Category Archives: Adults

The ADD Journey

Living successfully with ADHD. Help for the road ahead.by Cynthia Hammer, M.S.W.

Stage I: “The Journey Begins” (Discovery and Diagnosis)

Relief: “Finally, an explanation!

For many adults, discovering they have ADD, usually by reading an article, a book or seeing something on television, is a very emotional moment. People at this point in time are usually very excited. They want to talk. They want to tell their story. They want to be understood now that they are starting to understand themselves. Most want to immediately seek a professional diagnosis so they can move forward with treatment.

Stage II: “Wandering in the Wilderness” (Increasing Awareness)

This stage is marked by a variety of feelings and questions.

  • Denial: “How do I know this is a valid disorder?”
  • Flickering Optimism: “Maybe there is hope.”
  • Fear, anxiety, and more anxiety: “What if I follow through with treatment, but nothing changes? All that effort and for what?” Another failure?” “Is medication safe? If I use it, will I have to take it for the rest of my life?”
  • Grief, Anger, and Resentment: “Why wasn’t this diagnosed and treated sooner?”

Stage III: “Up and Over the Mountain Top” (Restructuring)

At this stage, the ADDult no longer puts his energy into “What might have been ….” She moves forward with her life, focusing on what works and minimizing the impact of what does not. Some ADDults go to bed in Stage II and wake up in Stage III. It is hard to predict when or why the transition occurs, but it does, and it feels good! In Stage III, ADDults feel less shame about their disorder. They feel more empowered and more comfortable with telling others about their condition. Stage III involves:

  • Accepting: “I’m ready to let go of the past. I want to get on with my life.”
  • Delegating; Using Strategies and Accommodations: “Could some else more easily do this task?” “What strategies can I use, what accommodations can I request to accomplish my goals?”

Stage IV: “Enjoying the Peaceful Valley”(Self-Acceptance)

Along your journey you have enjoyed the occasional oasis…the moments when you recognize and praise yourself for new behaviors, small accomplishments, and completed tasks. You note where you started and how far you have come. The journey has been difficult, (and often you wanted to quit or turn back), but you realized you were making progress toward your destination. By noting the oases along the way, you confirm for yourself that you are traveling in the right direction, on the right road and keep you nourished for continued travel.

Eventually, you reach a point in your journey when you are traveling light. You no longer carry baggage from your past. You are a seasoned traveler, good at figuring out how to pass through this rough landscape. You are confident in your abilities and strong in your knowledge of having survived. You know your journey will get easier–that you will even start to enjoy it. You continue to journey, but now you travel without needing guides and fellow travelers. You journey down the open road of life, sometimes skipping, sometimes trudging, sometimes limping, but now there is usually a song in your heart, a twinkle in your eye, and a smile on your face. It is good to notice another oasis just ahead. Your journey of life has become the adventure you have always looked for.

Everyone on an ADD JOURNEY needs guides and fellow travelers to show the way and provide support when we weaken and falter. Our guides and fellow travelers provide the six essentials of multi-modal ADD treatment.

  1. Diagnosis
  2. Education
  3. Support
  4. Medication
  5. Counseling
  6. Coaching

Just as the wise backpacker carries the ten essentials when out trekking, the journeying ADDult needs to have the ADD treatment essentials at hand. Whether or not all treatments get used during the journey depends on the traveler. Some need to employ all treatments; others, only a few. Below is a chart showing which Guide or Fellow Traveler is most suitable for each stage of the journey

TREATMENT GUIDE/FELLOW TRAVELER STAGE
Diagnosis Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counselor or Primary Care Physician I
Education and Support Education and Support Groups Self-education Self-Help Groups Friends and Family I and II,
I and II,
II and III
Medication (and/or Alternative Treatments) Psychiatrist, Primary Care Physician (and/or Alternative Health Care Providers) II, III, and IV
Counseling (and Therapy Groups) Counselor, Psychologist or
Psychiatrist
II and III
Coaching Professional Coach or Coaching Partner III

WHO ARE YOUR GUIDES FOR STAGES I AND II?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in helping people with mental health problems. Their training includes medical school and usually a three-year postgraduate residency. One advantage of their training is that it enables them to understand, use, and prescribe medications. With respect to ADHD, this is a definite advantage, since ADD treatment usually includes medication. In addition to psychiatrists, other medical doctors along with physician assistants and some nurse practitioners have prescriptive authority. However, none of them do psychological testing.

Sometimes psychological testing is recommended–not to make the ADD diagnosis–but to gain other information on the person’s functioning. Only psychologists do this kind of testing. So, at times, an adult seeking an ADD diagnosis may see several different professionals. Some adults see several experts for another reason. They cannot find a knowledgeable helper. Sadly, many mental health professionals are not knowledgeable about adult ADD. They may look at it as either a “made up” or an over-diagnosed problem. Since mental health professionals are not used to working with adult ADD patients, it is likely that they may believe another problem is dominant.

Professionals in any field tend to “see” only what they know. If they don’t know or understand something, they can’t see or treat it. For example, the psychologist may see your problem mainly as depression or anxiety (especially if you are a woman), not recognizing the ADD as the underlying concern. How you feel about your life because of your untreated ADD may cause you to be depressed or anxious. ADD may be your primary problem, but other problems may need treatment as well.

In evaluating a mental health professional’s knowledge about ADD in adults, many of the following questions could be asked. Most of these questions could also be asked of ADD counselors and ADD coaches.

  1. Do you accept my insurance? Do you diagnose ADD/ADHD?
  2. How long have you been diagnosing this disorder in adults?
  3. How many ADD/ADHD adults have you diagnosed in the past five years. What percent of your practice has a primary diagnosis of ADD/ ADHD?
  4. How familiar are you with the day to day tribulations of having ADD? (You’re trying to learn if they or someone they are close to has this condition. How intimate is their understanding of ADD on a daily basis?)
  5. What is your treatment philosophy? (Will the clinician work with you and be open to suggestions or will he/she call all the shots. Is their treatment of ADD the same for everyone or is it individually tailored?)
  6. In a subtle way, learn what they do to keep current in their knowledge about adult ADD and its treatment protocols.
  7. How do you make a diagnosis? How many visits will it take and how much will it cost?
  8. How long will I have to wait for an appointment?
  9. Ask psychologists how they handle the medication part of treatment.
  10. Ask physicians (and other medical personnel with prescriptive authority) what medicines they use to treat ADD/ADHD.

YOUR GUIDES FOR STAGES II AND III – Therapists and Coaches

Counselors/Therapists: Often, after being diagnosed with ADD, it is a good idea to find a therapist with you whom you can work. Many times adults with ADD have become so mired in negative feelings about themselves that the first thing they need to do is to face these feelings directly and learn how to let them go. Besides dealing with the ADD symptoms themselves, there may be depression, anxiety, or other problems that need to be addressed.

A good therapist can help you develop practical ways to deal with your daily life based on your own problems and circumstances. You will develop insights into how your ADD symptoms have interacted throughout your life, which is likely to help you understand why your life has taken a certain direction. It is our belief that a good therapist will educate you thoroughly about ADD.

Individual therapy is the most likely choice because most people prefer the privacy of a one-to-one relationship with a mental health professional. In individual therapy you and your therapist talk about your particular problems and develop ways in which you can deal with them more effectively. You will probably see your therapist once each week, although the schedule may later change. Visits usually last about forty-five to fifty minutes. After the initial screening is completed, you and the therapist will spend your visits talking about specific challenges, developing coping strategies, sharing new insights, and whatever concerns are on your mind.

The therapy will vary according to the therapist’s orientation. For example, one therapist may help you listen to your negative thoughts and get you to actively challenge them. This method is central to cognitive therapy. Another therapist may help you develop strategies for actively confronting and, hopefully, overcoming the ADD symptoms that make your life less than optimal. Often you will gain insight as therapy proceeds. You may have misunderstood your ADD and thought that you were just “lazy, crazy, and stupid.” You may have many misconceptions that you built up over the years that you can now interpret in the light of your new understanding of ADD.

This does not in any way release you from doing the necessary work to get your life in order. Yes, you will develop insights. But you will also need to work at developing skills you have never had before.

A good therapist will teach the ADD adult to acknowledge the importance of small steps in making progress. Often people don’t continue along the road of self-improvement because they don’t acknowledge their small steps of Progress. The person with ADD often expects a difficult problem to be solved rapidly. “I want it yesterday.” If it can’t be solved soon, the person gets frustrated and gives up. The adult with ADD who learns the value of taking small but positive steps toward a goal learns a very valuable lesson. The good therapist keeps the client on track and helps the client maintain a positive perspective.

Coaches can be therapists, although coaching is not therapy. Coaches can also be another ADD adult, a friend or someone in your family. ADD coaching focuses on practical issues confronting the ADD adult, such as organization, managing time and setting and reaching goals. Coaching could help ADD adults to develop routines and daily habits which will simplify and make their lives more manageable. Some coaches are very forceful and offer lots of suggestions while others prefer coaches who mostly listen and then offer ideas.

A coaching relationship could last any length of time, but a typical relationship lasts at least six months. Sometimes coaching is done in person, one hour a week. It can be done over the phone, 10-15 minutes a day, or even done through e-mail. Hiring a trained person to be your coach is called professional coaching while getting someone else to work with you is called peer or partner coaching.

A coach works with you to improve your results and your successes. A coach will:

  1. help you set better goals and then reach those goals
  2. ask you to do more than you would have done on your own
  3. get you to focus your efforts better to produce results more quickly
  4. provide you with the tools, support, and structure to accomplish more

How does coaching differ from consulting? …therapy? ….sports coaching? …Having a best friend?

Coaching is a form of consulting as coaches provide advice and expertise in achieving personal change and excellence. However, unlike the consultant who offers advice and leaves, a coach stays to help implement the recommended changes, making sure they really happen and ensuring that the client reaches his goals in a lasting way.

In most therapies, patients or clients work on “issues,” reflect on their past experiences and try to understand the psychodynamic causes of their behaviors. Coaching focuses only on the here and now, looking at the problems in the present needing solutions. In this way, it is like solution-focuses therapy. Coaches work with their clients to gain something, such as new skills, not to lose something, such as unhealthy thought patterns. The focus is on achieving personal and professional goals that give clients the lives they want.

Professional coaching includes several principles from sports coaching, like teamwork, going for the goal, and being your best. Unlike sports coaching, professional coaching is non-competitive. You develop your own way to achieve your goals. There is not one best way to do it. It is not focused on outdoing someone else. It is focused on strengthening the client’s skills, such as a trainer might do.

Having a best friend is always wonderful, but you might not trust your best friend to advise you on the most important aspects of your life and/or business. A best friend might not be able or willing to provide the consistency in monitoring and feedback that coaching demands. The relationship with your coach has some elements of a good friendship in that a close relationship evolves. The coach knows when to be tender or tough with you, is willing to tell you the truth, and keeps your best interests foremost in the relationship.

“A coach is your partner in achieving professional goals, your champion during a turnaround, your trainer in communication and life skills, your sounding board when making choices, your motivator when strong actions are called for, your unconditional support when you take a hit, your mentor in personal development, your co-designer when developing an extraordinary project, your beacon during stormy times, your wake-up call if you don’t hear your own, and most importantly: Your coach is your partner in living the life you know you’re ready for, personally and professionally.” —Thomas Leonard, President of Coach University

People hire coaches because they want more to their life; they want to grow as individuals, and they want to make achieving their goals easier. When using a coach, people take themselves and their goals more seriously. They immediately start taking more effective and focused actions. They stop focusing on thoughts and behaviors that drag them down. They create a forward momentum to their lives and they set better goals for themselves than they would have without a coach.

COACH SELECTION RECOMMENDATIONS

Rapport is very important. Your relationship with your coach is important to your professional and personal growth. The effective coaching relationship is an effective model for all your other relationships: inspiring, supporting, challenging and productive. Choose someone you will be able to relate to very well.

Experience in your field is less important, although knowledge of A.D.D. is important. Coaching technology works for a wide variety of people, professions, and situations. A coach with experience in your personal or professional situation may understand you more quickly. However, much of your work with a coach will involve encouraging you to use and develop your personal skills and your expanding network. Therefore, the specific business experience of your coach is not as important as you might think. Coaching technology works independently of the business or professional environment.

Location is normally not important. While some coaches do offer on-site coaching, it is normally not necessary nor efficient. You will get the same or better results with telephone coaching at a fraction of your investment with on-site coaching.

Interview more than one coach before you decide. Most coaches are happy to speak with you for several minutes in order to get to know you and your situation. You can use this time as an opportunity to gather information and an impression about the coach’s style. Compare two or three coaches and select the one who seems most helpful to you. Trust yourself to know what you need.

Ask the prospective coach good questions. Great coaches are willing to answer your questions directly and forthrightly. Consider asking questions about their depth of experience, qualifications, skills, and practice. For example:

  1. “How many clients have you coached, and how many are presently active clients?”
  2. “What is your specialty and how long have you been practicing in that specialty?”
  3. “What is your knowledge of Attention Deficit Disorder? (expand this to be lots of questions–modify those suggested earlier for evaluating a mental health professional’s knowledge of ADD)”
  4. “How many clients have you had with A.D.D.?” What percentage of your clientele has this diagnosis?”
  5. “What qualifies you to coach people in my situation and how many people with my concerns have you coached?”
  6. “How do you typically work with a client?”
  7. “What are the names and numbers of some of your clients so that I may ask about your coaching?”
  8. “How long do clients usually work with you?”
  9. “What are your fees?”

RESOURCES

Find Treatment and Support for ADHD

Find an ADHD coach

The inspiration for this article and some of the information on the journey, its stages, (stage IV is my addition), guides and fellow travelers came from a self-published booklet, “Coaching Partners,” by Lisa F. Poast

Material on therapy and therapists was adapted from  Do You Have Attention Deficit Disorder? by Lawrence Thomas, Ph.D. It is published by Dell Books

Information on coaching was obtained from the International Coaching Federation.

*About the author

0 1 CynthiaHammerEarlyCynthia Hammer, MSW, ACSW, an adult with ADHD and the parent of three sons, two with ADHD. At age 49, she learned that she had ADHD and realized she knew very little about the disorder. Cynthia founded ADD Resources in 1994 and went on to become a nationally recognized advocate for the understanding of ADHD among both those who have it and those who treated it.  Cynthia is now retired and lives in Tacoma with her husband.

Original Source https://web.archive.org/web/20040207085617/http://www.addresources.org/newsletter_sample.php#journey

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva 

Treatment for ADHD and Addiction

New treatments combine medication for ADHD, drug detox and therapy.

by Trey Dyer

About 4.4 percent of American adults — 10 million people — have ADHD. And roughly 8 million children have been diagnosed with the disease, making it one the most commonly occurring mental health disorders in the United States.

 

The rate of co-occurring substance use disorders is high among those with ADHD. Individuals with this diagnosis are 2.5 times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. A study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that 15 to 25 percent of adults who have a substance use disorder also have ADHD.

 

For co-occurring ADHD and substance abuse disorders, the best treatment programs combine medical treatment for ADHD, drug detox and therapy that addresses both disorders. Additionally, proper ADHD treatment during childhood can prevent further development of the disorder that may lead to a substance use disorder during adulthood.

 

The risk for substance abuse is often higher for people with ADHD. Compared to the general population, people with ADHD are:

  • Three times more likely to develop a nicotine use disorder
  • Two times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder
  • Two times more likely to develop a cocaine use disorder
  • 5 times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder

 

Research shows that those with ADHD may have lower levels of dopamine — the brain chemical responsible for reward-seeking behavior — and turn to substance abuse or other dopamine-releasing behaviors as a result.

 

Despite the increased risks, those with co-occurring ADHD and substance use disorders are not doomed to struggle with addiction their entire lives. Many rehab centers offer specialized programs for co-occurring disorders that focus on treating the separate disorders concurrently, giving patients a realistic chance of reaching recovery and living a healthy life.

Treatment for Co-Occurring ADHD and Substance Use Disorder

 

Treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders is most effective when the disorders are treated simultaneously. Addressing them at the same time is preferred to treating them one at a time, which was the generally held practice in the past.
Medication is the most common form of treatment for ADHD, and with proper use, it can greatly benefit those with co-occurring ADHD and substance use disorders. Stimulant and nonstimulant medications can be effective in treating individuals with ADHD with or without a co-occurring substance use disorder. The most common types of medications used to treat ADHD are stimulants.

Stimulant Medications

A study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital examining the results of six long-term studies found that stimulant treatment for ADHD during youth leads to reduced risk of developing a substance use disorder during adolescence and adulthood.

 

The two most common stimulants used to treat ADHD are methylphenidate and analogs of amphetamine.

 

Amphetamine medications activate the reward pathway and trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, bringing balance to dopamine levels among those with ADHD. This can help alleviate drug cravings.

 

According to researchers at Columbia University, clinical trials of Ritalin (methylphenidate) have also been effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD and substance use disorder when combined with relapse prevention therapy. The drug has a relatively low risk of abuse under proper medical supervision.

 

Methylphenidate has been used for decades to treat ADHD and has shown to be effective for children and adults. Uncontrolled trials of methylphenidate have shown to have a positive impact in reducing symptoms of ADHD and cocaine use disorders, according to researchers at Columbia University.

 

Nonstimulant Medications

 

Some nonstimulant medications can be used to treat ADHD and may present an alternative to stimulants. While stimulants have a higher abuse potential, nonstimulants are often seen as a less effective treatment option.

 

Atomoxetine is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that can be used to treat ADHD. It affects those with ADHD similarly to stimulants, but in a more gradual manner. With no known abuse potential, atomoxetine is an attractive alternative to stimulant medications.
Tricyclic antidepressants have also been used to treat ADHD. However, they are generally less effective than stimulants in treating ADHD.

Problems with Medication Treatment

 

Research from Massachusetts General Hospital shows medications that are effective in treating adult ADHD may be effective for adults with ADHD and co-occurring substance use disorders, but the medical benefits of the medications are hindered if an individual is actively abusing substances.

 

Challenges of treating patients with a substance use disorder include:

 

  • Patients may not take medications reliably.
  • Patients may require higher doses in order for a medication to be effective.
  • The presence of other substances in a patient’s system may make the therapeutic effects of a medication less effective.

Individuals actively engaging in substance abuse are more difficult to treat with medication, with or without a co-occurring disorder.

 

Alcohol and ADHD Medications

 

ADHD medications are associated with high risks when used concurrently with alcohol. Adderall is a medication of particular concern because it is commonly abused by college students who participate in binge drinking culture at parties, bars and nightclubs.

Individuals who abuse Adderall and alcohol together find that the depressant alcohol effects are lessened by the stimulant properties of Adderall, allowing them to drink more for longer periods of time.

Abuse of Adderall or other ADHD medications while drinking may cause people to consume hazardous amounts of alcohol. ADHD medications that block the depressant effects of alcohol may cause individuals to ignore signals from their bodies that they have had enough to drink, which can lead to dangerous health concerns such as alcohol poisoning.

It is crucial for people to consult their doctor about alcohol use while taking any type of ADHD medication.

 

About the Author: Trey Dyer is a writer for DrugRehab.com. Trey is passionate about breaking the stigma associated with drug addiction in the United States. When Trey is not writing, he can be found fly fishing, playing soccer or cooking BBQ.

 

Sources:

 

Adler, L. et al. (2005, March). Long-term, open-label study of the safety and efficacy of atomoxetine in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: an interim analysis. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15766294

Columbia University. (n.d.). Adderall: Health risks when combined with alcohol? Retrieved from http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/adderall-health-risks-when-combined-alcohol

Levin, F. et al. (1998, June). Methylphenidate treatment for cocaine abusers with adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a pilot study. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9671342

Mariani, J. & Levin, F. (2007). Treatment Strategies for Co-Occurring ADHD and Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2676785/

Michelson, D. et al. (2003, January 15). Atomoxetine in adults with ADHD: two randomized, placebo-controlled studies. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12547466

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrcomorbidity.pdf\

Somoza, E. (2004). An open-label pilot study of methylphenidate in the treatment of cocaine dependent patients with adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15077842

Sottile, L. (2015, October 20). The Disturbing Relationship Between Addiction and ADHD. Retrieved from http://www.vice.com/read/the-disturbing-relationship-between-addiction-and-adhd-511

Wilens, T. et al. (2003, January). Does stimulant therapy of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder beget later substance abuse? A meta-analytic review of the literature. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12509574

 

“Image courtesy of stock photos/FreeDigtalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva

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8 Techniques to Combat Procrastination When You Have ADHD

 “The key to managing your procrastination is figuring out creative solutions to address the reasons you procrastinate in the first place.”By ADHD Coach Marla Cummins

If you are reading this article, it is because you were enticed by the prospect of learning how to stop procrastinating.

Like many people I work with, you’ve tried seemly everything under the sun to follow through, but to little avail. So, at this point, you may assume that, left to your own devices, you are going to continue this way.

And what you really need is someone to watch over you to make sure you follow through, right? If this is what you are thinking, I think you are wrong, sort of…

Sure, accountability can be an important piece of the puzzle in addressing procrastination. But, when it comes right down to it, adults with ADHD usually don’t want someone standing over them, telling them what to do.

Rather, the key to managing your procrastination is figuring out creative solutions to address the reasons you procrastinate in the first place.

Read on to find out how to counter your particular flavor of procrastination.

Oh, and please remember, procrastination is a really hard nut to crack, especially for Adults with ADHD. You can do it. Just don’t forget to be compassionate with yourself along the way.

Procrastination Fix #1 – Identify Where You Procrastinate

Right now, when you avoid a task, you may pause for a second. And then not give it another thought, at least for a while. Rather, you steer clear of it by getting lost in something else, anything else — another work task, the internet, organizing, etc.

Until the proverbial sh** hits the fan…

Then you knock your head against the wall, figuratively speaking of course, and scream internally, “Why do I do this?!” At this point, you may continue to avoid the task or you may get lost in addressing the fire drill of the moment caused by your procrastination.

While this scenario plays itself out again and again, I know you know this avoidance response isn’t helpful.

But think about it. If you have little clue as to why you are procrastinating on a task and even less of a clue as to what to do about it, it totally makes sense that you are sidestepping it.

Ready to learn how to respond differently?

List the tasks you are avoiding and then read on…

Procrastination Fix #2 – Clear the Decks

The next step is to decide whether all of the tasks on your active task list really belong there. Your immediate response may be, “I’ve already decided. After all, why would I put a task on my list, if I didn’t need to do it?”

Ok, got it. But, if your list is similar to many others I’ve seen, it may function more as a wish list. Because, given your current capacity, you can’t possibly do it all.

So, while you continue to put off tasks you really have no intention of doing, they stay on your list, hanging on for dear life. And you continue to beat yourself up for procrastinating.

But I know, even if you are willing to consider trimming your list, you don’t want to forget your ideas. Because, well, you might want to do them — someday.

Creating a Maybe/Someday List to store projects you’re not ready to kick to the curb forever is a great solution.

Here are a few suggested guidelines to get you started:

  • Have one for personal projects and one for business/professional projects.
  • Review them monthly to decide if you are ready to take action on any of your ideas.
  • Continue to add any task that comes to mind, but just is not ready for prime time — research fish keeping, start to video blog, organize attic, etc.
  • Delete those you decide you really aren’t going to do in the foreseeable future — make own dog food, take pilot lessons, etc.

One of the advantages of maintaining a Maybe/Someday List is you have made a decision not to do a task and are no longer procrastinating. Then you can stop heaping shame and blame on yourself for not doing what you said you would do!

Nice,  right?

 

Procrastination Fix #3 – Address Your Emotions

None of the typical solutions — breaking down your tasks, scheduling them, avoiding distractions, etc. — will help you manage your procrastination until you address the emotions that may be keeping you stuck.

So, that is the next step.

If you are a run of the mill procrastinator, like the rest of us, at some point your emotions— fear of failure, fear of success and resentment — will be the cause of your procrastination.

And, since your thinking is driving your emotions, you can start to manage them by practicing positive self-talk, such as:

  • “I might make mistakes, but that does not make me a failure.”
  • “Even if the worst happens, I’ll be ok.”
  • “This is going to be really uncomfortable, but I don’t want that to stop me.”

But, if you really want to address the emotions that contribute to your procrastination, you will need to dig in a little deeper. Start by checking out ADHD and Avoiding Negative Thinking Traps – Part 1 and ADHD and Avoiding Negative Thinking Traps – Part 2.

If, despite your best efforts, you are unable to make headway, you might need the help of a therapist to help you address the more deep seeded emotions underlying your avoidance behaviors.

Procrastination Fix #4 – Make Sure You Have Clarity

Another reason you may be procrastinating is there is some part of the task you just don’t get. You may not even recognize this is the reason you are stuck! You just continue to dodge it…

Completing the statements below for a task you are avoiding will help you figure out if the reason for your procrastination is lack of clarity:

  • The best place to start is…
  • The very next action is…
  • The process for doing this part is…
  • When I am done with this part / the task it will look like… (If you can’t visualize the end, it will be hard to know what you are supposed to work toward.)
  • I am going to work on this… (If you don’t have a specific date and time, it is easy to keep pushing it off to — sometime.)

If you are not able to complete these statements, then lack of clarity may likely be one of the culprits for your procrastination.

Next, ask yourself, “What do I need in order to get clear where things are a little fuzzy.

Procrastination Fix #5 – Get Rid of Distractions

Once you have a plan and are clear on what you need to do, it is still easy, as an Adult with ADHD, to get derailed by internal and external distractions.

You may even inadvertently be using these distractions to evade a task. Sound familiar?

So, it is super important to be aware of these and figure out how to keep them at bay by asking yourself, “What distractions keep me from doing my work and how can I minimize them.

Here are a few common examples to help you think about your own distractions:

  • Internet – Use a site blocker, like Freedom.
  • Message alert pop-up for new email – Turn it off.
  • Personal Issues – Maybe you need to take care of it so you can move on. Alternatively, maybe you can put it aside by telling yourself, “I’m doing this and not that!”
  • Phone Calls – Turn off the ringer for a short time so you can work.
  • People knocking on your door – If possible, tell them, “I really want to give you my full attention, but I need to do this first. Can I let you know when I am available?”

What are other distractions that keep you from doing what is important to you, and what can you do to manage them?

 

Procrastination Fix #6 – Don’t Wait for Your Mojo

For many with ADHD, one of the most common excuses for putting off work is the questionable idea, “I need inspiration.” This often leads to the unconvincing promise, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” And you know what comes next. Tomorrow becomes — not now.

If you can wait for inspiration, great!

But the problem is — in many instances — you can’t really wait until you feel like doing the task. So, the key is to figure out what will help you to do it even when your mojo is just not there.

Some workarounds are:

  • Find an accountability partner.
  • Delegate the task.
  • Hire someone — another form of delegating.
  • Attempt to do it when you are most likely to be at your best — late at night, early in the morning, etc.
  • Work in an environment that is most conducive for doing that task — at a coffee shop, in a quiet office, with music, etc.

What do you need to do to tackle a task even when you just don’t wanna?

Procrastination Fix #7 – Fill’er Up

Sometimes, when you don’t feel like doing something, it is because you are not taking care of yourself. Yet, self-care is key to managing procrastination.

Use this checklist to figure out if the reason for your procrastination is because you are running on empty or your circuits are overloaded.

  • Do I need to eat?
  • Am I tired and, if possible, do I need to take a power nap?
  • Do I need to take my meds?
  • Do I need to get up and move —exercise — to wake up my brain?
  • Do I need to drink more water?
  • Do I need to slow for a few minutes and do some deep breathing because I am overloaded?

What other strategies do you use when your tank is low?

Procrastination Fix #8 – Use a Procrastination Journal

Now that you know some of the reasons and workarounds for your procrastination, it is time to start the hard work.

And the best way to stop procrastinating is to become more aware in the moment of decision — the moment you are deciding whether to do a task or not.

You can do this by recording your answers to the following statements in a Procrastination Journal:

  • the date and time of the impulse to put off working on a task
  • name of the task
  • what you were thinking and feeling when you thought of doing the task
  • what you were tempted to do instead
  • what you told yourself when you were tempted to something else
  • what you ultimately chose to do

Yes, it takes time, especially in the beginning. But the payoff  can be huge, really.

00 I write because recite

 

Sample Procrastination Journal

Below are a few fictional journal entries based on the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with clients, the journals clients have shared with me — and my own experience, for sure.

March 14, 8:30 am

I just got to the office and wanted to start on the quarterly report first thing because I didn’t want a repeat of last quarter when I got it in late.

Then I looked at the file on my desktop and thought, “This is going to take forever…” I started to feel overwhelmed — my heart was racing and I got this fuzzy sound in my head.

I opened my email, which I promised myself I would not do, and thought, “Maybe I should plow through some of these first.”

Then I remembered the conversation I had with Sheri, my boss, after handing in the report late last time…

And I told myself, “I don’t have to do it all today. When I feel overwhelmed with big projects it helps to break it down and schedule time to do a little at a time.”

So, that is what I did. I finished a little bit today, and felt pretty good!

March 17, 11:30 am

Ally emailed me last week with a question about the program, and I promised her I would give her an answer by tomorrow.

But I just don’t know the answer and I should! This is so pathetic… I’m so embarrassed that I am not pulling my weight.

I’m really hungry. Maybe I should take a walk and eat lunch…

March 17, 12:30 am

Ok, better. I’m feeling a little more clear headed and a bit less stressed now that I took a walk and ate.

What I need is help figuring out how to answer her. Steve is really good at helping me talk through these things when I am stuck. I’ll call him, and see if we can meet this afternoon

In the above cases journaling helped Bob avoid procrastinating.

Of course, you will not necessarily come up with an immediate solution every time you write. But, keeping a procrastination journal will help you become more aware of the thoughtsfeelings, and behaviors involved in your procrastination.

Then you can work on changing them in the long run!

Question for You

I know I gave you a lot of information above.

Where do you want to start?

 

By ADHD coach Marla Cummins. Please visit Marla’s website at www.marlacummins.com for additional articles and resources on Adult ADHD.

“Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net” Modified on Canva

Notebook photo created on Recite.com

 

 

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Employees with ADHD – Job Accommodations

Is ADHD affecting your work? Get help.

What is AD/HD?

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects three to five percent of American children and adults. AD/HD is usually diagnosed in childhood, and the condition can continue into the adult years. Many individuals with AD/HD are undiagnosed until adulthood (NINDS, 2011).

The common characteristics of AD/HD are impulsivity, inattention, and/or over-activity (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and work tasks, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, inability to stay on task, leaving projects, chores and work tasks unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to and responding to details are the primary symptoms of AD/HD. Although individuals may have both inattention and hyperactivity symptoms, many individuals predominantly display one symptom more than another. Therefore, the DSM-IV-TR identifies three subtypes that can be diagnosed:

  • AD/HD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type:  The major characteristics are fidgeting, talking excessively, interrupting others when talking, and impatience.
  • AD/HD predominantly inattentive type:  The major characteristics are distractibility, organization problems, failure to give close attention to details, difficulty processing information quickly and accurately, and difficulty following through with instructions.
  • AD/HD combined type:  The individual with combined type meets the criteria for both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type.

What causes AD/HD?
Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although many studies suggest that genes play a large role. Like many other illnesses, ADHD probably results from a combination of factors. In addition to genetics, researchers are looking at possible environmental factors, and are studying how brain injuries, nutrition, and the social environment might contribute to ADHD (NIMH, 2011).
How is AD/HD treated?
Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments. Much like children with the disorder, adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments (NIMH, 2009).

AD/HD and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Is AD/HD a disability under the ADA?
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet (EEOC Regulations . . ., 2011). Therefore, some people with AD/HD will have a disability under the ADA and some will not.

A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment (EEOC Regulations . . . , 2011). For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, visit http://AskJAN.org/corner/vol05iss04.htm.

Accommodating Employees with AD/HD

Note: People with AD/HD may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with AD/HD will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What limitations does the employee with AD/HD experience?
  2. How do these limitations affect the employee’s job performance?
  3. What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  4. What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine accommodations?
  5. Can the employee provide information on possible accommodation solutions?
  6. Once accommodations are in place, can meetings take place to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations? Can meetings take place to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
  7. Would human resources or personnel departments, supervisors, or coworkers benefit from education, training or disability awareness regarding learning disabilities? Can it be provided?

Accommodation Ideas

Time Management: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty managing time, which can affect their ability to mark time as it passes incrementally by minutes and hours. It can also affect their ability to gauge the proper amount of time to set aside for certain tasks. It may be difficult to prepare for, or to remember, work activities that occur later in the week, month, or year.

  • Divide large assignments into several small tasks
  • Set a timer to make an alarm after assigning ample time to complete a task
  • Provide a checklist of assignments
  • Supply an electronic or handheld organizer, and train on how to use effectively
  • Use wall calendar to emphasize due dates
    • Develop a color-coded system (each color represents a task, or event, or level of importance)
    • Allow co-worker or supervisor to add entries on the calendar, or to double-check entries added by the employee with AD/HD

Memory: Individuals with AD/HD may experience memory deficits, which can affect their ability to complete tasks, remember job duties, or recall daily actions or activities.

  • Provide written instructions
  • Allow additional training time for new tasks
  • Offer training refreshers
  • Use a flowchart to indicate steps in a task
  • Provide verbal or pictorial cues
  • Use post-it notes as reminders of important dates or tasks

Concentration:  Individuals with AD/HD may experience decreased concentration, which can be attributed to auditory distractions (that can be heard) and/or visual distractions (that can be seen). People with AD/HD report distractions such as office traffic and employee chatter, opening and closing of elevator doors, and common office noises such as fax tones and photocopying.

  • To reduce auditory distractions:
    • Purchase a noise canceling headset
    • Hang sound absorption panels
    • Provide a white noise machine
    • Relocate employee’s office space away from audible distractions
    • Redesign employee’s office space to minimize audible distractions
  • To reduce visual distractions:
    • Install space enclosures (cubicle walls)
    • Reduce clutter in the employee’s work environment
    • Redesign employee’s office space to minimize visual distractions
    • Relocate employee’s office space away from visual distractions

Organization and Prioritization: Individuals with AD/HD may have difficulty getting or staying organized, or have difficulty prioritizing tasks at work.

  • Develop color-code system for files, projects, or activities
  • Use weekly chart to identify daily work activities
  • Use the services of a professional organizer
  • Use a job coach to teach/reinforce organization skills
  • Assign a mentor to help employee
  • Allow supervisor to assign prioritization of tasks
  • Assign new project only when a previous project is complete, when possible
  • Provide a “cheat sheet” of high-priority activities, projects, people, etc.

Social Skills:  Individuals with AD/HD may have limitations in adaptive skills, such as communicating with others, or exhibiting appropriate social skills. This might manifest itself as interrupting others when working or talking, demonstrating poor listening skills, not making eye contact when communicating, or inability to correctly read body language or understand innuendo.

  • Provide a job coach to help understand different social cues
  • Identify areas of improvement for employee in a fair and consistent manner
  • Make attendance at social activities optional
  • Use training videos to demonstrate appropriate behavior in workplace
  • Encourage employees to minimize personal conversation or move personal conversation away from work areas
  • Provide sensitivity training (disability awareness) to all employees
  • Encourage all employees to model appropriate social skills
  • Adjust the supervisory method to better fit the employee’s needs
  • Allow the employee to work from home
  • Adjust method of communication to best suit the employee’s needs
  • Use role-play scenarios to demonstrate appropriate behavior in workplace

 

Hyperactivity/Impulsivity:  Individuals with AD/HD Hyperactivity-Impulsive type may exhibit over-activity or impulsive behavior. This could be disruptive to the work environment or could inhibit efficient and effective work performance.

  • Provide structured breaks to create an outlet for physical activity
  • Utilize a job coach to teach/reinforce techniques to control impulsivity
  • Allow the employee to work from home
  • Review conduct policy with employee
  • Adjust method of supervision to better prepare employee for feedback, disciplinary action, and other communication about job performance
  • Use services of EAP
  • Provide private workspace where employee will not disturb others by tapping, humming, or fidgeting

Multi-tasking: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty performing many tasks at one time. This difficulty could occur regardless of the similarity of tasks or the frequency of performing the tasks.

  • Separate tasks so that each can be completed one at a time
  • Create a flowchart of tasks that must be performed at the same time, carefully labeling or color-coding each task in sequential or preferential order
  • Provide individualized/specialized training to help employee learn techniques for multi-tasking (e.g., typing on computer while talking on phone)
  • Identify tasks that must be performed simultaneously and tasks that can be performed individually
  • Provide specific feedback to help employee target areas of improvement
  • Remove or reduce distractions from work area
  • Supply ergonomic equipment to facilitate multi-tasking
  • Clearly represent performance standards such as completion time or accuracy rates

Paperwork: Individuals with AD/HD may experience difficulty completing paperwork efficiently and effectively. This is due in part to workplace distractions and difficulty with time management, disorganization, or prioritization.

  • When possible, automate paperwork by creating electronic files
  • Use speech recognition software to enter text or data into electronic files
  • Save time filling out paper forms by completing information in advance, using pre-filled forms, or adhering pre-printed stickers
  • Use checklists in place of writing text
  • Supply large quantities of regularly-used forms
  • Color-code forms for easy identification
  • Re-design commonly used forms
    • Use large font
    • Double space or triple space
    • Provide adequate space for hand-written response

You’ll find more appropriate accommodations in JAN’s article on Executive Function Deficits. http://askjan.org/media/execfunc.html

Attendance: Individuals may have difficulty getting to work promptly because of the varied activities, processes, and interruptions they may experience while preparing to leave their home and/or during their commute.

  • Allow flexible work environment:
    • Flexible scheduling
    • Modified break schedule
    • Work from home/Flexi-place

Getting to Work on Time: Employers can have time and attendance standards for all employees. Because getting to work on time is the responsibility of the employee, the following ideas are for employees who are having trouble getting to work on time because of executive function deficits:

  • Have a routine of putting and keeping things in their place (keys, phone, glasses)
  • Prepare for the next day’s work the night before
  • Create a checklist for yourself and others
  • Place sticky notes on the door, dashboard, or wherever you will see them
  • Turn off distractions – including cell phones
  • Set a timer or a programmable watch to pace yourself

 

 

Situations and Solutions:

A journalist with AD/HD experienced sensitivity to visual and auditory distractions. The employer provided the individual with a private, high-wall cubicle workspace in a low-traffic area. The employer added an environmental sound machine to mask office noise.

A social worker with AD/HD had difficulty completing handwritten paperwork in a neat and timely fashion. The employer created electronic forms for the employee, which allowed him to type responses. The employer arranged computer files labeled by month to help the employee prioritize open cases. The employer also sent email reminders of deadlines.

An office worker with AD/HD experienced impulsivity and often interrupted co-workers by entering offices without knocking. The employer helped identify appropriate techniques for approaching co-workers, such as keeping a daily list of tasks to discuss with others, then emailing or calling to set aside time to talk about work-related projects.

A retail employee with AD/HD often forgot the closing and cash-out procedures, which resulted in missed printouts of daily sale reports. The employer created a numbered checklist that identified each step for proper closing procedures and identified which reports to run from cash registers. This accommodation benefited all employees.

A delivery person with AD/HD had difficulty with time management. She spent excessive time making deliveries and would forget to return to the warehouse between daily runs. The employer provided a personal organizer watch that could be programmed to beep and display a written message many times throughout the day. This auditory and written prompt helped the employee move quicker from task to task, and helped remind her to return to the warehouse to gather her next load.

A teacher with AD/HD experienced disorganization in her classroom due to clutter from many years of teaching. The employer provided a job coach to help the teacher learn organization techniques, to help separate and store items, and to dispose of previous student work and projects from yesteryear.

 

Information about JAN

Source – Job Accommodation Network – Accommodation and Compliance Series: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,  Retrieved December, 6, 2105 from https://askjan.org/media/adhd.html

The Job Accommodation Network is a service of U.S. DOL’s Office of Disability Employment. Article may be reprinted without copyright infringement.


JAN provides free, confidential technical assistance about job accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

(800)526-7234 (Voice) 
(877)781-9403 (TTY)
Live Help
Email

JAN’s Accommodation and Compliance Series is designed to help employers determine effective accommodations and comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This information provides a starting point in the accommodation process and may not address every situation. Accommodations should be made on a case by case basis, considering each employee’s individual limitations and accommodation needs.

References

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

EEOC Regulations To Implement the Equal Employment Provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act, as Amended, 29 C.F.R. § 1630 (2011).

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2009). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Retrieved November 17, 2011, fromhttp://www.nimh.nih.gov

National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) (2006). NINDS attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder information page. Retrieved November 17, 2011,from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/adhd/adhd.htm

Updated 03/01/13

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How to Take Action when You’re Not Interested

Have a few strategies ready to help you take action.

By Marla Cummins

As an adult with ADHD, you know that it is much easier to follow through on tasks that interest you. So, of course, the more of these you can have on your plate the better.

But the reality is we all have tasks we don’t want to do, and for one reason or another they still need to be on our plate. We can’t delegate, barter, drop or defer these tasks. We need to do them. Now!

Obviously, these are also the tasks that we are most likely to procrastinate on starting, never mind completing.

And, while we are dragging our feet on these tasks, they still take up a great deal of our mental time and energy. Consider the following statements as they relate to a task you are putting off.

  • While I really don’t want to do                      (fill in the blank), I am thinking about it a lot, even worrying about it.
  • And thoughts of it will pop into my head at random times, distracting me from tending to my task(s) at hand.
  • I will likely be behind the eight ball when I eventually get around to it, and will need to put aside everything else to get it done.
  • Another day. Another fire drill!

So, how do we follow through on those tasks that having us screaming, “I don’t wanna!!!”

What About The Task Turns You Off?

First, figure out what about the task turns you off. Here are some possibilities:

  • It bores me. Simple as that.
  • It takes too much time and energy because it is hard for me.
  • It is not important to me.
  • I have too many other tasks on my list… “Take a number and fall to the back of the line” is what comes to mind when I think of this task.
  • My other reasons are…

Once you’ve figured out why you don’t want to do a task, the next step is to figure out what you can do to follow through on those tasks that must fall on your plate.

Because often it is the not deciding and not doing that can contribute significantly to your feelings of overwhelm.

Activating the Reward System

Then, take into consideration the other challenges that may be getting in your way. An understanding of the process that happens in the brain’s Reward System is a good place to start.

In simplified terms:

We make choices and prioritize goals when a sensory stimulus is sent and processed in the brain indicating a reward is on the way.

When a reward is anticipated, dopamine is released to various parts of the brain, which activates our motor functionsattention and memory pathway. (When the memory of this stimulus and associated reward is in place, we will be more likely to tackle the task next time.)

When the reward is concrete, it is easy to do something because we are motivated by the obvious anticipated reward. But here is what may happen when you think about doing the report you dread that is due in two days:

♦ As you look at the bathroom, you think, “I should clean the bathroom. Then I’ll do the report.”

♦ Then when you sit down at the computer, a notification from Facebook comes in. “Facebook, take me away from all of this…. I need a break before I start the report.”

♦ “Wow. Look at all those emails. I really need to answer those before doing the report!”

When deciding to clean the bathroom, look at FB or plow through your emails the stimulus is right in front of you and the reward is immediate. Because the reward for doing the report is not so obvious or immediate, it is harder to make the connection at the moment.

In this simplified version, you can see that your motivation to do a task is related to the immediacy of the reward when all is working as it should be in the Reward System of the brain.

Remembering Your “Why”

True enough. It is important for everyone to make the connection between doing a task that may not be intrinsically interesting and the potential rewards.

Here are some possible starting points:

  • I want to be successful at my job and doing reports is just part of the gig.
  • These reports are important to have the data we need to make good business decisions.
  • The reports actually aren’t that important to me, but I want to be a dependable team player. And Bob really needs these reports…

But you need to have a visceral connection to the payoffnot just an intellectual connection. That is, you want to be able to really feel and see the reward in all colors of the rainbow. To do this you will need to go one step further.

For example, you might want to think about having a visual cue (pictures, quotes totems, etc.) to help you remember what it will feel like when you are successful; you can look at this item in those moments when you think, “I don’t wanna!”

Check out this list of 20 Tools to Enhance your Memory for more examples of ways to address the challenge of a weak working memory.

Not Enough Dopamine

Now you are thinking, “Ok, got it, Marla. I have to make the connection between the task and the reward. But I don’t think that is going to be enough…”

You are right!

Along with a weak working memory, it is believed that there is not enough dopamine in the ADHD Brain to carry out the processes in the Reward System, particularly motor functions and attending.

So, even when you can really feel the reward of a task that does not interest you may still:

  • feel like you are standing in cement.
  • avoid it – not do it or think about it.

Not to despair, though. You’ll just have to incorporate a few more workarounds in order to get going.

Knowing Why Is Not Enough

Yes, it is important to acknowledge that there are going to be times you are bored. It happens. And remember that your particular brain chemistry makes it harder than for neurotypical people

Be that as it may, you can still be proactive in meeting the challenge of doing these type of tasks by having a few strategies ready to employ when you feel resistance to doing a task you need to do. Here are a few options:

  • making a game out of a task, such as “beat the clock.”
  • setting a timer for the amount of time you think you can tolerate working on a particular task.
  • timing when you do a boring task to when you take your stimulant medication.
  • taking a break and doing something else. Then coming back to the task when you have more energy
  • taking notes during meetings to keep your attention.
  • using a fidget toy help keep you on task.

What other strategies have you used?

ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line

Getting started and following through on tasks that are not immediately interesting for you is harder for Adults with ADHD.

But taking the above steps, and getting the support you need, can make it easier!

 

By Marla Cummins. Please visit Marla’s website at www.marlacummins.com for additional articles and resources on Adult ADHD. Original article posted at: http://marlacummins.com/adhd-finding-your-motivation-when-youre-not-interested/

“Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net”   Modified on Canva

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6 Steps to Survive ADHD Overwhelm – Learn to Plan Your Day

Today's hectic world puts tremendous pressure to perform on everyone, but if you have ADHD the pressure is magnified several times over.By Sarah Jane Keyser

Like many people today, do you find life overwhelming? Is getting through one day an exhausting marathon? Does your day include kids to be picked up, doctor’s appointments, bills to be paid, and dry cleaning to be retrieved?. Are you afraid to open envelopes for fear of seeing the negative bank balances and the unpaid bills? Are you afraid of wasting time and money on impulsive flings every time you go shopping? It all adds up to a paralyzing sense of doom called overwhelm.

Today’s hectic world puts tremendous pressure to perform on everyone, but if you have ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) the pressure is magnified several times over.

Here are some ways ADHD contributes to that desperate feeling.

Number one is poor organization. ADHD is known as the disorder of disorganization. If you have ADHD, you have difficulty sequencing actions (or papers thus the unmanageable piles). Difficulty organizing the events of the day is just one example.

The second problem is an elastic sense of time. You have difficulty estimating how long tasks will take adding to the problem of planning the day.

Third is what I call the slipping clutch or the getting-started syndrome. When you do fix a time to do a task it still doesn’t get done because you can not start. Instead, you get sucked into the internet or the TV or another low priority activity.

Finally, the lack of boundaries makes it difficult for you to say “no”, so you have too many things to do. Poor boundaries also mean that you absorb more than your share of emotional overload; other people’s problems swamp your brain and make it difficult to think coolly about what needs doing.

Take these 6 steps to plan your day and beat overwhelm.

Stop. Recognize that overwhelm has captured your brain and is interfering with your ability to plan and get things done. Take a minute to observe how you are feeling. Take several deep breaths into the abdomen and exhale slowly.

Listen to your self-talk. Change negatives to positives: tell yourself “you can do it”. Talk out loud to yourself at each step as though you were explaining to a another person (your coach for example) what you need to do.

Make a list of the tasks you need to do, estimate the time needed including travel or set up time. Then weigh the importance and urgency of each task. Could some items wait until tomorrow or next week?

Consider what help you can get. Could a husband or a friend pick up the kids?

Plan the day. Group tasks according to location. If you have to go out, consider the time of day.  If you must drive during busy times of the day, allow for extra travel time.

Write out the day’s route map and put it in your purse or place it where you can’t forget it. Now you are ready to go. Go!

Still having difficulty? A coach or coaching program can help you stay on track.

 

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Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Coaching Key to ADDPermission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.

*** About Sarah Jane *** Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. The Newfield Network’s graduate coaching programme “Mastery in Coaching” and a programme “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC. She is an American living in Switzerland who coaches in French and English by telephone

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Life Styles for ADHD

Keys to living well with ADHD include diet, exercise, breathing, sleep and being positive.

I want to change my ADD life. What can I do?

Life Styles for ADHD

Maintaining the Brain

ADHD Coaching Strategies

Celebrating ADHD

 

Diet

The standard meal in Western cultures is loaded with sugar and simple carbohydrates in the form of white bread and pasta, and candy bars and sweet soda for snacks. Such food creates a surge of sugar in the blood which briefly gives a feel of energy, but a flood of insulin follows which removes the sugar from the blood and causes an energy crash leaving you feeling more tired, spacey, confused and inattentive than before. This food also lacks the proteins and vitamins your body needs to build and repair your body.

The ideal program is four or five small meals a day each containing protein and complex carbohydrates to maintain a steady supply of fuel to the brain. Proteins are found in meat, dairy products, nuts and soy products. They provide amino acids, the material to build and repair all the body systems: the immune system, muscles, hormones and especially the neurotransmitters which make the brain function. Complex carbohydrates are found in vegetables, whole grains and beans. They provide energy but take longer to digest than sugar and simple carbohydrates and, therefore, do not create the insulin surge that leaves you more tired than before. They also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber which your body needs for optimum health.

A word about fat- In western mythology, fat is a baddy, but, in fact, fats in the form of oils are essential for a healthy brain. By weight, the brain is more than half fat. There are different kinds of oil and all in appropriate quantities are important.

Water is essential. The brain needs a steady supply of oxygen and energy. If the blood flow slows due to dehydration, you will feel sluggish and inattentive. A glass of water will help the blood flow better.

Exercise

In a school for an Apache Indian Tribe, the program includes exercise five periods a day. If it rains they send the children home because learning is impossible without exercise. 95% of the children are hyperactive.

Until recently, experts thought that new brain cells could not be generated, that the brain cells you had at birth had to last your entire life. Research in the last ten years has shown that the brain is much more plastic. It is like a muscle; it grows when you use it. Brain cells are created, grow and link to other cells in response to usage. Exercise promotes brain growth. Use it or lose it.

The brain is a very expensive organ; it uses 50% of our food and more than 50% of the oxygen brought to the brain in the blood. Exercise increases blood flow and encourages the growth of new capillaries to increase blood carrying capacity. Exercise releases nerve growth factors called Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) known as Miracle-Gro, a fertilizer for the brain. BDNF enables cells to bind to other cells and makes stem cells grow. Pursuing an intellectual or physical activity stimulates the growth of new cells.

Exercise fuels the chemical factory producing neurotransmitters such as endorphins, norephineprine for arousal and alertness, dopamine for the attention system, and seratonin for mood regulation and stress control. It allows nerve cells to survive and grow. Studies have shown that exercise is as effective as Prozac in combating depression and the results last longer. Exercise also increases a recently discovered neurotransmitter, the neuropeptide of love, called phenylathalamine (PEA).

What kind of exercise suits you?

Intense aerobic exercise is best, 30 to 45 minutes at least five times a week. Once you feel the benefits you won’t want to miss it the other two days. If you aren’t the extreme type, a fast walk, enough to raise your heart rate will do. Dance and Tai Kwon Do or other forms of the martial arts are highly recommended for their total effect on the attention system. They take large amounts of brain power and teach respect of oneself and others and foster resilience. Yoga has also shown good results.

If you already have a well-filled schedule, you can try just running in place or skipping rope for three or four minutes whenever those neurons start playing leap frog under your skin.

Breathing

Yes, breathing. Oxygen is essential for every cell in your body and especially the brain. Breathing brings oxygen in and blows off waste products like carbon dioxide. Slight changes in oxygen level can change the way you feel and behave. Under emotional stress, anger or anxiety, people change the way they breath. Breathing becomes shallow and rapid, an inefficient pattern which lowers oxygen levels.

Slow, deep breathing from the belly will help you be more focused and less anxious.

Sleep

People with ADHD often have difficulty going to sleep at night and even more difficulty getting up in the morning. Sleep deprivation makes ADD symptoms worse and can interfere with every aspect of life. There are many strategies for getting to sleep. Here are some basic rules. Avoid stimulating activities such as TV or exercise for at least two hours before bedtime. Eat a small snack which includes protein such as a glass of warm milk or cheese and crackers before going to bed. Take a warm quiet bath. Play a tape of music or sounds of nature. Experiment to find which ones work for you.

Enjoy

Perhaps you were brought up to believe that work comes before play and the two do not mix. Well, here’s a new belief: doing things you enjoy and thinking enjoyable thoughts is good medicine for the brain. Try it!

When you think positive, happy thoughts your brain produces serotonin the feel-good neurotransmitter. When you think negative stormy thoughts your brain produces adrenaline, the stress hormone. Doing an activity that you enjoy acts as a stimulus for the brain.

 

Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Coaching Key to ADD

Permission is granted to forward or post this content in full for use in a not-for-profit format, as long as this copyright notice and full information about the author, Sarah Jane Keyser, is attached intact. If any other use is desired, permission in writing is required.

*** About Sarah Jane *** Sarah Jane Keyser worked for many years with computers as a programmer, analyst, and user trainer, but her struggle with inattentive ADD kept getting in the way of her plans and dreams. Her credentials include ADD Coach training at the ADD Coach Academy. The Newfield Network’s graduate coaching programme “Mastery in Coaching” and a programme “Coaching Kids and Teens” by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett MCC.

“Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhoto.net”   Modified on Canva

 

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16 Steps to Better Self-Esteem with ADHD

For my ADHD tribe! Change your attitude and change your life. By Kari Hogan

The reason for making this list is that ALL (or most) AD(h)D’ers have a low self-esteem issue. I wanted to make this list to help myself as well as others.
Follow my steps to a better, more confident YOU!
After all, I made this list for my tribe!!

Let’s get started!

Your first step is STRUCTURE.
By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!

The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).

Step 3. FOCUS on your good qualities. Look in the mirror and choose 5 things about yourself that you DO like about you! Write these 5 things down and tape it to the mirror (changing the 5 things each week). By choosing 5 things you do like about yourself, you’re creating hope and mindfulness that goes deep down to create an inner peace. Inner peace leads to a sense of power and in a matter of weeks, a more confident you!

4. Be your own cheerleader! No one else will do it for you. Your only concern should be you. If you have to, tell yourself, “I can do this”, “I am going to do great”, “I AM worthy”.

5. Learn to LIKE yourself. Meditation works wonders!! Sit in a quiet place for 10 minutes and just breathe in and exhale all of that negativity.

6. Get CREATIVE. DIY projects, draw/sketch something, crochet or paint a landscape. Anything that makes you use your mind in a positive, constructive way.

7. Get ACTIVE! This means anything from exercise to walking up your street. You could also try Yoga or Karate. This activates the positive chemicals in your brain- happy vibes! If all else fails, DANCE!

Number 7 would tie in perfect for the eighth step as well, which is,
SEEK SUPPORT. This can be a family member, a close friend, a Facebook support group or any other networking support groups. Enlist someone you trust to get active with you. Killing two birds with one stone is always a plus! By enlisting a close friend or relative, you’re getting the support aspect as well as working those happy brain cells. If you make this a habit and decide, “I’m not up for this today”, that partner will get your butt up and make you do it! Ah, support is great!! That brings me to number

9. All of us could use a little pep in our step and we’re not getting there by loading up on donuts. Try introducing a, once a day, healthy snack. This will promote energy and unlike donuts, won’t bog you down. With time, you can baby step your way to healthier meals. Instead of that scone in the morning, try a banana and yogurt. Protein and potassium make for a great and energizing way to start your day. An apple with peanut butter is a great option as well. Make that apple and peanut butter a snack and you have a totally guilt-free snack and an afternoon burst of energy!

10. GET OUTside or change the scenery. It’s a great way to promote a healthy mentality and a happier you.

11. TAKE CARE OF YOU! The world is an amazing place, but it’s also very stressful at the same time. Take time for yourself. Get a massage, pedicure or do something you love. (We’re nearly there!)

12. TRY SOMETHING NEW! This is a way to get out of your comfort zone. Say you decide to try Yoga, well, some of those stretches are hard to do. Go with me on this. You sign up for a class, get in there and do better than other first timers. That will boost your confidence and make you proud that you were able to try something new and excel! If you don’t do as well, hey, practice makes perfect and you’re working your way up to a brilliant confidence level while achieving a goal. That is definitely something to be proud of. It’s a double plus!

13. LEND A HAND! This is a no-brainer for me. I love helping. It makes my inner self-pleased to do something completely selfless and the reward- a smile on someone’s face. Examples of ways to help out are volunteering, helping an elder struggling to carry groceries etc. Get creative and look around. There’s always someone out there that needs a little assistance.

14. STEP IT UP. Comfort zones are hard to get away from but in order to succeed anywhere in life, you must step it up. Put on a smile (even if you’re not feeling it.) You never know who will see your smile and it impact their day and mood positively or, to go a bit further, your smile could save a life. I’m not kidding – Those people that are lonely, that never get noticed, the ones that keep a frown because no one cares – You notice. STEP IT UP, greet them. You may be preventing them from ending their life.

15. MEDITATE every morning to promote a peaceful mindset and every night before bed to promote a healthy, restful night’s sleep to wake refreshed and ready to begin your day.

16. BABY STEPS. Nothing happens overnight (Rome wasn’t built in a day), contrary to beliefs and otherwise. Start out slow and work your way up. All good things come with time, so be patient.

Finally, REINFORCE STEPS 1-16 each and every day. A healthier mind and body lead to a happier and more confident YOU!

Allow yourself to follow these steps and you will surely improve your esteem!
Just remember, I believe in you!

 

About the author: By Kari Taylor-Hogan of ADDing to the Mayhem: MOMX3 with ADHD – “We put the fun in dysfunctional.” Helping get the word out about self-esteem.   Originally published at https://addingtothemayhemmomx3withadhd.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/16-steps-to-better-self-esteem/

 

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Get Unstuck – Tips for Easier Daily Transitions When You Have ADHD

 Starting. Stopping. Switching between tasks. You have to shift gears all the time. By Marla Cummins

Starting. Stopping. Switching between tasks.

You have to shift gears all the time. Throughout your day, you transition between thoughts and tasks when you are:

  • going to work.
  • starting a new task.
  • engaging fully in a new conversation.
  • beginning a meeting.
  • trying to “shelve” a thought/concern for the time being.
  • leaving work.

And, because of the challenges with transitioning, getting stuck in a gear is a real possibility for adults with ADHD.

What are specific times when shifting gears is the most challenging for you? Use the strategies below so you can transition with greater ease.

Isn’t it time to stop grinding your gears?

ADHD and Transitions

Transitions can be difficult for you in part because of the challenges of your ADHD symptoms, such as:

  • Activating – You may have a hard time starting a task because you don’t know how or where to begin.
  • Focusing – At other times when you do start you may have a tendency to hyperfocus on a task that catches your interest. Alternatively, you may just get lost in the details, whether they are important or not. In either case, it is hard for you to stop.
  • Managing Emotions – Your emotions –  frustration, annoyance, anger, etc. – may get in your way, making it hard to move from one task to another.
  • Regulating Action – If you are impulsive at times, and jump in before considering all the necessary details, it will obviously be difficult to transition effectively.

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Ready to explore some possible workarounds?

Getting There On Time

Whether it is the office, meetings, social engagements, home or other places you may find it difficult to get there on time.

The key is to build your capacity to anticipate and plan for what you need to do in advance in order not to be late in getting from point “A” to point “B.”

I know. You knew that already.

But right now your standard operating procedure when going from place to place may sound something like, “Oh no, I didn’t know it was so late!! Where are my keys? I need that file. Why do I always do this?!!”

If you commonly utter phrase like these, and want to change this so you are not late so often or at critical times, adopt and practice the 4 Steps to Getting Places on Time.

Stopping

Of course, all that preparation is not going to help you, if you can’t stop what you are doing so you can move on to your next task.

I know this may seem obvious. But it may also be one of the biggest challenges getting in your way of moving effectively through your day.

Here are some of the various strategies other Adults with ADHD use to make it easier to stop and make the flow of their day smoother:

  • Have a clear plan for your day so you have a reason to stop. If you are not clear on what you are moving onto next, you may just go down one rabbit hole after another.
  • Decide in advance how much time you are going to spend on a task and set a timer.
  • If you are in a hyper focus mode, you may ignore the timer. So get up and stretch or take a short walk when the timer goes off. Physical movement can help you get out of hyperfocus.
  • You may even want to change your environment by moving to a different room to work after the timer goes off.
  • If you know it may be hard to stop working on a particular task because it is particularly captivating, you may decide to do it only after finishing less interesting tasks.
  • Don’t start. If you know it will be hard to stop, and you don’t have enough time to engage in the task the way you want, don’t start it. Do it when you have more time.

Which of these strategies are you going to try this week?

Switching Gears

The above steps seem pretty straight forward, right?

But, as an adult with ADHD, you may feel all “jumbled” at times when you have to move quickly from one task to another.

So, to fully extract yourself from one task so you can fully engage in your next task, give yourself as much white space as possible between tasks as you move through your day.

Instead of rushing from one task to the next:

  • Stop and take note of where you are on a task before pushing it to the side. It will be easier to pick up when you get back to it and you will feel more confident that you won’t forget what you were doing.
  • Take a short walk to clear your head and think about whether you are doing what you need to do.
  • Review the agenda or your notes before going into a meeting.
  • Even if you don’t have time to make a full plan for the next day, stop a bit early and make brief notes to make it easier to start the next day.

These are just a few ways to slow down and take stock throughout your day so you can feel more grounded and transition easier.

Ready to slow down?

Starting

If you’ve gotten this far in the article, you get that being able to plan, stop and switch gears are all key to transitioning well between tasks.

But what about activating, starting, initiating?! Once you stop, how can you make it easier to shift into first gear again and get going on your next task?

You don’t want to stall out.

The first step is to chunk down your project into parts. Because, if you are not clear on what your need to do, procrastination can easily set in – you don’t start.

The amount of time you choose for each part will depend on your attention span for that particular task, energy and time available. While the allotted time for each part may vary, be sure each part is discrete and you can see a clear beginning and end along with a due date.

You don’t have to have your whole plan prepared in advance. But you do want to see the next few steps as you are working. To see how this might work let’s look at the example of writing an article.

  1. Determine your objective, as this will guide you and keep you from going off into tangents.
  2. Review recent questions you have received, news items and other sources to get ideas for a topic.
  3. Decide on the topic.
  4. Decide on the title of the article. Again, this will help guide you as you write.
  5. Create a rough outline of the article. You can always change it, but at least you have a loose structure of what you want to include.
  6. Write a draft of each section. Don’t worry about too much careful editing as you go along. That will just bog you down.
  7. Edit the whole article at once to make sure it hangs together and you have met your objective.
  8. Add, delete or rewrite sections as needed.
  9. If you have someone editing your article, send it to them
  10. Make corrections per the suggestion of the editor.
  11. If you don’t have an editor, do a final edit.

The second step is to create an environment that will help you get started.

  • Choose the optimal time of day for you to work on a particular task. If you are writing an article, figure out when you do your best writing.
  • Clear your space of potential distractions. Turn off your email notice. Close your door. Turn off the ringer on your phone.
  • Have enough food and water, so you don’t get distracted by thirst and hunger.
  • Set a timer.
  • Put on the proverbial horse blinders and remind yourself, “I’m doing this and not that!!”
  • Play music or white noise, if that will help.

What can you do differently to get started on a task you are working on today?

ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line

Slowing down and creating a plan for better transitions can help Adults with ADHD feel more grounded and get more of the right stuff done.

 

By ADD coach Marla Cummins. Please visit Marla’s website at www.marlacummins.com for additional articles and resources on Adult ADHD.

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ADHD and Time: 4 Steps to Getting Places on Time

 Time can be elusive for many with ADHD. So, it is no wonder that running late is a common problem.By Marla Cummins

Time can be elusive for many with ADHD. So, it is no wonder that running late is a common problem. Yet, I know you want to get to places on time because you want to be responsible and honor your commitments.

It would also be nice to be grounded and present once you arrive at your destination, right? Just think of those times when you arrived someplace feeling like you had just slid into home base. How ready were you to engage in the task before you?

Even if getting to places on time has felt like a fire drill up until now, you can change this.

Use the suggestions below to the degree that you need. Of course, if you are going to a job interview, you will want to do a lot of preparation. But, if you are meeting a friend for coffee, you may not want to put in as much effort.

Looking Ahead

The first step is to visualize and write down everything you need to do to get ready for your appointment.

For example, if you are going to a meeting, the following are examples of what you may need to have ready:

  • clean clothes, stockings, etc.
  • purse/wallet with keys and phone
  • business cards
  • documents for the meeting
  • address
  • phone number (you never know when an unforeseen incident may delay you)
  • money for the meter
  • time you need to leave

The second step is to check and make sure you have what you need. Do this a few days in advance, so you have time to get what you don’t already have at hand.

The third step is to schedule when you intend to accomplish what you need to do to get ready. When are you going to get ink for the printer, iron your shirt, get quarters for the meter, etc.?

Yes, I know it may seem like a lot of effort. But I think you will enjoy the peace of mind that will come with preparing.

Estimate the Time Needed

As estimating time is a challenge for many with ADHD, determining when to leave for an appointment can be a bit tricky.

A helpful strategy is to think about how long it could take for each step along the way, such as:

  • programming your GPS
  • driving in traffic for that time of day
  • finding a parking spot for that time of day
  • walking from your car to your appointment
  • going to the washroom, if you are going to an interview.

In Boston, where I live, traffic is more of a factor than the distance. And there is almost always traffic. According to my GPS, it “should” take about 20 minutes to drive Downtown. But I will add as much as a 1/2 hour to my travel time to make sure I can get to meetings on time.

If it is critical that you get to the appointment on time, try overestimating the time needed. I heard your gasps of surprise at this suggestion! And I know you may get bored easily. So, bring a book or some other work to keep yourself occupied in case you arrive early.

Transitioning

It is true. Preparation and intention may not be enough to get to your destination on time.

You still need to stop what you are doing and get ready to leave. Not always an easy feat! If transitioning between tasks is a challenge for you, as is true for many with ADHD, not giving yourself enough time to transition may still torpedo your plans.

Stop what you are doing at least 15 minutes early so you can give yourself time to clear your head and get ready to leave. Use a timer to cue you, if you need a reminder.

Actually Getting out the Door

One last hurdle is actually getting out the door on time.

You may, however, suffer from the common affliction of “one more thingitis.” Those who suffer from this ailment often suddenly remember things they “have to do” at the most inconvenient times, like when they are leaving to go to an important meeting.

Does the scenario below sound familiar?

As you are walking out the door, you decide you really need to take out the recycling. Then you drop it. As you drop the recycling, a glass falls. You need to clean it up so the kids do not cut themselves. Ten minutes later, you are still not out the door.

It is a slippery slope, to be sure.

The antidote is to resist the urge by using some type of self-talk, like, “If I don’t go now, I’ll be late and that will not look good. The recycling can wait. It would not be the worst thing if it went out next week.”

ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line

If you want to get to places on time, you can optimize your chances by adopting some or all of the steps above:

  • Prepare in advance
  • Estimate the time needed to get to your destination. Better yet try over estimating!
  • Have a plan to transition from your previous activity.
  • And resist the urge to do just one more thing.

 

By Marla Cummins. Please visit Marla’s website at www.marlacummins.com for additional articles and resources on Adult ADHD. Original article can be found at http://marlacummins.com/adhd-time-4-steps-places-time/

 

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