The parents of children with ADHD are all-too-familiar with phrases like “It’s boring” or “It’s too hard” or “I don’t like it.” As adults, these same children come to realize that society will unflinchingly demand certain tasks of us, and slightly modify their complaints to phrases such as “It’s so hard to get started” or “It‘s late and I can’t find the time” or “I’m not really motivated to complete it.”
Narrow Your Focus
With ADHD every molehill tends to become a mountain. A big aspect of learning to cope with ADHD is taking care to not magnify the workload that is actually before you. Otherwise you risk being told “That excuse only works once – now your job is on the line.”
Narrow your focus. A hill is just a hill. If you were already on top of it, you would be thinking how wonderful it would be to surrender to a childlike urge and roll down it. Visualize the joy that is waiting for you at the top. Revel in the breathless anticipation of launching yourself into the rewards that await you.
Climbing that hill might seem like an obstacle course; there are so many things to avoid! Distractions, negative thoughts, emotional diversions … so let’s talk about the strategies that will help you conquer your personal “IT.”
Activate the Brain
A difficult step for individuals with ADHD is engaging the brain so that it completes a task
Imagine making a cup of tea. You have to find a clean cup, choose the tea, and prepare the hot water (either by kettle, boiling it on the stove, or zapping it in the microwave). Once the hot water is ready, pour it in the cup, add the tea, sugar, lemon.
Yes, most people are lucky enough to handle routine tasks on “automatic pilot.” But you know you’re not most people. With ADHD and possible deficits in your Executive Functions, you won’t process information and follow steps like everybody else. Accept, forgive, allow for extra time, and be patient with yourself.
Knowing all the steps and organizing them is the key to managing an activity
You may visualize them as a list, clearly printed in black and white. Or you may think more like a mapmaker, planning your movements from one section of the kitchen counter to the next. Experiment and determine how your thoughts “move”- do they go down a list, climb up a ladder, or move in a sideways shuffle?
Whatever works, incorporate that into your game plan. You’re not lazy or unmotivated. You just want a cup of tea before your toast and eggs get cold. It’s not too much to ask of a waiter in a restaurant. And it’s just that. Sometimes you have to be your own waiter. And, here, a delicious breakfast is going to be your tip. (Amazing how a task worth doing to YOUR satisfaction stops being a hill.)
Avant-Garde has a free worksheet in our Resources and Downloads called, Activating The Brain to help you with this strategy.
What’s needed? A structure that provides a routine that is repeatable. How do you build this foundation? Understand which ADHD symptoms manifest in your actions. Know how to take charge and manage your symptoms when they arise.
Taking charge means:
- being accepting of who you are
- understanding the weaknesses in your Executive Functions
- identifying your support system
- making a commitment to yourself
- creating an accountability system
- being persistent
Fortunately, there will be a moment in your life when either you or your child will no longer have to consciously “think” about the structure because it is ingrained so deeply that it has replaced the behaviors that seek to divide you.