2022 Goals: ADHD Systems & Routines

I know that this post about my 2022 goals is a half year late….but who’s really counting?

To tell you the truth, I was BURNT OUT at the beginning of this year. I was not in a good place to complete any goals. Instead, I focused on building habits for wellness.

Daily movement, meditation and rest. Taking more time to live in the present moment. That was good enough for me. After spending time to take care of my well-being, I finally feel like I have the energy to get things done.

My ADHD diagnosis made me realize I need to spend time building new systems & routines to help manage my life. Two areas where I struggle is with my diet and organization. Here’s how I’m tackling these two areas in 2022.

Bill Gates likes to remind us:

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year & underestimate what they can do in ten years.

Last year, I declared 2021 as my Year of Personal Growth. I wanted to focus on two areas of my life where I struggle the most: my eating/fitness and messy space. At the beginning of 2021, I knew I was dyslexic, but I was not diagnosed with ADHD until a few months after.

Before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I thought that I would be able to “figure things out” within a year. In retrospect, I was being a bit optimistic. Silly me to think one year would help untangle 35 years of programming that I had in these critical areas of my life. 🙃

So, 2022 is more of the same of 2021, but with new perspective.

How ADHD gets in the way

As I do more research, I see how ADHD impacts these 2 areas of my life. People often ask me what I got out of my ADHD diagnosis. The most impactful thing is that I’m able to recognize my own ADHD bullshit as it happens. These days, I’m able to slow down my brain to be more introspective about the root problem. My ADHD brain moves at a million miles a minute, so taking the time to slow down is critical.

As I understand more about ADHD & Dyslexia, I’m able to figure out new solutions that work for me. My struggles come from issues with executive function and dopamine management. It’s been a lightbulb moment to look at my eating habits and clutter issues from an ADHD & Dyslexia lens.

I also feel more confident about WHY I have to do things a certain way. I’m unapologetic about how my brain works. If I want to take extra time to set up a process that works for me, I’m not doing it “wrong”. Neurotypicals can tell me that I’m being “extra”. These types of comments got into my head in the past. I always felt like I was over-doing it. See: The Self-Doubt Spiral Explained.

Turns out, I need to take a LOT of extra steps to get these types of basic activities done. Now, I care a lot less about what others have to say. I know that my brain works differently and I’m here for it! 👏🏻

Here’s my current understanding of these issues:

ADHD & Nutrition

I’ve dealt with issues with my weight all my life and it’s definitely because I love to eat. (Is it not clear from this blog? 😉). There’s also the toxicity of diet culture, and people placing their own insecurities on me. But that’s a different rant, for a different day.

Here are some obstacles specific to ADHD that’s getting in my way of eating healthier:

✨ Using food as stimulation & dopamine

People with ADHD often use food as a source of stimulation. No one knows exactly what causes a person to have ADHD. Researchers have noted that ADHDers have lower levels of dopamine than those without.

I notice that I’m often looking to food as a source of stimulation. The more dopamine spikes I get from that, the more I want and I can’t stop. Bored? Get a snack. I’m sleepy? Get a snack.

I don’t have a good understanding of my hunger cues, so I’m tuning into that a lot more. These days, I stop myself when I reach for snacks and ask: are you hungry, or are you looking for stimulation? If you’re hungry, would you eat an apple?

(The answer is USUALLY no 🙅🏻‍♀️ lol. Hot cheetos is always a yes.).

🤔 Forgetting that I like healthy foods

ADHDers have issues with working memory. I’ve joked in the past that I “forget” what it feels like to eat like a healthy person. It’s partly why I created my fitshow.shelly IG account last year. I needed the account as a reminder of healthy foods that I like to eat.

My mom is an excellent chef (and I suspect she is a neurodivergent, got it from my mama!). She’s told me she struggles with issues of remembering what to cook if we have to pre-plan. We both just wing it, cooking whatever’s in the fridge that inspires us at the moment.

So, this forgetting problem is two-fold:

  1. forgetting that I like eating healthy foods
  2. forgetting what healthy foods I like to eat

After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is cook, so J and I default to ordering takeout. My tired brain always wants the unhealthy delicious foods because ✨dopamine✨.

ADHD & Clutter

I am an aesthetic person stuck in a messy person’s body. Tidying is my worse nightmare. I have issues with task initiation. I also like to leave out visual cues and piles for tasks I need to complete. Having a physical reminder is like a physical to-do list. Otherwise out of sight out of mind. 👋🏻

I want SOOOO bad to live in a clean house but no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to make it work. As a kid, my mom always told me to clean my room. Except here’s the thing… she NEVER showed me how. (See: my mom’s also neurodivergent lol). I can clean a bathroom to be sparkling clean. But organizing? Forget about it.

Here’s some reasons why:

🗺 Lacking a big picture game plan

Cleaning the house requires a LOT of executive function. The common tip about keeping things organized is “Give everything a place.” But what if you don’t have a place for the junk you have in your home? You have to make a lot of micro-decisions to find a place for everything. It requires a lot of shifting things around here and there before you’re able to sort it out.

The lie that I’ve always told myself is that once I have enough space, I will be able to fit all my stuff in it. Now that I have a big house, I know it’s a complete lie. 😂 The only thing that I can keep reasonably clean is my kitchen. This is because I know exactly where everything goes. I made an entire floor plan when I did my kitchen renovation, so everything has a place.

Some people find stimulation in cleaning their home, that is not true for me. I find cleaning boring AF, so I am trying to learn how to keep myself entertained during the process. I’ve learned that listening to podcasts or audiobooks allows me to multi-task. It keeps me mentally stimulated enough to keep cleaning and not get distracted as easily.

📝 Distracted easily without a plan

I get distracted VERY easily when I’m doing a cleaning sprint. I’m like a pinball bouncing around without any boundaries when I’m cleaning. I start doing a task, then I’ll come across something. The new thing distracts me and I forget what I was doing. I spend a LOT of time and energy doing a lot of nothing, and then I get tired so I stop.

These days, I’ve learned that I need to sit down for at least 5 minutes to make a list of exactly what I plan to do. I only allow myself to do what’s on the list. I also set time timers to keep me focused for 25 minute sprints. This has helped a LOT.

My 2022 Goals: ADHD Systems & Routines

In a Crawl, Walk, Run framework, I’m happy to say that I’m in the Walk phase of dealing with my Adult ADHD & Dyslexia. Now I know that I need some serious systems and routines in place to do what neurotypicals find “easy”.

I never developed these habits when I was younger. This year, I’m going to have to spend extra time teaching myself new ways to manage basic adult tasks.

In the past, I thought that I enjoyed the chaos. “It keeps things fun and spontaneous!” But what got me here, won’t get me there. Living in chaos was fun when I had time. These days, this chaos is giving me major burnout vibes. I have bigger goals that I want to achieve, and this is not a sustainable way to live.

P0 Goals, the main priorities

❤️ Repair my relationship with food & exercise

In 2021, I wrote that my #1 goal was to hit my fitness & weight goal.

Upon reflection, what I truly want is to live a more balanced and fit life. My weight was always an arbitrary number that doesn’t feel like a goal that motivates me. Instead, I want to eat foods that fuel me and not make me feel sluggish. I also want to eat delicious foods that I enjoy with moderation and without guilt. I want to be able to make it through workouts, long walks and feel strong and energized.

Instead of focusing on an output goal (e.g. my weight), this year I’m focusing on input goals (e.g. things I can actually control).


  • Create a catalog of 30 go-to whole food meals that I enjoy – This catalog of recipes will follow my cleanse guide (Whole30 and Clean Cleanse, cutting out gluten, dairy, and sugar). I’m going to work on creating more go-to meals for various types of scenarios (e.g. when you only have 15 mins to cook, pantry quick meals, takeout that I actually enjoy that’s also healthy).
  • Complete Daily Peloton Workout and 10k minutes by end of year – I still want to incorporate daily movement into my routine. I’m currently at 5,268 mins. Which means I need ~27 minutes of exercise per day to reach this goal by end of 2022.

🧺 Deal with my messiness & clutter

Currently the mess in my house is giving me so much anxiety. I know “what” to do, but I’m struggling with the “how”. I often jump right into execution mode without having a plan with clear goals.

Here’s what I need, breaking it down into clear steps:

  1. Physically draw out a plan (so I know exactly where I want to put things when I feel motivated)
  2. Make decisions ahead of time on how I’ll handle certain items, where to put things (less time using brain for when I clean)
  3. Wait until things get so messy that I can’t handle it anymore
  4. Use my annoyed feeling to hyperfocus to clean as much as possible for as long as I can
  5. If I don’t finish, go back to step 3… 😅


The two most popular home organization styles that’s out right now is Marie Kondo and The Home Edit. Both have shows on Netflix showing people how to organize their homes. Marie Kondo shows you how to get rid of stuff. The Home Edit shows you how to put things away in an aesthetic way.

However, neither of these shows or organizing queens teach you HOW to figure out that plan. If you have low executive function, this is harder than you think. This year, I’m really going to break down those steps and focus on getting it done.

Quick rant: I bought Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD and it was offensive. It’s written by a mom to a boy with ADHD, and it feels like she’s talking down to me. She says you have to choose between efficiency and beauty. Sure, maybe she had to lower her own standards, but it taught me no tangible skills. ADHDers deserve efficiency AND beauty. Hard pass.

P1 Goals, let’s start working on this

🧠 Build an external second brain

In 2020, I decided to create my own planner because I thought it would keep me more organized. Now I know that it’s not really about having a planner, but having a plan. Different parts of my life requires different systems to keep me organized.

How I plan my work at Google will be different than what I do for my home. Making content is a completely different set of tasks. All this requires different ways to keep me organized. However, given my issues with my working memory, I know that I can’t rely on just my brain to keep all of this information organized. I need to build out a very comprehensive external second brain.

The two books that’s helped:

Order from Chaos says that the only way to do this is to test different systems. Getting Things Done says it can take executives 2-3 years to fully capture their life and put it into a system.

So, what I’m saying is that I know that this goal will not be done in the next 6 months. However, I’ve built workflows at work. I’ve trained teams on maintaining systems to run million dollar businesses. So, I feel confident that I’ll eventually figure this out. 🤓 Watch this space.

💻 Organize my digital space & backlog of content

Slightly related to my 2nd brain goal, I have a nagging to-do list in my brain that’s held over the years. It’s related to all the pictures & videos of food that I have. I recently learned that most of my memories are tied to photographs (due to my aphantasia, but that’s a story for a different day). If I don’t spend the extra time in creating something from those pictures, it’s almost like it didn’t happen.

I need to make time to reflect on experiences as much as I spend time chasing after new ones. These are past goals that I’m resurfacing for this reason:

  • Make a list of the backlog of content that I want to post about
  • Make photo books for our travels
  • Make wedding album
  • Create templates for key blog post formats: Foodie Travel Guides, Trip Itineraries, & Top Restaurant Reviews
  • Build my YouTube channel & post 20 short-form and 3 long-form videos
  • Back up my Instagram Posts to my blog
  • Define a file structure for how I want to organize my videos, pictures and written posts moving forward

Monthly Challenge and Goals

Last year, I used Monthly Challenges to create focus areas every month to force myself to work on one goal at a time. I learned that these daily habits types of challenges are easiest for the food or workout related goals. The cleaning/decluttering related ones didn’t work because it required a lot more planning.

With only 6 months left in the year for these Monthly Challenges, I’ll try this instead:

Monthly Food/Workout Challenges

  • July is a free for all, I’m travelling 🙂
  • No ordering takeout + clean out the freezer & pantry challenge
  • Tracking calories + documenting my meals
  • 45 mins workout daily on Peloton (yoga/stretching/meditation counts)
  • Vegetarian month
  • Clean Cleanse or Whole 30 – 21 days

Home Decluttering Deadlines

  • July: Draw up the plan for each room
  • Aug: Throw things out, donate, give away on FB Buy Nothing Group
  • Sept: Paint garage, finish the final details on remodel
  • Oct: Order shelving from Ikea for Mudroom + Home Office
  • Nov: Make storage in pantry aesthetic, hang up art/hooks/other misc. items
  • Dec: Put random clutter away and take final pics for Mudroom, Pantry + Home Office

Whew! That was a lot. Thanks for being here and keeping me accountable!

Leave a Comment