How ADHD Adults Can Better Manage Distractions. Notes From My Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group Meeting 6

Here’s some notes from my discussion at my Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group Meeting, Tuesday April 3rd on how ADHD Adults can more effectively manage distractions. Thanks for Vivienne for taking the notes. Here’s a list of previous meetings where someone sent me notes.

Topic: How ADHD Adults Can Better Manage Distractions

List 2 or 3 examples of feeling the urge to act on a distraction, but you were able to stay present and resist. Discuss individually in small groups.

Check out Shannon Dooling’s blog where she’s looking for stories on how adults in BC had trouble getting diagnosed for ADHD.

Why are ADHD Adults more likely to get distracted?

• Boredom or excitement
• New things are stimulating or under stimulating
• Lack of focus
• Impulsive
• Poor memory
• Trouble with delayed gratification
• Difficulty foreseeing the future or planning for the future
• Short attention span
• Trouble with working memory or with multiple items
• Uncomfortable with calm silence
• Racing mind
• Obsessions or negative hyper focus, ruminations
• Trouble with transitions (starting or stopping things)
• Trouble prioritizing
• Trouble knowing what is relevant and what is not relevant
• Not prioritizing or procrastinating
• Adrenalin/addict lifestyle instead of prioritizing (causing burnout or brown out
• Get overwhelmed/ can’t say no
• Don’t take breaks as needed

Think about:

• When do I get most distracted and what can I do to manage these distractions?
• Don’t try to change 15 things at once. Pick 1 or 2 things and work on those first.
• What are my expectations around my current ability to manage distractions?
• Are my perceptions of reality accurate or inaccurate? Am I delusionally optimistic?
• Can I adjust my perceptions to help manage distractions? The more my perceptions align with reality, the less struggle and strife I will have.
• Eckhart Tolle on accepting the present moment or accepting reality. Here’s a section from a Wikipedia article on one of his books The Power of Now elaborating on what I was mentioning.

Acceptance – Rather than resisting life as it actually is in the present moment, one accepts it for what it is, without labelling or judgment. “Allowing it to be as it is … takes you beyond the mind with its resistance patterns …”

Tolle speaks not only of acceptance of what is, but also of surrender to it.[33] This “is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life … to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.”

This may easily be misunderstood, and Tolle goes on to explain that he is not suggesting anyone should accept forevermore some unpleasant situation in life. That is mere resignation. Surrender is a purely inner phenomenon, changing our attitude so we accept how things are at this moment. Then we can act positively to change the ongoing situation, and such positive action is likely to be far more effective than if it arose out of the anger, frustration or despair of resistance.

General Ways to Reduce Distractability:

• Be more present, aware or less stressed out
• Stick to realistic list
• Reward yourself
• Effective audio tapes
• Exercise
• Avoid sugars, eat healthy foods, include protein
• Active meditation (focusing on something specific)
• Make lists (notebook or i-phone, etc)
• Schedule your tasks (planning reduces stress)
• Regular non-electronic breaks
• Regular de-cluttering
• A customized routine
• Allow buffer zones around appointments (bring reading material)
• Hot baths (try Epsom salts)
• A good night sleep
• Consider shopping or doing business in a less stressful place or time
• Organize well enough (plan to organize)
• Have FUN (schedule fun times)

Note: People with ADD forget to eat and forget to plan to eat. Google Hypoglycemia for more information how to eat a more balanced diet with reduced sugars, etc

Situational Things to Help Reduce Distractability

• Stress balls, fidgets
• Use Swiss Exercise balls
• Slow deep breathing
• Scheduled timers
• Focus on your feet planted on the floor
• Prayer beads or rosary (tactile)
• In meetings, stop individual and ask for clarity
• Ask for ‘time-out’ if possible
• If on the phone, ask for a minute & use mute
• Stay hydrated¸ drink water
• Chew gum
• Play some appropriate music for you and situation
• Stay hydrated, drink water
• Healthy snack
• Have a clear idea of the expected outcome- Be sure of the plan
• Make to do list
• Jot down notes for later if things pop into your head at inappropriate times

Think About:

• What are some distractions that happen to me on a regular basis?
• Make to do list
• Is there anything in the list above that can help me overcome it?
• WHY I am procrastinating?
• What can I do to address my major distractions?
• Is it my perception of reality accurate or am I delusionally optimistic? vs pragmatically optimistic.

Do you have anything you want the BC Liberals, BC NDP or BC Conservatives to do about their ADHD strategies and policies in BC? Currently zero.  If so, e-mail pete your specific thoughts. Again its for provincial wide policy vs just for what you want for your individual needs.

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6 thoughts on “How ADHD Adults Can Better Manage Distractions. Notes From My Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group Meeting

  • Margie Campaigne

    Great tips! I will pass them along to my clients.


  • Kat Parks

    Hi Pete, these are great tips.
    I started this year in a new Department in my office, which was also a promotion. I LOVE everything about it, it’s a new adventure every day, never the same thing twice. I am part of a great team, including one other ADHD woman, and a wonderful boss who hates to micromanage. He trusts his people to do what needs to be done when it needs done and ets us choose our path to completion.
    I sit in a cubicle right outside of the offices of two Vice Presidents in the company, both are very nice, one is fairly quiet,

  • Kat Parks

    Cell phone – hit publish instead of going back to the end of the sentance I was editing!

    Ok, so two VP’s, both nice, one quiet, one very gregarious, loud, FUNNY, and very happy, his iPhone’s Suri amuses him when he can use it to make someone laugh. He is a major distraction at work, but because I don’t have a micro-manager and as my boss’s boss, he also hates to micro-manage. I have wondered at times if he also has ADHD, which would explain some things, but either way, it sure is a dynamic team and I am thriving instead of slogging through another day just like the last one.

    Thought I’d let you know that sometimes a change of seating and change of departments can make a world of difference.
    It hasn’t helped me complete my taxes though. I have three years of tax returns to file, all with refunds due to me, so why can’t I finish them and mail them? It’s my money sitting there waiting for me to claim! LOL

  • Pete Quily

    yes the enviornment at work makes all the difference Kat.

    Many people with adhd procrastinate on their taxes, 10 years I think is the longest period of unfiled taxes and usually it’s the govt that owes them money.

    Take it to a bookkeeper or an accountant. It’s worth it for someone with adhd, pay to get rid of it. Otherwise it’ll be 4 years.

  • silver price

    One of the facets of ADHD is the fact that people like us are easily distracted. We; it’s easy for us to have our distractibility collide with our impulsive nature and to not only move away from what it is we need to be working on but to leap and bound away from it and a way to prevent this from happening is to eliminate distractions when you’re trying to accomplish something. If you’re at home and you have a task you need to complete, it might be helpful if you have music on in the background. It might be helpful to make you focus, but maybe having friends around or having other people around is distracting you from the task and it might be good to separate yourself to get your task completed. This can also be very true at work. It’s often a difficult situation for someone with ADHD to be in when they have paperwork to complete or patient charting was one of my; one of my main issues in health care employment. It’s a good idea to try and isolate yourself at work as much as possible and not be distracted by co-workers and there’s nothing wrong with asking your employer for help. In fact, under; in America under the ADA act, your employer is required to give you any kind of reasonable accommodation you need to get your job done. It’s not your fault you’re like this. You just have this little disorder and you can make steps to manage distractions and achieve your goals.