Category Archives: Task Management

Advent +ADHD = A Hectic Season

 

At the time of writing this we are currently into week 2 of Advent.

Advent: Latin (Adventus) for “coming”. “Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year. While it expresses the deep longing of all humanity for God, it celebrates the three-fold coming of the Lord: remembering the events that surrounded the Lord’s coming long ago, celebrating his coming among us today, and looking forward to his final coming in glory.” Archdiocese of Toronto.

advent-wreath-Peace-2 candles

For me and others Advent + Introvert + ADHD = Hectic, frantic, increased disorganization, over booking, cancellations, and a need for more rest.

I look at all those nativity scenes and paintings and things look peaceful at the home of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus; and I wonder, why can’t the Advent season look like that in my life. I also know that traditional Nativity Scenes are nothing more than fantasy. I don’t truly believe for one second that Jesus came into the world and into the lives of Mary and Joseph in a quiet, peaceful manner. I don’t believe that animals suddenly behaved and became best friends with the house guests. I don’t believe that Mary and Joseph suddenly went from a life of busy to a life of leisure.

I think the reality is that Mary and Joseph now had an extra mouth to feed. There was increased pressure to make a home suitable for a family. There also would have been the social pressure from Mary having given birth within a time frame that might not have corresponded to the length of time they had been married. Remember, this couple is still adjusting to married life while having to move away from home, travel, and stay at the home of family. This is not a peaceful way to bring a first born into the world.

I no longer care to feel guilty about not having mastered the experience of a quiet Advent season. It’s not realistic for me and for others who lead busy lives. I make time during Advent to reflect on the meaning of Christ in the world and in my own life, but that is as deep as it will get. This year I didn’t have time to be deeply committed to lighting the advent candles every day. The advent centrepiece sits on my fireplace mantel with those little LED lights. No time for candles. I simply flick a switch and my advent “candle” is lit.

busy-bee-christmas

 

This year, as with many other years, I don’t have time to make it to every religious musical event. No Lessons and Carols, no weekday evening Christmas choir performances, no extra activities that I know will only lead me to feel tired, drained, and over extended. This is not what Jesus expects or asks of us. Guilt be gone.

With ADHD we have to remember it is much easier for us to mis-prioritize, become overwhelmed, and forgetful. I encourage you to choose a few Advent and holiday activities and traditions that are most important to you and let the others be optional.

During the holidays there is no need to go all out. If you are like me, who has one too many potlucks to attend; let others do the work. I utilize bakeries and grocery stores and use the extra time, not to add more activities to my list, but to make time for me to rest and relax amidst the holiday rush. I purchase gift cards when I don’t have the time to pick out actual gifts; people love gift cards, so don’t stress it.  I choose a block of time to write all my Christmas cards and a second time frame to send them via Canada Post. This only requires one trip to the post office and no standing in line!

However you choose to spend your Advent and holiday season, remember, the idea of a quiet season is a myth. It wasn’t quiet for Mary and Joseph, and it won’t necessarily be quite for us. Your energy and emotional wellness is most important. Jesus isn’t asking for anything extra at Christmas time. Year round He calls us to love him, love God and love others, follow the commandments, and grow in our faith.

This Christmas, give yourself the best gift ever; self-care!

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ADHD and Winter in October

winter-in-october

This evening, October 7th, 2016, our city received its first official snow fall of Winter. I’m not surprised, dark clouds have hovered over the city for a few days, and the mornings were becoming chillier with each passing day.

I don’t have a lot of Halloween decorations in the front yard, but what little there was is now a mixture of orange and white; the colours of winter weather in October.

During the Winter I tend to not want to venture outdoors once I get home from work. It’s dark outside by 4:30pm and it’s freezing, oh and one more reason to complain, there’s snow everywhere. Our long, cold, dark winters tend to throw off my ADHD management plan every year. It’s almost as if I have to have a different method for dealing with my disorder; one for Winter and early Spring, and another one for late Spring and Summer.

The absence of warm weather and long hours of sunlight mean no more meditative and relaxing walks. It’s hard for me to meditate outdoors while trekking through ankle deep snow and ice while fighting the wind. I’m more focused on getting home to my warm place where I can defrost and wrap myself in a blanket and spend my evening doing nothing more than remaining warm until I am forced to leave the house the next day.

For the longest time I couldn’t understand why the transition from Fall to Winter was so difficult for me emotionally and physically. I find Fall to be a beautiful time of year; the burst of yellow, green, and red leaves; a temperature I can handle now that it’s not too cold and not too hot; and the anticipation of a new “year” of activities in September. It eventually dawned on me that Fall is hard for me because of the rapid decline of happiness to sadness; Fall is the death of all the things I loved the most about nature. The evenings begin to get darker earlier and earlier. Those mutlicoloured leaves are actually dying. They turn to beautiful colours then fall off the tree and die all over the ground. The sun is mostly gone, the beautiful green grass is turning colour, the once cool air is now cold, and the rain that made everything grow is replaced by snow that withers and kills most of what it touches.

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving, and I want to give thanks to God for everything, but I’m not going to pretend (especially since God knows all our thoughts) that I’m thankful for winter. I’m not thankful for the sadness it brings to my life, but I still know that there is a reason for everything that occurs in nature. My like or dislike of something in nature doesn’t determine the value of it’s purpose; it’s simply a reflection of my attitude and outlook on life.

Winter is a great way for me to procrastinate about getting necessary things finished. Once I enter the front door to my home, I feel as if I’ve won a battle against the elements and my reward is to curl up on the couch and watch my favourite shows; neglecting things like housework, assignments, and fun things that I had intended to do but changed my mind about after deciding that I really don’t want to go outdoors again.

It takes a lot more effort during the colder months for me to get things done so I had to change my ADHD management methods. I intentionally limit the amount of time I allow myself to be on Facebook. I rarely watch t.v. (helps that I don’t own a television) and I set a time limit on how many shows I can watch on Netflix during the weekdays. It isn’t easy, but it’s a necessary plan that has worked for me and seems to be the only way I can accomplish tasks during the winter.

I highly recommend taking some time to think about what your life with ADHD looks like during the colder months and during the winter. Do you find that there is a difference based on the seasons throughout the year? What about your eating and sleeping patterns? Are they worse, better, or do they remain the same? Do you find yourself more distracted due to the temperatures in your home, workplace, or school? Do you find it more difficult to be on time and be organized when the weather is bad? What changes might you need to make to be ready for winter as a person with ADHD?

We’re so used to our ADHD symptoms, I think this sometimes prevents us from checking in with how we are feeling, and how things are working for us. We’re diligent in winterizing our homes and vehicles; maybe it’s time we started doing the same for our ADHD symptoms. Being prepared for the season ahead is an excellent way to help manage our symptoms and our lives.

 

 

ADHD and Summertime Procrastination

Now or Later: Procrastination

It’s hard to believe June is almost half way over. The first day of Summer in North America officially begins Monday, June 20, 2016; the day is also known as Summer Solstice.

Summer is also a time of year where the beauty of mother nature and social gatherings provide excellent opportunities for procrastinators to avoid doing what must be done and other things that really need to be done.

It’s important to ask yourself; what do I need to get done this summer?

For some people with adult ADHD, leaving things until the last minute fuels energy and things get done fast! What these same people won’t often acknowledge is the amount of emotional and physical strain this causes. The adrenaline rush of trying to finish things quickly causes negative behaviour such as: impatience with people, being rude toward others, a lack of grace and forgiveness, misplaced expectations of others, disregard for rules, regulations, and policies, poor quality of work, and unrealistic expectations.

The physical effects of stress include headaches, stomach aches, increased heart beats, and tremors to name of few. Take some time to evaluate how you feel when you are in a rush to finish something? Is it a pleasant feeling or do you experience some of the physical symptoms listed?

Procrastination Panic

Allowing for things to be completed in a timely manner reduces stress on yourself and creates less stress for the people who have to interact with you. Stress is never an individual experience; your stress affects other people you come in contact with. Fellow drivers, cashiers, call centre workers, co-workers, family, friends, and all sorts of strangers are affected by the stress of you waiting until the last minute to get your stuff done.
This might sound like blame and shame to certain people reading this, but it is not my goal to make you feel this way; this is simply the reality of how ADHD procrastination affects people emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

There are plenty of occasions when I have sat at my desk, bitter and annoyed at being indoors while the summer sun along with the fresh smell of the outdoors call my name. I’ve had to silence the call to procrastinate in mother nature in order to sit in front of my computer and finish the work that others are depending on me to complete. I’d rather stay at a weekend B.B.Q. for 5 hours and enjoy myself instead of being responsible by staying only 3 hours and heading home to finish the rest of my required reading.

I’d much rather be out every night of the week on a patio with friends and acquaintances, but I know that too much socializing means I am avoiding necessary tasks.

It is difficult, but even those of us with adult ADHD can learn to reduce and control the amount of time we spend procrastinating. It takes time and if we are willing to invest in learning how to avoid this habit, we will be better off for having done so. You will see an increase in the output of your work, you’ll be less stressed, and you will become more dependable.

Proverbs 6:6-8 Plan ahead, avoid procrastination. Be like the ants.

During the process be kind to yourself and trust that your habit of procrastination can change. This can only happen if you believe in yourself along the way. God believes in you, so don’t be afraid to believe in yourself. When you struggle with these changes God is there with you, cheering you on, encouraging you and loving you.

Procrastination is the Thief of Time

Below are some things to consider for summer. I encourage you to make your own list and summer plan for getting things done in a timely and organized manner. A list and system that works for you is always the best.

Parents

Registering your children for summer camps

Registering your children for summer out of school care

Purchasing new clothes and supplies for children returning to school in the Fall

Fitness

Register for group sports; however, be honest with yourself regarding how much time you have and are willing to give to the group. If this is something you are only sort-of, kind-of committed to, then don’t register. If you are only somewhat committed then consider being a spare or fill-in for a team; this way you won’t have to make a regular commitment.

Purchase required items for said sport

Make a schedule for training and stick to it. Place this schedule in your smartphone along with alarms for reminders and a paper schedule in a place where you and others will see it.

Plan times for grocery shopping and meal prep. Choose regular and consistent times; you are more likely to stick with it (e.g. Do your grocery shopping every Sunday evening at 7pm and your food prep every Monday evening at 6:30pm). Overtime this will become a regular routine for you and you won’t be filling those two time slots with random things to do (or not do).

Summer Studies

Plan for intentional study time and time for completing any course projects

Schedule time for rest and socializing; stick to those times in order to maintain balance and not give into procrastination

Decide where you are going to study (at home, at school, at a library, at a café). Be sure it is a place and space where you will not be interrupted and tempted to do things other than course work

Work

What’s the temperature like at work? If the temperature is making you uncomfortable, this can easily lead to procrastination (increased smoke breaks, day dreaming, avoiding unpleasant tasks, etc.) Is it too cold or too hot during the summer? If it’s too hot and the air-conditioning is not enough, then consider bringing your own fan to work. If it’s too cold bring a sweater to work, leave an extra sweater at work for those times when the air-conditioner is too cool.

Hydration: Are you drinking enough water? Bring your own water bottle to work or store bags of ice cubes in the staff freezer to help keep you hydrated and cool during the hottest days at work.

Staff team building activities: Do you have the option to say “No” without coming off as being anti-social, or a non-team player? If you are free to say “no” without consequence, then do so if you know that hanging out with your co-workers after work on a patio or playing softball on the company sports team will lead to procrastinating on things that you need to tend to at home or elsewhere.

Be careful how you spend: Sunny skies often lead to outdoor lunches with co-workers. It’s tempting to want to walk to a nearby restaurant or food establishment, but after doing this a few times a week you will quickly see less money in your pockets and your bank account. Limit how many times per week you will go for lunch with co-workers. To avoid temptation, be sure to have a packed lunch with you. If you are good at forgetting to make a lunch, then try purchasing frozen lunch meals and stick them in the fridge or freezer at work a few days in advance (e.g. Stick 3-5 frozen lunches in the freezer or fridge at work on a Monday).

Whatever it is you need to tend to during the summer months; do your best not to give into procrastination. Plan ahead, and be prepared.

Below are links to further reading material and resources on procrastination

Tips to Beat procrastionation

Adult ADHD Organization and Gameplan

The Real Reasons You Procrastinate and How to Stop

Different Types of Procrastination

 

Emotional Energy and Faith: Helps with ADHD

To-do lists. Planners. Day-timers. Post-its. Scraps of paper. Oh the tools of time management and productivity; the resources are endless. Three months into the year and I already had to switch day planners twice (I always have a paper version and simultaneously an electronic version). There were a couple of weeks where I was drained of energy and my daily to-do list received zero attention from me. I only had enough for work, some light exercise, heating something in the microwave, and then heading to bed in preparation for a 4:30 a.m. start the next day.

Have you felt that way lately; that you only have enough energy for work with only a small amount to give for anything and anyone else in your life? If you have, this article from Spirituality & Health is a great way to check your to-do list intentions against your energy.

Living a purpose filled life means having to address and defeat the anxiety that often tries to rob us of our rational intentions. Fear, worry, and the resulting unnecessary dilemma’s take us away from doing the things that are necessary and beneficial to us. God’s message to St. Paul is the same message He has for us, “My grace is all you need.My power works best in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Those with ADHD and Anxiety often have less energy than others; these are two disorders that are known for draining people emotionally, physically, and cognitively. When planning for the day or the week it’s important to factor in your energy levels. I encourage you to read the linked article by Traci Pedersen: “Got a Busy Schedule? You May Not Need More Time, Just Energy and Perspective.http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/traci-pedersen/got-busy-schedule-you-may-not-need-more-time-just

As you create your schedules, take time to pray for clarity in being realistic about how much energy you will have for things you intend to do and the people you want to be with. Peace and blessings to you.

ADHD and Small Group Studies

 

When you have ADHD sometimes paying full attention during small group studies can be a real challenge. Despite being interested in the topic and discussion, the mind can easily wonder. Being in a smaller setting makes it even more noticeable to others when you are not paying attention.

I have completed over 10 Beth Moore bible studies, but I can’t handle watching her videos; some of which are over an hour long. I lose focus less than 15 minutes into her talking. Thankfully I have her workbooks to keep me on track with taking notes. I find that it is much easier for me to watch her videos on my own during the week where I can stop them and take breaks instead of watching her talk continuously for over 60 minutes.

I’ve also been part of small groups where we take turns reading chapters directly from the bible or a book; this type of small group does not work well for me as I become impatient and then struggle with the urge to read ahead.

Our struggles are individual and varied, however, you’ll know you’re having trouble in your small group if you experience the following:

-Daydreaming

-Forgetting what it is you had intended to say in the midst of your discussion

-Interrupting others while they are talking

-Impatiently waiting your turn

-Fidgeting

-Reading your bible or small group curriculum instead of watching the DVD that is playing

-Growing easily bored with the topic your peers are discussing

Disclosure is important, if you trust your small group leader or facilitator, let him/her know ahead of time that you have trouble with Executive Functioning as a result of ADHD. Share with your facilitator some of the habits you might display so they know that you are not doing these things consciously or intentionally. When people don’t know about ADHD it can be easy for them to dismiss your symptoms as disrespectful or inconsiderate. You don’t have to share your diagnosis with others in the group, but I find that if they understand your challenges, it helps to decrease misunderstandings.

There are ways to help manage your symptoms during small group sessions:

Time: Consider what times of the week and days are best for you. Maybe it is better for your to meet in the morning instead of an evening session where you are more likely to be tired, and your medication is starting to wear off. Are your times together long and drawn out, or is it short, yet effective?

Be mindful of the study format: Does this group prefer book-only studies? Are they DVD oriented? Are there workbooks where you can do personal study during the week or take notes while you are with the group?

Physical Environment: Where is the group meeting? In a home, a coffee shop, or in a church facility? Consider any additional distractions such as pets, small children, or customers if you meet in an eating establishment.  If these types of environments don’t work well for you, consider finding another location.

The people: Yes, as Christians we are to get along, but that does not always happen. With ADHD, it is easy to become irritable, withdrawn, easily frustrated, and emotionally distant. If you don’t mix well with the others in the group there is nothing wrong with seeking out a small group with peers who you have more in common with or get along with. ADHD in adults is still misunderstood within our North American culture, and if those in the small group are not considerate and understanding of your symptoms you will have a difficult time with being in a community with these individuals. If those you are in a close group with are not accepting of you, it will make it a challenge for you to learn and grow in your Christian walk.

hebrews-1024-25

 

 

 

 

Life Calling: God’s Way vs. the ADHD Way

ways

The one labelled “the easy way”, is what I’m going to call “God’s way”. The one labelled “my way” is exactly that, “my way” of doing things. ADHD has this wonderful ability to take plans and paths that make perfectly good sense and turn them into hot messes.

Living to follow the Will of God is a more difficult task for believers with ADHD. It’s just too easy to be dragged into too many directions while honestly aiming to follow the divine path that God has laid out for us.

We are vulnerable for the following reasons:

  • -So much creativity that one has no idea where to start, or when you do start, you abandon that method for whatever new way you’ve come up with
  • -Impatience with God’s plan and His timing
  • -There is that habit of wanting things done “our way” when dealing with others
  • -Procrastination, which means things that need to be finished in order to move ahead don’t get completed or they take longer than would be reasonable
  • -Being moody and emotional with others, this causes problems with those around us, those who are there supporting us
  • -Limited ability to pay enough  attention to those who are there to be your advisors, teachers, mentors, etc. (any formal learning environment)

Psalms_103-8

All I can say is this; don’t let ADHD symptoms prevent you from missing out on the best of what God has called you to do and to be; for yourself and for others. This is why it’s so important for those of us as believers in Christ to be committed to managing our ADHD. We will always have ADHD, there is nothing we can do about that, but we don’t always have to live with un-managed symptoms. I don’t ever want to look back at my life in my later years and see just how much untreated and unmanaged symptoms took way from my ability to live fully devoted to God and my life’s calling.

God is full of grace, mercy, and understanding, He tells us this through scripture. He does not see those with ADHD as loving Him less, or being more sinful. The difference between those with ADHD and the average Christian population is that we are much more vulnerable to having a walk of faith that looks like the “my way” illustration at the beginning of  this post.

Be extra aware of how your symptoms are interfering with your walk of faith. I’ve recommended this before, but I can’t speak enough of doing a daily self inventory or self-examen. In our time of reflection and prayer with God, we are able to look back at our day and use it as a way to stay focused on both our relationship with God and our interactions with the world (family, friends, work, strangers, etc.)

Resources:

Examen

http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/

http://www.loyolapress.com/prayerfully-reviewing-your-day-daily-examen.htm

Personal Goal Setting (not specifically for those with ADHD)

http://www.mindtools.com/page6.html

 

Yes or No: Be Honest With Your Time

Comittment

 

Time Management and the Issue Of Integrity

There are many time management books on the market and this tells me two things: 1) North American’s have problems with managing their time, 2) These are popular books or else there wouldn’t be so many available for sale. I typed “Time Management” into the Amazon search section and there were 155,491 results. One would have to develop some serious time management skills in order to go through all those books and choose one.

People have shared with me their stories of  doing poorly with time management tools. When people ask me which ones are best, I tell them that what’s best for me isn’t necessarily going to be best for them. Different authors and organizational specialists have different techniques and theories about time management. The simplest answer I give people, is to be honest with yourself and choose the method that you will actually commit to.

Commitment authenticity

I use my smartphone for my calendar. All of my appointments go into this electronic calendar and then I immediately without interruption write the information down in my Moleskine day planner. If you’re wondering why I use two tools, my main reason is that the battery for my lovely $700 Samsung SG3 dies on a daily basis. I don’t trust electronics 100%, so I am still old fashioned in writing down appointments, notes, and other necessary information.

On a spiritual level, I believe that keeping a day planner is important, not only for keeping track of what we need to do during the day, but also to keep ourselves committed to what we say we will do. If you make an appointment to see the dentist, then it’s important to keep that appointment and be on time. When you don’t show up, you have taken away income from a team of people and prevented others from having that same time slot. When you say that you will have something completed and ready by a certain date, know that people are relying on you and expecting you to follow through.

Commitment action

Matthew: 5: 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”

I won’t be quick to say that it is the “evil one” that is causing you to not be able to commit to your “yes” or “no”, but rather it is the ADHD that is causing you to have trouble with remembering your commitments, and realistically managing your time. I believe that over time people with ADHD can learn to practice the power of “no” and limit their “yes”.

Below is a link to an article with some good tips on the power of 1 in helping you to choose a proper time management-day planner system.

http://timemanagementninja.com/2010/02/the-power-of-1/

APPLICATION:

Prayerfully consider how many times in a given week you miss committing to “yes” and neglect to say “no”. If there are people you have let down or have forgotten your commitment to, don’t be afraid to send them a text or email and apologize. Time management is not easy and it will take time to learn what we can handle with the limited waking hours that we have. When you find a good day planner, be conscious of how many “yes’s” vs “no’s”  are scheduled into your week.

 

Commitment no

 

Multitasking

adhd multitasking

I’ve often confused time management and task management. There was a time where I didn’t even know there was a difference. For a quick read about the difference between the two, below is part of the article from the website Hackerspace.

Time Management answers the following kind of questions:

“WHEN am I busy? WHEN is my next meeting”

Time management is made up of constraints.

Task Management answers another type of questions like:

“WHAT do I have to do? WHAT can I do now?”

Task Management is more about work, being agile and flexible, and tends to fill in the blanks around the time constraints we have.

A lot of people mix their calendar (which is about time management) and their to do list (which is about task management) by adding their tasks in their calendar. Besides the fact that it can get really messy, there is another question to ask: Do all my tasks must have a due date? Well, not necessarily. To read the rest of this article visit the original website and article  here.

Source: hackerspace.lifehacker.com