Saturday, April 19, 2014

ADHD "Management" in Action

This morning, I decided I was going to make breakfast. Specifically, I chose to make a large batch of breakfast crepes. If you're not familiar with making these, the important gist (or "salient point") of this story is that mixing ingredients for the batter is pretty quick and simple... and then you are "stuck there," flipping crepes, for about an hour.

Of course, when you have ADHD of any kind, your mind tends to be going a million miles an hour, while traveling all over creation. Even though my "form" of ADHD is the "inattentive" variant... I'm no exception. Flipping crepes for an hour feels like a "trap," yet I have little choice but to "stay there," if I actually want the food. The upside is that minding a skillet on the stove might require some concentration, but is otherwise a pretty mindless sort of thing.

The long and the short of it is that my hour turned into a creative writing exercise, using one of my "tools" that has become an effective part of my ADHD management skills.

In addition to having my pan and my plates and my spatula... I also grabbed a stack of small sheets of notepaper and a pen... and started cooking.

By the time the crepes were finished, I had also outlined-- in pen, on individual sheets of paper-- 11 different articles and blog posts, the last one of which was a sketchy note to myself to put this blog post here, as an illustration of how to "use" the condition to our advantage, rather than trying to "fight" it.

I know-- from many years of experience-- that I can't hope to focus on a mindless task for more than a few minutes. I have found that if I "expand" such a task by adding a very specific "secondary goal" to work on, I can actually become very productive. As such, I have trained myself to cash in on some of me best "thinking time" while being engaged in "non-thinking" tasks-- like mowing the lawn, certain kinds of cooking. I also know from experience that if I don't have such a "specified secondary task" my mind will roam in a totally unstructured fashion, and I will get nothing done. In the case of this morning's crepe cookery, I would probably have burned a few of them because I would have flitted off to some other, unrelated, task... and lost track of time. However, I knew that being able to write on bits of paper right next to my "primary objective" would allow me to stay on task. I also knew that "jotting an idea" would be short enough to keep me from burning food.

So not only did I come away with something yummy to eat, I came away a "quieter mind" because I'd actually "emptied" my head while I was cooking... at least temporarily. And so, I could enjoy a peaceful breakfast... without obsessively "trying to remember all those ideas I had while cooking." Which is pretty much how much of my life used to be, even just 10 years ago.

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