Develop “I always do it this way” rituals for important things
“A place for everything and everything in its place.” And for the ADHD-absent-minded among us, it’s a life-saver.
Dr. Edward Hallowell told me a story about a man he met in his health club who best illustrates this strategy.
As Dr. Hallowell was getting dressed in the locker room, he noticed that one particular man was shaving, getting his materials organized, and going through the other things that one does to get ready for the day. The man was totally dressed: jacket, shirt, tie, socks, shoes—except for his pants.
Dr. Hallowell, thinking that maybe the guy was so absent-minded or ADHD that he’d forgotten to put on his pants, commented to him, “It looks like you’re getting ready to leave here. But, in case you hadn’t noticed, you’re not wearing your pants.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” the man said. “I just always leave them until the very last thing. I’ve left so many things behind here in the past that I’ve started doing things in this order. Putting on my pants is the very last thing: it’s my cue to double-check that I have everything else. I know I’ll never leave without my pants.”
You don’t need to go this far, but connecting “must-do” things to each other is a great way to remember to do things. When I take off my Apple watch at night and put it on the charger, for example, that’s my cue to take my blood pressure medication, which sits next to the charger. That way I never wonder if I took the pill: I just look at my wrist and if my watch isn’t on there, I took it.
It’s really just a variation on Harry Lorayne’s famous “Link Technique” for memory, and a bit of a variation on Ben Franklin’s, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” And for the ADHD-absent-minded among us, it’s a life-saver.