Why you need an ADHD-Friendly Re-Entry Plan and 3 Tips to Make Yours

Nov 7, 2022

Why you need an ADHD-Friendly Re-Entry Plan and 3 Tips to Make Yours

Re-Entry Plans defined: a set of steps or processes used to re-enter something after being away. These are often used in the justice system when an individual re-enters the community after being released from prison. However, more recently re-entry plans were used in schools and offices when there was a return to in-person meetings after the pandemic shut-downs.

With ADHD-wired brains, we often need a re-entry plan after a break in our schedule. Depending on how your ADHD shows up, a break in schedule could mean identifying the next step you will complete once returning from a bathroom break, lunch, a day off, etc.

A more detailed plan is often needed when we return from a vacation, summer or winter break, and even after a regular weekend! For children who are navigating shared custody arrangements/dual households, a re-entry plan for returning to the alternate home can support the transitions with more ease.

Tips to Creating a Re-Entry Plan:

Identify what you can do BEFORE you transition away (from work, home, school, etc.) to make it easier to re-enter when you return. I will highlight this with an example of what I try to do before I leave for a vacation:

      1. Block time on the calendar to check email/messages.
        1. The first day back at work, I love having an hour or so before any meetings, appointments, etc. to get caught up on what came in while I was away.
      2. Write a note to my Future Self. I take 3-5 minutes to literally write a note to “Future Patty” before I leave. On my note, I list specific actions I need to take when I arrive back at my desk, such as:
        1. Check email and note any actions on daily to-do list;
        2. Identify priorities for the day;
        3. Record podcast on “Cruising with ADHD,” etc.
      1. Set up bedroom to make it easier to unpack when you get home. One thing I know about myself is if my bed isn’t made, it can easily derail my plan to unpack as soon as I get home. A nice clear surface to unpack on is key for me to start unpacking. With that in mind, I try to follow these 3 steps before I leave for vacation:
        1. Make my bed with clean sheets (I LOVE coming home from a trip to find my bed made with clean sheets!)
        2. Put 2 empty laundry baskets on top of bed (to make it easy to start sorting the dirty laundry when I’m unpacking)
        3. IF I am really on my game, I love to pre-order groceries or a couple of meals to be delivered the morning after I return.
      2. Make an action list for when I get home (and leave it where I can’t miss seeing it!):
        1. Unpack: sort dirty clothes into laundry baskets on bed.
        2. Put away toiletries.
        3. Put away luggage.
        4. Throw in 1 load of laundry.
        5. Done! Relax and enjoy being home!
    3. RE-ENTRY PLAN (when back home):
        1. Follow Action List from #2
        2. Prioritize re-connecting to the “Big 3” foundational habits:
          1. Sleep- re-set alarm clock
          2. Exercise- Set out gym clothes before going to bed
          3. Diet- Buy sparkly breakfast food (to make it easier to get out of bed in the morning!)

Re-Entry Plan Prompts to Consider for YOUR Re-Entry Plan:

When writing your Re-Entry plan, I am sharing some prompts below that can help to pin down what would be most helpful for your “future self.”

  • “Once home I plan to…”
    • Example: unpack, take a nap, etc.
  • “I will do these things to reconnect to my morning routine…”
    • Example: layout workout clothes the night before, etc.
  • “To ease back into my work schedule, I will…”
    • Capture where I am leaving off and what the next steps are in a “Note to My Future Self”
    • Do a 5 minute calendar check the day before I return to work (to settle my brain and confirm I don’t have an 8 am meeting!)
    • Read my “Future Self” note
  • “Before leaving for vacation (the weekend, etc.), I will…”
    • Block time on my calendar to catch up on emails/messages, etc.
    • Order meal delivery
    • Make bed with clean sheets
  • “Before visiting with family for the holidays, I will…”
    • Identify my plan to manage sensory overload/overwhelm (ie, go fo a walk, etc.)
    • Identify triggers and supportive responses (ex: aunt comments on clutter- I say, “Clutter isn’t a priority for me right now” or ask, “I know, I am at a loss for how to organize it. What tips do you have that might help?”

ADHD-Friendly Podcast

Finally, to hear more about this topic, I did a podcast episode focused on re-entry plans. You can find it at my YouTube Channel: ADHD Friendly Podcast (Episode #55: Why you need a Re-Entry Plan and Medicine Cabinet Check-Up):

Written by Patty Blinderman

To create content focused on leveling the playing field for individuals impacted by ADHD. Patty shares research as well as tried-and-true practices and her own experiences in the hopes that it makes your life a bit more ADHD-friendly!

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