ADHD and Perfectionism
Finding the perfect system for getting things done can only be positive, you may think. But pursuing perfection can be problematic for adults with ADHD. An “ideal system” can even obstruct you from getting things done. Imagining a perfect system may be stimulating, but coordinating the parts to activate and sustain it can be overwhelming. Consistent effort is a common problem for us.
Subscribing to the notion that you will function normally with a perfect system is self-defeating. Tools should not be more important than their purpose. We can function better with structure, for sure, but creating and maintaining structure is something else. So we browse for the most elaborate system. A simple system might not satisfy our insatiable appetite for perfection. A new Mercedes looks and rides better than an old pickup truck, but it cannot carry a heavy load.
ADDNashville recently examined some popular systems, like those of Marie Kondo, David Allen, and Ryder Carroll. We discussed why some of us find organization gurus unhelpful in the long run. One person suggested that when the gurus capitalize on their great ideas to target a broader audience, the result is systems that are more complex than the original ideas. Herein lies a problem for us: complexity stifles individuals with compromised executive functioning. Simplifying, on the other hand, liberates us.
Can someone else’s system work for you? I think so, but I recommend being confident and defiant enough to find your own way to use it. Claim the parts that appeal to you. Take from them what you will likely use and disregard the rest. That’s what I did with Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Method. A creative ADHD friend who recommended it was using it for one simple purpose. “Use it however you wish,” she suggested. I began using it to capture and index ideas and titles for writing projects. I took the plunge after reading only the first 25 pages. I’m glad I did that. Otherwise, my perfectionism would have hooked me. I’m capable of becoming more obsessed with a tool than with using it.
Maybe I will read the rest of The Bullet Journal Method, but I will trust my aversion to complexity. I know how my wheels can get stuck. It happened this past winter when my street became a sheet of ice after a deep snow. I abandoned the car.