I’m 41 years old. I was diagnosed with ADD at 21.
Get your abacus. That’s 20 years.
In that time I’ve worked in Afghanistan, resident halls, traveled to Australia, South Africa and London, England. I’ve spoken at conferences like the World Domination Summit, and I’ve been a coach and mentor. I’m also bilingual.
You see, when we tell people we are ADD or ADHD, we have to preface it with, “Yeah, yeah, but I’m successful. I’ve done stuff.”
I’ve harnessed my ADD brain into working for me—I’ve wrestled, cajoled, and begged it to submit to what I need to get done. Most days my ADD brain and I are great—we are holding hands and working on projects with no worries. We’ve learned how to compromise and share and here are the lessons I’ve learned from our battleground, our brain versus mind street brawls.
Recognize the Weather
We all have an app that tells us if it’s going to rain. My phone will actually text me “Heads up. It’s going to rain in like 5 minutes, bro.” With my ADD, I have to know how my brain is going to function that day. Does it need a lot more attention? Am I fatigued? Am I forgetful? Am I short with people? I usually judge this after about an hour after I wake up. After my shower, how is my brain running? I just do a quick assessment of what I’m thinking (people call it meta-cognition).
If I feel a storm approaching, like my ADD is going to take the wheel, I usually put all my belongings in one place: car keys, wallet, and phone. I have a really great breakfast that’s nutritious and I go for a walk if I can. I try to ride the storm out by making my brain track minimal amounts of information and add some more exercise to my day. And then the next step is the most crucial one.
Capture the Information
I always carry a little notebook with me. (Why do I carry one since I have a phone? OH MY FRIEND. That phone will die because I forgot to charge it.) On my walk my agitated ADD brain will yell stuff like, “You need the blueberries! Call John! You were supposed to call him and you didn’t and now he’s sad! Windex the kitchen table! Check your bank balance.” I’ll write this stuff down in some maddening scrawl. Once it’s written down, my ADD brain will simmer.
The ADD brain might even say stuff like, “Hey, I have this idea about your website” or “I think I figured out how this can sound better.” I’ll write that stuff down too. My ADD brain is constantly demanding that I remember something.
In my iPhone I’ll have Evernote up and running all the time to capture information: photos, audio, text, lists, etc.
Give ADD the Wheel Once in Awhile
When I have to maintain attention on something that is less than thrilling, I make a deal with my ADD brain. “Look. I get it—this sucks. Let’s play Hearthstone when we get back. And there might be a chocolate bar in it for you. Just keep it together.” Then I play about 2 hours of Hearthstone while I watch an episode of Doctor Who. I have to let my ADD run the show a bit. It’s fun. I like being able to think about multiple things and take in a huge amount of information that I don’t have to retain.
For those of you who are skimming this article, let me break it down:
Recognize your attention for the day and plan accordingly.
Have something (ANYTHING) to capture information from your ADD brain to shut it up
Be reckless with your ADD brain to blow off the steam for a bit.
Boom. Throw me some other helpful tips in the comments. Me and Jeff will chime in.
Ryan McRae works sales for a company you’ve heard of. He writes the blog ryanmcrae.net and masterpresenting.com where he teaches people how to not present like goons. He’s becoming an ADD coach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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