Notivation

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Notivation is not a typo that is meant to read motivation. Notivation is my made up word for a common problem among those of us who have ADHD. We are not as motivated as most folks. It is easy for us to get stuck for days, weeks, months or years when we don’t feel motivated. While neuro-typical people can tap into intrinsic or extrinsic motivation quite easily it is different for the ADHD brain.

How do you get things done and get unstuck when you are just not feeling it? It’s difficult but possible. It will take effort, commitment and possibly accountability to a friend, family member or coach. You will need to practice doing the things you don’t want to do.

It is okay to do the things you do not want to do, and many times it is absolutely necessary. Some of those things include doing schoolwork, office work and housework on time. These are not things that ADHD brains are good at or really want to do but have negative consequences if neglected.

You might be wondering how to get started with no motivation and lots of distractions?

Here are some tips:

  • Make a plan.
  • Share your plan with someone else.
  • Write it down and keep it in sight.
  • Lead with your body. Bring yourself to the task and begin.
  • Take baby steps and set a time limit for how much time you will spend on a task.
  • Play music that keeps you moving and in sync with time.
  • Be specific about what you will do and when you will do it.
  • If you have a big task, chunk it down into smaller tasks.
  • Let perfectionism go.
  • Reward yourself for making efforts.

Most importantly do not wait to be motivated but accept that your brain is wired differently and that you need to use strategies to get moving.

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach who works with teens, college students and adults with ADHD. Kathy helps them with time management, planning and prioritizing, initiating and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and other life skills. Kathy is the co-author of, Managing Your ADHD: Tips and Solutions from A-Z. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in NYC. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at kathy@bravolifecoaching.com

Putting the Fun in Functional

 

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I dont find doing daily chores fun or interesting. I find doing the dishes, putting things away, taking out the trash, folding laundry and (drumroll) for my all time favorite, cleaning the kitty litter annoying and stupid and lacking reward. I eagerly anticipate  the day that one of my cats  congratulates me on keeping their litter box clean but of course that will never happen. The closest I get to recognition on the littler box condition is when someone visits and says, Wow, you have two cats and your house doesnt smell bad at all.

We all have boring tasks that have to be attended to on a regular basis that we would rather not do  but if we avoid them long enough we might find the producers of the TV show Hoarders, knocking on our door wanting to feature us on the show.

Its hard to make our brains want to do boring repetitivetasks. I have never said to myself, Wow I am so psyched to do the dishes, and then when Im done I get to mop the floor, yay!The trick is to somehow make these tasks interesting and fun. You also need to be aware of how long things actually take so you can skip the excuse of it will take too long.

Go with the facts. It takes me less than five minutes to unload the dishwasher. I know this for a fact because I have timed this chore but a part of my brain will always tell me, Dont do that now, it will take too long.I wonder how come my brain rarely says,Dont play your video game now, it will take too long,even though my video game is the black hole of time, and a complete time suck.

Here are some strategies for getting chores done.

Make a list and write down the boring things you need to do even if you do them every day.
Do the stuff on your list and then you get to cross those things off.
Bring your body to the task.
Set a timer. Tell yourself, I only have to work on this task for ten minutes.
Try speeding up your tempo to be done before the timer goes off.
Play music with a strong beat and a fast tempo.
Count the number of steps you are taking. Instead of thinking, I need to clean the whole house try putting away 20 things and count as you go.
Give yourself a little reward when you are done. (Chocolate works for me.)

The ADHD brain craves doing things that are fun and interesting but a large majority of our daily tasks really are boring and stupid yet have to get done. When we come up with ways to make them more interesting and fun it is easier to get them done.

 

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Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach who works with teens, college students and adults with ADHD. Kathy helps them with time management, planning and prioritizing, initiating and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and other life skills. Kathy is the co-author of, Managing Your ADHD: Tips and Solutions from A-Z. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in NYC. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at kathy@bravolifecoaching.com

 

Ready, Set, Go!

 

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“A body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by an outside force.”

Sir Issac Newton

 

Newton’s first law of inertia might explain why getting started is often the hardest part for those of us with ADHD. You might have noticed that when you are at rest it takes a lot to get you moving. Getting started is especially difficult if the task is hard, boring, repetitive, unrewarding and perhaps a little challenging. I believe that those of us with ADHD are more familiar with inertia than most folks.

Try to notice how inertia plays a role in your life.

  • Do you struggle to get yourself out of bed in the morning? Inertia.
  • Can’t begin to write that report that was due last week? Inertia.
  • Feel not just stuck but glued to the couch? Inertia.
  • Can’t bring yourself to clean up your mess? Inertia.
  • Are you late to everything? Even the things you want to be on time to? Inertia.

Now try to figure out what kind of outside force you need to help you to get moving. The same things might not work for everybody. If you have untreated depression or anxiety you need to address those conditions first. However, if you have the garden variety of executive functioning deficits these outside forces might work for you and are worth a try.

  • Use mantras: Say “ready, steady, go” outloud, or try “feet on the floor” for getting out of bed.
  • Create a plan and write it down in Big, Bold Letters. Keep your plan in sight.
  • Set reminders and alarms on your phone.
  • Use a timer to remind you to get started.
  • Ignore the negative chatter in your brain and encourage yourself with positive self-talk.
  • Work with a coach to keep you focused on your goals.
  • Encourage yourself: Tell yourself that you can do it.

Whatever you are trying to accomplish you will need to take the first step again and again. Getting started may always be difficult for you and taking that first step might require using outside forces or strategies that support you.


 

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach who works with teens, college students and adults with ADHD. Kathy helps them with time management, planning and prioritizing, initiating and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and other life skills. Kathy is the co-author of, Managing Your ADHD: Tips and Solutions from A-Z. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in NYC. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at kathy@bravolifecoaching.com

Restoring Your Soul May …

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I attended kindergarten in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and I clearly remember starting each day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and then our teacher reading the 23rd Psalm. I had memorized the pledge of allegiance and the 23rd psalm way before I could read. The separation between church and state was pretty fuzzy back then.

In case you don’t know it, here is the 23rd psalm.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

That part in the psalm that says, “He restoreth my soul,” I could never figure out what that was supposed to mean. What does it mean to restore your soul? Is it possible to go about restoring your own soul? How does one go about it? What are you doing that restores or refreshes your soul?

People with poorly managed ADHD tend to think they are so far behind in all they need to do they don’t deserve restorative time. They believe that when they complete the gazillion things on their to-do list they will allow time for restoring themselves and renewing their energy.

But how can you accomplish your tasks if you are feeling drained and uninspired?

You don’t restore your soul through using drugs, drinking alcohol, having multiple sexual encounters with people who you hope to never see again, binge watching TV, endlessly surfing the net, playing video games or shoveling fast food into your face. These are things that might temporarily make you feel good and numb your pain but do not restore you and make you strong.

Think of your mind and body as a bank. You cannot keep making withdrawals without making some deposits. You want to maintain a healthy balance so that your brain is functioning at it’s best and you feel whole and balanced.

How do you renew your energy?

  • Sleep – Create a predictable bedtime and wake up at about the same time every day.
  • Exercise – Get some aerobic exercise several times a week.
  • Connecting – Spend time with friends and family.
  • Reading – Read a good book.
  • Meditating – Practice mindfulness.
  • Getting out in nature – Take a walk in a park.
  • Listening to music – Play music that makes you happy.
  • Laughing – Listen to comedy tapes and find something to laugh about.
  • Create art – Paint, draw, make a collage.

Try dedicating even a small amount of time to self care and restoration daily. You will find you will have more energy, and a better attitude to tackle your to-do list.


 

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach who works with teens, college students and adults with ADHD. Kathy helps them with time management, planning and prioritizing, initiating and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and other life skills. Kathy is the co-author of, Managing Your ADHD: Tips and Solutions from A-Z. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in NYC. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at kathy@bravolifecoaching.com

 

ADD and Shame

Like any good girl raised in a Catholic home, I have a talent for guilt. The ideal of moral perfection is elusive, as is admittedly true for everyone, but the greatest guilt – really, my greatest shame – is for a lifetime spent struggling with the constellation of symptoms known as ADD. Largely because for most of my life I didn’t know I had it, and instead felt sure that I was fundamentally lazy, disorganized, and unmotivated.

In my early childhood, I was labeled  “gifted and talented”, which meant that I was expected to impress. I’d never been the type to bounce off the walls, and I’d always been able to concentrate under pressure or on topics that interested me.  The possibility of my having an attention deficit – a phrase not commonly used or even known at that time – was never considered. At this early stage, all that was required was to take and ace whatever test was placed in front of me, and this seemed like something I could manage. If I could just keep doing that, I thought, I’d be good enough.

But the older I got, the further I seemed to fall from what was expected. Not everything could be hidden by one good score. I was careless, disorganized, distracted. The difference between what everyone knew I was capable of and what I actually achieved became larger every year, and with it, my sense of shame. I wondered what was wrong with me – why I couldn’t get organized, plan ahead, prepare? It didn’t seem to be something I could do. I wasn’t enough. Not anymore. I felt I was – categorically – disappointing.

Then came the shame – overwhelming, oppressive shame. I wanted to cover the distance between what I knew I was supposed to do and what I was actually doing, but didn’t have the tools to do it, and that felt like my fault.

In college, friends dutifully sat each night in front of carefully highlighted texts and impeccable notebooks that summarized all that they’d learned with a level of organization that mystified me. I couldn’t stay on top of one of my classes, let alone all, as everyone else seemed to be able to do.

The distance between what I’d dreamt and what I’d done was wide, coloring my life with each action I didn’t take. A sense of my status as “failure” congealed in my mind, and that shame followed me everywhere.

And then, though I didn’t recognize it as such at the time, someone offered hope. They suggested I get tested for ADD.

I didn’t expect a diagnosis. I had felt so much shame for so long that I was sure the tests would show that I was fine, that I had no excuse.

And yet, as it turned out, it was true: I had an attention deficit, and a significant one at that. It only took this one, simple piece of information for my worldview to start to shift, and for my belief in my inherent flawed-ness to get its first real challenge.

It took a while for my perception of myself to change, and to recognize that what I saw as intrinsic inadequacy might just be a different way of interacting with the world. My diagnosis was my first hint that I might still have value, might still be able to achieve something, and that what I had previously considered to be fundamental personality flaws might actually be assets. It took this diagnosis to start me on the path to believing that something better was possible for me.

I know now that ADD and shame go hand in hand for many of us, especially those who have lived entire lives before learning this disorder’s name. But it doesn’t have to be our fate. Hope is a choice, and so too is the act of seeking help, support, and treatment. My diagnosis helped me make it.

(This beautiful, insightful essay was written by guest blogger Mary.)

 

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Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach who works with teens, college students and adults with ADHD. Kathy helps them with time management, planning and prioritizing, initiating and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and other life skills. Kathy is the co-author of, Managing Your ADHD: Tips and Solutions from A-Z. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in NYC. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at kathy@bravolifecoaching.com

It’s Never Too Late

 

Many years ago I was in a Barnes and Noble bookstore when I saw a card with a quote by George Eliot. The quote read,”It is never too late to become what you might have been.” I bought the card, took it home and put it on my fridge and looked at it every day.

I’d been thinking about going back to school to complete my degree but I had been telling myself I was too old, I had been out of school for too long, and I was too busy. Then I would read those words, “It is never too late …” and I felt encouraged to try.

If it weren’t for that card, with those words I doubt I would have gone back to school, completed my degree, gone on to study life coaching and find ADHD coaching, the work I love to do.

Going back to school was hard. I remember sitting in a Forensic Psychology class that met on Friday nights from six to nine pm. I was working full time and had a husband, young kids and assorted cats and dogs at home. It was the end of a very long week. I had been awake and on the go since five am, and I was feeling exhausted. Repeating, “It’s never too late” in my mind kept me going and made me feel brave.

Words are very powerful. They can inspire you to keep going or keep you from doing the things that you planned to do.

Think about the times when you wanted to make a change but your negative self-talk told you it would be too hard, too boring or too scary. Having a quote that inspires you will allow you to challenge those thoughts and move forward.

If you have a favorite quote that inspires you, write it down and keep it where you can see it. If you don’t have a favorite quote it’s never too late to find one. Read your quote aloud to yourself as many times as it takes for you to memorize it. Let your quote serve as a reminder for what you want to accomplish. Words are powerful. If you give inspiring thoughts a prominent place in your internal and external world they will move you forward and encourage and support you as you work toward your goals.

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach who works with teens, college students and adults with ADHD. Kathy helps them with time management, planning and prioritizing, initiating and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and other life skills. Kathy is the co-author of, Managing Your ADHD: Tips and Solutions from A-Z. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in NYC. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at kathy@bravolifecoaching.com

Asking for Help

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Many of us don’t like to ask for help because we feel it is a sign of our being weak, confused and vulnerable. From an early age we are taught that we should be self-reliant and capable of handling every task and situation that comes along. We feel that we should be able to figure out how to do things and get things done. The problem is that nobody is good at everything and some things we are bound to suck at.

There are additional challenges when you have ADHD. There are things that our brains are just not good at. Things like time management, planning and prioritizing, remembering what to do, getting started on and finishing tasks, and organizing our thoughts, papers and possessions. These are the things many of us tend to struggle with because that is the way our brains are wired. We tend to avoid taking on certain tasks because we don’t want to admit that we need help along the way.

Asking for help is actually a sign of strength. You have to be brave to recognize your personal limitations and be willing to accept someone else’s expertise to accomplish your goals. It means that you are ready to try doing things in a different way.

The good news about asking people for help is that most people genuinely like to help when they can. Helping others makes us feel good. When you ask for help you allow someone to share their gifts and expertise with you.

When asking for help be specific about the kind of help you need. Instead of asking for help with childcare in general ask someone to pick up your kids at school and bring them home on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Think of something you need help with and ask for help. You might ask a friend or family member but you can also pay people like a coach, professional organizer or therapist to help you. There is no shame in asking people for help and asking others for help may lead you to opportunities to help others.

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach who helps teens, college students and adults with ADHD improve their time management, planning and prioritizing, initiating and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and other life skills. Kathy is the co-author of, Managing Your ADHD: Tips and Solutions from A-Z. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in NYC. For more information visit her website: www.bravolifecoaching.com or email Kathy at kathy@bravolifecoaching.com

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