A Terrific Resource for Procrastination

Last week a colleague happened to mention a podcast that piqued my interest, so I decided to check it out. What a treat! I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the challenge of procrastination (and who isn’t at one time or another?).

The podcast seems to be directed at a general audience, but it includes a lot of extremely useful information for university students. It is definitely applicable for folks with ADHD, though ADHD has not been mentioned in any of the episodes I’ve heard so far. The podcast is called iProcrastinate.  Check it out!

The podcast is the creation of a psychology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada named Dr. Timothy Pychyl. The archived podcasts are produced on a semi-regular schedule and go back at least to 2006.

Since any reader of this blog can easily visit the site and listen, I won’t even try to describe the podcasts. I wouldn’t do them justice.

Dr. Pychyl’s Procrastination Research group home page which includes links to many other pages as well as information about books and articles on the subject is here.



Time to Celebrate!

Tomorrow Neil and I (and Free To Be Coaching) will have a table at the CHADD—Children and Adults with ADHD—first annual Walk and Family Fun Day. It will be held in a beautiful, woodsy park in Arlington, Virginia, about forty miles from our home. The torrential rains have stopped, tomorrow looks like a perfect day to be outside, so if you are in the area, come on out! (There’s more information here: http://www.chadd.org/Training-Events/ADHD-Walk-Family-Fun-Day.aspx)

What will we be doing tomorrow? Raising money for CHADD is one purpose of the event; another is raising awareness about ADHD and reducing the stigma; yet another is informing people of all the resources for help and support available to them.

One additional thing I will be doing tomorrow is celebrating. I will be celebrating that every one of us is great, just the way we are! Each of us has gifts and talents and strengths that make us unique. If I don’t find ways to express mine, who else will? If you don’t find ways to express yours, nobody else will, because there is nobody else just like you.

Some of us have hands that work well for throwing a ball, but others’ hands excel at playing the piano; some of us have legs that seem built for running, while other legs seem made to be tripped over when we run but work really well for climbing. Some of us have brains that are inclined toward doing what we’re told and being organized and paying attention to the speaker, while others tend more toward out-of-the-box thinking, a fuzzy sense of time, and needing our bodies to be moving when we are learning.

Which type is right? Wrong question!! We are all great, just as we are! Nobody is better than anybody else. The world would be a much poorer, duller place if we were all the same. The more we know ourselves and accept ourselves, the more we can contribute from our uniqueness. The more we appreciate ourselves, the more we will see the wonderful uniqueness of everyone around us.

That’s what I’ll be celebrating at the CHADD Walk and Family Fun Day tomorrow!

Inner- vs. Other-Direction

 Several decades ago in a college sociology class, I first encountered the concepts of the inner-directed person and the other-directed person. I gained the clear impression that to be inner-directed was preferable. But it was also clear to me that I was pretty far into the other-directed camp.

 Over the years, I have thought back to that moment, one of the standout incidents among my few memories of my college classes. Until quite recently, I have staunchly retained the belief that inner-directed people, people I imagined lived according to their own internal gyroscopes, unswayed by the opinions of others, were superior. They knew who they were and lived authentically, I believed.

 But recently, as I have learned more about ADHD, I have begun to ponder another way of looking at other-directedness. Rather than describing a chameleon-like person with a weak sense of identity who changes as the winds of external circumstances blow, the phrase could describe a person who is energized more by engaging with others than by engaging with his/her own thoughts. In other words, it could describe the location of a person’s energy source rather than of a person’s identity source.

 As I have begun to pay attention to this phenomenon, I see that many ADDers lose focus and energy when they are alone or without clear external direction. We, since I count myself as one of this group, can even seem depressed at times when external stimuli are lacking. Then the minute another person or interesting external stimulus arrives on the scene, the ADDers’s energy level can rise and what seemed to be depression can lift.

 I don’t actually know what the psychologists and social scientists might say about this observation, but it’s something I’m curious about. I’ll keep my eyes open for any references to it as I read and will post anything relevant in future blogs.

 Feel free to weigh in if you have thoughts!

Support in Our Communities

 People who have ADHD in their lives can feel alone without a community of support. Whether you are an adult with ADHD, a child or teen with ADHD, the parent or spouse of someone with ADHD, or even the caring friend or co-worker of someone with ADHD, it can help to talk about your experiences with people who understand your challenges because they have lived them.

 Over the past fourteen months, my husband and I have offered a monthly meeting to people in our small town. We have promoted it as a support group for adults dealing with ADHD. We have placed an announcement in the community calendar section of the county newspaper and have tacked posters onto bulletin boards around town. The posters have had tear-off tabs at the bottom with a phone number and email for contacting us.

 It has been interesting to go back to those posters after each monthly meeting and see that at least half of the tabs have been torn off. Some months nearly all of the tabs are gone. That indicates to us that there are quite a few people who have some interest in a group like ours. So far, however, only about a dozen people have made it to at least one meeting; some months Neil and I sit alone, but recently an average of three to six people including the two of us have turned out.

 Most of the people who came said they appreciated the opportunity to talk about their lives with other people who have lived with ADHD. It’s a powerful feeling to see the light of recognition in the eyes of another person who has had a similar experience to yours, especially when your own life experience has led you to feel that there was something wrong with you.

 It has been sad to see that several people did not want their names listed on a Meetup web site because they didn’t want others to know they had ADHD. They felt the weight of a stigma—probably something that has been with them most of their lives. I’m hoping that bringing people together to share experiences and strategies that work for them and resources that help, etc., will go a long way toward reducing the stigma.

 We also need to do a better job of educating people in our communities about ADHD and our different brain wiring. One purpose our posters and newspaper announcements can serve is to raise awareness of ADHD in our community and to bring it out into the open—especially as it relates to adults.

 See if your community has any meetings you might attend. CHADD chapters often host meetings. If there is nothing in your community, perhaps you can start some.

 Feel free to use this blog as a forum for sharing tips about how to get such groups going. What has worked for you? What are you going to try next? Do you have groups for teens or parents or adults or partners of ADDers or all of the above? What resources can you recommend for programs or topics? 

 Let’s bring ADHD out into the open in our communities by supporting and educating each other and by correcting the false information that continues to be published about ADHD. 

Asking Truly Curious Questions

 Why is it so hard to ask a sincerely curious question? I’ve been pondering this lately as I have become aware of how I usually ask questions.

 Let’s pretend I’m talking to my friend Mary. Here are the two most common types of questions I ask:

 An either/or question – “So, Mary, was it like this, or was it like that?”

     I wonder why I feel the need to frame a question as if there were only two possible responses. Do I think it makes me look smarter to Mary if I demonstrate that I have thought of all the possibilities? Do I feel that I must give voice to every possibility that flits through my brain before being quiet?

     I’ve been told that if I open my mouth and find myself heading down the road toward an either/or question, I can do a quick left turn and make my question a little better, a little more open-ended, by adding a third option – “or was it like something else?” At least that communicates to Mary that I understand there are more choices than the two I’ve listed.

     Or, I could just clamp my mouth shut at the end of “So, Mary, was it like this?” and wait for her response. She could respond with just yes or no – or she might generously offer more information than my closed-ended question requested.

     I wonder why I have trouble asking something humbly curious like this: “So, Mary, how was it for you?” That open-ended, direct question not only invites Mary to consider an infinite number of possibilities; it also communicates sincere interest in which of that multitude of possible responses was her actual experience.

 A statement dressed up as a question – “So, Mary, you did this and this and this, right?” Or “Mary, I understand that this is how it evolved. Is that correct?

     So, what is going on there? Perhaps there’s the same attempt to impress Mary with how much I know. Those statement/questions are also closed-ended and Mary could choose to simply answer in words of one syllable – yes or no.

     If my goal is to elicit new information from Mary and to convey to her my deep interest in her response, a better question might be: “Mary, how did it all work out for you?”

 I’ve noticed I’m not alone in being “question challenged.” Even professional interviewers ask closed-ended questions of the sort described above.  

 One interviewer I listen to regularly has chosen yet another route: not to ask any questions at all. She simply makes a statement and assumes that a question is implied in the statement. Then she stops talking and waits until her interviewee figures out that it is his/her turn to talk and that a response is expected. That often makes for a few seconds of awkward silence.

 Maybe awkward silence is what we are trying to avoid when we fill the airwaves with more words than are needed to express simple curiosity. Actually, there is nothing wrong with sitting quietly, letting an open-ended question settle down until it evokes a thoughtful response. Maybe it is a matter of being fully present in the moment with another person, feeling genuine curiosity, owning the simple but clear question we feel inspired to ask, and waiting for whatever comes in response.

I think I’m going to try that.

Experts – Pass Them On

If you are on a quest to learn more about ADHD, you’ve surely discovered that there is more material available than the average person has time to read or listen to or view. A quick search of Amazon’s site for “ADHD” today turned up just under four thousand books! How do we know how to choose? Sometimes it seems there are as many experts as there are books.

I often start with reviews and recommendations from people whose opinions I trust.  That’s a great screening tool. Many books that I order based on recommendations turn out to be quite valuable. I read parts of others with plans to return to them some day. Some I don’t connect with at all.  My wish lists are extensive.

There are several publications such as ADDitude and Attention magazines that print short articles or columns by experts on ADHD. Those articles can give you a taste of a writer’s perspective and may guide you to relevant online materials.

There are also many webinars online. Last summer I listened to one offered by ADDitude magazine. The subject was “The Secrets of the ADHD Brain: What You Need to Know About the Condition.” The speaker was Dr. William Dodson, MD, a board certified adult psychiatrist from Denver, CO, who has specialized in ADHD for twenty years. I hadn’t heard of Dr. Dodson before, but I listen to a lot of webinars and thought this one sounded like it had potential.

I tuned in, took pretty good notes, and found myself returning to them frequently. One thing Dr. Dodson said was so helpful that I put it on a 4×6 card that sits on my desk in constant view, and I refer to it often. I just checked and found that webinar is still available online here, in case you are interested. Click here for a print article on the same topic.

Today I came across an current article by Dr. Dodson on the ADDitude web site. This new article resonates with me just as strongly as last July’s webinar. This one is called “Secrets of ADHD Treatment: You have ADHD — so your treatment plan should be based on how people with attention deficit think, feel, and live.” I’ve printed it out and plan to dig into it after finishing this blog. If you are interested, click here.

So, now you have a recommendation from me for one expert who writes articles and books and presents webinars. Consider using the comment area of this blog to share your recommendations of people or sources that have helped you navigate life with ADHD. You might remember from an earlier post that if you read something with the intention of sharing it with someone else, you are much more likely to retain the material. Read it and share it. I’d love to hear your recommendations, and I’m sure others would as well. Then come back and see what others of our tribe recommend!

Life in the ADHD Science Lab

True confessions: There is suddenly a lot of activity on my blog because a colleague and I have challenged each other to create one blog entry each day for this entire week. We agreed to that challenge last Saturday, and in two days we’ll put our heads together and see what that experience was like for each of us. I am quite sure that without the challenge and agreement, I would never have written all of these posts.  

 A challenge like this might motivate lots of so-called “neurotypical” folks, but I suspect it is an even more powerful tool for those of us with ADHD. We are much more motivated by external factors as opposed to internal, so if we want to get moving, to overcome inertia, or deal with difficulty transitioning from one activity to another, a challenge from another person could be a good strategy to help us over the hump. (We don’t always need another person to challenge us. We can challenge ourselves, but we’d need to take the challenge as seriously as if we were accountable to someone else.)

 Life with ADHD is a bit like being our own living, breathing science experiment. Each of us is unique. While we can learn from what we read or hear about how other ADDers have dealt with a particular challenge, the proof is in what actually works for us. If there is an area where we would like to be behaving or thinking differently, we need to watch what we are doing and where things seem to go off the rails. If we’re not so good at noticing what is going on for ourselves (also fairly common among ADDers), we might ask a trusted friend to give us feedback on what seems to be happening.

 Based on our research, we come up with hypotheses and theories and ultimately strategies that we test in real life to see if they have the desired results. This week I have been watching myself for the effects of a challenge to write a blog post each day and post it by midnight each night. So far it’s looking like the challenge has encouraged me to do something I had not been able to do previously. If I successfully post another entry tomorrow night, it will be time to record those results in my lab/life journal so I remember that it could be an effective strategy in a future situation.