Our grandkids visited for the Fourth of July. The youngest is not yet two-and-a-half, so we had a lot of toys spread around the house, all of which he engaged with at one time or another. It was delightful! Sadly, everyone has gone home now and it’s time to get back to work.
This morning I was trying to engage my brain to write a blog post and had a hard time getting started. Then I remembered something I’ve learned about ADHDers: many of us find it much easier to engage with a task if we have in mind a specific person (or persons) who will benefit from our efforts. That person doesn’t have to be present, or even real. We can create the image of a person who would be the ideal audience for our presentation or reader of our post and direct our efforts toward that person. Or we can choose a real person to have in mind as we engage with the task at hand.
Just knowing that having someone specific in mind can get our engines started is not enough, however. We can easily forget that fact. We need a prompt to remind us at the appropriate time, or we will spend hours staring at a blank Word document, unable to get our brains to engage.
I realized I’d need something visual to remind me that I’m writing for the purpose of helping a specific person. (“Out of Sight, Out of Mind” seems to be a rule that holds true for most ADHDers.) Then I had an idea! I went to the collection of toddler toys that had been returned to the toy box at the end of the holiday. Out of the box I took a 2”-tall little plastic person who is now sitting on my desk. I’m hoping that having her sitting there looking at me will remind me that my work is meant to connect with someone outside of me.
This is an experiment. It may work, or it may not. This little person may just become part of the background tomorrow. I may no longer notice her. In that case I’ll need to try something else. It’s an adventure!
Life for most people is an experiment. For folks with ADHD it may be even more so. We need to constantly experiment to find what tools and strategies work best to engage our unique brain wiring – and then when we get bored with a strategy, we need to experiment with new ones.
It’s a great thing that many ADHDers are creative and curious. Out-of-the-box thinking allows us to create ingenious methods that get our brains engaged and help us accomplish the tasks that must be done.