Books

Book Thoughts – Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by Jaclyn Paul

Wow. I finished reading an actual book. I meant for “Book Thoughts” to be a series, but so far I’ve only had one entry in it, and it was back in September of last year. Yeah… you know, I used to read all the time when I was younger. I don’t know what has happened since I became an adult.

Well, no matter, now I’m going to get back into the reading groove. So today I’m going to talk about this book I just finished. It’s not even fiction, more of self-help book when I need a kick in my derrière to get my productivity up. And I think it has done its job pretty well considering. It’s a fast and easy read organization guide mainly for folks with ADHD. The author has a blog focused on dealing with ADHD, as she and her family all suffer from it. In Order from Chaos she doesn’t really go into too much detail about the ‘why’s’ behind ADHD, but instead jumps right to the ‘what to do when’s’, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Of course, ADHD comes in all shapes and sizes, and the author specifically talked about how different her own ADHD manifests versus her husband’s. (I can’t imagine keeping a household functional when multiple people have ADHD. Major kudos for her.) So the tricks and organization advices in this book might not work for all people. For example, I don’t have the same issues as the author when it comes to retaining information. She has to write every single thing down; I can keep some in my brain without forgetting. I mean, of course I do write things down, but it’s more of a “if I don’t write it, it won’t get done” kind of thing instead of forgetfulness. The author also talks about how sometimes she’d tunnel vision on one thing and forget time existed. I do not have experience with that. What I have instead is that I have trouble prioritizing tasks. Imagine cleaning, cooking, laundry, vacuuming all weigh the same in your head as writing your book, and everything has to be done in an order that your brain just arbitrarily assigns. You will never get to writing because you will never run out of cleaning jobs in your house! That’s what I have. My brain has to go through all the “little” things before it can tackle the “big” thing, but by the time it got to the “big” thing it’s so tired that it just doesn’t do it at all.

So what did I learn from the author to fix my issue? Well, I wouldn’t say “fix” completely because that’s not possible, but there are still a lot of things I can do to minimize the problem. I think the biggest takeaway is that I have to learn to work with reality and not wishful thinking. The reality is that I have to have nothing on my plate when I start working, so I need to pare down significantly what I need to do each day in order to function. It means only do one major chore a day and STOP. It means block ALL websites while working except for a useful handful (thesaurus.com, for example). It means turn on DO NOT DISTURB on my phone and only write ONE blog entry per day (this one for today!) and work in absolute silence instead of with background music (learned that I’m a visual learner and any noise detracts from my concentration, not help it like with some others). My brain is not equipped to do what normal people can do without effort, so in order to get my main goals done (finish my novel), I have to significantly aim for less everywhere else.

I didn’t mean for this book thought to be mostly about me. But I think with a self-help book, this is probably the result you’d want, right? After reading there should be some kind of epiphany that makes your life better. If you have ADHD and you just want some practical advice on how to organize your life instead of diving deep into the psychology of manifestation of ADHD, this book is very helpful. Not every exercise she suggest would work for you, but I thinks the fundamental lessons she listed out is good, and you can always tailor what she does to what you need. Essentially she gives you the tools to help yourself. I probably used less than half of her techniques but still found ways fundamentally to make things work better for me. Even if you don’t have ADHD she’s got some solid organization skills in general, so I wholeheartedly recommend checking this book out.

Life

Good Mondays – Traveler’s Notebook

Hello! Today, for a good, cheerful topic, I will talk about my upcoming trip, but more specifically, the travel notebook I bought for this trip. I’ve always wanted to start a traveling journal, an analog record where I can put down all my thoughts on the sights, the food, the whole experience. However, I don’t travel that frequently (not rich enough haha), and I wasn’t that big a stationery fan until recently, right in the middle of the pandemic where I couldn’t go anywhere. So I just put it off.

But no more! I now have a complete “system” of a travel notebook, bought from the aptly named Traveler’s Company. I got the basic starter pack from jetpens.com and also a whole lot of accessories. It’s unnecessary, I know, but right now I have a perfectly tailored notebook for me, with a lined and a blank paper refill, zipper bag, stick-on back pocket, and more. You can definitely go a lot more in depth than me, though – I think it’s perfectly possible to use this notebook as a one-stop traveling wallet/purse if you customize it enough. I’m just going to use it as a journal/scrapbook, though. Mostly because I want it to be relatively light, and also, I already spent quite a bit of money decking this one out. Anymore I’d feel like I’m being too extravagant.

Speaking of journaling, I bought my first customizable multi-pen to pair with the notebook. It’s a Pilot Hi-Tec-C with 4 pen inserts. I love to use different vibrant colors for journals, and a multi-pen would get me many colors in one pen barrel – great for traveling! I tested how it writes on the Midori paper and it flows like a dream! So smooth and also dries quickly. The only downside I read from reviews is that the pen inserts tend to run out of ink quickly because they’re so small. Well, I’m only going to be gone for like 4 days, so I imagine it’ll be enough. On longer trips in the future I’ll be sure to bring back ups (or if I’m going to Japan, I can just buy more there. My next trip to Tokyo will definitely be a giant stationery haul.)

So yeah, for this Good Monday, I’m getting hyped up again about my upcoming trip. So getting ready to get the hell out, you know? I’m going to start packing the small things tomorrow – way too early to pack, but my mom has already started packing like last month, so in comparison I’m the lazy and unprepared one haha. And of course I’ll start writing the whole prep into my traveling journal, because anticipation is part of the journey, too.

Life

Some Small Wins!

So, today I went to the DMV to get my stupid driver’s license re-renewed. It was an ordeal, simply because of bureaucracy. When I made the appointment it was super obtuse on the website as to what I needed to so I kind of had to wing it in line. However, I managed to get it all done with the help of a DMV employee (I thanked him properly of course), and now, I have a temporary license in the car, and my actual license will be here in a few weeks. Hopefully. God.

Also, I actually finished cleaning the pantry yesterday! Believe me it’s been a project I meant to do for a long, long time, and it’s not even that complicated! I just have to go into the pantry and throw out packaged food that’re like two years old because we forgot about them. That’s it. And I just kept putting it off, and off, and off. Well, no more! Because I finally got rid of them yesterday afternoon (two large trashbags’ worth, so not that much but still). I don’t know what the roadblock in my mind was – I’ll just have to chalk it up to me being my undiagnosed ADHD self I suppose. Seriously, it’s so pathetic that I couldn’t get myself to do it when it literally just involved picking up a package, deciding if I still want to keep it, and throwing it away if the answer is no. That. Is. It. Sigh.

Well, the point is that I did it, finally, and I feel so happy, because now I can move onto the next big project, which is going through all of my medical records and sort them. This will involve buying new folders if I deemed what I currently have as inadequate, put things away (whether in folders or in a giant box for old records that we keep in the basement), and then tackle the mountain of old mail and other medical-related things we have stacked under the coffee table. It’s a real ordeal and I’m not expecting to finish it any time soon, but at least I could START, you know?

After we successfully navigated the DMV my s.o. and I had a small celebration haha. We went out to eat (yeah vaccination!) at a cute café. Then we bought some pastries and had ice cream! It’s lucky that he just happened to have a bit of extra time at work, because apparently things are fairly lax at his job on Fridays. I still felt like it was totally worth celebrating, though. Tomorrow we’re going proper shopping at a mall (again yeah vaccination!) to buy Hawaii-trip related things, like swimsuits and beach bags and travel skincare. It’s so nice to feel good for once. I am really looking forward to this weekend, and I hope you have a good one too!

Life

So Many Issues!

Okay, so this trip to Hawaii is super complicated apparently. Mostly due to Covid and the changing restrictions, but also because I am an idiot and suck. But first, let me talk to you about my mom.

Yeah, so you know the whole older generation doesn’t understand technology stereotype? Add to that the immigrant and speaking bad English stereotype, and we got an accurate picture of my mother. She’s not hopeless; she knows how to use a smartphone and can answer email and upload pdfs and pictures and such. But how to navigate a website so she can do all the pre-travel registrations to Hawaii? Yeah, no. (My dad’s even worse than her so he’s of zero help.) So what that meant was me staying on video chat with my five-year-old phone with her for hours, showing her step-by-step where to click and what to put in. My phone’s usually out of battery by the end and running super hot – yeah, guess who’s not upgrading to ios15 when it comes out? And before you ask why don’t I just enter everything myself, I can’t. It’s her email, her vaccine card, her travel itinerary, and also she usually tries to do things herself, and then get stuck, and then call me. Rinse repeat. And so, I also conveniently discovered that I literally cannot work if I get multiple phone calls from my mother throughout the day. Like, she’ll need help and call me, and then I help her for like 20 min. Then I hang up and try to go back to work, and takes like 20 min to get back in work, and then after 10 min she calls again. And it takes me even longer to get back into work mode. Whole work day wasted.

So I’ve decided I will block her when I work. Turn on DO NOT DISTURB, not 100% block her number. I also told her I’m doing this because I need to get work done so I told her if she needs me to do things call me after 9 pm her time. If it’s emergency leave a voicemail. I will periodically check to see if I have calls so I’ll definitely call her back if something happens. So yeah, I don’t want to not answer my mom’s calls but I think this is the best way. I know there are plenty of people who can continue things after a slurry of interruptions. Well, unfortunately I’m not one of those people. Again, the lesson I learned so far is work with reality not wishful thinking. So if reality is block your mom’s number, then that is what it will be.

And now, let me talk about my own fuck up. So my driver’s license expired. I was going to just get a Real ID one, but then the pandemic happened and everything shut down. So it got put on the back burner. Well, I realized my license expired and so I renewed it online. Except I was an idiot and didn’t realize the address was still an old address! Should’ve checked before I sent for a renewal! Sigh. So now I have scheduled a visit to the DMV to get this dumb thing fixed. 100% my fault, and such a stupid time too because it’ll arrive AFTER I leave for Hawaii. At least my passport is still in date (I definitely checked!). It’s like, not that big a deal by itself but with everything going on it’s just a giant pile of stuff to deal with. I seriously need a vacation.

Life

Taking It Easy

Boy, today started much busier than I thought it would. I was going to do all these chores but then my mom called about my trip to Hawaii, and then I had to make dentist appointments for my s.o. (apparently everyone is trying to go to the dentist right now – they’re fully booked for two weeks out!), and man, that took out a small chunk of my afternoon. I’m catching up with what I planned to do, so it’s okay right now, but I am a lot more wired than I had expected to be today. Didn’t even have time to read my book yet.

From past experience I usually run out of steam by today or tomorrow. Like, I have motivation for two or three days and then bam, nothing. If I somehow managed to wrangle some more work after a week, bam, the entire next week is canceled. I tried so hard to not do that but haven’t been successful, so yeah, it sucks. However, now I’m trying this limit what I’m doing per day method, maybe it’s going to work out? I mean technically today is already the 4th straight of me working. And I had an unexpected hectic morning that just added a lot more work on my plate, but I’m here, concentrating on working and blogging still. I’m going to use Headspace and meditate for like 10 min before I start the actual writing part, because right now I am too wired and my mind’s all over the place, but I know I’ll get work done.

Which brings me to the weekend. So we’re meeting a group of friends whom we haven’t seen in over a year, and it’s going to be pretty much a whole afternoon plus dinner ordeal tomorrow. Then on Sunday I have to get haircut so add grocery shopping to it, it’ll be another whole afternoon ordeal. I was planning to work two hours and do chores on the two days (half of what I work on weekdays), but now I’m rethinking the idea. I know I need to schedule in a rest day, and haven’t really thought about when and stuff. Maybe I should just not do any work tomorrow and do two hours on Sunday? Like, the reason I get burnt out is because I keep on living in this “wishful-thinking” schedule, when I need to be on a “reality-based” schedule. Like today, my mom’s call took me by surprise but I adjusted, which is good. I really do need a day per week where I don’t plan anything and just chill. I think I’ll try tomorrow.

I think the reason I keep on failing is that I never considered a lot of day-to-day stuff I do as “work” when they’re taking up the same amount of energy as what I considered “real work”. Now I’m adjusting and so I’m going to try to schedule out my energy usage. It’s like having to refill energy bars in those mobile games haha. I have to recognize when things are depleting it and accept it when they do that, instead of pretending they aren’t and allot energy that I don’t have to things. Anyway, let’s see how tomorrow works out. If the break makes me feel refreshed on Sunday and I keep working, then I’ll call it a success.

Life · Work

Changing How I Tackle Problems

So I talked a bit before of me suspecting I have ADHD. I still haven’t scheduled to see a doctor – I will get one eventually! – but I have been randomly googling books on adult ADHD, namely, if I have ADHD what concrete ways are there to manage it. Well behold, I found such a book! It’s called Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by Jaclyn Paul. (Not sponsored or anything I literally found this book and bought it after reading the reviews.) It’s very funny and exactly what I’m looking for. So yeah, my suspicion that I have ADHD just increased, and I am thankful that my case doesn’t seem nearly as bad as the author’s. Small mercies.

I haven’t finished reading the book yet, and I didn’t find every strategy she put down helpful, but it did get me seriously thinking about how I need to prioritize my time based on reality, not wishful thinking. Basically, I need to really, really pare down what I can do each day. There are currently a lot of tasks that I consider “oh it’s a small so it doesn’t count as work” except they actually use up my energy, therefore they ARE work, and so me doing a jillion of them makes me too tired to do ACTUAL work. (Buying a new pair of shoes online is work, a “quick” vacuum of just the upstairs is work, calling a doctor’s office is work. They all add up!) Maybe to some folks none of those things I mentioned require any energy, and so they can do all those AND do 8 full hours of real work. Well, kudos for them! I can’t. Anything that’s not like, watching Youtube, or sleeping, is work to me. I have to accept this reality and work with my own brain, which means that, everything is work so I need to prioritize and space them out accordingly. Also, I have a jillion notebooks keeping track of all these non-work tasks, so much that they become very redundant. I sometimes record “do laundry” on three different trackers. (Keeping different trackers to do work, ironically, is also work for me!) So I dropped them and tried to consolidate everything so I only have to write a specific task ONCE. If it’s actual writing related it goes in the ONE writing notebook. If it’s chores it goes into my bullet journal, along with anything else (I used to have skincare things and other goals in a separate notebook, now they’re all in the same bujo). Keep ONE blog (mostly this one haha). Etc. Etc.

It’s the beginning of the month so I’m still sort of in the middle of the setting up stage. So far I’ve limited myself to at most two chores a day, with room for one extra non-chore but necessary thing to do (calling doctor’s office, for example). That. Is. It. No more wasting all my time doing small chores all throughout the day and therefore get nothing creative done because of all the interruptions! I’ve also stopped all my random journaling. One journal entry a day, period. If I update here today, then I won’t be writing literally anywhere else. I tried so hard to journal every day because I think it’s good for me. Well, turns out I just am not equipped to do that, so that’s a pure wishful thinking thing that I need to face reality with. If you have ADHD, or even if you don’t have ADHD but wants to keep your life in better order, I recommend this book. I’ll probably blog about it after I actually finish it. Right now I’m still testing the waters, but it seems to be working.