When you have ADHD, your understanding of time is quite different than most people.
Dr. Russell Barkley even says "ADHD is, to summarize it in a single phrase, time blindness." He goes on to define time blindness as a near-sightedness toward the future.
This creates a number of problems. In particular, this inability to see the future clearly causes a brutal combination with our constant craving for novelty and starting new things.
Since we can't see the future clearly, we lose sight of our current projects and commitments. So when we think of something new and novel we want to try, or someone asks if we are available for some future project that sounds interesting, we jump in fully without regard for other commitments.
Unsurprisingly, this often leads us to burnout when all of these commitments start crashing into each other.
While most people have internal alarms that warn when their future commitments are getting full, people with ADHD usually don't have these same alarms. We just keep adding new commitments and nothing ever jumps in to say, "stop! you're overcommitted!"
So rather than hoping internal alarm bells will help us out—they won't—we have to be proactive and find other ways to protect our future selves.
One thing you can try is to train yourself to say no by default. This will give you more time to assess and figure out if you can squeeze in any future projects.
Figure out a way to track future commitments, taking the time to externalize them from your brain.
It doesn't need to be a fancy system.
It can be as simple as:
- right now: take 10 minutes to write down any future projects or commitments you can think of in a notebook or on an index card
- every few days: check the list and add or remove any changes (or anything new that you remembered)
When a future project comes up, say no by default, then consult your list before making a decision.
If you're like me, it can be extremely difficult to say no to an exciting-sounding future project!
So see if there's a way you can lower the commitment.
- Can you scale the project back to a smaller version?
- Can you collaborate with someone else so there is less weight on your shoulder?
- Can you say no for now, but reassess in 3-6 months to see if it makes more sense?
- Can you remove something else you can take off your plate to make room for this new project?
Our impulse is often to say yes. Practice delaying that response so you can make more well-informed decisions. Easier said than done, but every time you take the time to pause before jumping in is a victory.
Stay focused, Jesse J. Anderson
P.S. I've been working hard on the content for my Refocus Your ADHD Brain Cohort Course (refocus.cc), and I can't wait to hang out with some of you for a couple of weeks as we dive deeper into learning how our ADHD brain ticks and what strategies we can implement to work with our brains better!
It's going to be fun working together through the material and learning from each other. The early bird pricing will be ending soon, so make sure to sign up to get that savings and secure your spot!
📝 'Body doubling,' an ADHD productivity tool, is flourishing online [The Washington Post] People searching for a way to stay motivated while doing chores or working from home are turning to virtual co-working spaces and TikTok live streams for 'body doubling'