Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Adults with ADHD: The One Thing that Makes the Biggest Difference.

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What’s the one thing I can work on that will make the biggest difference?

I’ve been asked that question in one way or another more times than any other and my answer is always the same:


I’m not saying it is easy, because it is not. But if you were to ask me what is the most important aspect needed of people today I’d say it is reliability.

If everything else were equal being reliable is the deal maker.

We need to be reliable in our jobs. Meaning we’ll do the job we were hired to do and show up every day on time. If we make appointments we keep them. If we need to call someone at 5pm, then we call at 5pm.

Reliability is just as important in relationships. Good looks fade with age, being witty only gets you so far and when it comes down to it, partners want reliability.

You want someone you can count on.

So do others. If you say you’re going to pick the kids up after school, you do it. If it is you’re turn to do the dishes, you do it.

However, the reality for people with ADHD is that being reliable is more often than not, one of our weaknesses.

We lose relationships because we thought we didn’t love enough or were not understood. Friends stop calling because we thought they didn’t like us anymore.

And yet, the bottom line all too often is that when we were being depended on we didn’t show up, we didn’t call, we didn’t do what we were asked and agreed to. The kids had to take a taxi, the client waited by the phone and finally used it to call someone else, someone more reliable (not necessarily better, but who can be counted on)… the list goes on.

So what’s the first step to become reliable?

My answer is to understand what reliability means and how it affects you when you are and when you are not.

If you want to improve your quality of life then make a concerted effort on one thing, becoming reliable – someone that can be counted on.

I’m going to write a series of posts about how to become more reliable and in each there will be an example of how to do it.

Today’s example is about a friend of mine who frequently showed up to work over an hour late, sometimes two or three hours late and he was fired. He deserved it. He didn’t dispute that.

Deep down he wanted to show up on time. He even had coffee ready in a thermos next to his bed and two alarm clocks, but those efforts failed. He wasn’t late on purpose. He mentally beat himself up about it and considered himself worthless because he wasn’t (you guessed it) reliable.

Now, in his latest job he has become reliable.

He shows up on time.

It turns out the solution wasn’t where he thought it was. He always thought he needed help ‘waking’ up in the morning, but that wasn’t the problem.

With help he found out that he usually needs about seven hours, eight at most, to wake up naturally in the morning. So he figured out that if he went to bed earlier with plenty of time to wake up naturally he didn’t need a thermos of coffee on his nightstand or two alarm clocks.

The answer wasn’t in his morning routine. The solution was in his nightly routine and making changes in his lifestyle so he would go to bed on time.

Even with ADHD we can find ways to become reliable; however, sometimes we look in the wrong place for the solution and give up.

Have you had a hard time waking up in the morning and getting to work on time? Are you going to bed early enough? You can only sleep so long before you wake up naturally. Maybe if you know how long you need to sleep and when you naturally wake up, you can do like my friend and change your nightly routine.

That’s today’s example. Maybe it will help. I’ll be posting more so stay tuned. I truly believe you can become more reliable and it is my goal to help you find ways to do that.

There’s not always an easy answer, but every now and then we find an overlooked solution because we’ve been looking in the wrong place.

Now I gotta go. A friend asked me to read her ADHD pamphlet, give her feedback and I am committed to doing that. I’m late, but I am going to do it. See, I’ve got to work on being more reliable, too.  

How can you become more reliable? Share in the comments.


Check out my lastest post on Positive Writer: The Only Way You Will Ever Create Something Wonderful

Ratan March 3, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Dear Bryan,

I think I can become more reliable by making a conscious Attempt to keeping my commitments to the best extent possible. The old adage holds good “better late than never” however make an attempt to keep the instances of being late fewer..

Shaneybo March 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Nice one, Bryan!

Reliability is one of my biggest problems here :-(

doug puryear March 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm

great series of posts. i think you start off right, too. We cannot become more reliable by trying harder, and in a sense we can’t really become “more reliable” – but we can come up with strategies about how to get to work on time, how to finish a project by the deadline, how to keep appointments, etc.
Lots of separate problems, lots of different strategies. Bottom line result, “more reliable”.
i’m looking forward to the posts to come.
best wishes

Glen Hogard March 4, 2013 at 5:53 am

Bryan, the answer often lies in not working on the level of the problem to solve it. You can’t push darkness out of the room. But you can add a single match and the darkness vanishes. This is Maharisi’s principle of the “second element.” By introducing something outside of the problem, in this case improving the morning routine, by changing focus to working on the level of the nightly routine, the problem existing on the level of the morning disappeared. Sometimes the answers cannot be found by even greater “trying” on the level of the problem. That’s why someone outside of a person be it a friend, a peer coach, an ADHD coach, or some sort of counselor, is often able to see an answer the person obsessed with the problem can’t see. I have a standard saying for this lack of self-awareness: “No one knows who first discovered water, but you can bet it wasn’t a fish!” Glen Hogard dot com

Eduardo Forero March 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm

This one is really good. I have this issue and it is my core problem.. Reliability… And I have tried many many ideas.. the issue is I cant get them to stick. Regarding sleep, I try this every other week, and I start good enough. but then, something happens.. Or I have to do extra work, or there is this book I cant stop reading, or even.. I didn’t realize it was so late.

By the way.. there is no ADHD coaches in my country. Even there are no truly Adult oriented specialists (Medical I mean). To get any medicine I had to teach some ( I am a Psychologist), even get them the papers and so on.
Any ideas?

Alan Brown March 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm

What a great topic. I think one finds, as one gets focused on reliability, that it becomes addictive in a way. When it’s top-of-mind on a regular basis, it become a kind of game at first, then a standard/ideal, then a principle, and finally, a habit — such that UNreliability becomes the exception, and a glaring one at that. Thanks for the insights, Bryan, as always…AB

Anastacia Maness March 29, 2013 at 6:02 am

Let’s see. I want to be more reliable at getting places on time. I have some classes I’m teaching in our local homeschool group and I want to be there early to each class this session. (I’ve gotten to be known for my constant tardiness.)

And I want to be more reliable with giving reviews. So I’m going to go in there right now and review your book on Amazon.

Bryan Hutchinson March 29, 2013 at 6:07 am

Actually, Anastacia, that’s the perfect way to start! Acknowledgement, then a self-pledge to do better. However, allow me to give you this little warning: when late or when you slip, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, again, acknowledge it and commit to doing better with the knowledge that you will slip a little again, but you will get better and better. The first key is awareness and acknowledgement. Most of us already know, but we don’t always acknowledge.

Anastacia Maness March 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Being a part of this group is really helping me out.
I have beat myself up so much for constantly messing up. Then when I do really well, I’m proud of myself but there is this little twinge of fear that it won’t last.
I had that problem as a child too. Worrying about what I was going to mess up on next.
Thanks so much for the encouragement! This is the first place I’ve ever felt I could express these things where everyone understands.

Bryan Hutchinson March 31, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Indeed, we do understand and relate, Anastacia. You are not alone. Unfortunately, the ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ syndrome never really goes away, but it does get better. It’s great to have you with us.

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