Monday, May 26, 2014

ADHD Issues: When "Future Stuff" Gets in the Way

Yesterday I woke up with a great determination to "get a lot of stuff done." I even felt like I was in the right frame of mind-- which seems to directly impact my productivity-- to "get a lot of stuff done."

Fine. Sounds like a really good plan!

I got myself all ready and fired up to have a super productive day... and then I remembered: A 3 o'clock doctor's appointment.

Day completely ruined.

Now, let's keep in mind that I was having this realization at 8:30 in the morning, long before needing to get ready for the appointment. I had five hours of time.

And yet? I found myself feeling capsized and helpless... the "distraction" of knowing that I would need to break my "precious" focus in mid-stream keeping me from even getting started on doing anything productive. On top of that sense of helplessness, there was the attendant layer of frustration at not being able to "cope with life."

I suppose such an "event" would be a small thing for most people. For me, it felt like an entire day was wasted because I "had plans" and had forgotten to include them in planning my day. Truth is, I could have done a lot with 5 hours of work time, but I found myself losing all interest.

This also made me sit and think about how often it is "small things" in my life that keep me from being able to maintain focus. Knowing that "the dog needs to be fed" an hour from now makes it extremely hard for me to focus on the task at hand. I am far better off getting up and feeding the dog now, so it's not a "loose thought" tumbling around inside my head.

And that's part of a bigger issue... the eternal "clearing of space" so that I can get to a point of just focusing on what really matters. Why is it an "issue?" Well, because I tend to use up ALL my time on "clearing space" so I never have any time (or energy) left over to do whatever thing was actually most important.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

ADHD, Discernment and Prioritizing

Over the years, I have learned to use a series of "coping tools" in lieu of letting myself get "drugged into oblivion."

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against "better living through pharmaceuticals," but I prefer to limit such things to blood pressure meds and the like.

When I sit inside my personal experience with ADHD (and also draw on experiences and anecdotes others have shared), it has always struck me that there is always so much on our plates; so many things clamoring for our attention.

This morning I reflected on "all the things" I need to get done this week, and it occurred to me that one of the defining characteristics of ADHD-- at least for me and for a lot of people-- seems to be a difficulty practicing discernment. It's not really a case of me having "more things" I need to get done, but a case of me having great difficulty prioritizing those things appropriately. That is, all the things that come up feel "equally important," and then I get stuck while contemplating where to begin.

I get the distinct impression that the majority of the world has just as many things they need to get done as I do, but they have a much better ability to look at something, declare it "not important," and then move on with what matters most. I find it quite difficult to "rank" things. And sometimes I rank them "poorly," assigning excess importance to "busy work" that will make it easier for me to deal with the most important things. Which, in turn, leaves those "most important things" UN-done, often causing me all manners of headaches.

Even as I make my way through the day, using my system of "task notes," I find it a struggle to decide which things are most important... and I often end up in a pattern of "cleaning my desk so I can do my work" when I really should just launch directly into "doing my work."

It's all a learning process... but sometimes it feels like I am moving desperately slowly.