Sunday, February 22, 2015

Focusing... by UN-focusing

Sometimes, the only way I can hope to stay focused is by remaining UN-focused.

I have a really busy day ahead of me-- there is basically "too much stuff" that needs to be done today, and getting it all done will require a lot of focus.

When you live with ADHD Inattentive, a funny thing happens. Well... at least a funny thing happens to me. When I start really concentrating on something, I can feel my brain start to shut down, within about 5-10 minutes... instead of getting a neurotransmitter "boost" to help me get a lot done, my brain gets the "message" that I clearly haven't slept in five days, and I should take a nap... immediately.

As the outcome of a lot of experimentation over the past 20 years, I have managed to build a semi-functional life around the process of "chunking small." It's not exactly the same interpretation as that term as used in NLP, but it basically means that if I make the discrete tasks I attempt small enough, I can "fool" my brain by being finished with any given task that needs doing, before I get chemical messages to go to sleep.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I also openly allow "distractions" and-- in fact-- try to work with them to my benefit, rather than making them "bad" and trying to resist them.

For example, looking at today's work load... I can't possibly hope to "list 88 items on eBay," but I might just be able to "list ONE item on eBay," 88 times. Maybe that sounds like the same thing, but I can assure you it is not, when you live inside this body and brain. In the pursuit of today's work, it is also likely that I will "allow" myself to sidetrack, at least 40-50 times... for a minute or two, segueing into some other very small task.

To many an outsider, this probably all sounds like an excuse to put a fancy label on simple procrastination. So be it. Maybe procrastination is the "ugly stepchild" (of sorts) of ADHD.

I am less concerned with "labels" than I am with functional living. And in my world, that means non-pharmaceutical functional living.

I have learned to work with "distractions" as part of a functional routine. I even wrote this article (hand written, on bits of paper) while standing in the kitchen, feeding the dog her breakfast and waiting for my toast to finish toasting. It "works" because it allows my brain to "roam" and stay unfocused, which means I can avoid the dreaded "brain sleep" that invariably seems to accompany any attempts I make to concentrate and focus on something.

Which leaves the question of what I can find to distract myself with, while typing out these words for publication. These words, which started as a "distraction" from something else I was thinking about doing...