Productivity

5 Ways to Get to Bed Earlier without Fear of Missing Out

fear of missing out

Do you hate bedtime time as much as I do?

It’s a given that kids hate going to bed, but many adults with ADHD also loathe it. Especially those who have kids. When evening rolls around and the sprogs have finally drifted off to the land of nod, those precious few hours nestled between:

  • working at work
  • working at home and
  • working at getting to sleep

… they may be the only time we get to spend time doing things we truly want to do. The fun stuff, the meaningful stuff, the stuff that fulfills us and makes all the other stuff bearable.

So it’s no wonder most of us drag ourselves to bed kicking and screaming, way past the hour sane people nod off.

We know we need more sleep: for health, mental health and mental clarity. But that doesn’t make us WANT to go to bed any earlier than we already do. It just makes us feel like we have only two options:

  • More sleep and less time to ourselves or
  • More time, less sleep… and all the nasty side effects

Point in case:

When I go to bed earlier I feel much better the next day. My head is clearer, I’m in a better mood and I’m much more focused.

But here’s the catch: I don’t get enough time to read and write if I go to bed early. Those are the things that fill my soul. But they take time. Quiet, alone time. Usually, that’s the time when the kids are in bed. So that means later nights.

Or does it?

I’ve figured out 5 ways to get to bed earlier, without fear of missing out on the stuff that I really want to do. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Figure out what feeds you the most

I’m not talking about food. Decide on what activity makes you most feel like you’ve had “me time”. We often waste our evenings watching TV or getting sucked into the Internet vortex, not because that’s what we really want to do, but because that’s all we really have the energy for. Usually, though, it conveys an unspoken message of pointlessness to our subconscious. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those activities, but doing them night after night makes us feel like we’re wasting our lives.

Not sure what you value the most in life? Try out this exercise to figure out how you could be spending your free time.

2. Steal time for your values

Night time isn’t the only time you can have to yourself. Sometimes, our lives are structured in a way that means we have to think differently about the time that we do have, rather than just focusing on the paucity of it. Do you get a 15-minute coffee break at work? What about a lunch hour? How about the time when you’re walking the dogs?

Make more out of free-time chunks when you get them, even if they’re not in the evenings. Read a book on your break or listen to an audio book while walking the canine. Crochet on the train as you head off to work. Listen to music while making dinner. Whatever your thing is – find a way to sneak in some time for yourself during the day, and you’ll have less of a need to exploit every second of the twilight hours.

3. Let stuff go once in a while

I have an obsessive need to get everything done as soon as I can. For example, I can’t cope with the visual clutter of last night’s dishes when I wake up in the morning. But sometimes, particularly when I’ve had a hard day, I recognize the fact that I need to let something go, in order to get some much-needed me-time in. Often, it means that I do those dishes – but I leave the laundry to another day. That’s what the space under the bed is for.

4. What? When? Where? How?

I can’t write when my kids are around. They interrupt – a lot, and that only frustrates me. But I want them to interrupt me, because that’s what I’m here for. So I write when they’re at school (if I have a weekday off) or when they’re in bed. That means the other stuff gets done when they’re around – the stuff I don’t really need to concentrate hard on. Usually, I try to incorporate them into that activity, by getting their help in trade for spending some time with them doing the things they love. Together we’ve built an entire Minecraft world based solely on this barter system.

5. And remember your Why…

Going to bed earlier isn’t about being a good boy or girl. It isn’t about doing the “right thing” or doing what you’re “supposed to do”. I used to hate sleep. It feels like a waste of time, and I can probably only say this because I’m someone who doesn’t seem to need a lot of it to function.

BUT…

I have noticed that I do function much better when I’ve slept well. Generally, the quality of my sleep increases when I get at least some of it before midnight. So, while I’ve had to sacrifice some of those all-to-myself minutes in the evening in order to get to bed earlier, I no longer have a fear of missing out.

The reason for this is simple: when I sleep better, I have more energy to do the things I really want to do, rather than flaking out in front of a box because I’m exhausted.

Try this for 2 weeks (I dare you…) How much better is the quality of your  “me time” when you actually get a better sleep at night? Share your experience in the comments below.

Growth

Little Digs: Thickening Your Skin to Withstand the Pricks

Don’t you hate it when people say things that seem like ordinary comments, but really are little digs to point out your flaws?

I was waiting for a courier delivery the other day. When my package arrived, I was surprised by the driver’s greeting. Rather than the expected “Hello ma’am… sign here”, he decided to criticize my kids.   

My kids had posted a note on our front door, proclaiming our house to be haunted, or rather – “hanted”. I opened the door to this brown-suited man, pen in hand, correcting their spelling mistake. I would have shrugged this off, assuming him to be a very conscientious delivery professional with a penchant for spelling. But no. He didn’t leave it at that.

He told my kids, eager as beagles whenever the door rings, about their error. And then made a big deal about the importance of spelling.

Thank you Mr. Delivery Man, for lecturing my wayward children. The neighbors will sleep better knowing our house is not hanted, as my “illiterate” kids would have everyone believe. I shudder to think of the whispers down the avenue.

And by the way – mind your own freaking business! I get to choose what I correct my kids on, not you, a complete stranger!

Maybe he was having a dig at me, the idiot who let the note stand as it was.

Little digs can never hurt me…

What really bugged me was that this statement was a little dig – having your mistakes pointed out for no other purpose than to make a spectacle of them. It makes the other people feel big.

But why should little digs even bug me?

Before I knew about ADHD, I thought I was inept. I had experienced a reasonable amount of success in my professional and personal life, but I just couldn’t get it together on the day-to-day stuff like being organized, on time, etc. It was those things that I counted as measurements of my success, or lack-thereof. I cared more about those trivial things than I did about the fact that I had a happy relationship, great friends, and I job I loved and was good at!

So, that’s why I took offense with little digs. I didn’t take them at face value, I took them as an assault on my character. And most of the time, I blew them way out of proportion.

It wasn’t until I had done A LOT of work on self-acceptance that I was able to thicken my skin to criticism – the real and the perceived kind. When I learned to embrace my own values, I cared less about what other people thought.

Sometimes, criticism can be constructive. But criticism based on personal opinions and values, not on general concern for another’s welfare…. that’s called judgement.

I have no room for judgment in the list of things that keep me up at night.

My hanted house is the only thing that stops me from sleeping these days.

Focus

What You Should Do For ADHD Awareness Month

October is the month for International ADHD Awareness. As you know, I’m a big advocate for promoting awareness of ADHD. I talk a lot about ADD. Because, well… this is an ADD blog.

So what are you doing to promote the cause during this international month of awareness?

In honour of this important time, I have written a best-selling book that will change everything we know about ADD, based on my years of intensive research. I have also produced and starred in a documentary exposing the ups and downs of ADD and the insufficiencies of standard treatment. And then just last week, I invented a new drug that is currently being reviewed for FDA approval. It helps you focus without making you irritable or tweaky. I called it Xursize.

Haven’t I done well this month?! Top that Ned Hallowell. Move over Russell Barkley. Eat my dust Rick Green.

So I might be exaggerating a bit. Exaggerating, in that I didn’t actually do any of those things.

(I may have been a bit insolent too. Those three guys are my heroes.)

In real life (the one in which my body exists, not just my head), I did something much more impressive than those insolent exaggerations (lies).

The Really Impressive Thing I Did

I woke up every day after just two snooze-button pushes. I got my kids to school 2 minutes before the bell rang. I arrived to work on time. I paid attention when my husband asked me to find something. I watched 14 performances of Call Me Maybe in my living room. Note: I didn’t troll through my smart phone, I WATCHED my kids sing my (now) least favourite song in the world.

And to top it off, I called my mom on her birthday. (Well, actually, the day before, but I wasn’t late!)

In essence, I managed my ADD – to the best of my ability anyway. Indubitably (say it 3 times), amongst those huge ADD successes there were a lot of failures too, but that’s not the point. We (people) fail every day. Nothing epic about that.

The point is, I didn’t bow down to ADD and let it reign over me. I didn’t let it control me. I saw it, and I told it:

“Hey ADD, I see you. And I’m going to kick your ass”.

And I did.

Although… it kicked my ass on several occasions too. Then it laughed at me.

I responded:

“Oh ADD, you’re such a stinker”. (Yes, sometimes I talk like Harriet Nelson, especially after I’ve sworn twice in a post and am feeling dubious about it).

ADD and I are about 50-50. We’ve tied when it comes to the ultimate management of my life. Though I dare say, lately I seem to be winning more often than it does. Ha-ha, whose laughing now, punk?!

How did I manage my ADD?

I know you want a simple answer. So I’m going to give you one because guess what? The answer actually IS simple.

It’s all down to awareness.

I’m not talking about public awareness. I’m talking about self-awareness.

The Simple Answer

The more aware I am of my ADD, the more control I have over it. The more I am able to sit back and watch how it operates in my life, the more able I am to govern over it. When I pause and take notice, I can see ADD coming a mile away. And I say to it:

“Oh no, you don’t…”

And when it does, I say “Awe shucks (still feeling guilty about swearing), I’ll get you next time. I will see you from even farther away… next time”. (Cue the evil Dr. Claw laugh.)

So becoming aware of your ADD challenges and when they present… that’s a huge part of managing it well. It’s the first step in personally transforming your life and, in my opinion, the undeniably most important one.

Other things to be aware of…

  • Your strengths and how you can use them.
  • Your intentions – and whether or not you are doing what you intend to be doing.
  • Your values – and whether or not your intentions and actions are aligned with them.

Before I leave you, I want to demonstrate an example of why self-awareness is pretty awesome. I apologize in advance for referencing The Matrix again. 1999 was the best year of my life and so it seems I maybe be maturational-ly stuck there. (Generation X’ers can I get a whoop whoop?!)

Here’s The Matrix Comparison:

When Neo “awoke” in the matrix, he struggled with the preternatural challenges that faced him. He had no choice but to recode his outdated perceptions. When he finally became aware of the true nature of the matrix, he became more powerful than he ever realized he could be. So powerful, in fact, that he was able to dodge bullets and later… walk right through them.

Self-awareness helps you dodge bullets and walk right through them. (Metaphorically speaking, please don’t fling yourself into the middle of a skirmish).

So if you do anything to promote our cause this October, ADHD Awareness Month, do this:

Sponsor your own self-awareness: of ADD, how it shows up, what strengths you can leverage, and what your true intentions, values and ideals are. A fulfilled and confident ADDer is the best resource and mentor for those who are struggling. We need more positive mentors.

Productivity

Two Life Changing Tips To Manage Your Time Better

Everybody’s busy. Everyone needs more time. But apart from Dr. Who, none of us can control how fast it passes.

We do control how we spend the time we have. But even when we ADDers have time – we often fail to use it effectively. For several reasons: we don’t have a firm concept of how it passes, we aren’t realistic about what we can do with it, and we struggle to make the most of it.

There are plenty of great Internet resources that will teach you some techniques to manage these challenges. But I am more interested in experience than how-to’s. It makes no difference how well you spend your time if you don’t enjoy it while you are spending it.

Most people have too much on their plate. In yesteryears, families resorted to two incomes as a way to make ends meet. As wealth increased, we used the superfluous earnings we had improving our quality of life. But as a society seduced by consumerism, we’ve lost track of the difference between needs and wants. Often, we work for our things rather than our needs, sacrificing time for money.

No one needs an extra bedroom or a cottage at the lake. Granted, they are nice to have. A room for company to sleep in and a cottage for respite certainly improve quality of life. But only if you’ve made the conscious decision that they are worth the time and money they require. The point isn’t whether or not you should have these things, it is whether or not you value them enough to sacrifice your time.

The challenge for everyday tasks is no different. In order to get a firm grip on how you spend your time, it is important to clarify between your needs and your wants. More importantly, you need to clarify your values. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing, and whether the thing you are doing is something you value, helps you make more conscious choices over how you spend your time.

Which brings me to the next challenge we so often face: competing values. I value being a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, coach, housekeeper, philanthropist… but I can’t be all of those things, all of the time. The sad truth is that when we spend time doing one thing we value, we unavoidably fail to spend time doing something else we value.

In Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness, Tal Ben-Shahar shares an anecdotal study that was done on women and happiness. He explains that women frequently report their least satisfying part of the day was the time that they were spending with their children. Not because they didn’t love their children or enjoy their company, but because the time they spent with them was often punctuated by multitasking and doing other things like chores, emailing, or talking on the phone. Quite simply, they were with their children in body but not in mind. Being with their kids simply highlighted the nagging sense that they weren’t really giving themselves over to their kids, but coping the best they could stretched out on life’s wooden horse.

Multitasking rarely makes life more enjoyable. But we do it, because it seems we have to. When was the last time you ate a meal and did nothing else? I mean – nothing else. No talking, driving, texting, opening emails, watching TV – only eating? Few of us sit down and just eat. Interestingly, unconscious eating is partially responsible for today’s obesity problem.  In his hugely successful series “I Can Make You Thin”, British hypnotist and neurolingistic programmer Paul McKenna advises that slow and deliberate eating, done in isolation of any other activity, is one key way to eat less and lose weight.

We don’t just need more time or less to do. We need to experience the time we have more fully, no matter how we are spending it. Stress doesn’t come from infinite to-do lists so much as it comes from the loss of seconds, minutes, hours or even days of your life. Doing five things at once is not time well spent. It’s the passing of a moment without ever really experiencing it.

This is one of the biggest challenges ADDers have with time. We are never really here, but a millions places at once. It’s hard to feel like you have any time when you’re never fully there to experience it.

If you want to make the most of your precious hours on this earth, you only need to focus on two things.

1. Quality

Increase the quality of the time you are spending (no matter what you are doing) by being as present as possible, whether it is through use of medication, mindfulness, single-tasking, or any other means. It may seem counterintuitive, but most people enjoy things more when they are present.

There is a way to slow time down. It’s called Mindfulness. Mindfulness can be extraordinarily hard to achieve at the best of times, let alone when you have ADD. Yet, it can be very simple at the same time. In the Joy of Living, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche makes it very accessible for amateurs. In its simplest form, it only requires you to notice and observe all that you are experiencing and doing in the present moment. And when you notice your mind slip out the back door and on to other things, you gently bring it back to the moment. You don’t even have to give up daydreaming (which I secretly love, when it is not interfering with other things in my life). You simply notice yourself daydreaming. And by doing so, you are present.

Slowing down and doing one thing at a time is another way to capture the moment, especially if you practice mindfulness at the same time. The idea of it may sound like nails on a chalkboard to us ADDers who thrive on momentum, velocity and multiple sources of stimulation. But a bit of slowing down once in awhile can actually make us more efficient, and even more fulfilled. I feel like a better mother when I am fully present during playtime with the kids, as hard as it is to do when Barbie vs Batman has had its third spontaneous plot change, directed by a 5 year old who demands perfection from the performance.

But feeling like a better mom lets me focus more clearly by removing any source of guilt when I shift my attention to other things later on. Sometimes, you have to pay attention in “installments” by bringing your mind back, over and over and over again.

You won’t be able to slow down and be mindful all of the time, but any time you do will add a great deal of quality to your life.

2. Quantity:

Increase the quantity of time you spend doing things you value by clarifying your values and differentiating your needs from wants. Some things need to be done, but not nearly as many things as we think. Thinking about the “why” behind your activity can make it more rewarding for you, if it is in line with your values. I don’t value cooking and would happily eat out everyday – but I do value providing a nutritious meal for the family and reserving our finances for other things. Being conscious of the “why” can make certain tasks less frustrating, even if they aren’t that enjoyable.

You may be irritated right now that I haven’t highlight ways for you to get more done. But I can almost guarantee that when you spend more time on things you truly value or conversely, find value in the things you are already doing, your time will be better spent. And when you stop and pay attention to those things, the roller coaster slows down.