One thing Dr. Gabor Mate’s book “Scattered” taught me, about the to-do-list annoyance, is a bit different from the rest of the take in this thread. Sure, because I have ADHD, I get annoyed at irritations like that and I lack some degree of self-control about expressing my annoyance. That much is generally true, I don’t disagree. But there’s another factor.
If you’re typical of most ADHDers, you’ve had a childhood in which you were raised under often inattentive or harassed parenting. Mom and/or dad were either genetically ALSO ADHDers (stands to reason that you inherited it from SOMEONE, no?) or were engaged in the types of behaviors which would, eventually, lead to your own ADHD (and if you didn’t inherit it genetically, well, you got it the other way instead, right?). Their actions were, as Mate explains, rule-giving designed NOT to help you feel secure and learn your place in the world. Rather, they were rule-giving designed (probably unbeknownst to your parents; don’t blame, just describe and understand) to exert a feeling of control in situations in which they did not feel in control. They made demands, that you jump to doing a chore, NOT because they needed the chores done. Rather, they demanded that the chore get done, because they felt like they couldn’t control the world, and felt a sense of security whenever they noticed a frayed edge and then made a command that the edge be cleaned up. Generally, then, you learned, that the commands of task-givers were not tasks which would cause benefit to the household or the group if the tasks were performed. Rather, they were, you learned, make-work tasks, tasks which did not IN THEMSELVES need to be done, but which created for the task-GIVER a greater sense of power and therefore security, a sense that because they’d made someone else jump at the needed action, therefore the uncontrollable and overwhelming world out there felt a little bit less uncontrolled and little less overwhelming.
Once I got my head wrapped around this understanding, I really noticed it operating in my life and my house. The next “please do this now!” thing shows up, I get annoyed, I wonder why my time and planning are not better respected by the people around me. Why am I required to jump immediately, why must I do a job that doesn’t matter, why must it be done the opposite way we always did it before (never use a dishrag if you can use a paper towel! later … never use a paper towel if you can use a dishrag! … later … never use … etc.). The changes and rules and demands are being made, NOT, because the change needs to be done (the dishrags AND the paper towels are in plentiful supply, geez!). Rather, the demands are made, so that the demand-MAKER can feel that he or she has gotten someone, ANYONE, to JUMP, and can feel that this big ol’ cluttered distracting overwhelming world is not going to EAT THEM UP RIGHT NOW. And I realize, as I see it go by, “Oh, I’m annoyed because I know the task doesn’t need to be done, and because I feel that I’m being ordered around for the sake of being under-thumbed and humiliated and pushed around, not for the sake of having an orderly house.” And I can sort it out better, now that I know what it is. I might ask, nicely, in a calm tone of voice, “Well, does it really matter? What’s the reasoning behind picking dishrags instead of paper towels? Because you see, I was thinking the other way around, that paper towels would be better because …”. I might just do it anyway, realizing it’s not worth all the emotional energy I had been expending on it. (Who cares. OK, paper towels, dishrags, I don’t give a hoot, won’t even try to bother with learning the reasoning behind it, since, duh, it’s going to be different next time anyway. It’s no big whoop.) I might confront if necessary – “You’re telling me to use this one, rather than that one, for the wrong reasons. You’re telling me to do so, not because it matters which I use, but because you need to make me do something which I otherwise wouldn’t do without your intercession and command-giving.” I have a handle on it, better, and can therefore defuse my own annoyance better, and then choose a sensible way to interact with the other people involved. Of course, I might not choose so sensibly, but might explode in annoyance at the very fact of my understanding. “Hey, I figured you out! And it’s STUPID and RUDE for you to do me that way!” Not the best choice … but then, at least I got one step in the right direction.
This is a rather short version of Mate’s entire thesis. But it’s a central point to his entire book, and I probably didn’t do it justice. I strongly recommend Gabor Mate’s “Scattered” (in earlier or more recent editions) to get a handle on this childhood hurt that we all probably experienced in some manner or other. Don’t blame your parents, they did their best! But do understand and describe, so you can move forward from the hurt.