What’s the status of STUFF?

What the status of STUFF?

STUFF! up your life is no longer an ongoing project. I got burned out and was diagnosed as autistic. I monotropismed into writing fiction.

I promised a long time ago that I’d write up an overview of the STUFF system and I didn’t really get around to it. But I was recently reminded that this system has been and still is very useful to people and I’m still really proud of the system I developed.

I’ve finally put together a description of all of the gears in one place. I hope you find it useful.

STUFF Overview

Thank you everyone who has ever found this system useful. I’m not saying I’ll never be back and I intend to keep this website up for reference. I’m pretty fully focused on my webnovel right now.

Thank you, good luck and be kind to all of your selves.

– Elise

practical tips STUFF

STUFF! up your life: Overview

If you ride a bike (I don’t ride a bike) your bike probably has gears. And you will know that there is no “best” gear on your bike.

Sometimes it is “best” to be in a lower gear. Sometimes it is “best” to be in a higher gear. It depends on the terrain and the conditions of your ride.

With STUFF you will divide your regular tasks, chores and/or expectations into different “gears”. There is no best gear to be in. But depending on the “terrain” and “conditions” of your life at the time it may be better to be in a lower or higher gear.

STUFF is divided into five gears. But it doesn’t have to be five. Maybe you need a more granular system. Maybe you don’t need or want as many different sets of things to maintain and you may just stick with two or three.

Don’t feel pressured to have exactly five gears. It’s all about what works for you.

The Gears

Gear -1

About Survival.

When things become almost impossibly hard you know you’ll need to use your Survival gear. The most important things to do are the things you must do in order to survive the day. If you don’t do these things you will have almost immediate problems which will make life even harder.

You need to feed yourself and anyone who is dependent on you (including, but not limited to, children and pets).

You need to take any medicine that you need (and ensure that anyone who is dependent on you also takes any medicine that they need).

There are many things which are bad to neglect in the long term but are probably fine if you skip today. Not brushing your teeth might lead to cavities and expensive and painful dental work in the future. But it’s probably fine if you don’t brush your teeth or have a shower for one day.

When you are in survival mode you need to do the things you NEED to do. Leave everything that isn’t vital for your immediate survival.

When you are not in survival gear it might be time to assess your task list and work out which things are your Survival Gear so that if and when you end up here you already know what you have to do and don’t have to make any decisions.

Getting out of it

Survival Gear is unsustainable. You can’t stay here long term. You might not be able to stay here for more than a day or so.

It’s easy to think “tomorrow will be better” and then struggle even more when it isn’t. All of your Treading Water tasks will build up and cascade, sooner or later, into disaster.

When you are in Survival gear you may need help to get out. This is when to call in for help if you can.

At a time when you’re NOT in survival gear make sure you remind yourself that it’s okay to ask for help at this time. It’s okay to ask for help at any time! But when you’re in Survival gear is when you really need to ask for help. But when you’re in Survival gear you might not feel like it’s okay because you’re overwhelmed with shame and guilt. So try, if you can, to let your higher-gear self instruct your lower gear-self to seek help. Or at least give them permission.


Your priority in the Survival gear is to survive. Do the things you need to do to still be here tomorrow or next week.

Treading Water
Gear 0

The Treading Water gear is where you go when things are very hard and possibly likely to continue so for some time. Things aren’t going to get better in the immediate future but you still need to get through the days, and possibly weeks ahead.

As well as all of your Survival Gear tasks you need to make sure to keep up with anything that, if neglected, may cascade into chaos or further difficulty.

Some things get harder the longer you don’t do them. If you don’t do the dishes today then you might not be able to prepare food. If you don’t do the dishes today they will be harder to do because all of the food will get crusted on and the dishes will pile up and there will be more of them. Doing the dishes for two (or three or more) days is much harder than doing the dishes for one day.

If you work you might be able to take one day off here and there but if you stop going to work entirely you will not have a job. That could definitely make things much more difficult!

Some things don’t really get harder if you neglect doing them. Sure your floor might get sticky and your things might get dusty and maybe your sheets will get smelly. But it’s not more difficult to wash bedsheets that have been on your bed for four weeks compared with bedsheets that have been on your bed for one week.

When you’re Treading Water prioritise the tasks which need to be done to make sure that tomorrow isn’t even harder than today.

Getting Out Of It

Treading Water can be very hard work and if you’re here long term it might be because you don’t have the capacity to do anything extra.

Sometimes after being in this gear for a while you’ll regain enough energy or cognitive capacity to reach more stable ground. Sometimes you just need the storm to pass. For the season to change or to find a less stressful living situation.

By focusing on what needs to be done to get through the day we hope to regain the capacity to make the changes that you need to change in order move into the Usual gear.

Sometimes you need to re-assess your task list and admit that, actually, this is the Usual Gear for now.


Your priority in the Treading Water gear is to make sure you don’t slip down into the Survival gear if you can manage it. You try to do the things which mean that tomorrow won’t be any harder than today.

It’s vital that you include some leisure activities in your Treading Water gear. Give yourself a daily task to do something just for fun. It might be more important to play a fun and relaxing video game for an hour than it is to vacuum the floor. Because if the weight of uncompleted chores makes you feel to guilty about having Fun Times you’re going to find things even more difficult than they have to be.

Gear 1

This is where you usually are. And these are the things you usually do.

This list will be different for everyone. Some people are able to do more than others. Some people are able to do less. Some people will Usually go to work or school. Some people are not able to do that usually.

Your Usual list might look like someone else’s Treading Water. Your Usual might even look like someone else’s Survival. Someone else’s Usual list may look like your Fulfilling list. Or Future list. Or be completely unattainable.

That’s okay. This is about you and what is Usually manageable for you.

I don’t have examples for this list. I don’t know your life or your lifestyle or your capacity or your goals.

These are the things you Usually are able to manage and do reliably.

Gear 2

Sometimes you have a really good day. Or a good week. Maybe you have some time off work. Maybe you’re in a relationship which gives you energy and inspiration.

And sometimes it’s hard to decide what to do with that time. You have so many options! So many ideas for things you wanted to try or start at some point… which do you choose?

By preparing in advance for this situation, you will be in a better position to utilise that energy in a way that makes you feel great!

But most importantly, remember that this is a great time to assess or re-assess your other gears. Use that excess capacity to have a look at your usual gear and think about whether it’s got the right things in it. Check out your Treading Water and Survival gears and see if you’ve got your priorities right. Be kind to Future You who may not be in a position to make (good) decisions. And also be realistic – you don’t want to put too much pressure on Future You at a time where they may not be able to cope with it.

Staying in it

Look. I don’t think there’s a reliable way to make sure of this. Sometimes things get hard again. They just do. And that’s okay. Try to be prepared for that!

Future & More
Gear 3+

You may have long term goals or plans that aren’t really daily or regular tasks. The “Future” gear is where you put those things.

Sometimes your set of gears may change permanently or long term. Maybe you leave a relationship, work or living situation which was causing ongoing stress. Maybe an illness you have gets treated, you start a new medication which really helps or you get a mobility aid or support worker which takes some pressure off leaving you with more time, energy or emotional capacity to do more things.

If your Fulfilling gear becomes your Usual (amazing!) you’ve already got your ideas for what goes in your new Fulfilling gear (and don’t forget to re-assess your lower gears and make sure they still make sense for your life).

Fulfilling and Future both start with F. There’s not really a firm border between them. And there really can be as much graduation between these as you need. Maybe you have many different levels of F! Maybe you just have one and work with STUF. That’s fine too.

Being in the wrong gear

Gear Too Low

If you’re in too low a gear you’re not doing as much or the right things that you could be doing. And that can lead to feeling bad about yourself. You may feel lazy or feel guilty because you know you could be doing more.

Uncompleted tasks may build up and make you feel bad and overwhelmed. Which may all of a sudden mean that lower gear is the right one to be in and you missed out on being in a higher one when you should have been.

However it’s easy to feel lazy, bad or guilty when you actually are doing as best you can and you’re in the right gear after all. I’m sorry. I can’t tell you which is which. But please try and be kind to yourself either way.

Gear Too High

It’s easy to think that once you gain enough momentum you’ll be able to coast through the harder times. When I first developed the gear system I certainly assumed that if I got things right, if I set my expectations at exactly the right level I would keep progressing upward indefinitely. Because I’d never be held back by all of the things I’d left undone I’d be able to just keep being able to do more and more…

That didn’t happen. But what I discovered was that as I’d had those different sets of expectations for myself in the past I was able to pretty smoothly “change gears” back down again.

Being in too high a gear means you won’t be able to do everything you think you should do. That can make you feel lazy, guilty and ashamed. By adjusting your expectations as your capacity to do things changes you can minimise how bad you feel about either not doing “enough”, or not being able to do “enough”.

Okay but… how do I do this?

What am I actually putting in these ‘gears’, exactly!?

For me I mostly use it to manage my expectations for my household tasks, chores and daily or regular things I want to do. I’d like to exercise 3 or 4 times a week. But when I’m not in a great place I know that it’s more important to exercise one time than it is to to feel too bad about not doing enough that I don’t do any exercise at all.

Where do I put all this?

I wish I could give you the perfect system or app where you can track everything in a seemless way. But I don’t believe that exists.

The best tracking system is one that you keep using.

Maybe it’s a bullet journal with a page, or pages, where you write out your different lists.

Maybe it’s Habitica or Todoist with different tags for different gears. Maybe it’s just all in your head!

Final Words

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your past self, your present self and your future self.

Maybe you’re coping great right now. Maybe you’re not coping at all. But feeling bad won’t help you feel better, and shame is a terrible motivator.


STUFF begins with U

This series of short blog posts will focus on the individual STUFF gears. There are 5 official “gears”… but when you implement STUFF you can have as many or as few as you like.

If you’re new to STUFF here’s where to catch up…

STUFF – an introduction
Getting started with STUFF

Okay so the first Gear we’ll begin with is U. Usual.

You might think we’d start with S. But the STUFF gears are not about leveling up or progressing. They’re about coping and managing. And before you know if things are “harder than usual” you need to know what usual is.

Your Usual gear is… what’s usual for you. And that can and does change over time. What’s Usual for me when my husband is away is not Usual for me when he’s home.

What’s Usual for you might look like someone else’s Treading Water. Or someone else’s Survival. That’s okay. Think about what’s Usual for you and try not to judge yourself for it (that’s the hardest part for me).

You probably already have a set of things you expect of yourself. You might have it written down in a to-do list app or a bullet journal. It might just be a vague set of judgements in your head about how your house should be tidier and you should be able to manage.

If you can… I’d like you to write down as much as you can of all the things you feel like you should be able to get done on a typical day.

Now I’d like you to rewrite that list. Tell your jerk brain to take a walk and now only write down the things you actually do.

You don’t have to tell me or show anyone. It’s okay if you feel ashamed about it – it’s hard enough to deal with feeling ashamed without doubling up and judging yourself for that.

But that list of things you actually typically normally do on a usual day? That’s your Usual. For now! I know when I feel less shitty about what I actually do manage to do I actually start to manage a few of those other things too.

Next up? The two Fs.

Posts like this are only possible due to the generous support of my Patrons. They’re amazing and very good looking!! If you’re not one of them and you like what I do please help me by joining them and supporting STUFF up! your life on Patreon.

candid neurodiversity neurodiversity is a metaphor

Lip Reading

I read a story once, it may have been fiction or based on a true story. The story was about a boy diagnosed as intellectually disabled, with severe behavioural issues. When this boy was eight or ten years old it was discovered that he was profoundly deaf. Far from being intellectually disabled he was gifted enough that he’d taught himself to speak and lip read well enough that nobody had suspected that he couldn’t hear.

And as for the boy? “I just thought that everyone else was better at lip reading than I was.”

I think about this story a lot.

In 2012 I moved to Sydney from Melbourne. My husband is a naval officer, I worked from home. So I put a fair bit of effort into socialising myself. I joined an acting class.

I love small talk. I love meeting people. Put me in a room full of people who don’t know each other and don’t know what they’re doing and I am absolutely in my element. I thrive. I make people feel welcome and comfortable. I make people laugh and relax. And the next week people remember me and smile when they see me.

And as each week goes by and everyone else becomes more comfortable and secure… I feel more unsure and awkward.

A month later the same people will all be friends with each other. But not with me. And I overhear them talking about a nightclub they’d been to together and I wonder why nobody invited me.

But when I joined that acting class I noticed something. I noticed that they remembered things about each other and they swapped phone numbers and texted and met up with each other outside of class and went to bars together.

And I knew that I was more than capable of doing all of those things. I could if I wanted to. But also I really didn’t want to. I didn’t actually care about any of those people enough to want to think about them outside of class. I definitely didn’t want to go to a bar or a nightclub.

I can’t help but think that other people are a lot better at lip reading than I am.

Posts like this are only possible due to the generous support of my Patrons. They’re amazing and very good looking!! If you’re not one of them and you like what I do please help me by joining them and supporting STUFF up! your life on Patreon.

candid Uncategorized

Now is your life

Well hi.

It’s been a… while (what is time?).

Patreon and Twitter followers might know that I had some personal stuff come up in October and then life has happened and now I’m in the midst of moving stress as we prepare to leave Brisbane where we have lived for the last two years and move back to Sydney.

And I keep thinking “It’s fine! After all this settles down then I’ll get on top of everything again”

Which… is something I’ve thought a LOT of times. And I wonder if that’s something you think too. It’s so easy to get stuck in Treading Water sure that it’s just a matter of waiting out THIS latest hiccup, drama, setback, crisis, change, period, school holidays to begin, school holidays to end, for something to start, for something to end for that significant day, week or month… and that then when things get back to my normal life THAT is when I’ll make a real effort to get back on track. That’s when things will change. That’s when it will be easy. There isn’t much point before then while things are still chaotic. Still in flux. I just need to prepare myself so that when things calm down I’m ready to take advantage of it. Right?

But isn’t it funny how those “normal life” times don’t seem to happen very often? Or last very long?

I’m reminding myself again that “normal life” isn’t actually… normal. The chaotic life. Things being in flux. The migraines. The depression. The Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. The fatigue. The stress. The overwhelm… that’s normal. That’s my normal life.

I don’t need to prepare to pounce upon the fleeting moments of calm and non-crisis to take advantage of them. I need to use the fleeting moments of calm non-crisis time to prepare for the overwhelming stressful chaos of ‘normality’.

So here is where I am at:

I’m living in a city which is currently in Lockdown in order to prevent a coronavirus outbreak getting out of control. I’m preparing to move to a different city which didn’t sufficiently Lockdown and which already has a coronavirus outbreak getting out of control.

Side effects from my stimulants were messing with me and making everything worse so I’ve stopped them temporarily but can’t get an appointment with my psychiatrist at present. I’m getting migraines every second day. My son is both incredibly stressed and incredibly bored.

But this, right now, is my life. This is my normal.

And I need to work with that rather than pretending that a good nights sleep is going to make anything feel less stressful and overwhelming.

And maybe you do too?

Happy New Year.

adhd practical tips STUFF

Leisure is a chore

My son has been sick with tonsilitis and just as he was recovering I started to come down with it too. I’m feeling slightly better today, thank goodness and he’s finally well enough to go back to Kindy. So we’ve been in Survival gear for close to a week now and soon it will be time to change gears back to Treading Water.

And I know I still have so many unfinished posts about each of the individual gears (I’ll get there!) but today I wanted to write about something very important about the Treading Water gear.

Treading Water is the STUFF gear where you focus on not letting things get worse. Between Survival (where you do what you absolutely need to to get through the hour, day and week) and Usual (whatever usual looks like for you!)

If your executive functioning is impaired (whether because of a neurological condition like ADHD or Autism or because of chronic stress, illness, pain or fatigue) it seems to makes sense to use rewards and punishments to try and get things done. “If I do this list of things then I can reward myself with…”

And It might work! For an acute episode of “I just don’t wanna” reminding yourself that you can sit down and read your book or watch netflix or play video games just might give you that little spark of motivation. It might? I mean it sounds good in theory. But… honestly? That… has never really worked for me?

And it’s not just that there is no accountability. I could just… sit and watch TV. Nobody is stopping me.

But “If I do all these chores THEN…” doesn’t really work as a sufficient incentive for me to do the chores because the problem isn’t that I don’t want the chores to be done. Or even that I don’t want to do them. It’s that… I can’t do them.

I like having a clean house. I really hate having a sink full of smelly dishes. There is a reward already built in to doing these chores in that I don’t have to live in filth and bad smells. I don’t actually need extra incentives to want those chores to be done. The incentives are kind of… built in. The problem isn’t a lack of incentives. So increasing those incentives has no real effect.

Let’s look at a very frequent scenario for me: I have a lot of dishes that I can’t manage to do. And I want to play The Sims.

So I tell myself:

“Elise. You absolutely cannot play The Sims because you have not done all of the dishes!”

And generally one of two things happens after that:

A. Failure: I play The Sims anyway. I feel guilty for breaking my own rules.

B. Success: I do not play The Sims. I do something unpleasant instead like reading The Bad Internet.

But do you notice something important about the ‘Successful’ scenario B above where I resist playing The Sims? I still didn’t do the dishes.

And when this happens day after day, week after week… well sometimes I do get around to doing the dishes and it’s hard and I force myself to do it (or I am forced to because we don’t have any clean spoons) and it takes SO LONG and then I don’t have time to play The Sims afterwards and I feel frustrated and resentful and sad.

And every time I do something “fun” or “relaxing” I have this little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m being lazy and bad.

And this usually happens when my responsibilities are genuinely Too Much for me and everything is really hard. Isn’t that funny? I never accuse myself of being “lazy” when things aren’t overwhelmingly difficult.

So what’s absolutely vital about being in the Treading Water gear. When you’re working as hard as you can just to keep things from getting worse… is that Leisure is not a reward.

Leisure is a chore.

It’s a thing I need to do. It’s a task on my to-do list that I need to tick off and say “yes, I did do a fun thing today just for fun.”

Because when it comes right down to it playing The Sims is actually as important as doing the dishes.

If I don’t do the dishes my sink will fill up with dirty dishes and it will smell and I won’t have any clean spoons to eat with.

If I don’t play The Sims (or watch TV or read a book or…) then I will just feel like I am getting wound tighter and tighter and I’ll spend too much time reading The Bad Internet and “relaxing” by only doing things that make me feel bad and therefore somehow sidestep the guilt of having a good time when I really shouldn’t.

And that doesn’t help me in the Treading Water gear. It doesn’t help me prepare for changing gears back down to Survival or up to Usual.

It just makes me feel bad about myself. It makes me feel worse about myself.

So. Leisure is a Chore.

Do a fun thing. Just for fun. Not a project that you also find fun. Just… consume an art. Play a game. Read a novel. Listen to a podcast. Listen to music. Watch a video.

Because that isn’t a bonus that you need to earn. It’s something that you need.

STUFF – an introduction
Getting started with STUFF

Posts like this are only possible due to the generous support of my Patrons. They’re amazing and very good looking!! If you’re not one of them and you like what I do please help me by joining them and supporting STUFF up! your life on Patreon.

practical tips

Positive Negativity: maybe things will get worse and that’s okay

I hated being pregnant.

I loved the fact that I was going to have a baby and I was in awe of the fact that I was growing a person. But being pregnant was horrible. Although I didn’t throw up every day the nausea was relentless. Every hour of every day I felt horribly sick. The thought of food turned my stomach… but an empty stomach was my number 1 vomit trigger.

And for most of my pregnancy people kept being positive and re-assuring me that it would get better.

It gets better after 12 weeks! I was assured by many. It didn’t for me.

I kept being given more magical getting better points to look forward to. And I kept feeling sick. It gets better after 15 weeks!

bucket next to the bed. because I needed that.

When my Aunt asked me when the baby was due and I joked that I only had 5 more months of vomiting to go she was aghast. “You might feel better tomorrow!” she chided me. It gets better after 18 weeks! And I felt guilty for being so “negative”. I might feel better tomorrow, I reminded myself. It gets better after 22 weeks! And every day I attempted to face the day as though I didn’t want to vomit up every organ in my body. And every day I struggled and “gave in” and felt guilty for relying on anti-emetics and tried to ration them out and resolve to take less of them and to be stronger and more positive. It gets better after 28 weeks!

And after 28 weeks passed and I still vomited almost every day – and felt like I wanted to even on the days I didn’t – regardless of how many dry crackers or ginger flavoured *anything* I ate… People stopped telling me to look forward to it getting better.

And that… helped an enormous amount. When I stopped assuming that if I was positive enough and motivated enough and enough enough… when I gave in and assumed that I’d feel sick every day until the baby was born… I took my anti-emetics first thing after I woke up and scheduled them regularly throughout the day instead of “waiting to see if I was any better today/this afternoon/this evening”.

And I realised that I’d spent a lot of my pregnancy not only feeling nauseated – but feeling like that if I wasn’t somehow imagining it or faking it I was thinking about it too much and therefore making it worse. As though my morning (lol, all day. all night.) sickness was a monster who could be summoned by saying its name and could only be vanquished by pretending hard enough that it didn’t exist.

But. I wasn’t making myself sicker by acknowledging that I was sick. Preparing myself for feeling terrible and not trying to fight against how sick I was wasn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But it allowed me to feel a bit less terrible about myself and not attempt more than I could manage and allow myself the rest I needed (I wore a fitbit throughout my pregnancy. My record for lowest-steps achieved in a day was less than 600).

And I realised… that I’ve spent a lot of my life waiting for things to get better. Waiting for next week. Waiting for next year. For the clocks to change. For the weather to change. For the weekend. For the afternoon. And thinking that if I only pushed myself to believe hard enough that I wasn’t struggling… then I wouldn’t be.

But depression and anxiety and executive dysfunction aren’t monsters that can be summoned by name any more than nausea is.

put on a happy face and ‘act as if!’

The idea that if you go to bed determined enough you can wake up motivated and driven is toxic. As though because motivation and executive function are driven by chemicals in your brain you just need to adjust your mindset is as nonsensical as the idea that behaving as though you don’t need glasses will make you see more clearly. Or that walking on a broken leg will make it heal faster.

Being prepared for your struggles won’t make them bigger. It just makes you more prepared. Because your life isn’t going to magically become easy after the weekend or tomorrow morning or when the weather clears up or when the seasons change or in the new year. Some of those things might help!!

But right now is your life too. And pretending that things aren’t the way that they actually are doesn’t help.

So. If you want to and it feels okay to do so I want you to imagine that you won’t feel somehow more rested tomorrow than you have any other day recently. That you won’t somehow feel enthusiastic about doing the chores that you’re avoiding. That you won’t feel more organised or enthusiastic or driven than you did today or this week or this month.

What does that change? What expectations of yourself do you need to adjust and does that change anything about what you think you are capable of right now? Is there something you can do a bit of or half-ass so it’s not so much of a problem tomorrow?

STUFF – an introduction
Getting started with STUFF

Posts like this are only possible due to the generous support of my Patrons. They’re amazing and very good looking!! If you’re not one of them and you like what I do please help me by joining them and supporting STUFF up! your life on Patreon.

i make things

Is this self care?

Sometimes self care is allowing yourself space. Allowing yourself to rest and recharge and giving yourself permission to let go of some of your many expectations of yourself. 

Sometimes self care is pushing yourself to do something you don’t want to do because doing that thing will ultimately help you.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Is this self care? is an exploration of that difficulty. It can be used in the midst of self-doubt and anxiety – or in preparation for it. 

Although Is this self care is a short playthrough I hope you’ll find it fun and/or useful. I know that making it has helped me a lot so far!


The Which of STUFF

STUFF – an introduction
Getting started with STUFF

Okay so you’ve read about STUFF and you’re keen… you’ve read about getting started and know it’s app-neutral and you can do it on paper or digitally or on a whiteboard or skywrite it.

But what exactly do you put IN your STUFF list? Everything? Is it everything?

Nope. It’s definitely not everything. Please don’t put in everything!

I don’t know about you but I’m often pretty overwhelmed by my own list. Even scheduling something on a calendar makes me want to rebel against doing it. I used to think that if I could just find or develop the perfect system then I couldn’t forget about the important things…

But I could still ignore them. I can ignore anything. I’m really good at it!

So the important thing about your core STUFF list is that it’s not things you’re going to want to ignore. At least – not directly.

One of the most important items on my STUFF list is to look at my calendar. In my Treading Water gear it’s to look at and update my calendar for today and tomorrow. In my Usual gear it’s to look at and update my calendar for the next two weeks. Even if I know everything that’s on it. Even if I know it’s empty. I still look at it. And a lot of the time I was wrong about what was or wasn’t on it. And I often think of things that should have been on it but weren’t.

But the calendar items aren’t part of STUFF. Just the reminder to look at the calendar. So if I’m really overwhelmed by my calendar (or my general to-do list or housework list or anything else…) I can ignore that without ignoring STUFF as a whole. Of course, I try not to ignore my calendar because that leads to missing important things… But knowing that I will sometimes ignore my calendar at least that ignoring doesn’t ALSO lead to me ignoring everything else.

So your STUFF doesn’t track your mood (use a mood tracker!)

STUFF doesn’t keep track of your todos (use a to-do list!)

But add all of those other things to your STUFF list.

Other things on your list should be core habits or daily tasks. For me I have taking my medication, feeding the cats, making the bed, planning what’s for dinner tomorrow, engaging in a leisure activity and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Finally I have some daily goals on my list. To meat my move and activity goals on my apple watch. To meet my “karma” goal on To-doist. To check off a certain number of tasks under my housework and social categories on my to-do list.

So what’s on your STUFF list?

  • Prompts to check other lists or apps (calendars, trackers, lists)
  • Core habits
  • Regular daily tasks
  • Daily goals

What’s the difference between habits, tasks and goals? Ehhh. It doesn’t matter. I don’t think it’s important. But I hope this gives you an idea of the kinds of things that go on your STUFF list.

What’s NOT on your STUFF list?

  • Your calendar
  • Your general to-do list of once-off things
  • Your less frequent repeating tasks
  • Bigger or long-term goals
What goes on your stuff list?
YES - Prompts to check apps
YES - Core habits
YES -Regular Daily Tasks
YES - Daily Goals

NO - Calendar Events, No General ToDo, No bigger or long term goals

STUFF isn’t a task-management system. It’s not designed to do the grunt-work of scheduling or task-management. There are LOTS of apps that do those things pretty well. STUFF will be your “hub” which allows you to keep using ALL those other things at once instead of trying to cram everything into one app or system which you spend 12 hours in a row adding everything into and getting all the settings exactly right and then never open again.

adhd practical tips

Embracing inefficiency

One chore I hate – but not as much as I hate doing the dishes – is sorting laundry. It takes so long. And it’s so boring.

I used to try and sort as efficiently as possible. Because surely that would mean I would spend less time doing it. So I would sort laundry into all of the different piles and categories it needed to be in all at once.

This would lead to be frequently having a brain freeze and spending 2 or 3 seconds mentally trying to work out whether a sock was a shirt or pants before remembering I had a socks pile.

I’ve discovered that it’s actually faster – and even more fun – to sort in a way which seems terribly inefficient at first glance.

The idea is that I am never sorting into more than two categories at a time. I take one pile of laundry and split it into two piles.

Clothes or Not Clothes?

Kid Clothes or Adult Clothes?

My Clothes or Husband’s Clothes?

Hang in Wardrobe or put on the shelving unit?

Put on a shelf or in a basket?

And so on and so on. I tried making a flow chart to illustrate this but it quickly got really REALLY big because it keeps going until every pile contains just the one kind of thing that are all stored together.

One important thing is that I don’t fold or even turn things the right way around. It’s just sorting – either THIS or THAT. Some branches of the “tree” are much shorter than others.

Once everything is sorted then I turn each thing in each pile the right way around. Then I fold each pile.

This way I’m doing the same thing over and over a few times in a row rather than having to switch gears to fold a shirt and then fold a pair of pants.

And even though when I’m sorting I am handling the same items over and over and over again as I keep sorting and dividing these piles of clothes… it ends up being SO much quicker than if I tried to divide everything up all at once… because I don’t get those moments of brain freeze. And it’s not so intolerably tedious and boring that I just HAVE to do something else and leave it another month.

What’s your second-least favourite chore? Is there a way you can make it easier on your brain even if it seems more inefficient at first?