To Love and to Work
Sigmund Freud suggested that in order to be happy, adults need “lieben und arbeiten” – to love and to work! And that’s exactly where adults with ADD/ADHD may have their greatest challenges.
Because ADHD may have its biggest impact in "love and work," I often recommend that adults with the condition "marry well and get a crackerjack assistant at work."
And what follows is the content I will share tonight with a Boston area ADHD support group
on just those two points.
Now, when I say "marry well," I mean this: pair up with someone who has great organizational and executive skills. And find someone who "gets you" - someone who understands what a partner with ADHD brings to the table. To remind yourself, you might google "positive qualities of people with ADHD" and watch it blow up. You are probably creative, energetic, spontaneous, and fun to be around. If your partner loves that about you, and is better able to do some of the planning ahead, catching details, and goal-oriented targeted worrying, you guys might make a great pair.
To both partners in the relationship, I recommend regular scheduled periods of screen-free communication. That means periods (could be as little as 15 minutes a day) of eye contact sans-TV, phone, or tablet.
To the non-ADHD partner in this relationship I might suggest that the adult with ADHD may well have a greater need for stimulation. Why not have fun with that? Plan ahead for "peak experiences" every weekend or even more frequently. Find fun, engaging, and exciting things that you two can enjoy together. Then, stake your claim for down-time; you may need more of it. Your ADHD partner can busy him/herself with solo stimulus-seeking activity during your periods of quiet.
To the ADHD partner, I'll offer tonight a few quick suggestions for making domestic organization easier:
- Divide your home into 5 zones and give 10 minutes each day Monday through Friday to that zone. After 10 minutes, stop for the day.
- Set your phone or kitchen timer for two minutes and do a Two Minute Sweep. Trash bag in one hand, big plastic container in the other. Zip through as much of your home as is possible in 2 minutes. Trash in one bag, misplaced stuff in the container. When two minutes is up, toss the garbage and put the container of stuff in the smallest "zone" (see suggestion #1) of your home. When that "zone" shows up on your Monday-Friday rotation, start tackling the box.
- Make it super easy to do a 30-second superficial bathroom cleanup. Here's how: pour a bit of bathroom cleaner in the receptacle of your plastic toilet brush. Couple times a week, swish the toilet bowl with that. And keep a squirt bottle of window cleaner hidden away in the bathroom as well. Every couple of days with the schmutz on the mirror reminds you of this task, simply squirt the mirror, the sink, the rim of the toilet bowl. Grab a nice long brrrrrrz of toilet paper, start with the mirror, then sink, then finish up by wiping the rim of the toilet seat. Flush. Many tanks to the FlyLady for this idea. I've used it for years.
- Consider outsourcing some errands and tasks if your budget will allow. Craigslist includes ads for locals providing these types of services. taskrabbit is another resource.
- If your domestic disorganization is seriously overwhelming, you might consider a professional organizer. Start here.
Get a Crackerjack Assistant
And when I suggest a crackerjack assistant, I mean this: consider those aspects of your work where you really shine, when it just comes easy to you. And on the other hand, consider what about your work feels like drudgery. What can you outsource, or what web-based personal assistant services might work for you (like Elance
). Could you talk with your supervisor about moving some administrative support your way? What could you do (Provide on-call support one extra weekend per month? Clean the break room fridge?) in exchange for two hours per week of clerical services by someone already in the organization?
For one-on-one support with organizational issues, you might consider and ADHD coach. Here's a resource
to get started.
And here are some strategies for self-coaching:
- Try the Pomodoro Technique for really boring and difficult tasks at work. It's a simple but powerful approach: commit to working on the boring hard task for 25 minutes. Don't do anything else 'til the buzzer goes off. If during the middle of your task you get a great idea for a screenplay, or remember an email you need to send, make a quick note and come back to the task. But do not quit until the buzzer sounds. Then you're free to take a break or commit to another Pomodoro. You can do this with a simple kitchen timer or with the native timer in your phone's clock function. Also there are free pomo-like apps for your phone. I use the free version of this one on my Android phone.
- Use your phone's navigator function as a time management tool. Need to be someplace by 5:30pm? Simply tell your phone to navigate to that address, and leave the navigation function running (turn audio off). The data provided by the navigator app (you may need to poke around to turn this on/off) includes time of arrival. Meaning: "if I left now, I would arrive at x'o'clock." When (or just before) the app says you'd be there at 5:30pm, you need to get moving.
- One. Single. Inbox. Not 25 piles on your desk, but just one place to put things to be acted upon later. When we pick up a piece of paper, we seek to quickly determine whether to discard, file, or delegate. If we can't quickly decide, then it goes in the Inbox, to deal with later. Oh, and that means we do need to schedule that "later" at some point (maybe weekly?) and go through the collected materials. David Allen's "Getting Things Done" model does a nice job with this concept.
David, what else you got for me?
I am available for diagnostic testing or for consultations. Contact me here
Finally, if you are a mental health clinician or teacher or SLP or OT in need of continuing education credit, I'd love to see you at workshop