Ep 48: the one about setting the stage




It’s so easy when we have ADHD to skip, jump ahead, forget or avoid any stages needed to get something done. So, we’re not spending any time on what happens then! Instead, we are returning to some unfinished business from Episodes 40 and 41 to look at how preparation can help.  When we set the stage for success, we consider including preparation in ways we like to increase our ease, ability and happiness.   
Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle Podcast, for those of us with ADHD, who have had enough of trying harder and want to live a more comfortable, healthy, and happy life with less frustration and overwhelm. It’s time to get rid of guilt and shame–around having ADHD, our needs, and challenges through stories, knowledge, and humor to speak up about the experience of women, moms, and being late diagnosed with ADHD. 
We can build acceptance and growing our self-compassion over time, to help us take care of ourselves, ask for help when we need it, and be comfortable with who we are. Join me, Moira Maybin, as I share knowledge about ADHD to make your life easier, and what choices you have to make your tomorrow a more ADHD Friendly day.
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Show Notes:

Topics discussed in today's episode:

01:21 Moira: Creating the Stage for Success. 

03:18 Moira: Preparation–Is it a necessary evil? Do you get sidetracked, or stuck? 

05:22 Moira: What gets in the way of task initiation, perseverance and completion with ADHD. 

06:57 Moira: Finding ways to include more happiness, joy and ease when doing things, we don’t particularly like 

12:22 Moira Set up your environment at the point of performance. 

15:45 Moira: What is within reach and what do you want? 



Moira Maybin 00:00 I acknowledge that I live, work, and play on the shared, unceded territories of the Semiahmoo First Nation. The Semiahmoo People have been stewards of this land since time immemorial.

 Moira Maybin 00:16 We are returning to unfinished business from episodes 40 and 41. About getting things done. They had a lot packed into them. So we ran out of time to figure out what works for you. It’s too easy when we have ADHD to skip. Jump ahead, forget, or avoid any stages needed to do things. We benefit from reminding ourselves to include each step. And today, we’re starting with preparation. 

 Moira Maybin 00:41 Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle. I’m your host, Moira Maybin, a woman, Mom, and educator, and I have late diagnosed ADHD. The more I know about my ADHD, the easier life is to make different decisions, ones that are more ADHD friendly. We can use this time to practice getting rid of guilt or shame and spending more time with our strengths and passions. I want to share all of this with you. For show notes, including next steps, resources, and articles on this topic, visit adhdfriendlylifestyle.com. 

Moira Maybin 01:21 One of my favourite terms as an educator is creating the stage for success. It’s another way to say prepare well. I prefer this version, as it includes considering what is possible around someone to promote their success. And it’s not exclusively on one person’s shoulders. It’s the opposite of being set up to fail, and it can work wonders. The phrase also brings to mind an actual theatre stage, at least for me, with many people behind the scenes working together to ensure the show is a success. A Theatre Company is interdependent and multifaceted. multiple things happen before during and after the actors show up to help them be their best. So we can use that idea to determine how to set our stage for success. Before we even start, what has the potential to increase our ease and success? 

Moira Maybin 02:15 We can create the stage for success in three parts. Defining what preparation involves understanding and including personally motivating elements and adapting the environment to increase its ability to work for you. It will take time and effort but applying similar ideas to different situations is one payoff. I talk more about slowing down to speed up in Episode 40. When I got to the editing stage of this episode, I threw on a playlist described as chill hip-hop beats from around the world. To quote Mary Poppins, it’s the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down. The music qualifies both as a motivator and an environmental adaptation. Especially since I’ve discovered that I prefer sounds from my earbuds to many speakers. Being curious can take us down some interesting roads. It’s a small thing but appreciating small things and giving them to myself increases my happiness and comfort. Win-win-win?

Moira Maybin 03:14 The first stage of preparation, what are your thoughts on preparing for things? Is it a necessary evil? Away we get sidetracked? Or do you get stuck there? Is there a part that you just prefer to miss? Sometimes I just want to show up and start. I probably fit into all of these for different reasons at different times. So what to do? Well, to devise means to invent a procedure or system, how to prepare. Sometimes what we prepare can turn into a routine, like going out or making a meal. Each of us will differ in how much detail our preferences are for capturing what’s involved. An example that just popped into my mind is my desire to bake croissants from scratch a second time. I remember it as a detailed lengthy, specific, unfamiliar task, but oh-so-tasty. I know I wrote tips on the recipe. The next time, I would also like to take a picture of the kitchen counter after I have all the supplies prepped. But before I start a photo of what the setup looks like, would be quick, easy, and so helpful in the future, as long as I can remember and find it easily. 

Moira Maybin 04:32 So I’ve talked a lot about my struggles with writing, and I now use a detailed step-by-step process for each episode. It’s written down for when I forget or when the day is more challenging. I also use it to check if I’m on track and what to do next. First, I set it up by capturing what I was doing. Using speech to text and post it’s anything that made it easy. Next, on a different day, when I went wasn’t trying to do an episode, I came up with an order to do things, I needed to tweak it as I go, and it’s working. Remember, I focus on what I do to set the stage for success. 

Moira Maybin 05:12 It does take time to consider by walking through what we need to accomplish something, trying to see what we might otherwise overlook. It can increase the feeling of I’ll never get started. Two things helped me with that, one, the belief that I’m investing in myself, too. I have done these enough times to know I won’t get stuck at the preparation stage either. It’s an unexpected boost to trusting my judgment. One last note about preparation. Check that your goalpost is reachable if this is your first episode on the topic, or you haven’t heard the ones that came before, episodes from the second half of season two are about what gets in the way of task initiation, perseverance, and completion with ADHD. 

Moira Maybin 06:05 An essential second factor in setting the stage for success is tapping into what motivates us to get and keep going. First is understanding that many long-held common beliefs about motivation and the power of incentives simply don’t work very well with ADHD. There are multiple reasons why the neurotypical approach doesn’t work for us. For one, waiting until afterward means any benefit arrives too late. Due to our neurobiology, ADHD brains function differently, and we benefit from more consistent and personalized motivators.

Moira Maybin 06:40 To increase motivation part of preparing includes figuring out what options there are before, during and after to make any task more accessible. I dedicated Episode 37, the one about dopamine use to really focus on that idea. It’s an ongoing process, of finding ways to include more happiness, joy, and ease as an integral part of the mundane, complex or necessary. It varies in what I need, when and how much. Sometimes I need a more significant investment in myself ahead of time. For others, I need more refuelling as a midway boost to how I am and what I need. In the middle is a considerable obstacle, especially with longer or more complicated tasks. The pattern I’m more familiar with is hyper-focusing to my detriment. When I hyper-focus for too long, the costs are too high, reducing my capacity more and for longer. So much so that is part of what I call the after-effect of doing something. And I’ll get into that next episode. 

Moira Maybin 07:48 To get through a longer and more challenging task without needing a massive chunk of recovery, emotional, physical, or mental, requires that I separated it into small enough chunks that leave me some fuel in my tank. figuring this out is part of setting the stage, looking ahead to anticipate how and where to chunk what I am doing, creating pausing, or stopping points ahead of time thinking about how to pause, and then having some sort of motivator or relief ready, I have to make it as easy as possible to stop. So while I’m working on pacing and stamina during tasks, I also include having rewards, motivators relief, and readiness. It might be some free-range time to do whatever I want, watching a show, going outside, buying something that’s on my shopping list, or taking time for myself. Whatever it is, it has to be possible, sustainable, and valuable to you. 

Moira Maybin 08:53 Going through this process from my writing has helped me to remove obstacles ahead of time or to have options when they appear. That way, my ADHD doesn’t keep me from what I want to do, my load is lessened and it’s easier to get my backside in the chair. Each stage is clearly defined with what I need to do, if things are going well, and what to do when they are not. I hear in my head. I’m in the messy middle. Now it’s going to feel like crap. It’s going to feel awkward, but it will get better trust. This process has helped shift vague and uncomfortable tasks into becoming straightforward and possible ones. I still need reminders of that. But the evidence becomes undeniable as it works more often. 

Moira Maybin 09:46 We’ve almost set our stage for success, defining what preparation balls, and considering what motivates us. Now it’s time to consider how to adapt our environment to prepare for something bigger Small, long, or short? Let’s consider what elements are in our control to change. How can we have more of what we need, where and when we need it? For example, I recently saw a new allergy doctor. As I waited in the exam room, thankfully not for too long I took in the setup. While it was Spartan, it was highly functional. On the desk was everything I imagined might be needed. computer, printer, stapler, extra paper, training inhalers and epi-pens. Next to the sink was a small Utility Cart stocked with the supplies to conduct the regular allergy skin prick test. There was a sack of paper, listing all the possible allergy tests. When my testing was complete, it took seconds to draw a line through the allergens I wasn’t tested for an X mark beside the ones without a reaction and a big circle around the ones that I did react to. It took so little time and effort at that moment. And I’ve referred to it numerous times. How often do we walk out of an appointment or meeting unable or worried that we won’t remember important information, it was made so easily? And all the work was done in setting the stage. If I were that doctor, part of what would motivate me to do that would be knowing that it would make my day easier. And it was helpful to both my patient and me. On my way out, I saw another exam room set up just the same as the one I had used. Having two exam rooms fitted out the same, including a computer and printer, and each is an added cost upfront. But it also reduces the cost to capacity while doing the job. My doctor was setting the stage for success at the point of performance, the place and time we do something. The point of performance is a really important concept. When we think about setting the stage for success. having what we need, where and when we need it decreases challenges and increases success. 

Moira Maybin 12:12 Having what we need can just make our life easier. For example, I have two toothbrushes and use one in each bathroom. That way, it doesn’t matter where I end up when it’s time to brush my teeth. However, what it does is improved my health because it increases my nighttime brushing. I’ll admit I struggle at the point of performance when I need some sort of office supply. And one of my Darling children borrow my stapler, scissors, or tape, never to return them. I can spend a lot of time looking for them. And at the same time, I have rising frustration and annoyance. And my chances of getting sidetracked increased which is why today, both my teens got their first pair of adult-size scissors. If they have what they need at their point of performance, they will be less likely to go after my stuff. If I haven’t said this already, I’ve always given my kids’ office supplies as part of their gifts. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. 

Moira Maybin 13:19 Setting up your environment doesn’t only mean having multiples. For example, an ADHD brain I know was working on making her space easier for herself and didn’t want to have to remember where things went. So she adapted an idea familiar to her from working with props. In stage setting, tape is used on and around the stage to show the correct position for set pieces furniture and even actors backstage It is also used to keep props organized. My friend used small pieces of tape on her desk to show where she wanted things to be. It made setting up cleaning up and maintaining her space easier and left executive functioning available for other things. 

Moira Maybin 14:01 Spend time to set up your environment at the point of performance ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be permanent changes either. Remember that photo, I wanted to remind myself on how to set up for baking croissants. That’s an example of setting up my environment at the point of performance. There are multiple ways we can consider these. For those of us who like to get lost in our heads, we could spend time thinking about how to make a point of performance better. When we’re in the shower before we go to sleep or when we wake up in the morning. I can lose those ideas in the midst of sleep or forgetfulness. So having a way to capture our thoughts is once again a factor here. We could even make ourselves a beverage of choice when we’re not rushed or likely to get distracted and mull it over. If I can. I like to wander around the spot with a pen and post-it notes and capture my ideas. We can think about what tools supplies or equipment we need. What’s required here that we may forget would it be easier or helpful to have extra refills or any charging supplies? I just replaced the batteries in my recorder, and thankfully I had some right beside me, and my desk has some extras. Does anything require storage or clearing of space? How is your mood or energy likely to be impacted by the physical space? Its vibe, lighting temperature location? Do we also need to consider potential distractions and ways to limit them? What about managing hyperfocus supporting taking breaks and disengaging before we’re there for too long? And even though we may want to change it all now, what is within reach? And what do we want to work towards? As the saying goes, what will give the most bang for your buck to accomplish what you want? It’s clear by now that there’s a lot involved in getting things done. Putting thought time and effort into how we prepare can increase our ease and success in accomplishing what we want.

Moira Maybin 16:15 Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end. Your reward? Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode. 

  1.    What is needed to prepare can vary from simple to complex, depending on what it is we want to do. From short things to developing procedures or routines each of us will also differ in the amount of detail we want to capture. 
  2.    Due to our neurobiology, ADHD brains function differently and accepting that we benefit from more consistent and personalized motivators is an essential step toward helping us prepare. 
  3.    This one is so important, it’s kind of a repeat. Since we don’t have a JUST DO IT button. Preparation includes learning what we can access and value as incentives for any part of a task to use before we need it. 
  4.    We decrease challenges and increase our success when we prepare to have what we need, or what will help us at the point of performance, the place, and the time we do something. 

Moira Maybin 17:21 Thank you for joining me today. If you’d like this episode, tune in again. And if you know someone who will be inspired or encouraged by listening to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle, please share this. You can find the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle on your favourite podcast player so go ahead and take a moment to subscribe right now. To make sure you’ll never miss an episode. Follow the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle on Facebook and Instagram for lighthearted expressions of life with ADHD alongside ideas and resources. To support me or the podcast check out Patreon at patreon.com/ADHDfriendlylifestyle for exclusive content, early access to episodes and a one-hour live Question and Answer/ Ask Me Anything each month.  For every Patreon supporter at the 25 and $50 levels, you’ll be invited to monthly group coaching sessions and more looking for other great ADHD podcasts to have on your playlist. Our ADHD Essential is hosted by Brendan Mahan and Hacking your ADHD with Will Curb. Brendan covers many topics related to parenting and family life with ADHD Will focuses on tools, tips and insights that always inspire happy listening. I’ll be back again with you on the next one!


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Picture of Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

Picture of Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)
Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

Moira maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)