Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Functional" Distractions... as an ADHD Coping Tool

I am eternally looking for ways to make my "scattered" life easier to navigate.

For a few years now, one of my most effective tools has been finding ways to engage myself in what I think of as "Functional Distractions."

The bane of my existence (and the underlying cause for much of my non-productivity) was always the fact that I would get sidetracked into doing "useless things" and end up with a day where I actually worked for maybe 30 minutes (net) and spent ten hours exploring a variety of mostly useless "rabbit holes."

Some part of me wants to rationalize that I was sidetracking because it was the only way to stay awake, and that maybe my research would "be useful some day," but that excuse has never really done me much good. Bottom line-- for 99.9% of the population-- is that unless we work, and actually accomplish things, we can't pay for our rent, power bill and groceries.

As a self-employed person for almost a couple of decades now, the temptation presented by alluring distractions has always been great. It is just soooo easy to stop to check email, check Facebook, follow a link, and before I know it, another two hours have been eaten off the clock. Of course, since my issue is "inattentiveness," I also have to be constantly on alert for simply "staring out the window" (for 45 minutes) or day dreaming.

I have already written about my "scattered work" which I call making a living... and it is really the result of deciding that it is inevitable that I am going to sidetrack... so when I do sidetrack, why not make it to something "functional" rather than something "useless?"

There is a certain irony in the fact that this blog was started as a form of "side tracking," because I felt like I'd be unable to find my ramblings about living with ADHD among the thousands of posts that make up my private personal journal. Besides... it seemed like a right thing to write this stuff "out in public," just in case someone else might see it and find it useful.

"Functional Distractions" is a system by which I give myself "permission" to get sidetracked from something that needs to be done... as long as I sidetrack into something else that needs to get done. Running a number of microbusinesses is ideal in the sense that I can switch between very different tasks-- all of which need to get done. I can write here, then go list five things on eBay, then do some photography, then do ten minutes of book keeping, and it's all "in bounds," even though I am flitting around like a hummingbird on crack.

It may not be the most efficient way to work, but it's a lot more productive-- at least for me-- than trying to focus on a single task and then zoning out permanently after 30 minutes.

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