Deciding not to decide now: an ADHD? guide
Like the title implies, I have ADHD, most of the time it’s not an issue (for me that is, luckily I have the privilege of a good support system, am in a creative field, and somehow my supervisors don’t get upset with the countless diversions that never go anywhere), I hope. However, one of the pain points of ADHD, executive disfunction, has ruined many wild plans and many lazy Sundays. It turns out that having difficulty in making concrete decisions also hits hard when you need to figure out what to do with your precious free hours. Now, this is not a rant about my specific slice of neuro-divergence, it’s a brief guide to two methods that I use to cope with it in a specific situation:
Having to make a decision that is (somehow) dependent on information that you get in the future. I’ll describe the two methods I use, when I use them, and then rant a bit about ADHD at the end, sound good? Here are my two methods:
- Making the decision to decide later
- Doing most of the decision work now
Making the decision to decide later
When I am faced with making a decision that is influenced by future events, my imagination kicks into overdrive, which can be fun, but often fall into a deep well of “what if”s and assuming other’s intentions. It’s like being Doctor Strange but you actually only get uncertainty.
So, what if I told you the solution (at least for me) is to just… not make the decision now? I know it sounds simple, but sometimes giving yourself permission to not have to do things right away frees you from the guilt of… not doing things right away.
Now, I have an agreement with myself, and that’s that I try and think about a better moment to make that decision (either after a specific piece of information is given, or most often on Mondays…because Mondays are already a crappy day so you might as well dump some more stuff on them) which I back up by adding a calendar event that references the decision, and maybe what info I would want.
It’s nice when it works, but what if that does not “clear it from my mind”, well my friend, then we have:
Doing most of the decision work now
okay, it’s pretty much just “make a little flow chart”. I usually start with the decision I want to make, and work backwards. Why I would choose one option over the other are the “input” nodes on that decision, and I save it somewhere so that when I have that input, I have already made the decision!
The nice part of this method is that I switch from “what if…” to “what if ___” …which is to say, I go from wondering about infinite possibilities to creating an overview of how those possibilities could influence my decision.
The nicest part is, once you get the info, you already have an idea of what decision you are going to make and if it then feels wrong, you can reflect on your earlier decision making!
(maybe I should add some examples?)
Postlogue: ADHD and simple fixes
Now, I am sure other people with ADHD or any kind of issue have come across thousands of tips that aim to clear up their lives by “just doing this one small thing”. To be clear: these two strategies work for me… sometimes and only when I remember to try and apply them. But, that means that I am able to fight executive dysfunction (or analysis paralysis, or the Mister Burns Tomato Based Condiment Complex) like 30% more, and that’s an absolute win. If this makes any kind of sense, try it, adapt it, and if it doesn’t work, at least you’re being more mindful of these moments of difficulty we all face, and hopefully don’t feel as alone or ashamed to have them as I am sure we’ve all felt.
I would ramble on, but I have decided to finally go and bake a cake!