In honor of ADHD awareness week (more)I thought I would do this post for those that may know very little about Attention Deficit Disorder. Over the years I have been very public about the fact that I have ADHD. This is something we didn’t discover until I was in my late 20’s / early thirties after I decided to be tested because I knew my reading comprehension was sub-par at best. Come to find out, most of what I read my entire life in school was never retained. While getting this diagnosis may have been a disappointment for some people, it was actually a relief to me in a lot of ways. It helped explain a lot that I had struggled with internally for a number of years.
Most people think of children when they hear the term ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But 30%-70% of kids with ADHD continue having symptoms when they grow up. People with ADHD have an imbalance of neurotransmitter activity in areas of the brain that control attention. In adults, the inability to stay focused can derail careers, ambitions, and relationships. Many adults don’t realize they have the disorder, leaving them mystified about why their goals always seem to slip out of reach.
ADHD in adults follows a slightly different pattern than in children. Adults may be chronically late to work or important events. They may be disorganized, restless, and have difficulty relaxing. Some people with ADHD have trouble concentrating while reading. Mood swings, low self-esteem, and poor anger management are also common problems.
Coping with the symptoms of adult ADHD can be frustrating in itself. Additionally, many adults with ADHD have coexisting conditions such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder. People with ADHD can limit these problems by seeking proper treatment. Personally, I happen to have a touch of OCD as well, not to the point of weirdness or anything but I can tell immediately if someone has been sitting at my desk and moving things around.
Once I was diagnosed w/ ADHD my doctor at the time prescribed a couple of different medications until we arrived upon one that actually worked for me, Adderall. Over time I have been able to have a productive life and accomplish a lot of things both on a personal and professional level so I consider myself extremely fortunate and blessed in that regard. In addition to medication, which has been updated and tweaked over time, I have also picked up some things that help me stay focused when it comes to projects that I might be working on. I am a freaking computer programmer / designer for crying out loud, the least little distraction for me at the most inopportune moment could cost me an entire day. In addition to medication there are a couple of other things that I have implemented recently that I can already tell are going make a difference in my everyday life. Here’s what I am implementing…
- Controlled Exposure to Social Media
By controlled exposure, I am only going to check my Facebook & Twitter 3 times a day, and those will fall at times allocated in my daily calendar. (Excerpt from WebMD: Whether you’re living with ADHD or just have trouble focusing from time to time, today’s world is full of concentration killers. Psychologist Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD offers a few tips to manage distractions, starting with social media. It’s easy to connect with friends — and disconnect from work — many times an hour. Every status update zaps your train of thought, forcing you to backtrack when you resume your work.)
- Allocated Times for Email Correspondence:
I have always tried to respond to every email that hit my inbox as quickly as possible. This is really bad for a couple of reasons for me. In the future I plan on responding to emails 3 times daily, once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and once in the evening as I am shutting down for the day. (Excerpt from WebMD: There’s something about an email — it shoots into your inbox and itches to be answered immediately. Although many emails are work-related, they still count as distractions from your current project. You won’t make much progress if you constantly stop what you’re doing to reply to every message.)
- Organizational Tools / Calendars / Tasks / Notes / Reminders / etc.
This is something I am currently struggling with since moving to the Mac from a Windows environment where every detail of my entire life was recorded in Microsoft Outlook. I am still fighting this battle but I think a solution might be in the near future regarding this area. As soon as I can get this streamlined, I can have a better idea as to where I stand on projects, etc.
For some more tips on staying focused, I highly recommend this article on battling distractions for people w/ ADHD…
Also, if you think that you might have ADHD, ask your family doctor to send you somewhere to be tested. Just finding out about ADHD made a huge difference in my life and it can yours too! If you have any questions about my ongoing battle, please feel free to drop me a note privately, or leave me a comment…