Distractions: The Double-edged Sword of Attention Deficit Disorder

There are Strategies to Help Control your Focus and Attention that Everyone Can Use

As almost everyone is aware, people who have Attention Deficit Disorder or ADHD, struggle with being easily distracted.  That’s what the syndrome is by definition: attention deficit.  But fewer seem to realize that the challenge is really a difficulty regulating attention; that is, an inability to pay attention when you are supposed to as well as a difficulty shifting attention when you need to.

Someone who is driven to distractions

Who let all these distractions in here, anyway?

For Jamie it’s been another one of those days.  Oh, it started off all right, full of good intentions.  Jamie was going to get SO MUCH DONE.  She had a full to-do list all figured out:  clean the house, walk the dog, answer emails, pick up flowers for a sick friend, have coffee with a potential client, update her web site, design the advertising flier for the next event, and so on.  And here it was five o’clock in the afternoon and she had only met with the client.  Everything else remained undone.

This was typical; her intentions were good, but when something else caught her eye, Jamie was off and running, chasing that new bit of “glitter”.  Yes, Jamie has ADHD inattentive, and is easily distracted and usually doesn’t get done as much as she intends.  In fact, she is almost used to it.

But being easily distracted is only half of this double-edged sword, and Jamie knows it.  The other half, which maybe is worse, is being interrupted once she has settled down and achieved focus.  When she finally has gotten “into” designing that campaign flier, it feels good.  She’s making progress and it feels good. And not much feels worse than being jarred out of her hyperfocus, but that will happen when her husband gets home, which will be any time now.

If you, like Jamie, are one who has trouble with transitions, then you know it.  Disruptions not only affect you mentally, but also physically, and strategies meant to deal with this issue must take that into account.

Crazy clock

Adjusted time!

Obviously, a strategy that you or a coach might come up with needs to fit your particular situation.  What is the type of interruption? Who can help you with it? How much control over it do you have? What are your options? Exploring these kinds of questions will help you generate some workable alternatives.

For instance, I know one self-employed ADDer who sleeps all day and works all night because that is the only time he has control over his environment. Maybe you can’t or don’t want to go to that extreme, and so here are some other ideas:

1.  If you are an ADDer, give yourself extra time and extra warning when you need to transition to a different activity.  If a spouse or even one of your children are on their way home, have them call or text you first to give you time to adjust to the shift in activities that are coming once they arrive.

2.  When you are working at home, make a pact with yourself that you won’t answer the phone or answer the door while you are working. And turn off the email and Facebook.  These are simple ways of taking control of your environment.  What you are really doing is setting the same type of boundaries an employer would set if you worked in an office.

3.  Here’s another idea:  I recently came across a program called Time Out by dejal, a free download from the Internet.  Once you configure the settings, the program will gradually surface and take over your computer screen, very gently reminding you that it is time to take a break. For those of you who have trouble breaking out of hyperfocus and find yourself forgetting to take a once-an-hour stretch-break, this serves as a great reminder.

But Time Out can work to keep you focused too.  Just make a pact with yourself to stay at work on the computer, to not be distracted by the “glitter” in your life, to not take a break or get distracted until the Time Out program comes up and reminds you that it’s okay to take ten.

These are just a few ideasthat you might use.  The point is that there are strategies out there to help you avoid distractions as well as deal effectively with the normal transitions that are a necessary part of life

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