Procrastination – It’s Not All Bad

I just finished the conference book handouts for my presentation at the ADHD Coaches Conference in May. It’s 5:00 pm the day before they are due. I’ve known about this deadline for four months already. So why did I just now finish them? Because somehow I just couldn’t get to them before. Up until this last week, they just weren’t the most important thing on my to do list. But in spite of putting them off until the last minute, I’m not going to loose any sleep or stress over them. They are actually done by the close of work the day before they are due and they are done well.

How did I pull off this trick? Well, it’s because I planned to procrastinate.

I had a pretty good idea of how much time I would need to accomplish this, and so I blocked out the time I would need to finish my research and do the write ups. I scheduled that time in the week before they were due so that the pressure of the deadline would keep me at my desk.

I find this is the way I deal with many things: taxes, my monthly contributions to the ADHD Coaches Newsletter, etc. As long as I have everything ready to go when I sit down to the task at that moment when nothing else is more important, it works perfectly. So, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with procrastinating. The trick to making procrastination work for you is to plan it. Try it, and see how it works for you.

Healthy Mind Habits

My friend, Gina Pera, just told me about this game. She’d heard about it on NPR. It’s called Mind Habits Self Esteem Booster. The following is an explanation from the website of what it’s all about:

Psychological research has shown that daily stress and feelings of insecurity are in large part due to the anxiety of wanting to be liked, accepted and respected by one’s peers and significant others.

Fear of rejection can make us overlook positive signals from others and only see signs of disapproval. This inclination, or MindHabit, to zero in on the negative, heightens our feelings of insecurity and anxiety – making daily interactions increasingly and more frequently stressful. MindHabits Booster teaches individuals to ignore hostile information by finding the friendly face in a crowd of frowning people. The game allows players to practice downplaying rejection in and non-threatening environment. This software demonstrates the game, for entertainment and educational purposes.

Although the research conducted on this topic thus far is promising, we can make absolutely no claims about the effectiveness of these games for helping any particular individual deal with any particular issue or problem. For treatment of psychological problems, please consult a qualified mental health professional.

To read some of the published research, click here.

There is a free online version of the game available here.

If you want to buy and download the fully featured version for $20, you can get that here.

I’m looking forward to playing more of it. Hope my scores improve! Hope you enjoy it too. Let me know if it makes a difference for you.

SPARK – a New Reason to Get off your Butt

Being a restless type myself, I’m a big fan of movement and exercise as a means of self-regulation. If you’ve read my book, Fidget to Focus, you’ll know many of the techniques I use in my own life to stay focused.

Being an evangelist for the Body/Brain connection (how what we do with our bodies affects our brains), I was really excited to learn last year that Dr. John Ratey of Driven to Distraction fame was writing a new book entitled Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

Well, it has just come out and everyone should read this book! And I do mean everyone: you, your spouse, your parents, your kids, their teachers, your doctors. EVERYONE!

I originally put off opening it as I was afraid it would be dry and technical, but it’s not at all. I found it so compelling and easy to read I could hardly put it down. So go read it. And then come tell me how it’s changed your life!

Distractions and Cooking Don't Mix

Right after I posted this Blondie cartoon, this real-life story came across my desk:

I was trying so hard to not miss the show I was staying in the kitchen near the radio so I wouldn’t forget. I realized I had enough time to put the laundry in the dryer before the show started. I had put the tea pot on the stove. My husband always reminds me I should never leave the room with the stove on. Well he wasn’t home and I thought I could make a fast trip the laundry room. When I got there I thought I might just turn on the watering system to be efficient. I remembered I had never tried to set a new watering pattern myself and thought I would give it a try. When I got back to the kitchen the tea pot had boiled so dry it totally warped the bottom. The good news was that the glass top stove did not crack and I did get back in time for the show!

Boy, can I relate! I have boiled my kettle dry on several occasions. Because of that, I now heat tea water in the microwave. If I forget my tea water there, all that happens is that the water gets cold!

A more spectacular story for me is I once forgot about a tamale I was steaming for lunch. I had (notice the tense) a favorite non-stick pan I used to cook just about everything in. Because it was non-stick, I’d found a plastic steamer basket to use with it so I wouldn’t ruin the finish. Well, I put in the water, the steamer basket, and the tamale, turned on the heat and went back to my desk to knock off a few more emails. By the time I remembered my lunch, it was a stinky mess of scorched masa corn meal on a bed of melted plastic in the middle of my now ruined pan. It looked like one of those gags you get in the joke shop…

So that was the end of my pan. And I now have a personal rule that I don’t leave the kitchen while I’m cooking my breakfast or lunch. Dinner isn’t a problem because when I’m cooking dinner I have hungry family members asking me when dinner will be. It’s hard to forget about the cooking with that kind of automatic reminder at my elbow!

What’s your story?

Recorded Radio Show on Adult ADHD

Here’s a great radio broadcast from KQED in San Francisco on ADHD, focusing on the disorder in adults. It was broadcast this morning (August 27, 2007).

Four great experts (a couple of whom I’m pleased to call friends!) joining host Michael Krasny, talking about what we now know about ADHD. It’s well worth your time. It’s also a great resource to share with your family and friends who may need to hear this information about adult ADHD from experts.

So, go give it a listen from the KQED website, or use this direct link to have it stream right onto your computer.

Four Tricks to Get Back On Track

Well, here it is, almost Labor Day. Many families, including my own, are now looking at starting up their “regular” routines again. And many are looking forward to it. I know I am. I had a great summer that included traveling, camping, visiting with people I am fond of whom I don’t get to see very often, chauffeuring my son all over the place, and getting to some projects I really wanted to get done.

What I didn’t do though, is work on this blog. And it isn’t because I didn’t think about it or didn’t want to. What I did was a very ADHD thing. I took time off from a routine, thinking it would only be for a couple of weeks, and then the routine totally fell apart. It’s now been a couple of months since I wrote regularly.

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve got a good thing going. You can trust yourself to do what ever it is on a regular basis. And then in a matter of days it’s like you never had that habit or routine at all? This happens to everyone some of the time, but people with ADHD are particularly prone to this kind of lapse.

We all know that the level of payoff or consequence of letting a routine go doesn’t affect a darn thing. What does matter is the more immediate the payoff or consequence, the easier it is to do something. It doesn’t matter if the payoff or consequence is big, if it’s not immediate, it’s hard to take it seriously. Unfortunately, even with immediate payoff or consequence, there’s no guarantee of follow through.

So now that I’m working to get back on track myself, I thought I’d share four of my strategies for developing routines:

  1. Make it easy, make it quick.
  2. Find ways to make it interesting.
  3. Up the ante of doing or not doing it.
  4. Get a buddy to do it with you.

Here are some applications to help you get the idea.

  1. Assuming you brush your teeth regularly already(!), put your pills out next to the tooth brush so it makes it easy to both remember them and take them (the “easy and quick” trick).
  2. If you need to exercise and like numbers, keep statistics on your progress (the “make it interesting” trick).
  3. If housekeeping is your bugaboo, invite people over on a regular basis so you’ll have to clean up or be embarrassed (the “up the ante” trick).
  4. If doing the dishes is something you usually put off, get someone to do them with you (the “buddy” trick).

So, those are my tricks. What do you do to develop and stay with your important routines?

Feingold Diet

This MedScape* article on Lifestyle and Complementary Therapies for ADHD includes a review of the Feingold diet.

I was surprised that the research cited supports the effectiveness of the Feingold diet. I had been under the impression that although this diet clearly helped some people, it was ineffective for the majority and hard to maintain, which made it a difficult solution for many households. To my surprise, the research cited in this article suggests that it helps a majority of the children who tried it. The diet is, however, controvercial. Click here for another viewpoint.

You’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s something you want to try. The advantages are it’s free and cant’ really hurt. Let me know if it works for you (or if it doesn’t!). I’ll be interested to know.

* Medscape is a online medical journal for healthcare professionals with the mission to provide timely, comprehensive, and relevant clinical information to improve patient care. You have to create an account to view the articles, but once you do, you can access the content at no charge.

Alternative Therapies

A friend just directed me to this MedScape article on Lifestyle and Complementary Therapies for ADHD.

The articles points out that more than 50% of American families who receive care for ADHD in specialty clinics also use complementary or alternative medical therapies such as modifying their diet or other aspects of their lifestyle. This article reviews the common alternative therapies and the research that supports (or doesn’t support) the effectiveness of those therapies. The article is worth checking out.

Medscape is a online medical journal for healthcare professionals with the mission to provide timely, comprehensive, and relevant clinical information to improve patient care. You do have to create an account to view the articles, but once you do, you can access the content at no charge.

What Makes the Medicine Go Down?

For years I’ve subscribed to the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter: The Newsletter of Nutrition, Fitness, and Self-Care. It’s been rated No. 1 by journals such as U.S. News & World Report and the Washington Post. In the September 2006 issue (volume 22, Issue 12), they have a bit on taking meds. I’ve copied it here.

What Makes the Medicine Go Down?

If you have trouble swallowing pills, especially large ones, the following suggestions may help. Try different techniques to see what works for you.

  • Before you begin, take a deep breath and exhale. This may help relax you and possibly even help inhibit your gag reflex.
  • Take a swallow of water before you put the pill in your mouth, especially if you have a dry mouth.
  • Put the pill as far back on your tongue as possible, and swallow with another sip. Using a thicker fluid, like milk, may help.
  • Don’t throw your head back; this stretches the esophagus and makes it harder to swallow. You might even try tilting your head forward toward your chest when y Continue reading “What Makes the Medicine Go Down?”