Disrupting Habits

I have ADD. For years I struggled with disorganization so great it could easily be classified as a force of nature. Sometimes I wonder if my things actually sprout legs and wander off on their own.

Because of this, I’ve made myself into a creature of fierce habit.

The only way for me to not lose my keys is to always, always put them in the key basket as soon as I get home. The only way to make sure I don’t forget something important for work is to never let it leave my bag. And the only way for me to remain focused on a creative project long enough for it to become anything is to make it part of my daily routine. (This is the reason behind my early morning writing sessions.)

I carefully regiment my life’s space and time around the things that matter to me. Without it, I quickly become ungrounded in chaos. My life becomes one long fall down the rabbit hole.

With my habits, I become a machine. People often ask me how I manage to work full-time, maintain this blog, run wordhaus, work on my fiction every day, and still find time to exercise, care for my dog, spend time with my husband. But the reality is, I’ve boxed it all into my habitual routine so well I don’t really think about it anymore. It just happens.

But habits can also trap you, and I get far too rigid about mine. Any time something disrupts my habits, everything goes to shit. Something as simple as an unexpected invitation to brunch on a weekend morning makes my jaw clench. Even now as I write this, my mind keeps sending me a little alarm–it’s not blog writing time, it’s fiction writing time. When we first got our puppy last fall, the constant care and new, daily responsibilities almost broke me. No joke. I was on the verge of tears for about three weeks straight.

And well, here’s the thing. I’ve come to realize that these disruptions, as much as they pain me, are just as important as my habits.

I can’t live my life as a machine. I’m not only my productivity. And even though my habits enable me to spend more time on my creative projects, my creativity suffers when I let my habits tie me down.

So, tell me … how do you keep use habits?

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4 thoughts on “Disrupting Habits

  1. This is one of my favorite posts, not just of yours, but on the internet. And how do you manage to always make your posts the perfect length? Perhaps a result of your excellent habits as well?

    I struggle too with this. I have habits I love and that allow me to get all the things I love most into my life on a daily basis, but it can crush creativity but bumping out novelty. So once in a while, I say eff it! I suppose this is also a habit, just not daily.

    That’s why you see me Tweeting such stupid things and commenting likewise. Aside from being a total nut, I am also desperately trying to break routine and try something fun. I suppose all this is leading to the fact that I am trying to automate fun so it is a daily habit.

    • Wow, thank you!!! If my posts are a good length, it’s because I stop when I run out of things to say on the topic 🙂

      People’s lives are so regimented and busy these days. Finding that balance is a struggle, and I know that’s true for many even without the ADD in the mix. If you ask me, if you’re asking yourself these kinds of questions, you’re on the right path. Keep fighting for that balance!

  2. Hi Emily,
    I don’t think I suffer from ADD, but I too live on a regimented schedule that when threatened with interruptions makes me almost break out in hives. I’m learning to just take one day at time. Thank you for sharing!
    Have a Happy Easter,
    Tracy

  3. I battle with this one too. At the moment I live in a house with 5 other people. They walk in and out of my office, ask questions, make jokes, leave the house, come home, invite friends…and just when I think I can manage all that the next door neighbour’s chicken comes for a visit and I end up bolting outside before she scratches up the front garden. (I’m not kidding about the chicken.)

    There must be a delightful balance between necessary habits and unplanned disruptions. I look forward to find it one day…

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