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The best laid plans...

Aug 1, 2019

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I often post my daily schedules as a way of showing how I make them and how helpful they are. I don't actually make written schedules that often anymore. I've internalized the process to a large extent. But there is usually one day or so a month where I don't have much on the calendar but need to get a ton done, when I do take the time to write out the schedule. I did exactly that on Tuesday. So when I post my schedules I tend to post ones that have gone according to plan. The goal isn't to toot my own horn, but to demonstrate the power of consistently doing the schedule over time. You can get really, really good at it. But it has occured to me that always posting a schedule where I nail it may seem like an unattainable goal for some. Perhaps it might be equally as helpful to post one where things did not go as planned and talk about how I handled that. Because, yes, I've gotten really good at this. But the vast, vast majority of schedules I've made in my life have not gone according to plan. Half the battle in terms of progress is accepting that fact, but also recognizing that you're still more productive with the schedule than you are without it.

So, check out my schedule for Tuesday. It was 95'ish degrees and humid that day. And, unfortunately, most of what I wanted to do needed to be done outside. That is one of the main reasons that I made a schedule for Tuesday on Monday night. I new that I had to get outside and get some stuff done before the day got even hotter. I had to wake up with purpose and with a plan. 

Basically, I needed to weed my garden beds. The last time that I had done that it took me about 45 minutes. But the weeds were more out of control this time, so I budgeted one hour and 15 minutes. After that I planned to clean out the garage at rental property and install a MacGyver'ed bike rack for the new tenants. The most important thing I needed to do was call my friend and contractor to see if he or one of his guys could help me swap out an above the stove microwave and vent fan in the rental. Other than that, I had some office work to do, lifting at the gym, practicing the drums, and I really wanted to try to get back to working on my book on executive functioning that has been on the back burner for several months. 

Here's what happened. My buddy, Rob said that he could actually come over and do the microwave that day around 2:30. So as of 8:30 a.m., my schedule was already shot. But that was fine. That was a high priority item that would be awesome to have done that day. You'll note that I didn't bother to rewrite the list. 

The second thing that happened was that weeding the garden turned out to be a herculean task. I only did about 50% of the beds, walkways, and "yard" and it took me one hour and 45 minues. And, I was exhausted by the heat by the time I was done. So, again, the schedule is totally shot. Or is it? Mentally, what I did was simply recognize that I wasn't going to get the garage and the bike rack done. Neither were live or die items and I didn't want to do them in the heat of the day anyway. So, if you ignore those items... I was basically on schedule. Rob ended up coming over earlier than expected, but I still got 30 minutes of drum practice, a hour at the gym, all the work stuff I needed to get done, and worked on my book for about 45 minutes. 

My point is that you could look at this day objectively as a failure. I didn't get many things done that were on the schedule and I hardly did anything in the projected order. Many of my clients fall into this trap. I would suggest that this day was a stunning success. I got something done that was a high priority that wasn't even on my schedule; I got half the weeding done and gathered valuable data about how long that task actually takes at this time of year; I accomplished my self care goals; I listened to a webinar about ADHD and anxiety in kids while weeding; and I finally got back into writing my book. 

One of my favorite saying is an old military truism: No plan survives contact with the enemy. My schedule did not survive contact with Tuesday the 30th of July intact. But it was a manageable framework from which a solid day was executed. I'm hoping that your takeaway is the same as mine, that having a plan/schedule is always better than not having one... even if things go awry. 




Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.


The best laid plans...

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When clients get it!

Jul 26, 2019

I had a great moment yesterday with a relatively new client. We were talking about his To Do List and scheduling. I pointed something out by using myself as an example. I'm currently writing a book. By "currently" I mean that I've written about one third of it during one week in the late winter and haven't had the time and/or focus to work on it since. I mentioned to the client that I have "work on book" on my To Do List, which is way to vague and that what I need to do is take a look at where I left off and break it down into specific goals on my list. To which he responded that I should put that step on my list. He was 100% correct. That is a change I will make today and maybe even get that thing done because it is now accounted for and actionable. 



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.



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Cutting people off

Jul 18, 2019

I’ve recently written about how important it is to have the people in your life bring you energy rather than take it from you. By energy I don’t necessarily mean life force, chi, or something mystical. Although that could apply here. I mean the very practical, real life thing that we only have so much of. Let’s be honest, as ADHDers, our resources are finite and not always abundant in terms of energy and attention. Even those of us who have the “H” may have the physical energy but lack the mental energy at times. 


If you’re with me in understanding that our resources are limited, we need to be extra careful about how we use those resources. It takes a lot of effort for me to get through the day. I guarantee it takes more than a neurotypical person. So my margin is much smaller. I don’t have the time and energy for people who are bad friends, bad to do business with or who cause me stress and anxiety. And make it a point not to have folks like that in my life. 


I suggest you do the same. Of course it’s usually not so black and white. That person my be the father of your child or friend that you’ve had for years, but who’s never really been supportive. You have to weigh the good and the bad. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that nobody is perfect. But have boundaries. Know what lines people are not allowed to cross and hold strong in your conviction if they do. But in those gray areas talk to them. If someone who is important to you says or does something that you don’t care for, let them know in a respectful way. The vast majority of the time they will be willing to talk about it and you’ll come out stronger for it. If not, you’ve found out how much respect that person has for you, and it’s probably time to move on. 


There is also another reason why bring this up on an ADHD blog? Well, ADHDers often suffer from low self esteem and end up being people pleasers who aren’t so good at establishing boundaries and get walked all over. I’ve seen so many clients truly blossom once they’ve gotten out of bad relationships or cut ties with people who tore them down instead of building them up. It make my heart soar to see that. And, that is my hope for everyone. But it’s most important for us with our limited resources. 




Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.



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How I use lists to lower my stress level

Jul 12, 2019

If you have worked with me at all you probably know how I'm a fiend for my To Do List. I do it in a very specific way, and teach it in a very specific way that works great for how we ADHDers are wired. Well, there are rare occasions when the general To Do List isn't enough. Very large and distinct projects may require their own To Do List. But applying the same skill to that projects lowers anxiety and increases efficiency. 

Last week I had two-and-a-half days to flip a rental property for new tenants. I needed to paint the whole bathroom, including the ceiling, put in a new medicine cabinet, install a new ikea closet, touch up or paint all the rest of the rooms, and clean some stuff out among other small things. Plus it was 95 degrees that week and the unit isn't air conditioned. Quite a big project.

I knew the priority was the bathroom, so I started there and kept moving. Near the end of the first day I had accomplished a ton, but realized there was far more left to do. This kicked up my anxiety significantly. But, over the years I've learned to address and attach that anxiety instead of allowing it to rule me and force me into avoidance behavior. So, I took out a big fat pencil and made a list right on the ikea box. Then I estimated the time it would take to execute all of the steps. 

Hopefully you are able to see in the pictures that the original list, not counting what I had already done added up to about seven-and-one-half hours of work left to do. So painting is not a thing I do regularly. Even with the data that I had accumulated from the work I had already done, I wasn't completely accurate. Some things took longer. But I also based the estimates on the most amount of work that would have to be done. It was a worst case scenario. As it turns out, some of the rooms only needed to be touched up. (Shout out to the ladies and gentlemen at Curry Ace hardware in Quincy. https://curryhardware.com/ They are always awesome. But they matched the paint perfectly so I didn't have to do whole rooms for the most part.) So parts were also shorter.

The bottom line was that after the list was made, I had a plan. That lowered my anxiety considerably. And, I was able to get the rest done in a full work day, just as projected.  

The first picture is the original list. The second is where I was at some point the following day.




Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.


How I use lists to lower my stress level
How I use lists to lower my stress level

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How and When to Talk to Your Kids About Their Diagnosis

Jun 27, 2019

Many parents ask me if they should tell their kids about the ADHD diagnosis or any number of other diagnoses. For the most part, I think parents have a lot of fear around telling their kids that there is “something wrong with them.” Frankly, I think this is more of a hangup for the parents. It is my strong belief that you should tell you kids as much as you can as soon as you can. You may need to adjust the level for their age. But it has been my experience almost 100% of the time that kids understand more that most adults give them credit for. Let’s examine why parents don’t (want to) tell their kids the whole truth and why I think they are wrong.


  1. They don’t think their child will understand. It is your job as a parent to make them understand. And, like I said, they will understand more than you think. I give basically the same ADHD education talk to 12 year-olds as to do to adults. I just have to explain the vocabulary and some of the concepts a little differently. Analogies are very helpful. Plus,

  2. ...they really need to understand if you are going to be giving them medication. You need to be able to have a frank and honest ongoing conversation about how the medication is working and how it is making them feel. If they don’t know why they are taking it, they can’t just its efficacy and will only associate it with any negative effects. Eventually, when they are old enough, they will stop taking it and things will get worse. And,

  3. ...even under the best of circumstances, your child is going to grow and develop. That means their meds will need to be adjusted or maybe even changed as some point. It is a lot easier to do that when you have the ongoing dialogue with them all along.

  4. They fear stigmatizing their child.  Part of me understand this. We don’t want our child to get a label that may not serve them. But the more I’ve thought about this over the years, the more I think this is bullshit. I think that taking this approach just proves that you, as a parent, have internalized the stigma and are actively passing it on to your kids. You would lie to you kids if they had asthma or diabetes or were a hemophiliac. No. You’d get them the treatment they need and it would just be part of life. I implore you to do the same with a mental/behavioral health diagnosis. You don’t have to wave a banner and tell everyone one. But you damn well should tell the person who it most directly effects. Besides, I’ve always maintained that kids know when they are different. Being the kid who raises his hand, has friends, is under control, and does well in school, but has to take pills is far less stigmatizing than the alternative. If it’s no big deal to you, it won’t be a big deal to him/her.



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.



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More Practical Tips About Your Meds

Jun 20, 2019

I take some pretty strong stimulants. My meds are in the Ritalin family, so not as marketable as Adderall, but probably still valuable. There is also Focalin and two different flavors of benzodiazepines in our household. I would prefer if the average neerdowell walking down the street didn’t know what was hiding in my bedside table. So I peel the labels off my old pill bottles and recycle the bottles but crumple up and trash the labels. I also make a point to shred those ridiculous be legally necessary packets that come with the meds every time I fill them. I’m sure my trash guys are great, but a lot of recycling ends up blowing down the street the day after trash day. I rather it not be my prescription bottle or paperwork.


Also, especially if you are a newly diagnosed adult and haven't had to consider the ramifications of where to store you pills at college in the past, it may not occur to you have “valuable” they are. Please consider that when having anyone you don’t know well in your house, especially if you’re not there to supervise. A good general rule is to think about when you would be worried about cash or jewelry. In those situations, I would strongly consider safeguarding your meds the same way you safeguard your other valuables.




Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.



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