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ADHD Time Management Woes Part 3: Big Picture thinking

ADHD Time Management Woes Part 2: Overwhelm

ADHD Time Management Woes Part 1: The To-Do Book

Speaking at ADDA Conference this Summer

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been selected to speak at this summer’s ADDA Conference, the only international conference for adults with ADHD.

Overworked, Overwhelmed and on a Collision Course for Burnout has been selected.

I’m also organizing a panel discussion for spouses of ADHDers: For Non-ADHD Spouses Only! Creating a Strong Relationship with Your ADHD Spouse Non-ADHD Spouses Share Their Recipes for Success, along with Eva Green (TotallyADD), Victor Roggli (spouse of ADDiva, Linda Roggli), Dean Solden (Sari Solden’s husband) and Wilma Fellman who has agreed to moderate.

As ADDA Worplace Committee Chairperson, my team and I will be showing off our new presentation targeted at employers to sensitize them about the challenges of ADHD in the workplace.

and finally, I’m really excited about offering a full-day pre-conference workshop, Managing ADHD in the Workplace for HR Professionals, with Michelle Geiman, Director of Human Resources at Ohio University.

The conference takes place from July 24 to 27, 2014.

Interview on Global TV’s Morning Show with Camille Ross

 

Had a short interview on October 21st, 2013 on Global TV’s Morning Show with Camille Ross. For those people wondering about the resources I mentioned (I actually forgot one) here they are:

http://www.coulditbeadhd.ca  A short test to determine if you might have ADHD

http://www.add.org  An international organization that empowers adults with ADHD

http://www.caddac.ca  A Canadian ADHD Advocacy group

http://www.totallyADD.com  A great resource for webinars and an online adult ADHD community

http://www.coachlindawalker.com  (this is the one I totally forgot) I offer free ecourses on productivity for adults with ADHD and write a blog.

Interview on the Economic Impact of ADHD and It’s Big

Attention Talk Radio interview as Jeff Copper and I discuss the findings of a journal review on the Economic Impact of Childhood and Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in the United States.

Among notable information:
“The overall national annual incremental costs of ADHD ranged between $143 and $266 billion”.
Adult ADHD counts for $105 to $194 billion and yet are an area where very few resources are provided.

Another interesting fact that might get the business world’s attention is that a very large proportion of the costs are in the area of productivity losses and revenue losses at $87 to $128 billion. Of course, this is in 2010 US dollars. For Canada, with its population at around 10% of that of the US, the proportion would likely be about 10% of these figures give or take a billion or two.

ADHD adults lose an average of $10,532 to $12,189 in income per year compared with the average of non-ADHDers.

ADHD and Relationships on CJAD Radio

Last evening had the opportunity to be interviewed by Laurie Betito on the Passion Show on CJAD Montreal 800 AM.

Host of CJAD's Passion show, Laurie Betito, and ADHD Coach Linda Walker

Host of CJAD’s Passion show, Laurie Betito, and ADHD Coach Linda Walker

It was lovely meeting Laurie and having a chance to help more adults with ADHD have a better lives.

As you know, internationally, it’s ADHD Awareness Month. It’s time we take the stigma out of ADHD and help ADHDers live their full potential.

If after listening to the show you think you may have ADHD, there is a test you can complete at www.coulditbeadhd.ca

Listen to the show on ADHD and Relationships with the link below:
ADHD and Relationships with Laurie Betito and Linda Walker

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ADHD Adults Need to Focus to Thrive – a new group program

by Linda Walker

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter you know I’ve just launched a new program called Thrive! The Natural Approach to Optimal Focus and Effectiveness for Creative Geniuses.

In this video, I’ll cut to the chase to provide you with information so that you can decide if you want to know more.

I’d love to hear what you think of the video. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

What If It’s Not Procrastination?

By Linda Walker

struggling to focusNothing’s more frustrating than to plan to complete a certain task only to discover you don’t “feel like it,” you’re “not in the mood,” or you’re blocked, “drawing a blank.” You’ve spent time you’ll never get back, and you have nothing to show for it. We hear adults with ADHD are poor time managers, but when you make the effort, when you do what you’re supposed to do… it would really be nice if you accomplished what you planned. After all, it’s not like you have nothing but free time the rest of the week!

Even when you do everything they say

You dismiss it as “writer’s block,” or not being “in the zone,” and juggle appointments, staying late, again, to make up for the unproductive time you wasted. It’s so frustrating because you followed every time management expert’s recommendation: you broke your project into manageable chunks, you planned time to work on those tasks, you blocked off appointments in your agenda so no one could ask you to do anything else, you eliminated distractions (maybe you even hid out at a coffee shop to avoid phone calls and emails) and it still didn’t work. Hours have slipped through your fingers, never to be recovered, and you have nothing to show for it.

Mention this to most people and they’ll dismiss it. “You’re just having a bad day. It happens to everyone.” When it happens again, people wonder why you’re “procrastinating.” After all, you didn’t get it done today, so you’re rescheduling it for tomorrow, or the next day. It sure looks like procrastination. And they’ve got great advice for that too! They tell you, “Always do the toughest thing first.” Someone else confides that their secret is, “Always do the easiest thing first.” Another offers the always helpful, “Just do it.”

But when it happens regularly, they begin to look at you sideways. “Maybe you’re blocked because you’re not facing your fears?” Or the old favorite, “Maybe you don’t really want to succeed; are you sabotaging yourself?” Maybe you’d even believe them, if it wasn’t for the fact that sometimes, you’re not sure why, the stars align and everything clicks. You’re able to get things done, faster and better than anyone else. Obviously you can do this. You start to wonder if you’re crazy.

You can’t tell if you’re not managing your time properly, if you’re procrastinating or if you’re secretly self-sabotaging! What you do know is that nothing seems to work, at least it never works well enough that you can count on it.

You’re missing the real reason

What if I told you that you’re missing the real reason for your inconsistent performance? You’re not lazy, procrastinating, or even crazy. You’re not “afraid of success.” No, the real problem is that your energy levels are not optimal for the activity you have planned. Everyone’s energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. However, adults with ADHD are particularly susceptible to variations in brain energy. Concentration or mental focus requires a lot of energy, so if you plan to tackle an activity that requires your full attention at a time when your energy levels are low, you’ll struggle. You’ll find it impossible to focus, difficult to control your urge to fidget and a complete waste of time to attempt to “will” yourself to concentrate anyway.

Most people underestimate the importance of matching your energy levels with the demands your activities place on your brain. Unaffected, the prefrontal cortex can function well enough through a range of energy levels. However, as an adult with ADHD, your impaired prefrontal cortex is sensitive to even slight variations. The effect of a drop in energy is so dramatic, just understanding your own energy cycle so you can schedule tasks to match the appropriate energy level well lets you reliably finish whatever you plan rather than having to reschedule because you “weren’t in the mood.”

Scheduling the right activity at the wrong place in your energy cycle is like throwing perfectly good time out the window. I had one client, Diane, who had taken the plunge, leaving her job to start her own business. Within six months, she was desperate. Consulting contracts weren’t coming in because she was really struggling to complete and deliver her proposals. Funds were running low and she was wondering if she was cut out to be a business owner. She contacted me to help her to overcome her procrastination; she really needed to be able to prepare and submit proposals on time.

Once she explained the situation, I recognized that her main problem was not actually procrastination. It became obvious that because she was unaware of her energy patterns, she was attempting to work on her proposals at the wrong time of the day. In fact, her time allocation was completely off.

In the week following mapping out her peak energy cycles she called at 6 pm in a panic. She’d been trying unsuccessfully for the last four hours to complete a proposal for a potential client despite a next-day deadline. In the past, if nothing else worked, she’d count on the deadline to get her focused enough to complete the proposal, but today even that wasn’t working.
I helped her see that proposals require a lot of mental energy and that she’d have better results if she scheduled this work at a time when her energy cycle was high. She decided to tackle the proposal the next day during her peak energy time, and the next morning called me back, excited because she’d just completed her proposal, with ease, and it had only taken her 45 minutes! She had time left over to check her figures, have it edited and deliver it by the end of the day.

She loved the feeling of being “in the zone.” She got more done, in less time, and turned out better quality work. No surprise, really, that she got the contract.

Most people don’t pay attention to fluctuations in their mental energy, treating each hour of the day as if they were all the same. Unfortunately, while this may not dramatically affect most people, adults with ADHD are working at a real disadvantage when they don’t match their activities to their mental energy patterns. Many ADHDers also have habits that affect their energy patterns, making it difficult to stabilize and recognize their own energy patterns.

To improve your effectiveness:

      1. Adopt ADHD-friendly strategies to understand, identify and stabilize your energy patterns;

 

      2. Take note of your predictable energy pattern fluctuations and how they affect your ability to focus, your need to move and your periods of exhaustion throughout your day

 

      3. Optimize your mental energy by matching the type of energy necessary for each task to the best time to complete it

 

      4. If you still struggle to put this puzzle together, get the help of an ADHD coach who understands how ADHD affects energy patterns and how your energy patterns impact your ADHD.

Coach Linda Walker, PCC, helps adults with ADHD improve their productivity at work, achieve work-life balance and prevent burnout. The author of With Time to Spare: The Ultimate Guide to Peak Performance for Entrepreneurs, Adults with ADHD and other Creative Geniuses, she is also the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover and Thrive! The Natural Approach to Optimal Focus and Effectiveness.

Here’s How I Fixed My ADHD Husband

By Linda Walker

Duane-Linda (3)Yesterday, my husband, Duane, and I celebrated 29 years of marriage. I would like to say it was all blissful but I’d be lying, and I’m a terrible liar.  (Not the anniversary!  That was wonderful!  I mean the 29 years of marriage!)

Until Duane received his diagnosis of ADHD in 1996, neither of us knew what the problem was.  Duane and I struggled with dividing household chores (the struggle was not in dividing them, I did it all despite his best efforts and promises to do better), with our finances and the added pressures of Duane’s frequent job changes as he became bored with or lost his jobs.  Under so much pressure, we fought… a lot.  Duane’s impatience and emotional outbreaks affected our relationship and his relationship with our daughters. The entire family was dysfunctional.

After his diagnosis, Duane began his journey toward embracing the positive and overcoming the negative aspects of his ADHD.  Duane and my youngest daughter, as is quite common, received their ADHD diagnosis around the same time – Kyrie was diagnosed first and as we read about her situation, light bulbs went on about Duane’s struggles.  And while only Duane and my youngest were diagnosed, I think of us as a family with ADHD.  We could only solve this problem working together, and so this was as much my journey as theirs.

Today, as an ADHD coach, when I work with an adult ADHDer, some of our biggest challenges are with the spouse.  And I get it.  Been there, done that!  Being a member of family with ADHD can be exhausting, nerve-wracking and absolutely frustrating.  And I think what I found most frustrating is that I thought I had no control over anything.  Once I learned that there were some things I could do to make life with ADHD better for all of us, the building process began and the frustration diminished.

Here’s what I did to fix Duane:

 

  1. First, I changed my mindset. I realized that I wasn’t the only one suffering in the family.  I know Duane had it worse than me – he was living it 24/7.  He wanted to be a better partner and a more patient father.  Our daughters suffered too.  They saw their parents constantly worried, fighting or impatient.  Kyrie struggled with her ADHD and learning disabilities, and our oldest daughter, Jennifer, felt neglected as all our efforts were directed at helping Kyrie and Duane.  Duane wasn’t the only one who had some work to do, I did too.  As parents, we feel for our children and would do anything to make their hurt stop, after all they didn’t ask for this.  Oddly enough, we don’t always feel the same empathy towards our spouses with ADHD (even though they didn’t ask for it either!)  I let go of my martyrdom and embraced empowerment, realizing that at any given moment, people do the best they can with what they know at the time.
  2. I learned all I could about ADHD.  I didn’t just learn so I could help my daughter (which as a mother, I would do without question) but also for my husband.  The more I knew, the more empowered I felt.  I read books, listened to webinars and went to conferences on ADHD.  Attending our first ADDA Conference as a couple was a life-changing event.  We both learned so much, met other people coping successfully with what we were going through and left empowered.
  3. I became part of the solution.  Duane struggles with several aspects of ADHD, but the worst is his short-term memory, which IS an ADHD problem.  So why was I asking him to do things or to pick things up at the store when he didn’t have a pen and paper or his PDA to take notes?  I also often asked him to help when he was tired or distracted. How likely was that to turn into a positive situation?  It was only when I was willing to let go of the way things were done and turn responsibility over to Duane that we began to make progress.  He told me he’d take over certain tasks, if he could do it his way.  He took over the grocery shopping.  I offered my help if he needed it (secretly thinking we’d probably starve to death waiting for Duane!)  To my surprise, he created his own system for doing it (don’t ever tell him I said this, but it’s much more efficient than the way I did it!) and we’ve never looked back.
  4. I took care of myself.  I lowered my standards on things that didn’t really matter much, especially in the beginning.  So what if I didn’t clean the house EVERY week and cook ALL my meals from scratch?  Instead of chasing dust bunnies, I spent time with friends to relax and return to my family a lot more ready to laugh as freak out at the wacky situations most ADHD families encounter regularly.
  5. The most important thing I did was to notice any positive changes.  As Duane began to work with his physician and his coach, I avoided nagging about what wasn’t yet addressed – change takes time – and made sure to notice what was moving in the right direction.   And I was sure to let him know how much I appreciated it.

There are several other things we did to improve life as an ADHD family.  We learned to communicate better how we felt rather than blaming, and we shared our dreams and aspirations.  We started dating again; no, we didn’t have much money back then, but using Duane’s vivid imagination, we found fun things to do that cost little or no money.  We didn’t get bogged down by social norms of gender roles and what constitutes woman’s work and man’s work, opting instead to take on the jobs around the house that we were better at or liked more.

We even created our own secret language to use discretely in public (I could provide Duane with cues to appropriate behavior in social situations, for example. And he could signal when he couldn’t take another minute of the 47 family members sharing a cabin in the woods for Christmas anymore and needed a break for some peace and quiet.)

And so now 29 years later, here we are still married, and much, much happier. We laugh a lot more and fight a lot less. I can safely say that Duane is my best friend and I, his. Was it easy?  Absolutely not, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together and I know it was definitely worth it.

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