I get up, walk the dogs. Grab a little snack and swallow down my meds. Sit down at the couch and find a show to watch while I wait for the medication to take effect, and check a few emails while I’m doing that.
I review my social media accounts, check a few analytics, and browse around the internet for a while. Sounds like a pretty chill day, right?
Believe it or not, you’ve just read my morning routine. Every morning, this is what I do. That’s the beauty of self-employment!
When I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 2010, I could see how my symptoms — especially my issues with morning wakefulness — were causing me trouble with traditional employment.
I was a great employee in the sense that I was faithful, hardworking, and loyal. But being on time? Not so much.
It became crystal clear that I was going to need to find a way to create a career that would tailor to my needs as an ADHD woman while still providing a sustainable income.
Somehow, I didn’t land on writing as my first choice. I don’t know why, because I’ve been writing stories since I was in elementary school.
As a teenager, I won many awards and accolades for my writing. Yet I was confused with how to break into the writing world, and first tried a few other things, including a brief stint with running a crochet shop that was not so successful.
However, once I picked up my pen and began my blog, Black Girl, Lost Keys, everything began to fall into place. Here’s what made running my own business a natural fit.
1. I can step away from work when my mind won’t cooperate
There are days when ADHD — despite my best efforts — takes over, and I don’t have a say in whether or not I can work that day.
When that happens, it really helps not to feel the fear of your boss discovering you’ve done nothing all day. Having the ability to step away for a few hours makes a huge difference in my productivity and mental health.
2. Picking the projects helps me pay attention
Clearly, every single part of my job isn’t the most interesting thing in the world — for instance, invoicing? I hate it. Follow-up emails? Forget it.
However, picking the majority of the projects I have to do means that the work around maintaining them isn’t quite as painful.
I pitch the articles I’m writing for others. I determine what content goes on my own blog. If I’m ghostwriting, I learned long ago to stop taking on projects that were boring to me.
Ensuring that I’m only taking on work that sparks my interest makes getting the job done much easier.
3. Making my own hours helps me direct my attention more efficiently
I’ve been telling people for years that my brain doesn’t turn on before noon, no matter how much earlier I’ve been awake.
Because I can recognize the truth of that, I’m able to begin my workday at 10, return emails and do light work until around 12, when I begin working on the bulk of the work that has to be done that day.
4. I prioritize the work I don’t like
It’s so easy for me to sit down and write an article and talk about all the ideas I have about whatever topic I’m working on at any given time. Those are things that come naturally to me.
What doesn’t come as naturally is sending invoices, following up, scheduling. Those administrative duties feel like nails on a chalkboard to me.
Regardless of how I feel about them, it’s necessary and right that they’re completed. Because I know this about myself, I have to load those activities at the front end of my day.
That means I have to have a to-do list that indicates exactly what needs to be done on a regular basis. There’s no hope of using just my memory to recall those facts, especially if they’re things said on a phone call. I will never remember those things.
The best way to keep up with the work I dislike is to do it first, because once I get tired for the day, all bets are off.
5. I can keep working when I feel the urge
Regular jobs are pretty strict on what hours you can and cannot be there. While working for myself I have the option to work not only when the feeling strikes, but I can keep going with the urge for as long as it takes to get the job done.
Last night I had a large undertaking to work my way through. I was able to do it by working in the evening when I could concentrate better, and during the day I was able to relax and get prepared to spend the evening by the laptop.
Is every day perfect? Not at all.
But every day that I get to wake up and do what I love makes up for the frustration I feel on other days. It isn’t easy running a business — but it isn’t easy trying to figure out where I put my sock either.
Both of them get done.
René Brooks has been a typical person living with ADHD for as long as she can remember. She loses keys, books, essays, her homework, and her glasses. She started her blog, Black Girl Lost Keys to share her experiences as someone living with ADHD and depression.