a lazy day, it’s a lazy day. All of it. No exceptions.

And, honestly, I’ve kind of accepted that. I’m not going to get my regular routines adjusted for irregular events. It’s just not happening. Plus, I definitely need time off, every once in a while, and if my brain didn’t force me into taking it, that probably wouldn’t happen.

But then there’s the problem of getting back into my workday routine. You know, once the holidays are over. It’s really hard, especially after several days of letting my routines slide just a little too much. My brain doesn’t exactely love getting up early, and then doing stuff that’s way less fun than being on my phone for most of the day. So it makes me feel like I’m swimming in Jell-O, if I try to do anything useful. I can almost hear it: “We had such a great time hanging around on the couch all day. I can’t even remember the last time we did anything productive. Must have been years ago. So why start now?” It’s exhausting.

On top of that, there’s this ADHD thing of my brain just making me incredibly tired, and sleepy, whenever I try to do something I really don’t have any motivation for? I remember struggling with this in school, because yes, I was terrified of my Latin teacher, and really wanted to rehearse my vocabulary, but also, I had a hard time not falling asleep at my desk. And I mean, that was back, when I was a slightly hyperactive teenager. It’s so much harder now. Like, I’m actuallly writing this post, because just the thought of working on the ADHD women post I promised you (that I’m actually really excited about, and want to write, but that takes a lot of thinking and researching), makes me soooooo tired. So over all, I guess you can say that my brain is giving me a really hard time whenever I drop some of my routines.

Now, maybe you’re wondering how I managed to get working on the blog at all today. How do I manage to get back into my routines, even whan my brain is being uncooperative? (Also, full disclosure, I started writing this post yesterday, so the timing might be a bit messy here.)

Well, to me, the key is being super intentional about my time, and what I do with it. Meaning that this morning, I made sure I got off my phone around 7, and started going over my morning routine, step by step. Being intentional here means paying attention to what I do, what time it is, and what I actually want to do at that time. But it’s also important to really go over my routine step by step. Because if I try to motivate myself to get through the entire thing at once, I won’t get anywhere. I can get myself motivated to make the bed, real quick, and floss my teeth, though.

One other thing I find helpful in getting myself motivated to get stuff done, after a long holiday weekend, is this little trick: Before I went to bed yesterday evening, I set up my bullet journal, with my tasks for today. This morning, I got myself motivated by imagining how great it would feel to open my bujo, and be able to cross some of those tasks off immediately, because I had already done them. So, before sitting down at my desk, I flossed my teeth, vaccuumed the floors, folded some laundry, exercised, took a shower, and washed my face. That way, I just got to cross all of these off my list, or fill them in in my habit tracker. I don’t know about you, but for me, that works as a huge incentive, and then reward. And it makes me feel good about myself.

If you take a closer look at the tasks I executed before sitting down at my desk, you might find a common denominator between them: They are all manual tasks. Now, usually, I try to get all my mental work, such as writing, done early in the day. If I can get myself off the couch in time, that’s when my brain is most creative, and most motivated to do tasks that are mentally tasking. These are usually a lot harder for me later in the day. You’ve probably all heard of the circadian rhythm. Roughly speaking, the circadian rhythm determines wakefullness and sleep, and by extension, phases of productivity. I feel like this is especially relevant to us ADHD people, because it can make life so much easier. Anyway, to get back on topic, for me, my phase for being productive, as in: doing mentally challenging tasks, is usually early in the morning.

So why do I do the complete opposite, when I’m having trouble getting back into my routine?

This might be highly subjective, but for me, getting myself motivated to do manual tasks is quite a bit easier than doing the same for mental tasks. For one, I find manual tasks, chores in particular, to be less mentally taxing. Then there’s the fact that moving helps me wake up, which makes it easier to do other stuff. But the most important factor here for me is the difference in gratification. While mental tasks, like writing, do get me a level of gratification, it’s not as immediate as with manual tasks. Chores are the best example here. I like doing chores, mostly because they give my brain that bit of instant gratification, that it needs to get motivated. Doing chores is mostly relatively easy, and the results are instantly perceivable. Meaning that I can clearly see the outcome of my work when vacuuming the house, but not so much after working on a blog post for an hour. It’s just not the same.

So when it comes to getting back into my daily routines, I find that doing manual tasks is incredibly helpful in getting back into doing anything at all. While vaccuming the floor might not be the most effective way to use my productive phase in the morning, it helps me get off the couch and start doing stuff. Which in turn makes it easier for me to later sit down at my desk and do mental work. Basically, this approach, for me, works mostly by picking out the tasks that are easiest to do, and that give me the most instant gratification. That way, having these little moments of success gets me motivated to move on to more mentally taxing tasks.

This is also where my writing a to do list in the evening comes into play. As I wrote above, crossing tasks off my list just makes me feel good about myself. Combining this with the way manual tasks help me in getting motivated, this makes it possible for me to then move on to “desk” tasks (because I’m already at my desk crossing these tasks off), without having to struggle with my ADHD brain’s lack of motivation.

Obviously, this won’t work for everyone. Mostly because not everyone finds chores and other manual tasks to be easy. But I’m pretty sure each and every one of us has some kinds of tasks that are easier, more fun, than others, and that we can get ourselves motivated for relatively easily. If you can figure out what these tasks are for you, you can use that in the way I described above.

To break it down for you, here’s a quick step by step guide:

  1. You realize that you’re having trouble getting back into your routines, after something (holiday or not) threw you off.
  2. Figure out what kinds of tasks you find easiest to do, to get yourself motivated for, and that give you a sense of instant gratification once you complete them.
  3. Write these tasks (or some of them, no point in setting yourself up for failure by trying to do too much) down as a to do list for tomorrow.
  4. Also wrtie at least one task that you should do, but are having a hard time getting yourself motivated for, on your list.
  5. Now, get a good nights sleep, and get up early (whatever that means to you).
  6. After you get up in the morning, go over your usual tasks, like having breakfast, and brushing your teeth.
  7. Now start doing the “easier” tasks from your list. Don’t even look at the list, if you can still remember which tasks you put down, just do them.
  8. Feel good about yourself for having been productive so early in the morning!
  9. Go cross the tasks you’ve already accomplished off your list! Be proud of yourself for having gotten so much done already!
  10. Move on to the task(s) you should do. Are you finding it easier to get yourself motivated for them? That’s amazing!
  11. Once you’ve completed these tasks, cross them off your list. Feels good, doesn’t it? And you can be proud of yourself, for getting them done!
  12. Feel good about being so productive! And take a break, you’ve earned it!

That’s it! Really not that hard, is it? And now that you’ve managed to get going, you’ll (hopefully) find it a lot easier to do the same tomorrow, and get back into your usual routines. Personally, I find this approach immensely helpful.

Of course this might not be the way to go, if you don’t have a lot of time in the mornings, because you get to work early in the day. Then this post just isn’t for you. However, I find I’m feeling a lot better about myself, since I take more time to do stuff before I get to work, as I don’t feel like I’m just getting up to go to work anymore. So maybe it’s still worth thinking about.

I hope you find this post helpful. If you have any questions, ideas, or other input, please feel free to tell me about it in the comments! Have a nice rest of the week, everybody!

Image by fsHH