Now or never

I have a now or never mentality when it comes to tasks. When the post comes I read it immediately and deal with whatever it is straightaway. Appointments I record straight into my diary, letters, emails, notifications I reply to straightaway. This isn’t because I’m proactive or ‘on the ball’ or even organised. I’m forgetful and easily distracted so managing to get these things done straightaway is an accomplishment by itself.

The reason I have a now or never mentality is because of demand avoidance. When I was just starting out living on my own I realised that it cost more energy and made me ill to push myself to do tasks when I wasn’t ready, so I let myself avoid tasks, preferring to wait until I had the energy and ability to do them. This was good for my health, but not so good for my life. There were many, many tasks that never got done. I ended up with piles of dirty dishes, bags of rubbish waiting to be taken out, a very dirty bathroom, floors that were rarely hoovered, dirty clothes piled up, bills unpaid and letters unopened. It was a mess, but I was mentally okay.

There were days I had a surge of energy and managed to do a mass clean/organise, but they were rare events which were soon forgotten under the recurring mess. I realised that waiting until I had the ability to do tasks meant these tasks were rarely done, mostly getting done when something put me in panic mode like an impending visit or a debt recovery threatening letter. It wasn’t a healthy or practical way to live.

At some point I started to realise that if I acted on something straightaway, before I’d even had time to think about it, it was easier to get it done than waiting until I was ready. I learnt to ignore how demands made me feel and just act, I learnt to push away all thoughts or focus on something else while just acting out the required task. Using this tactic made it easier to get started on washing dishes first thing in the morning, open and answer letters as soon as they arrive, answer emails as soon as I see them, tidy things away as soon as I notice them, etc.

Of course this doesn’t work for everything but is just one cog in the whole coping strategy wheel. Sometimes a task might crop up that I can’t sort right away so I have to wait until I’m ready or use another coping strategy to deal with it. The bathroom might still only be cleaned monthly but at least now I put empty toilet rolls into the bin as soon as they are used, I empty the bin as soon as it’s full. If I get a letter that requires things like evidence and that evidence isn’t to hand then it might take a while to get done, I may forget about it or not be able to sort if for days or weeks or even months. Sometimes I may get an email and get distracted meaning the email then gets avoided for ages. There are many times when a task that doesn’t get accomplished straightaway never gets accomplished at all, ever.

The now or never mentality means I manage more because I act before demand avoidance gets a chance to kick in, it’s a very small time frame so I have to be quick. There’s a chance if I don’t do it ‘now’ then it will never get done. I’ve noticed that the more I think about a demand or dwell on it then the harder it is to accomplish it. Acting on impulsive without thought takes practise but can be done. When used in conjunction with other coping strategies it means I’m able to get much more done than I would be able to do otherwise. It’s not foolproof, if I hesitate even for a moment it can prevent the strategy from working at all and the task is liable to be avoided. When this happens I have to remember to go easy on myself, this is a disability I am battling and we all make mistakes sometimes.

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2 thoughts on “Now or never

  1. Riko, your blog is currently included on our Actually Autistic Blogs List (anautismobserver.wordpress.com). Please click on the “How do you want your blog listed?” link at the top of that site to personalize your blog’s description.
    Thank you.
    Judy (An Autism Observer)

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