- We are less likely to start, keep going, and finish than neurotypicals because our brains function differently, both structurally and chemically; this makes it inherently more difficult to see and consider all the parts/steps in most activities..
- It takes effort, perseverance, and time to find ways to cope with the challenges we can experience in getting started, keeping going, and finishing things.
- learning from others with ADHD, people, trying out help readily available online, and most importantly slowing down to figure this all out.
- Slowing down creates space required to mitigate the stress of our lives and provides an opportunity to establish our ways adapted for our circumstances
- Conducting experiments reveals what makes it easier for you. Then we speed up.
- How can we have a structure for smooth progress that helps with getting started, moving, and getting things done?
- Moira acknowledges it takes a great deal of effort to make it work
- People with ADHD expend a lot of effort—fMRI scans show ADHD brains work harder and use more capacity
- Using up capacity faster can lead to a stress response of fight, flight, or freeze
- Effort and stress levels can be reduced with routines
- When they become automatic, it requires less from us
- Having strong personal reasons for why we want a routine is important for success in getting them up and running
- Creating routines takes time and effort
- Slowing down is needed to have the time to do this
- Moira shares how she figured out her why to get enough sleep
- Experimenting includes trying an approach, observing the outcomes, and then adjusting.
- it requires slowing down, paying attention, writing things down, adjusting, and trying again.
- Take what did work, consider why, how, or what didn’t work to come up with the next stage of experimentation.
- Even when we try something completely different it doesn’t have to mean we’re giving up, we’re adapting .
- With ADHD we’re less likely to see and consider all the parts/steps in most activities—the getting ready or preparation pieces, what is required to start or engage, what adaptations, hurdles, or challenges may appear in the middle, and how to wrap or conclude whatever it is we are doing
- others with ADHD who are doing similar things can create shortcuts to figure out what will help us get started, keep going and get it done.
- Reviewing or using online checklists or workflows can highlight steps, stages, potential challenges, materials needed, all sorts and can decrease the amount of effort required, save money, and time in the long run, especially for things we do more than once .
- Google, YouTube, and people with ADHD provide resources, examples, models answers, ideas, solutions, templates, plans, instructions .
- Even with the time and effort required, this process will reap rewards down the road.
- Moira is thinking of it as an investment in our future, and that we’re worth it.
- ADHD brains function differently, both structurally and chemically; this makes it inherently more difficult to see and consider all the parts/steps in most activities, and most everything requires more effort for us .
- Slowing down to speed up provides a way to mitigate stress and establish our ways adapted for our circumstances. We can reduce our effort and stress levels by creating routines we like and work for us.
- Knowing why we want to have a process is the first step, along with slowing down to pay attention, experiment, write things down, adjust, and try again.
- We can learn from our failures and successes, from others with ADHD, and online options to inspire, provide clarity, shortcuts, adjust and help us get started, keep going and get it done by slowing down to create what we need for ourselves it does take time and effort. I know it is already helping me and will continue to pay off down the road too, see it as an investment in myself. I think we’re worth it, don’t you?
Moira Maybin 00:00
I acknowledge with gratitude that I’m a settler who lives and creates on the unceded traditional territories of the Semiahmoo First Nation, which lies within the shared territories of the Kwantlen, Katzie, and Sto:lo First Nations.
Moira Maybin 00:16
“First came the wandering imagination, then the hyperfocus that drove me to commit my best thoughts to paper. Like my mind, my writing process was often disorganized and interrupted by fresh ideas.” In describing his own process, award-winning novelist with ADHD Rick Hodges also described mine. It helped to see my experience in print. Even more so the following sentence, “it took a great deal of effort to perfect the structure and make it progress smoothly, but I managed to make it work.” I wasn’t dissuaded it sounded hard. We can’t live a life with ADHD without knowing hard. He gave me the hope I needed to get through the previous episode, to keep going and start this one with less resistance than normal. Today we’re recognizing what it takes of, and from, us to start, do and finish, well, most things when we have ADHD, and ways to make it easier.
Moira Maybin 01:18
Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle. I’m your host, Moira Maybin a woman mom, educator and I have late diagnosed ADHD. This is the place to practice getting rid of guilt and shame and spending more time with our strengths and passions. There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner that are allowing me to make different decisions to make my life more ADHD friendly, and I want to share them with you. For show notes including next steps, resources, and articles on this topic, visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com.
Moira Maybin 01:55
Okay, let’s get started. Let’s call a spade a spade. When you have ADHD, we are less likely to start, keep going, and finish than neurotypicals, especially with the routine, tedium, and repetition of daily life. ADHD brains function differently, both structurally and chemically. This makes it inherently more difficult to see and consider all the parts or steps in most activities. And most everything requires more effort for us. We’ve all melted down when faced with some aspect of life, washing dishes, picking up something from the store, having a conversation, that seems to be the straw that is breaking the camel’s back. One way to alleviate this is by learning what works for others with ADHD, people who truly get it and have struggles like ours. Another way is tapping into some online options that can help ease our load too. The third piece is slowing down to speed up, a big part of an ADHD friendly lifestyle. Slowing down creates space required to mitigate the stress of our lives and provide an opportunity to establish our own ways.
Call them processes, routines, habits, and how-tos, whatever works for you, they are adapted for our circumstances. We get there by conducting experiments to reveal what it is that makes things easier for you. Then we speed up. As I got deeper into these ideas, there was more I needed to consider. That meant taking the necessary time to explore them, slowing myself down once more. To tease out a route from hodgepodge land to smooth sailing. I once again split the episode about initiating, persevering, and completing things into two parts. First, we’re focusing on what slowing down can be used for to help in the long run, and what’s easily at hand to help along the way.
Moira Maybin 04:03
If I hadn’t slowed down, I would have started this episode by asking how do we create a life that progresses smoothly? And that would be setting myself up for disappointment. Instead, I’m returning to the words of author Rick Hodge, and wondering how can we have a structure that allows us to progress smoothly in one part of my day or life? Simply get started. Simple? Not so simple. But getting started moving and getting it done. There are a few clues in his writing, “it took a great deal of effort to perfect the structure and make it progress smoothly. But I managed it to work.” I’m going to leave that word perfect there on the page and pick up a few others– a great deal of effort and managed to make it work. The word managed is interesting for me it has a range of synonyms, some implying triumph, like achieve, accomplish, and succeeded, while others suggest barely making do, like hope, fair, and even survive. I’m still wanting to consider my tendencies for extremes and decide that for me, manage will meet somewhere in the middle. doable, sustainable. Good enough. And I’m thinking of my writing episodes, that will be my definition of working.
Moira Maybin 05:34
The other tidbit? A great deal of effort. It’s hard to contemplate more effort if we are feeling spent. Anyone with ADHD is used to expending a lot of effort. Getting ourselves through the day is a harder task for us than neurotypicals. All brains use more energy than any other organ in the body. In neurotypicals, that means up to 20% of the brain’s capacity is spent on the work and maintenance of nerve cells in the brain. Evidence from functional MRI scans show that doing the same thing as neurotypicals, ADHD brains work harder and use more capacity. We all only have so much capacity available. And our brains draw from the same energy pool. When you’re trying to decide what to eat, get ready for bed, or tidy a counter as it does doing the things that you want to do. The bottom line? With ADHD, virtually all parts of our life require more from us. Burning through our capacity faster has two possible outcomes. The more common one has us heading straight for freaking out, dropping out, or burning out, also known as our stress response of fight, flight, or freeze. The other possibility is to slow down enough to see the signs and have a repertoire that frees up our energy and capacity for things we want to spend it on. We can reduce our effort and stress levels by creating routines we like and work for us. Routines and habits get a bad rap from our crowd but if they can get to a point they don’t require thinking about and they let us do more of what we want, can we shift our thinking about them?
Moira Maybin 07:28
Even though we struggle with consistency, experience higher highs with novelty, and lower lows with tedium putting some things on autopilot doesn’t have to be bad. Having routines or habits may have been hard to develop, or something you want to avoid. What about an ADHD friendly way to develop some inconsistent consistency? Having a structure that works for you doesn’t have to feel like a trap with a singular right or wrong way to do something. It’s about setting up something that will be more likely to work because we’ve taken who we are into account. Having a clear and personal reason why we want to create routines or habits is an essential part of decreasing how much effort it takes from us to get them up and running. And then restarting them when they falter. Because they will. That’s how we roll. Which is why even the toddler in me doesn’t want to have a set bedtime I now do. Habits and routines and being clear on the reason why I have them makes life easier. I have long struggled being torn, to stay up late and get up early. I love both times of day, and how it feels what I can do. But being a mom and a teacher, it doesn’t work out so well to burn the candles at both ends. I’ve spent years fighting myself about this. The winner was only temporarily happy and there was always a sore loser. The end result always being tired. And I don’t manage tired very well either. Making it harder was the 16 years with one or more child up very early. And that went on long enough for me to assess the drawbacks and benefits of my push-pull desire to stay up late and get up early. Slowing down it became clear. Being rested was more important, not what I got out of late nights or early mornings. Once I accepted that I knew if my kids were getting up early, the only way to get more sleep was to go to bed early. I needed to remind myself of that repeatedly. I don’t want to be tired to be rested. I need more sleep. To get more sleep. I need to go to bed earlier by with regular sleep, more energy, and compassion It was something I could count on. Then I would forget why I had a sleep plan and throw my routine out the window. That’s why I now write everything down. When I got tired of being tired again, I had the answers, and the routine, ready to try again. It’s my feedback loop. And each time I practice it, I recognize when I go off course sooner and get back on track more easily. Creating routines takes time and effort. For me, that can only happen when I slow down enough to take the time needed to become clear on the reasons why. The next step is to experiment about what makes it easier to be in our own lives. One that is ADHD friendly.
Moira Maybin 10:50
To give you an idea of experimenting, here’s an example of how it played out. Today’s episode marks one year of the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle Podcast, with one more episode to come before the end of season one. In that year, I have tried at least five different ways of creating episodes, trying for having at least four episodes in reserve, switching from preparing one episode at a time to grouping them outsourcing some of the work, and creating a sustainable routine. Recently, I also added in balancing covering of topics that there were too few of in year one. First, I tried putting out an episode every week, when summer came, I had some reserved episodes. Perfect time to change the plan, right? Oh, yes and no. Yes. Because I wanted to enjoy summer. I decided to alternate weeks. Right, I thought now’s the time to be inspired to write to get ahead even more. Hmm, no, didn’t happen. So reserve episodes are now gone. By the fall, it was time for experiment number three, shifting how I set up my month to include the varying energies and abilities to have a monthly hormonal cycle. I hope that dropping three episodes every four weeks, would create the time and space for me at the low point of my cycle and that I would be able to prolifically create episodes in the other weeks. It did help not to have to drag myself through one week of the month. But two different curveballs came at me. The resistance and procrastination to writing was raging. And my cycle became more unpredictable, requiring even more flexibility in my scheduling in life. The changes in Episode frequency could appear to the casual observer as simple inconsistency. What has been consistent, is having intentional efforts to try and approach observe the outcomes, and then adjust. I’m still doing an episode a week. What remains is my desire to evolve to create a sustainable and manageable process that works for me. And results in creating good content on a regular basis to I’m getting there. But it requires me to slow down, pay attention, experiment, write things down, adjust and try again. In the last week, though, I have written every day. And I have been able to stop more easily to experimentation, trial, and much air are so important. The wheels falling off the bus or a wrong turn isn’t a failure. We don’t have to pack the trip and go home. We can reroute. We can use information learned along the way to adjust. We can take what did work, consider why how, or what didn’t work to come up with the next stage of experimentation. Even when we try something completely different. It doesn’t have to mean we’re giving up. We’re adapting. We can learn from our failures and successes. But that’s really hard to do. Another source we can learn from are others with ADHD. Hearing about the experience of someone who truly gets it helps to know their struggles or similar to ours helps. What if they have tailor-made solutions that just might help us too? How can we find these people? How do we gain access to their ideas? As we go through life, sometimes there are trusted friends and people who can do this for us. Other times we don’t know where to look. Something that is there. For most of us all the time, the internet. I’d like to take a moment to thank both the internet and all the people neurodiverse, neurotypical and digital some who will always be nameless and faceless, and others who may become my very best friends, all of whom host things online. You are an endless source of help to me and making my life easier. We don’t have to come up with any of this from scratch. In the previous episode, I shared my difficulties in writing. After that, I started to look online for more ADHD specific writing ideas. I struck gold three times. First was When your Brain is the Enemy: Life as a Writer with ADHD, an article written by author Nicole Bross. She gave me the kindness and compassion that I needed. Next was creator, Jeff Goins piece on an ADHD Guide to Building a Writing Habit. He made me laugh at myself, ADHD, and fall in love, again, with the way our brains can work. And last was award-winning novelist, Rick Hodge, who gave me hope and conviction that there is a way forward. It’s my hope that I might be one of these people for you. Then I had that experience we are all familiar with when the answer was something I had known all along but hadn’t noticed. Included in my Google search for articles about ADHD, writing, and school. Oh, yeah. As a teacher, I know the struggles kids have with writing. Considering that half of all of kids with ADHD struggle with writing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many adults with ADHD would struggle with writing too. When it comes to write, we can oscillate between an abundance or dearth of ideas. Then there’s the difficulty picking topics, locating needed resources, capturing thoughts before they evaporate into the mist, or even more frustrating, not being able to find the words we want, get our ideas out coherently, logically, and sequentially. Essentially, it can be a struggle to be understood, let alone create. Those struggles can show up on many fronts, not just writing. We might need to figure out our own ways to handle each of these, and that will take some time. Less time if I sort out how to do this big picture-wise. More time, and way more effort and frustration if I just wait until each episode to try and solve it on the spot. Whatever it is, we are wanting to simplify and make easier or even just a more routine part of our lives. We do benefit by searching out others with ADHD who are doing similar things, it can create a shortcut in the process and help us to figure out how to get started, keep going and get it done.
Moira Maybin 17:30
It is inherently more difficult for us in those areas than neurotypical is because our brains function differently, both structurally and chemically. This makes us less likely to see and consider all the parts or steps in most things, the getting ready or preparation pieces, what is required to start or engage, what adaptions hurdles or challenges may appear in the middle, or how to wrap up or conclude whatever it is we are doing. This can cause us big problems and small in a variety of ways.
Moira Maybin 18:02
Checking out checklists or workflows online can help us see where or when we skipped steps, potential challenges, materials needed all sorts. Even better, it can decrease the amount of effort required, save us money, and ultimately save us time in the long run. Especially for things we do more than once. It does take more time up front. That’s why I say we slow down to speed up. I borrow checklists posted online and make them my own. When I’m trying it out it can take a while to create, check, recheck, change, fix, reorder, remind my perfectionism that I’m not spending all day here. This has to be a functional piece, not a work of art, to get something that will guide me through what I am doing. I always created on my computer. So there are multiple ways to find it when I want it. I also include reminders for what might derail me from my intentions and well-being. How long am I doing this for? How will I wind it down? Or pots? What might sidetrack me water movement food? What’s the plan for them to be forewarned and forearmed for my typical challenges? That way my life is better. Using tools even when they are checklists or prompts, frees up brain space and saves energy.
Moira Maybin 19:21
What helps in building these routines, habits or checklists is having a clear understanding why we want to create it. One reason could be acceptance that we forget that all we do has a beginning, middle and end. That makes it things harder. For example, eating, getting food, preparing it, eating it, and cleaning up. How well does that go for you? Some people love to prepare food, enjoy eating and want absolutely nothing to do with the cleanup. In my own case, I make meal plans and order groceries routinely. When it comes to the actual task of preparing something to eat. I find it hard to follow through on the ideas, make choices, and would like food to simply appear. Cereal can do that. Most often, I don’t mind cleaning the kitchen because previously, I had a very strong reason why cleaning up was important to me. Also, the process is consistent, making doing it easier. The habit built because in my pre-ADHD diagnosis days if I didn’t clean it up right away, I would forget the state of the kitchen. When I returned usually tired and hungry, it would upset me a lot to see the mess, anticipating the work to clean it, and how it was getting in the way of what I wanted to do then, I was also usually living on the edge of frustration overwhelmed meltdown city, and a mess could just tip me over the edge. Tidy, clean spaces and especially clear counters helped to calm me. And if they weren’t, my agitation would increase. This after-effects or outcome of the things with the beginning, middle and end is one I’m including as a fourth stage. In the case of eating, I struggled with getting started with making food. And in the past when I didn’t clean up, there was such negative after effects, that it gave me a strong enough reason to build a habit to clean up the kitchen. Now I no longer need to protect myself from the mess as rigidly, but I still struggled to prepare food. That means my reason for maintaining the habit is changed. I now use it to trade-off with others who want to go and not clean up. Win-win.
Moira Maybin 21:32
Another thing we tend to forget is how to trust ourselves, our judgment. Part of that comes from all the time spent alongside others who seem to get it whatever it was, and beneath the surface we were desperately paddling, trying to keep up and figure out what we had missed. To avoid those types of situations some seek as much certainty as possible, an impossible task. But there are ways we can reduce some mysteries we experience that can be so very helpful to preserve energy, and for getting started keeping going, and finishing. Sometimes I think of it as a springboard, an example or model of what is required. When someone has a hard time with any part of task motivation, initiation, perseverance, and completion having a sample can help immeasurably with the hard parts. As a teacher, I knew this benefited many being able to see examples of a similar project, novel study writing sample artwork, also representing different approaches and ideas to not anything cookie-cutter. As time went on, I realized how vital it is for Neuro diverse learners of all types. Being able to see a possible end product changes some fuzzy, partially constructed abstract idea into something concrete. In my life, Google does that for me. It’s a warehouse to seek out and then narrow down possibilities, shaping a question or issue from an undefined, limitless, overwhelming prospect into select solutions, templates, ideas. If there’s anything I’m not clear about it gets a Google search. I do limit how long and wide I look. And also consider how anything new connects with my current thinking. Recently, I Googled walking holidays checking in List of 27 Breathtaking North American options. When I saw that this list focused on camping, I realized that for my bucket list walking holiday, it will involve real beds and luggage transport. That requirement is now certain. Have a hard time with instructions? I would like to take another moment to thank all of those who create YouTube how-to videos that I can watch, re-watch, watch again and pause repeatedly to help me through the steps, recipes that come with pictures, and detailed instructions. It’s made my life so much easier. They’re part of my Insider’s Guide for me, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, that’s next episode. We have different strengths and different challenges. If you take a moment to think about something that you only have a vague idea of how to do. Are there ways that reducing ambiguity could help? No doubt doing any of the things suggested today will require more time and effort to do in the short term. I’m going to return to Rick Hodge’s words, to sum up, “first came wandering imagination, then the hyper focus that drove me to commit my best thoughts to paper. Like my mind, my writing process was often disorganized and interrupted by fresh ideas. It took a great deal of effort to perfect this structure and make it progress smoothly. But I manage to make it work.” If you have been interested in the last two episodes, you won’t want to miss the final one of season one, the one about the insider’s guide with suggestions of what to include when planning for the different stages of a project objector task, setting up doing the thing, takedown. And the fourth I’ve added the after effect, we will limit it to experimenting with one thing to increase our chances of success. We’re writing it down and we’ll set a reminder to look at it when we need to. Not because we will forget, but to free up capacity and brain space by not even bothering to try to remember how to do it.
Moira Maybin 25:29
Okay, you’ve done the hard work by saying to the end. Your reward? Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode. Number one, ADHD brains function differently, structurally, and chemically. This makes it more difficult to see and consider all the steps in most activities, and almost everything requires more effort for us. Number two, slowing down to speed up provides a way to mitigate stress and establish our own ways adapted for our circumstances. We can reduce our efforts and stress levels by creating routines we like and work for us. Number three, knowing why we want to have a process is the first step along with slowing down to pay attention, experiment, write things down, adjust and try again. Number four, we can learn from failures and successes. Others with ADHD, and online options to inspire, provide clarity, give shortcuts, adjust, and help us get started, keep going and get it done. By slowing down to create what we need for ourselves. It does take time and effort. I know it is already helping me and will continue to pay off down the road too. I see it as an investment in myself. I think we’re worth it, don’t you?
Moira Maybin 26:53
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s show and would love to hear your thoughts. To get in touch you can write me an email at ask@ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. Connect with me on my website, Instagram, and Facebook at ADHD Friendly Lifestyle or Twitter @ADHDFL. Every episode has a website page with show notes, transcripts, next steps, resources, and articles related to the topic. To get these visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. If you’d like to support the podcast, the best way is to subscribe on the podcast player of your choice and by taking the time to rate and review it there. There are other podcasts for your listening pleasure. On Hacking your ADHD Will Curb gives Tips Tools and insights. Brendan Mahan hosts ADHD Essentials focusing on parenting and education. Thanks for listening. See you later.