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HOW TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE WITH ADD/ADHD: PART TWO

Some ideas to accomplish tasks


HELLO again! In part one of one I shared with you how ADD impacted my life. Let me share a little of what I know about ADD/ADHD which I learned in a variety of ways through my degree in psychology and through my own research. I like to go right to the source when I research using either peer reviewed medical journals or continuing education courses or videos. The most recent and my favorite video that I watched was Dr. Russel Barkley a clinical psychologist who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the VCU Medical Center and an author: https://youtu.be/_tpB-B8BXk0. He has quite a few on YouTube that give thorough explanation of ADD/ADHD. Some of the following ideas I implemented from my own trial and error and some I learned from Dr. Russel’s videos. So here goes - some of the “tricks” or tools I use in my everyday life in various situations:

1. CONVERSATIONS: If I am having a casual conversation, I have to be honest and say I still interrupt people. I apologize and explain “I’ll forget if I don’t say it.” More now than ever I am able to stop myself and decide whether or not it’s important enough to interrupt. Usually, it is not. So, the thought just goes and I keep listening.

2. TAKING NOTES: If I am meeting with someone that is more formal or business related situation, I will take notes. An example would be, if someone want’s to have a conversation about a particular topic that I need to give my input I will ask the person if they minded if I jotted down my thoughts while they spoke. Most people don’t mind and actually like the fact that I care enough to do this. This is an example of how communication can avoid conflict due to perception (a person possibly thinking, from their perception, that you’re being rude by doing something else why they are speaking).

3. TAKING BREAKS: I have a tendency to never want to take any breaks. I’m afraid if I do I won’t get back to the task at hand. I end up working hours upon hours without taking breaks. While this actually works it causes me to be exhausted once I’ve completed whatever it is. If you have ADD/ADHD it’s better to take numerous breaks. This may seem odd because I’ve heard story upon stories like this: “I went to the kitchen to get a sandwich and on the way I notice a shirt lying on the floor so I picked it up and brought it to the hamper, etc. etc.” So how this works is you set a time schedule for your entire work day. You have a timer set to work for 10 minutes (whatever works for you), take a break for 3 minutes, work another 10 minutes, take a break for 3 minutes and repeat until your task is completed.

When I first heard of this technique I thought “I’ll never get my work done,” but I’ve tried it. It works. I have better clarity when I work because my brain gets refreshed in the 10 minute break. I find it best to do meditation during the breaks. Just some deep breathing would suffice. The break should be something quiet that can regenerate your brain. If you’d like, you could just walk around a bit and stretch. Dancing is always fun, if that’s an available option!

4. REWARDS: Before you start work or a project, think of something you would really life. It can be as simple as your favorite treat or something as big as a weekend get away depending on the project. Visualize and/or even talk about it to yourself so you get excited about it. This is a great way to motivate your brain to not give up on completing your task.

5. SIP ON A SUGAR DRINK: According to Barkley, blood glucose in the frontal lobe is directly correlated with executive function and self regulation abilities. ADD/ADHD is an executive function disorder. He also states that it is an executive function disorder that interferes with paying attention; organization & planning; starting tasks & staying focused on the task; managing emotions; keeping track of what you’re doing. He suggests, if you have a major task that is going to use your executive abilities, like an exam, SIP on a drink lake Gatorade. Don’t gulp it down. Sipping on it throughout the task will help maintain your blood glucose in your frontal lobe. (Barkley, 2012).

6. USE PHYSICAL CUES: I know that I have to be constantly reminded of what I need to get done. I hung a white board on a wall that I pass consistently throughout my day. I write a list of my tasks on this white board so that I am reminded of what needs to be accomplished. My short term memory is impacted by my ADD, therefore I rely on any cues I can that will be in my visual field. Making to-do lists work great, as long as I look at them. So, I will even write on my white board “Look at to-do list” or “Look at your calendar.” I know this sounds lame, but it really helps me to stay on task.


7. REALISTIC WITH TIME: I have learned the hard way that I underestimate how much time something will take. When I am planning I add time onto what I think something will take. For example, if I have a project I think will take 2 hours, I add an extra 1/2 hour onto that estimate to give me some cushion. This has helped tremendously. Prior to doing this I would inevitably take longer and get very frustrated that I didn’t complete my task on time. You should conform whatever time cushion works for you. It’s always better to have extra time, then run out of time.

These are just a few things I do to help run my life more smoothly. There are so many more ideas and tricks that can help. Feel free to leave anything ideas yo may have that help you accomplish your tasks! “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller

RESOURCE


Barkley, R. (2012). This is How You Treat ADHD Based Off of Science. Burnett Lecture. https://youtu.be/_tpB-B8BXk0.


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