Tag Archives: ADHD brain

Plan to Join the ADHD Tribe

I’m just back from the 2017 Annual International Conference on ADHD, held in Atlanta. It was an extraordinary experience for me. The conference was attended by people with ADHD, parents of ADHD children, many of whom also have ADHD, and therapists, coaches and psychologists who work with people who have ADHD, many of whom also have ADHD.

Even though I don’t have ADHD, I felt like a legitimate member of the “tribe” as conference attendees call themselves. Most of my coaching and organizing clients have ADHD, as does my husband. I understand it both at a personal and professional level. It was incredible to participate with so many people who are committed to learn as much as they can about ADHD and make a difference by embracing, normalizing and educating others about ADHD.

I came away with a deeper knowing of the daily struggle of ADHD — to be on time, to have their act together, to stay organized, to find what they need when they need it, to start and complete tasks, to hold themselves accountable, etc. What was so remarkable was that many of the speakers who have ADHD spoke candidly about their struggle instead of hiding it under a mask of pseudo-confidence. It was safe to let others know you have ADHD!

Speakers showed up in the truth of their on-going struggle to manage their lives and reach their goals. AND, they made significant contributions to our learning at the conference. In spite of the challenges of their ADHD, they have kept on keeping on in their lives because they were passionate about helping others understand ADHD and how to manage it. Having ADHD didn’t stop them from taking huge steps.

If you have ADHD and struggle because you feel different from others, mark your calendars for the 2018 Annual International Conference on ADHD, November 8-11, 2018. There you will find your tribe. It is so therapeutic to know you are not alone. In fact you belong to a group of highly creative, compassionate, and talented people.

The conference will be held in St. Louis next year. Registration this year was only $300 for 2.5 days of outstanding programing plus an incredible talent show. The conference experience will take you further faster in making peace with your ADHD and creating a life that fits your ADHD brain. I will be there. I hope to see you there too!

ADHD Clutter Clearing: Daily Habits to Prevent Clutter

Over and over people with ADHD have told me that when they get home from work they can’t make themselves do anything that requires brain power. I suspect that they “blow all their brain” at work trying to stay focused and be consistently productive — which can be VERY difficult for the ADHD brain that naturally bounces, seeking stimulation in things that are new, interesting or fun.

Job security and financial survival motivate people with ADHD to manage their ADHD DSCN0157symptoms at work. But, it takes all their brain power to do that, to work outside of what is the norm of the ADHD brain. With depleted brain power for decision-making and completing tasks, they arrive at home, drop their stuff and plop on the sofa or head for the bed. Over time the dropped stuff and incoming mail accumulate.

Having a blown brain at the end of a work day is very real for people with ADHD. So, thinking they can get a lot of work done once they get home is just a pipe dream. That takes brain power they don’t have. However, a tired brain can do habitual tasks. With practice daily maintenance behaviors can become habits that require little brain power.

Following are the 4 most important tasks that if done every evening can become habits and can prevent the accumulation of clutter:

  1. Hang up your coat — 1 minute
  2. Unpack shopping and other bags that come into the house with you — 5-10 minutes
  3. Sort mail to get rid of junk mail — 2-5 minutes
  4. Clean up after dinner — 15 minutes
  5. Hang up your clothes — 2 minutes

Those tasks will take at most just over 30 minutes to complete. They are tasks that require little brain power. Yes, they are not the most interesting or stimulating tasks, but enduring 30 minutes of boredom can prevent hours of clutter clearing in the future.

Put on some music. Fix yourself a beverage you love and invest 30 minutes in clutter prevention. Do those things to stay in control of your stuff and enjoy more peace at home. 

ADHD Action Strategy: Task Switching

People with ADHD have difficulty engaging in action and sustaining action to a point of completion. With awareness that ADHD directly affects their ability to be productive, they can learn strategies that work well with their special brains. I love sharing the strategies that they discover on their journey to manage their ADHD.

I recently received an email from a client with inattentive ADHD and autism who was very excited to have made good progress clearing clutter. This client has typical ADHD challenges with sustaining focus and completing tasks. In that email he shared the “Task Switching” strategy with me, a strategy that has helped him keep going despite his ADHD challenges. He gave me permission to share his description of the strategy.

“I’ve mostly discovered task switching when I’ve been unable to just step away from work entirely.  When I was on deadline for comics, twice each week, for 5 years, for the VCU student newspaper, I learned to switch from drawing with a pencil to inking the words, to inking the lines, to shading, to bordering, and back around, when possible.

On my research assistant job. . . , I would switch from researching one state to researching another, or researching on another project in progress, or (with kind permission and encouragement from my Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services job coach) about 5 minutes with a game.

At home, I can switch from walking around to sitting, from papers to dishes, from one room to another, or from clutter to a computer game.”

About a recent success he wrote. . . “I helped myself along by listening to a comedy podcast, then watching some extra features for “Doctor Who” Season 8 [of the 21st century reboot], and also playing a computer game, for a few minutes at a time, now and then.”

Task switching is a great way to keep moving even if your attention wanes for your current focus. It is a way to work with your ADHD brain that is wired to seek stimulation to function effectively. The switching creates the stimulation.

There are also risks to the task switching method. One risk is that the ADHD brain can get stuck (hyperfocusing) on tasks that are particularly stimulating, new, fun and/or exciting. Because awareness is also an ADHD challenge, you might get stuck hyperfocusing and not even be aware that you’re stuck and eating up time doing a particular activity.

Another risk of task switching is that you could lose awareness of the important task(s) you are trying to get done due to ADHD deficits in working memory (holding in memory one task while working on another).

The above challenges, however, could be addressed with a timer to break any hyperfocus and a written note with the important task(s) to be done located beside the timer. When the timer goes off, you are cued to pause, refocus and shift back to anHand check mark the list important task.

Do you already task switch to get things done with your ADHD brain? If so, let me know how it works for you. If not, give it a try. Working with your ADHD brain’s normal tendencies is easier on your brain, prevents discouragement when non-ADHD productivity strategies don’t work, and can lead to greater productivity and success.

ADHD, Facebook, The Internet, and Sleep Problems

sleeping womanSleep is an essential component of self-care for people with ADHD. However, many people with ADHD have sleep challenges. They have great difficulty shutting off their busy minds so they can rest.

Almost every ADHD client I’ve coached has described having difficulty getting enough sleep. They stay up late despite having to get up early the next day to go to work or some other activity. They run on a sleep deficit which makes managing the symptoms of their ADHD much more difficult.

Many ADHD challenges (problems with executive functions that result in planning difficulties, difficulties getting and staying organized, difficulties managing impulsivity, a short attention span, and difficulties making decisions, etc.) can be attributed to having frontal lobes that are less active than people who don’t have ADHD. People with ADHD, therefore, have great difficulty getting their brains to cooperate when they need to concentrate and engage in and accomplish tasks. To jumpstart their frontal lobes they unconsciously seek stimulation in many ways. Checking Facebook, posting to Facebook, and surfing the web are stimulating activities. 

When I’ve explored what clients are doing prior to attempting to sleep, every one of them cited being on the computer or their phone engaged with the internet and/or Facebook. In effect they were stimulating their brains up until they shut their eyes, sometimes even after they had gotten into bed. Is it any wonder they were having difficulty getting to sleep? Their normally active ADHD brain’s sleep challenge was compounded by the mental stimulation of being on the internet or Facebook.

Facebook and other social media activities are seductive to the stimulation-seeking ADHD brain. Could refraining from that stimulation for an hour before bedtime make getting to sleep easier? Give it a try!

Be sure to notice how your brain reacts when you remove it’s pleasurable evening stimulation. The brain typically objects to change, and the ADHD brain, which tends to seek pleasure, may really object to the removal of pleasurable stimulation.  If that happens, notice it, acknowledge it as a normal response, but also notice what happens regarding your ability to get to sleep and the quality of your sleep. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to add getting adequate quality sleep to your ADHD self-care plan!