Climbing my Everest: consistency

I now want to turn to one of my biggest challenges: maintaining consistency over time. It’s a theme that has already found its way into most of my posts including the ones on bookkeeping and learning. But it is such an important topic I think it deserves more space.

Consistency is my Everest. Why? ADHD brains experience time differently and tend to have two settings: “now” and “not now”. We thrive on dopamine and reward so find it hard to motivate ourselves to do tasks with no immediate benefit. ADHD affects working memory too which means I quickly forget the tasks and priorities I have set myself. It’s not unusual for me to unearth the vestiges of an extremely well-designed system that I have never used and can’t even remember creating. This makes working towards long-term goals extremely difficult.

My problems maintaining long-term consistency have never affected my core service: translation. Deadlines and the challenging, varied nature of my work spur me into hyperfocus mode which makes me very responsive to clients and very effective. I’m a good translator.

But it has been extremely debilitating and costly in other areas. My income has suffered because I have neglected to nurture relationships with clients, prospects and colleagues. Satisfied customers have disappeared into a black hole in my laptop and business ideas have evaporated overnight. Out of inbox, out of mind. I have failed to do myself justice in my marketing due to not updating my online profiles and CV regularly and consistently. Being in permanent responsive mode is not conducive to the pursuit of long-term business goals. Reactivity is fine when work is flooding in, but a huge problem when things are quiet and I need to drum up business.

Since I have learnt to love my brain, I have gone from having no routine at all, to tentatively establishing a few ADHD-friendly systems that gently nudge it towards those important, non-urgent tasks that are the cornerstone of any successful business. In the next few posts I want to discuss some of the strategies I use to wrestle myself into a consistent routine when needed. They are based on simplicity, reward, positive emotion and accountability. My strategies act as antihistamines for my routine allergy: they’re not a cure but allow me to work around it for a limited time.

This is a work in progress. If consistency is my Everest, I’ve just made it to base camp and I’m not sure I have the right equipment. So, I’d love to hear your tips. I will refer them to my brain for approval!

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