Family ADHD Life Coach

The Juggling Act

MANAGING TIME AND PRIORITIES WITH ADHD

Whether your a parent, a student, working full time, or stay at home parent time can be a difficult thing to manage. There are so many things pulling at our purse strings of time. Some things are amazing opportunities, some are obligations, some are by choice. Whatever the situation, we all have to figure out the struggle of having only so much time in the day. Add in the fact that ADHD people have time blindness (Russell Barkley), and that creates a whole new issue!

As a mom of three children, an ADHD coach, and launching my business there has definitely been a time management learning curve. I have found that as I pour myself into one area, another has less attention. Now this may seem self explanatory but for someone to which everything is equally important and likes to do things well, it is very difficult! When I first started getting my business going I began feeling the stress of it all. It was in a session with a coach that she said to me, “it seems all these things have the same priority. Whether cleaning the toilets, meeting with clients, or attending your children’s different functions they are all equally important.” My thought was ” well ya… I can do it all”. Well, I can’t! Something has to give when you add something into your life.

Fast forward to this last week. It was my daughters birthday. A birthday that she has thought about and planned on and off since, well, her last birthday! I don’t love throwing parties but I do love my daughter. I am happy to say that I am learning that something has to give when something of importance comes along. I decided early on that I needed to book that week lightly so that I could put in the time for the things that are important to my daughter and to me. Things like having a homemade cake, having a somewhat tidy house, buying a few decorations, booking time to have a few friends over. Now I could have bought a cake but, I like to bake and we love chocolate cake, so that became a priority.

On the flip side I had to lower my expectations of work accomplishments. I chose to keep some of my posts more simple so they were less time consuming, I did not get a blog out and I was okay with that. I set timers to signal “time to end work” so I didn’t get sucked into the time vortex. I had to let a few things go or go crazy trying to do it all. It was not worth my sanity to try to do everything at full speed.

To bad there wasn’t some magical time solutions in these fairy jars! This was the craft the birthday gang made!

So, how do we learn to manage time?

  1. First it is important to establish what your priorities are. I believe there are different seasons with different priorities but some priorities remain the same (exercise, Bible reading etc) . Create a list of priorities that contribute the most to your objectives or values. ADDitude Magazine says priority lists are “the compass that keeps you focused on your most important goals.” You can set monthly priorities, daily priorities or ADHD priorities. For example, for my ADHD I know I need to exercise every day, plan healthy meals, etc. Use whatever it is you have discovered that assists you and your ADHD.
  2. Take some time to discover how much time certain tasks take. I always felt vacuuming took so much time that I would never start! By timing myself I realized that it took much less time than I anticipated. I then began to look at other tasks I tend to avoid and timed them as well. This gave me a better sense of my ability to complete the task in a certain chunk of time.
  3. Learn what tasks you need to set reminders/timers for. With tasks that are more enjoyable you may loose track of time! ADHDers tend to hyperfocus and therefore are late or miss other important things. People have commented to me that they will unknowingly shut off the alarm/timer they had set so make sure you find a strategy that works for you to transition!
  4. Leave room for flex time. There are always things that come up that we don’t plan on. If we schedule tightly back to back there is no room for these unplanned time takers. E-mails that take longer to respond to, being stuck in traffic, having an unplanned yet important conversation with your child/coworker/loved one.

ADHD people tend to “happen” through life. Having in mind what your priorities are allows you to weed out the things that are just taking up space in your life. This may feel overwhelming to you. I challenge you to break it down into manageable pieces. Start with a day, if that is still to big, start with the morning, As you start to exercise this time management muscle or prioritizing muscle it will grow! If you would like support in any of this please email me at adhdcoachlaureen@gmail.com to arrange a free consultation.

From my family to yours,

Family ADHD Coach Laureen

How our thoughts shape our behavior…

I am the youngest child and only girl with 3 older brothers. You would think that with big brothers I would have learned to be tough! To some degree I think I was. When it came to words and interpreting actions of others I was extremely sensitive. I internalized those things and took many of them as truth in my life. Some of it was pure brotherly teasing which I should have been able to “brush off”.

I remember one incident as a preteen or teen after church one day. My parents, aunt and uncle and some cousins were standing talking. Thankfully the church was empty except for us. I came around the corner to hear them say something about “she” and they all started laughing. I honestly don’t remember if I heard more than that or not. I burst out with emotion saying, “I did not”. I’m sure I was crying because I cried a lot! I remember someone saying they weren’t talking about me. I was so embarrassed and went out to the car to wait. I don’t remember a lot of the details but I remember the feeling and the embarrassment quite clearly. I have always been sensitive to what others say about me.

I had never considered how much our thoughts shape who we are. I was listening to a podcast recently by Christy Wright (Business Boutique). She talked about how our experiences form thoughts, our thoughts shape beliefs, and our beliefs shape our behavior. This hit me kind of hard! You see, for years I have been speaking poorly of myself, to myself. I interpreted experiences, those experiences formed thoughts about myself, those thoughts shaped my beliefs about what I can do and who I am, and those beliefs led to my behavior which in this case was limiting thoughts and beliefs about myself. How can I say I interpreted my experiences correctly as a young sensitive teen? Yet I still had been holding on to those beliefs through my behavior towards myself.

2018 was a journey for me in many ways. As I took my training at ADD Coach Academy, I began to realize that the story I have been telling myself is not 100% accurate! The amazing things I did experience or did well at were clouded by the smallest negativity. My self talk was laced with doubt, and a “not quite good enough” message. As I look back over the year, I can see how my thinking has begun to change. I’ve brushed off the negativity of some of my experiences and am recognizing them for what they are… amazing accomplishments. I am learning to catch that critical voice in my head before those thoughts take root.

Negative words and expressions tend to stick to ADHD people like glue. Perhaps it has to do with how deeply most ADHD people feel things. I’m not sure. What I do know is that it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can change your inner voice. You can change what you believe about yourself. You can guide your thoughts to a better view of who you were made to be. Do not say to yourself what you would not say to a friend.

The next time you have thoughts of self-doubt, critical thinking, internal judgement, ask your self…

IS THIS TRUE?

If it is true then look at what you can change. Most of the time it is not true. Change your “I can’t” to “I can“, your “I can’t do better” to “I can try again“, “I give up” to “I’ll try another way“, “This is to hard” to “This may take some time and effort”.

Believers in Christ… if you struggle with these things I challenge you to look at what the Bible says, what God says. Are the things you have been telling yourself the same things God says about you? He can help you change these thought patterns. Let Him.

Coaching helps sort through some of these limiting thoughts and beliefs so that you can re-write the story you have been telling yourself. Through a Personal Transformation course and through coaching, I was able to see how my thoughts were holding me back and how to re-frame my thinking to create a more positive outlook. This is a process and takes work, but it is worth it. I would love to coach and support you through this process. Email me at adhdcoachlaureen@gmail.com

(I want to clarify that I am not officially diagnosed with ADHD. I am in the process of discovery with my Dr. and am learning how hormones can affect women in bringing out ADHD symptoms. But that is a whole different blog post!)

From my family to yours,

Family ADHD Coach Laureen

Hyperfocus

“How can he have ADHD when he plays for hours at LEGO?”, “You often forget to have lunch when you are sewing, are you sure you have ADHD?”. These are questions that come up when people don’t understand the way ADHD manifests. It is true that ADHD makes it difficult to focus at times, but there are also other times that the ADHD brain is so focused that the outside world ceases to exist! The name Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder really is a misnomer according to Dr. Edward Hallowell, rather it is a “disregulated attention span, or attention inconsistency“.

To protect the innocent, no picture is from my house!

If ADHD people are doing something they enjoy or find psychologically rewarding, children and adults with ADHD tend to persist in this behavior after others would normally move on to other things.” (Russell A. Barkley) Anything that sparks their interest can pull them into deep concentration. Sometimes what sparks their attention may make sense and other times it may not to the outsider. My 14 year old son’s room is often a disaster, I can plead, beg, and bribe but if he can not make a connection of why he should clean it, it won’t get done. Then there are other times I walk in his room and it is completely cleaned and organized. When I ask “why?” the response is “well I just felt like it!” Completely baffling to his mother!

Hyperfocus can be destructive and constructive. Loosing all sense of time and perspective can be damaging to relationships, cause a person to be unreliable, and can get in the way of necessary self care like eating and sleeping. The focus may be on non-profitable or less productive tasks like video games. Unrestrained focus on non-productive tasks can lead to lost productivity at work, failure in school, and strained relationships. On the other hand hyperfocus can be an asset IF they can channel their focus productively. It allows them to get a lot done in a short amount of time and it also allows them to fully devote their attention on an interest.

There are some support systems that can be put in place to manage hyperfocus.

  • Talk with those around you so they know this happens and you are not just ignoring them.
  • Set up external cues such as alarms/timers or phone reminders if you are starting a project that you think may take you into hyperfocus.
  • Set limits. Decide how much time is fair to dedicate to a project.
  • Enlist family members to help bring you out of hyperfocus.

These ADHD brains “fasten fiercely when engaged” (Dr. Edward Hallowell). With that in mind, helping someone shift out of hyperfocus may not be as easy as it seems. Psychologist Kathleen Nadeau states “it is like pulling someone out of a dream.” Sometimes placing a hand on their shoulder can be enough to help a person come out of hyperfocus. Agree on a cue with those around you to help shift out and allow a few minutes for the shift to occur.

Hyperfocus has varying degrees of intensity in different individuals. It is important to be aware how you or your loved one experience this intense focus. For the ADHD person, you can begin to take note of when you tend to enter this state and what it feels like so that you can take the appropriate measures to control the focus. For those who have loved ones who experience hyperfocus, learn about what draws them into that focus and have a conversation about how best to support them. Often what draws people into that focus is an aspect of enjoyment. Finding out what that enjoyment is can be useful for motivation in other areas of life. Be patient with yourself and your loved ones as you discover this aspect of ADHD.

I better go eat lunch!

Family ADHD Coach Laureen