October 21, 2023

My spiky functioning affects how I handle recurring tasks such as housework. If I don’t space out those tasks, then several might become urgent on the same day – perhaps a day when I don’t have much capacity.

I can’t control the influx of random new tasks, but I can steady the stream of recurring tasks to prevent them from cascading. So I assign specific times to specific tasks, even if the timing is really more flexible than that.

Some are daily at a certain time, like making my bed.

Some are weekly on a certain day, like laundry.

Some are monthly on a certain weekend, like cleaning my bathroom.

Some are yearly in a certain month, like getting an oil change.

Some don’t happen when I plan, which is okay too. If I have to put off a task, at least I know there’ll be room for it another day, since I try not to make any given day too full.

And some are stretch goals – things I would ideally do on a regular basis, but can easily skip if needed.

It took a lot of iteration for me to figure out which tasks are truly necessary, and which time intervals are even possible. For many years, I tried to do too much, too often.

But now, I’ve finally figured out what works for me.

Routines make life more predictable, which is enough to explain why many autistics enjoy them. But I also love how routines help my executive functioning – and protect me from its spikes.

P.S. I currently use an open-source app called Tasks.org to keep track of recurring tasks. In the past, I used a spreadsheet.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.