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Many-Stack Research Software Engineer
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Owain's Blog - 12 Days of ADHD 11: Y.A.G.N.I

12 Days of ADHD 11: Y.A.G.N.I
Wednesday 27th October, 2021

October is ADHD Awareness Month. I've decided that I'm going to use that as a writing prompt, and to set myself a challenge. For the next twelve days, I'm going to write something about my experiences learning about ADHD as a very recently diagnosed adult.

Today is a shorter one, because I have had / am still having an incredibly busy day. Today was one of those days where, looking back at it, I was incredibly productive - I'll probably be in recovery-mode by the weekend. Like my dad says, "burning the candle at both ends!"

Today's post is about YAGNI.

Y. A. G. N. I

You Aren't Going to Need It!

Earlier, I came back from a first aid unit meeting with some more stuff. We've been clearing out the storage cupboards this evening, and with Halloween drawing near, I gleefully snapped up the old boxes of Casualty Make-up. Fake blood and bruise wheels galore!

But, I mean... I'm fully aware I'll use this stuff once this weekend. Then it will all be stacked in the corner of my flat with all the other Stuff which I accrue over time, revisited only when I am moving out. Without intervention, I will probably end up taking it with me then too.

I'm trying to reduce the amount of clutter in my life, though - I have a tendency to keep stuff, not hoarding for sentimental reasons - but out of sheer inability to comprehend how or when to get rid of it. I know full well where, and when is easily now, but always feels like infinity future.

In work, in a team of software developers, we do try to stick to the principle of You aren't gonna need it as much as we can - What's the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) we can get done in 2 weeks?

It's probably a pretty good thing to apply to my own life too - Always implement things when you actually need them, never when you just foresee that you need them.

This was an ill-purchased mini tabletop dishwasher that only washes one meals' worth of stuff at a time. It's quicker and more efficient to just wash stuff by hand, it takes more cognitive effort trying to tetris things into this.

I don't think I have the right lifestyle right now to be storing loads of stuff for Future Me. I'm still quite restless, and want to up sticks and move, go travel for a bit. One day, I'll want to be a homeowner, and maybe then I'll feel justified about keeping the remnants of abandoned hobbies. But, for now...

Behold, Shame Corner! Where electronic musical instruments, exercise equipment, deteriorating camping gear, outdated computer equipment and abandoned crafts projects come to die. (And my Masters' Thesis in the top right, having seen better days in the sky...)

I think there's something about being more minimalist that soothes an ADHD mind. I have a tendency to clutter, stuff gets stuffed into corners haphazardly rather than neatly arranged. Anything out of sight, is out of mind.

Each of these is almost-but-not-quite empty, and I keep forgetting to use the last of each before buying more, and thus the mountain of year-old grooming products grows exponentially.

Part of the reason why I keep everything is a low-level guilt at the idea of just chucking it; everything has a use. I'd rather see it used, repurposed or recycled, retaining some of its inherent value, rather than go to landfill. And maybe one day I'll have a use for that circuit board from a broken remote controlled car!

Because OF COURSE a bubble wand, a toy bow and arrow, and a 🤦 tinder sun-visor 🤦 need to remain precariously balanced on top of my bookshelf for eternity. Net Worth: Probably $$ Millions $$, I'll bet.

But again, there are places I can take this stuff for somebody else to make use of now, and I know this. But on all the free weekends I have, my Goblin Brain does not want to sort through all my stuff in a sensible fashion, determining what is junk, what can be sold, what can be recycled, what can be donated, what can be handed down... It's immediately overwhelming and so I just decide I'm going to deal with it later. The ADHD brain has an annoying habit of thinking about too many things in parallel and we get stuck in choice paralysis.

WHYYYY am I stockpiling empty bottles of interesting liqueurs and WINE CORKS!?

I actually did start to sort through my stuff last year, during the lockdowns. Not gonna lie, each time was mentally exhausting. But it was at least rewarding afterwards. I donated a whole bunch of old but still perfectly functional electronics to Jamie's Computers in Southampton. I took weird bits of scrap metal to the recycling centre. Upgraded my PC, but gave the old one to my dad. Donated like three big sacks of wearable but old and outgrown clothes.

And in the midst of that, I think I slowed down on acquiring new Stuff, as YAGNI started ringing in my ears. Now when I see Cool Junk I could Totally Use For A Hobby Project, I think... "will I be using this in a year?" and the answer is emphatically NO.

Here's the kind of places I picture myself in the Abstract Future:

All of this scenery... Requires minimal possessions. All the clutter I have accrued in my life-time, adds to my own "mental clutter". I often have the desire to just... Reboot everything. Dispose of most of my worldly, material goods, and just start from scratch.

But reality is that you have to keep ahold of some stuff, and you will keep hold of other things, because sentimentality is important. What I want to get better at is thinking more carefully before obtaining new Stuff, and making more concrete decisions as to when I should get rid of things.

With all the crap I've acquired, it's a little embarrassing to admit, but in order to bootstrap de-cluttering to the point I want to be de-cluttered, I think I need external help. One of those occasions where I feel like I'm really sucking at being An Adult. More brains for sorting through it all, because by myself it is just way too much to fit in my brain. I'm lucky to have a couple of mates who are willing to give me a hand with it ❤️ I just need to get around asking for their help - another thing that is Infinity Future in my mind.

I've started to catch myself now* when I feel impulse-purchases, or I'm eyeing up freecycle things, and I'm starting to ask:

I think I want to start working out what my essential items are, and finding new ways to break The Great De-Clutter into more digestible chunks.

And the grand question I'm beginning to ask as I get a bit older, is - Am I Going To Need It? What is the Minimum Viable Product of my life in order to sustain happiness?

*(well, not now now, having brought two toolboxes full of fake blood home with me)


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