Do you do this? I have a simple task to do, and while doing it, or more often instead of doing it, I think of a thousand other things to do, and do them. Damn!
Okay, you’re right, I don’t do all of the thousand other things. I’m smart enough to realize that some of them are bad ideas, and who are we kidding, my mind goes so fast that I probably don’t remember half of them anyway.
This blog post was supposed to be about something completely different (that’s a lie, I just couldn’t resist, now back to our regularly scheduled blog post).
So what happens here? Is this a case of procrastination? Or is it simply being distracted? Or does it matter which it is? I think maybe it does matter, I think it would make a difference in how I deal with this situation. If it’s procrastination then I need to hold a one man intervention, if it’s being distracted then I need to relocate mentally, and maybe physically, to a place that is more conducive to focusing.
If you’re procrastinating, you need to find the underlying angst that is causing your avoidance. Sometimes, on close inspection, that issue is completely groundless. Worse, sometimes it’s ridiculous, at least there have been times when they have been for me.
A big one for us is fear of failure. We’ve failed so often in other people’s eyes that we subconsciously see abdication of our responsibilities as a way to avoid further failure. Of course we know consciously that this is just failure dressed in lounge-wear.
Yet, in our hearts, we feel that we can be free of the stigma of failure as long as we don’t make an effort. This looks like laziness, but we know that’s not the case. And it sounds like stupidity, but none of the so-called smart ones who point fingers have figured out how to fix it for us, have they? (note: my thought is that the anger of those who call us stupid and lazy is often internally directed at themselves for being unable to fix what appear to be perfectly functional people, just a theory I’m toying with, but one I’ve yet to disprove.)
If our problem is focus, relocation is the key. But what kind of relocation? Physical? Or mental? The answer lies in your distractions. Are you being distracted by things you see that need doing, or by things you think of? If it’s thoughts, you need to take a break. Not a long one, but make it a significant one. Do something unique or unusual, make it something that can’t go awry and keep you longer than you should be kept.
While you’re on your break, bear in mind that when the break is over you’re going back to work with a vengeance. Prepare yourself for this. We don’t shift gears well, we don’t transition easily, so the more prepared your mind is for what’s ahead the easier it will be to accomplish what you’re trying to do.
If your distractions are visual, move them or you to a new location. If you’re working on your computer and emails, IM’s, tweets and faceplant messages keep arriving with that cheery chirp or ding, turn them off. If your desk, like mine, is one huge inbox of things to do, go to the living room, the dining room, the café down the street. Make it one you don’t normally frequent.
I lost three hours last week because sitting at the table next to me was another ADHDer friend who was also trying to work. Can you say anti-synergistic? In the end, he went to work in his car and I gave up on writing any pages of that newest bestseller.
So that’s my advice. If you’re not done because you can’t start, figure out what’s blocking you and clear it away. If you’ve got any advice for me, I’m listening.
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SpecialEdPost — I think it must be ADHD … (June 11, 2012)
Last reviewed: 11 Jun 2012