Being able to have routines and habits in the first place.
At least in my case, I don’t think I have depression. I’m pretty much always happy (according to my counselor, who can read my facial expressions). The happy isn’t that high, but it’s not sad either. It’s more like a stable emotion on the positive side, pretty much no matter what happened. Which isn’t that nice when things that are supposed to give you an adrenaline rush (e.g., roller coasters and jumping off planes) or feel nice (e.g., exercise or delicious food etc) still have me at the exact same regular happy. (I’m bad at emotion words because alexithymia.)
I had the book I want to read on my bedside table for months. Didn’t end up reading it. The website blocker works great though (when I remember to do it). Shoes are always by the door, but putting on the socks and then the shoes and then going down the stairs etc is a big barrier.
I really like the microsteps! I don’t have a name for them, but it’s literally the next action, then the next action, then the next action. Except it’s easy to get distracted, especially when moving from room to room or noticing something or having a question I need answered. Right now, for example, I have the rice ready but was going to start cooking, but wanted to find out the reason why something is done in cooking, which took me down the rabbit hole, which got me distracted to a bunch of different things, then I saw your message and I wrote this reply and I’m going to cook now.
I was trying to find something that helps me form something that doesn’t need any deliberative attention, though. Can you give an example of where it might be useful?
I’ve tried introducing routines around that, but (at least with me) it works really badly.
Most of the time, it’s less going to bed and more like suddenly waking up a few minutes/hours after. If I was wearing regular clothes, that’s what I’ll wake up in. When I get up it’s usually because of a message notification, so that tends to be the first thing I look at. I do have routines set up on my Google Home for going to sleep (turns off the lights and starts background noise) and waking up (turns on the light and reads the news), but they go unused more often than not. I also made it tell me to prepare to sleep (close curtains, brush teeth, drink water etc) at 23:30, and tell me to stretch and/or meditate at 23:40 before turning the lights off at 24:00, but that also fails much more often than not.
(The 23:40 one can sometime spur me to close the curtains but the bathroom is like 15 m away with two rooms in between, so the teeth get forgotten), so I tried adding another one at 23:50 for the stretching, but it didn’t work either.)
Also! Sometimes I manage to do some low effort things right before sleeping (e.g., sending a good night message to my SO). Sometimes I have full conversations with her while sleeping and then I wake up and reread it and it’s coherent. But even then it’s a toss-up if I actually end up sleeping. Sometimes I’ve stayed up until the sun came up, or I’ve gone to sleep and then start looking up answers to things, or start doing things. I fail badly if I try and sleep on my own, even without lights or devices. (Also no coffee etc, because caffeine doesn’t work on me.)
For the placing things part, I’d probably look for it around me on my bed or on the floor. That’s where most of the things I actually use are. I’m pretty good at finding things in the last-used order. I’ll try the otsukare trick for objects if I remember.
Except I do have to think all that much. There’s almost no automatic/instinctive component. It’s not just remembering/starting to do the thing in the first place, but it’s the right order of things. Without the checklist, I often forget to put toothpaste on my toothbrush, or forget to rinse it at the end. So I can do enough to survive/live okay, but there still aren’t any automatic routines or habits, which is why I made this post.
That being said, I do plan a lot. What happens if this fails or that fails, or different things got delayed etc. I’m waiting for a visa for my fourth job in 2.5 years, and I was financially ready for my first job loss within six months, and have been ready ever since. I’m now on month four of what should have taken a month or two, and I’ll have been un(der)paid for 5 or 6 months before my first full paycheque.
Or what happens if a pandemic happens? Bought my first ever car with cash (and then took out a retroactive loan because I like having the buffer) and masks etc and started stockpiling food in Jan and Feb last year because COVID was coming and it was going to be bad and everyone was ignoring it. I wrote up a huge report on 4 Feb on whether it’d be safe for me to go get her, and for her to come etc. She was considering postponing a couple of months, but I told her that we’d almost certainly not be able to see each other this year if she delayed to April.
I also had plans of what to do in case my SO decided to go back because she didn’t like the country etc. One thing I didn’t plan for/expect was for things to close down, so we didn’t even have the time to get her application going. If we had, she’d be able to properly immigrate whenever. At least I managed to reuse part of the “what if she doesn’t like the country” prep.
It’s a huge accomplishment! I’m happy about it, especially when it works. The second onboarding is usually much faster than the first (it takes about a week), but the third and fourth etc take about as long and I haven’t seen any reduction. It also lasts longer. Though if I ever miss it, there goes a month or three of not having any system until something inspires me to find something else. The problem with these kinds of things is that the novelty wears off very quickly, and there is no motivation without the novelty. I’d love to make something like that automatic.
The point of systems and habits is to make it intrinsic, because strong habits are inelastic with respect to intention. Most people “have to” brush their teeth before going to bed, “have to” eat at a set time (or when they get hungry), and “have to” grab for the seatbelt as soon as they sit down in the car. Many “have to” make their bed in the morning, or write in their journal, etc.
For digital stuff I do make conversion scripts between formats from time to time. But a lot of it is on my whiteboard, or on physical paper which gets thrown out etc. 2019 was the first time I had a physical journal which I used mainly as a set of lists of stuff that were more temporary. I got another one for 2020 but almost nothing happened so it’s still mostly empty.
I don’t have a centralized repo of all my “important things” list, because these go into whatever tool I was using at the time. I don’t like that at some level, but at the same time they change so often that even if I tried converting everything every time, and was perfectly productive, I don’t expect I’d be done before the tool needs to change again. So for the most part, I kind of expect everything I do to be ephemeral. I think I’ll pay for Google Photos in a few years once I’m over my storage limit, though, because I take lots of pictures, and they’re often a nice chronicle (along with the Google Maps timeline; did I go somewhere yesterday/last week?).
If I ever become important enough to warrant someone digging around in my history, they’ll have plenty of information about me in so many different places (including this post—hi!) that I don’t know where they all are, and that’s fine.
I have a counselor for ASD. I’m happy pretty much all the time, and he’s not sure how to help me with the social side anyway (especially with COVID; first session was in December or Jan last year, even though I’d applied in June of 2018; huge waiting list) so most of the practical side of what we work on is ADHD related. He’s the one who suggested using two systems simultaneously while the first one is dying, and quite a few of the apps. I managed to make a successful transition three times this year (which gave me about 3 weeks rather than two each time).
We do talk about things like emotions etc quite often because, well, I’m happy all the time and he finds it strange. One thing he pointed out was in August when the government unilaterally cancelled my work visa because of an error on their side. I had a session with him a few hours after I got the news, and I told him about that, and he said it was my usual ukiuki. The only time he’s seen me not happy (but not even sad) was when I told him that my SO had to leave.
(Bonus fact, I have hundreds more words for emotions in Japanese compared to English, where I basically group things into happy and sad.)
It’s a government funded program, so it’s less than 6€ per hour (and sometimes we do half an hour and that gives us another half hour at another date). Ends up being around 20-ish euro every few months. I still have another year or so of that before I no longer get access to it.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found anyone who specialist in ADHD, which I feel causes the most problems day-to-day. But the last time I checked was pre-pandemic, so hopefully there might be some with expanded areas of operation. I listen to podcasts a lot, though, so I get some ideas from there.
For ASD, things like fashion or body language or music or facial expressions or tone of voice etc are all lost to me and they’re skills I want to try and learn. For some things, I can learn the heuristics (e.g., colour wheel), but it’s basically knowing the teacher’s answers rather than understanding them. Does this outfit look good or bad? The book says that it’s bad and it should be fixed by doing XYZ, but it looks fine to me. The minor chord is supposed to be sad. Except everything feels happy to me. Turns out people get it from context (e.g., watching sad scenes in movies) but I don’t realize someone is sad unless they say it out loud, and don’t realize a situation is sad or creepy or dramatic or whatever either, so “yay, movie == fun/happy!” I’m taking courses (e.g., on the University of Bayes), but the explanations usually don’t make sense either.
So what would the procedure be for e.g., brushing teeth? I’ve done it thousands of times already. It’s still a conscious decision whenever I realize that I haven’t brushed my teeth in a while. Repeat a few times because e.g., I see something on the way to the bathroom so I go do something else, so brushing my teeth is delayed by another few hours/days.
I’m using a complete blocker for those things, but then I get distracted by others. I don’t think the gummy vitamins would work for me because I’d just end up eating them all with or without brushing my teeth. (I forget to eat until my hands start shaking, and I have emergency peanut butter set aside for that, but if there’s something else that’s easy to eat it might become the new target.)
I try to offload as much as I can to checklists, but I can’t get started with the task (and there’s no guarantee I’d finish it even when using the checklist; even going to a different room resets everything). I also made e.g. something that reads my calendar events out loud because the notifications don’t do anything.
There is pretty much zero automaticity in anything I do, though. If I did react consistently to the environment, I think I might have been able to figure something out by now.
How did you get the original routines (which enabled the habits) started in the first place?
The fact that you have a daily anything is the thing I’m having trouble with. Since moving away from home 13 years ago, the things I used to do daily because family forced me to no longer happened, including things like brushing teeth or showering.
I use checklists for so much. They’re on my phone, and I go through them before e.g. leaving the house, turning the car on or off, taking a shower, doing laundry, cleaning things, throwing out the garbage, etc. For the car, for example, I do point and speak (or touch and speak) for every item in the checklist. I wasn’t able to get the consistent place for things, though.
When my SO and I closed the distance was the most consistent. It wasn’t automatic, but it was 3 weeks of her reminding me to do things with her. She had to leave because COVID, though.
I expect the chain to break. I rotate through different tools because they rarely last more than a couple of weeks, and I start phasing in the next one before the previous one failed. I still haven’t had anything continue successfully for much longer than that, including the things the tools are supposed to help with.
I already do that.
I’m on long-term release Ritalin with instant-release, which is the most effective of the ones that are legal in Belgium (I moved 3 years ago). It makes almost zero difference other than my mouth is slightly drier.
The only meds that (slightly) worked (Aderall) are illegal where I live now. Adderall was also not anything amazing, just slightly less resistance to changing contexts.
It does help. It reduces the amount of virus particles that you inhale, and the severity of the disease. And if you’re ventilating well, there’s an even lower risk. For what it’s worth, I’ve been on my own since March, and haven’t really interacted with anyone else since then.
Thanks! I modified the post. Could you take a look?
I’ll keep that in mind for next time. Thanks!
You’re completely right here. I meant odds of 3:1 in general, as opposed to when they’re a complement. (Also, 90 + 30 is more than 100%.) I’ll edit it.
It’s only 75% and 25% when the sum of probabilities is 100%, but O(red car:green car) can be 3:1 when 60% of cars are red and 20% are green, or when 3% of cars are red and 1% are green. The remainder are different colours.
Understood. It might indeed be useful instrumentally. That being said, I’m not sure how I would be able to display a different confidence level than I felt without lying (I don’t lie). Is it something you say, or is it just your posture etc? Or is there something else?
In the context of this post, your confidence in your absolute skill is the same.
When interviewing, you’re comparing yourself to people who have applied (the fact that you got an interview indicates that you might be more suitable than most of the applicants), and maybe to the other interviewees too.
When you start the new job, on the other hand, your relative skill is probably about the same, but your instrumental skill is much lower than the other employees’ because you don’t know the systems/tools/jargon that the company uses. You’d need to learn new things, ask questions, and get feedback to get up to speed.