When I saw ‘Indistractable’ in the ‘recommended’ section of e-Waterstones I had this brilliant idea of laughing at Nir Eyal’s face. He has no idea how it is to have ADHD and read a book about distractions… I thought. Little did I know, very little.
I was expecting another book with a pre-printed planner on how to fill your day with tasks that will make you look productive. Fortunately, this has nothing to do with that mindset of working hard & play hard. Although, I am quite confident the ADHD community will absolutely not block their calendars, or colour code them. If we do decide to do that it will take us a lot of time, only to abandon the whole schedule completely. However, dealing with distractions from within is an excellent technique. Johnathan Bricker— devoted his career to helping people manage discomfort, to deal with distractions we must learn how to be comfortable with the discomfort (you know, it will cancel each other out, and then we are in the nothing, better this than anxiety). The essence of Bricker’s method was acknowledging the urges/distractions. He developed an app, ACT to help people quit smoking— instead of suppressing urges, the ACT method suggests stepping back and analysing the urge, asking a question why does the urge/distraction happen now? Do we need to give in? Is there an external trigger? What will I achieve/receive if I buy a cigarette now?
It might be difficult for someone on the ADHD spectrum to calm down emotions, especially for someone who has anxiety as a comorbidity, however, this technique is excellent to calm anxiety down. The ADHD world is often black or white, Bricker’s method could add some shades of grey. We are resilient humans, if you really want that piece of chocolate, reimagine the trigger.
While reading Indistractable I tested some techniques, some I tested before I knew the book existed. Reimagining the trigger definitely helped me. Example: I used to be addicted to potato crisps, I learned how to stop consuming 200g packs per one sitting because I made so many excuses— how is it going to make me feel after I ate so much? Am I going to feel energised? I remembered I was usually anxious and angry at myself after consuming, colloquially speaking, crap food.
Self-compassion is also an aspect that I absolutely loved seeing in Indistractable. LET’S BE PRODUCTIVE 24/7 books do not even start to understand the notion of self-compassion and its power. In his book Near Eyal points out that self-compassionate people are resilient and more accepting of failures. Would you scold a friend if they failed at something? Then why are you so mean to yourself?
The good news is that we can learn self-compassion, even if we end up being distracted while talking to ourselves using kind words.
Let’s go back to the blocked calendar scenario. (Dear author of Indistractable, I still resist, you cannot force me). Okay, seriousness. The idea of blocking the calendar for so-called ‘fun’ activities can have positive outcomes, even for an unstructured, messy ADHD brain. Focusing on a task is generally hell, but if we schedule fun activities during the day, such that at 6 pm you are going for a bike ride you might feel tempted to finish your work task. For those who have difficulties with meeting friends, blocking some time to see them might also prove beneficial. Otherwise, scheduling tasks for the day instead of a particular timeframe during the day can help.
Tip from me: I have a whiteboard on the wall which has ‘work’ and ‘personal’ sections. I try writing my tasks there, I manage to stay alive every evening after work, even if I did not finalise those tasks. The board helps me to remember what I need to accomplish, even if I do it all on Friday and sign off from work at 11 pm.
Still on blocking the calendar, Nir you are definitely onto something here… Scheduling important relationships can actually save some ADHD marriages out there, and friendships. Having ADHD can sometimes lead to loneliness due to social anxiety or difficulty adapting to societal norms (hello societal norms, you are senseless sometimes, so do not expect ADHDers to follow or understand you. Get a grip.). Lack of close friendships can be detrimental to your health, humans need other humans. Scheduling activities with friends or your spouse is important, and asking for help in scheduling is essential. Remembering that ADHD brain and planning? Pff. Scheduling those activities even a day or two before is one step forward, scheduling a week ahead could work for some and ruin some of us. Choose something that will give you a positive outcome.
Tip from me: Tell your friends you hate planning, just be honest. My friends asked if I can cat sit for them, I always want to help, but what if I end up in Paris tomorrow? But hey, be kind :)
Note: Below, there is a simple vis based on data collated from Goodreads on how many so-called 'Productivity books' are there...