Is ADD getting in your way? Is it undermining your efforts to make positive changes in your life?
I’ve noticed this phenomenon too. In the past, it felt like I was always chasing my tail. I could see what I was doing, wandering around doing this and that, but getting nothing done. I just couldn’t stop it. Some days, I couldn’t make it out of the house before noon. Some days, I couldn’t make it out at all.
Now, I coach other adults with ADHD. I help them discover strengths, unlock potential and overcome challenges.
Pretty awesome work if I say so myself. But… it comes with a catch.
I love helping my clients reach their potential, but something can get in the way of progress. Can you guess what it is?
It’s their ADD. Their ADD gets in the way of our efforts to manage and overcome… their ADD. Imagine that.
For example, a client and I might be working on – say – strategies for getting organized at home. The next week, my client decides that some other tangent is more important, and forgets all about what we were talking about the previous week. The following week, they come back, having forgotten what we covered the previous two week, and now want to tackle a yet another agenda. It’s not that my clients don’t try hard – they do – it’s just that …. they are so ADD!
Yes, one of the most challenging parts of being an ADHD coach is that all of my clients have ADHD.
Would it help if I stopped here and added an emoji or a cheesy 😉 so there is no doubt I am be facetious?
The funny thing is, ADD doesn’t actually get in the way of progress at all. Coaching is designed to work with – or around – the ADD challenges. I know and my clients know that the impulse to change focus every week is compelling. So we pay attention to that. We know what is going to get in the way – so we plan for it. We predict distractions and plan ways to get back on track. We account for the likelihood of forgetting and set reminders. We notice we are getting off track and decide to get back on target.
And the reason it works is because there is no mystery and no judgment. We know that, as we work on ADD challenges, ADD is going to show up and get in the way. And the way we uncover strengths, unlock potential and master ADD is by learning to get around this challenge.
Most of us want to stop “being so ADD”, when we should really be seeking out a better way to plan for it being there, then find a way to work around it. This is always easier to do when you don’t judge yourself for making mistakes or when things don’t go as well as you wished they would.
Five ways to plan for ADHD
1. Never rely on your memory
Write everything down – in a notebook or on an app on your device. Preferably, keep notes in one location so you know which notebook or app to look in.
2. Set reminders and pre-reminders
Apps and alarms work best for this. Put your mother’s birthday in your calendar and set up an alert that will bring it to your attention on the day. Set a pre-reminder a few days ahead to remind you to get a gift or send a birthday card.
Don’t trust that voice that pretends “Oh, I’ll remember that!” Has it ever worked for you before?
I have a recurring reminder in my androids’s calendar, set up with an alert. Every morning at 8:00 a.m. it reminds me to… look at my calendar. No matter how hard I try, I never remember to actually look at my schedule for the day. Now, I don’t have to remember. My android tells me to do it.
3. Build a pause into your life
If you find yourself getting off track, pause and ask yourself:
What am I doing right now? Is this what I intended to be doing?
Get yourself back on track. Setting an alarm (yes, that strategy again!) is a great way to enforce a pause or two in your day.
4. Learn to simplify
We ADDers are notorious for trying to get too many things done. Tackle tasks the easy way, not the way that seems most productive. For more on this, check out this post.
5. Don’t commit to things you wish you’d do but won’t
Be realistic. It would be great to write a blog post, talk to a client, finish the laundry and take my kids sledding before my daughter’s theatre class, but at least one of those things is not going to happen today. Darn. Looks like laundry will have to wait. Commit only to what you can do, not what you think you should be able to do.
These are just a few ways to plan around ADHD. Other examples could include listening to your IPod while grocery shopping to drown out the noise, making meals in batches and freezing then for the rest of the week, or starting every day with a shower first – so you don’t end up in your onesie when your dinner guests arrive. The options are endless.
The point is, we can’t stop ADD. We just see it coming, like a road block up ahead, and drive around it.
What are your best strategies for circumventing ADHD challenges? Please share in the comments. And make sure to sign up in the box below for more tools to manage your ADD!