ADHD is Awesome!

It’s awesome except for the fact that it took me nearly two weeks to really get going on this article.

So why is ADHD awesome? It’s a bit of a story.

In my case, I love my ADHD. Normally, when someone has ADHD, they struggle to fit in with what society considers “normal” for attentiveness. They expect you to sit still and do the same thing for hours at a time and be happy with it. When you have ADHD though, that’s just not happening.

Inevitably you’re labelled as a troublemaker and get yelled at for not focusing or not sitting still. That was me from about age 3 until I realized that I didn’t need to fit in – which was about age 15 or so.

I may have been lucky though. Even though I exhibited all 18 of the DSM 5 list of symptoms for ADHD, I had a mother who encouraged me when I changed interests as often as most people change underwear.

You see, there’s another aspect to ADHD that many people aren’t aware of, and that’s hyperfocusing. When someone with ADHD finds something that interests them, they zoom in on that and just want to do that and nothing else.

This means that even though I never stayed with anything for any length of time, those things that I was interested in I absorbed into my being. And with the support of my mom, I learned A LOT.

Naturally, this drove my teachers crazy. They knew I knew the subject because when tested I would get high scores. But I never did the homework, so my grades suffered. I only wanted to learn what I wanted to learn. I only wanted to do what I wanted to do.

Fast forward to today and I know a hell of a lot about a hell of a lot of things. And because my mind still wanders (just ask my wife), I’m able to see connections between things that others may miss.

This cycle of interests does something else – it keeps me from getting bored.

In my job today, I develop software. My team uses Agile with Scrum to organize the work. For me, that means I get 5 or 6 different tasks that I have to do over a two week period. Now, most developers will take their list of tasks and work on one until it’s done, then move to the next.

Not me.

I’ll start on all my tasks at the same time. I’ll make a little progress each day on them until they’re done. While this isn’t always the best use of time, it keeps me moving forward and getting things done.

Some of the problems with ADHD include forgetting things like appointments or tasks or paying bills. Fortunately, this is the 21st century and we have technology to help us! Bill pay is absolutely the best invention EVER for people with ADHD. Seriously. If you have ADHD and aren’t having your bills automatically paid from your checking account each month, then you’re only hurting yourself.

Appointments and automatic reminders on your phone or laptop are a beautiful thing too. Just make sure that EVERY appointment you have goes into a singe calendar.

Tasks are another thing that technology helps with. There are any number of apps you can use to add your tasks to and be reminded (nagged?) to do.

By offloading the drudgery you actually free your mind to wander like it was built to.

Even though this is the 21st century, that doesn’t mean that everything I do revolves around technology. I unplug on a regular basis.

One thing I do is keep a Moleskine notebook and pen with me at all times. That way, when I’m having thoughts and want to capture them, the tools are right there.

Also, there’s something about the feel of pen on paper that allows your brain to flow differently. I don’t know what it is exactly, but personally, I think differently if I’m writing on paper vs typing on a computer.

Now, there are still problems with ADHD. For one, when I’m talking, my train of thought goes all over the place. If someone was transcribing me as I spoke they’d have parenthesis all over the place as my sentences change subject midstream. It can sometimes take me several minutes to make a point that others might make in 10 seconds or less.

Another problem is if I’m assigned a task that I don’t really want to do, I’ll find every excuse in the world to put it off until the pain of not doing it exceeds the pain of doing it. And often there isn’t even any pain in doing it.

Right now, I’m putting off calling a couple of people because I don’t really like making phone calls. Yet, I know when I finally do call them, the conversation will be awesome and I’ll get HUGE benefit from it. Logically I know this, but I still put it off.

I’m convinced that multipotentialites (scanners, slashers, mutipods, etc.) are people with ADHD who have figured out that it’s a good thing. They don’t let the fact that they’re all over the map with interests and knowledge stop them from learning, doing, and producing.

So stay away from the Ritalin. Instead exploit the gift of ADHD by learning and doing everything.

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