Do we really need more hours in the day?

So, dictating these entries into my phone seems to be going well. And it’s definitely faster than typing. I don’t know why the voice recognition works better on my phone than it does in Google docs. I have an android. You would think it’s the same stuff running behind the scenes. Anyway, it appears that my typo rate is about the same so I’m going to stop apologizing for any potential voice recognition snafus. And I will just get on with it.

I think I have not met an ADHDer who didn’t want more hours in the day. But I think it’s really important to recognize that time is not the only resource that we lack. In fact, we often mistake our lack of focus, bandwidth, emotional energy, or whatever you want to call it for a lack of time. Yes, it would be helpful to have an extra hour in the day. But, would that actually lead to more productivity?

If you spent that hour screwing around on Instagram or wasting time hyper focus on something else unimportant, what would that extra hour do for you? I think it’s important to realize that we do have a limitation in terms of how many hours there are in the day. However, I find as a person with ADHD, that the more important limiting factor is my number of attention hours in the day.

I kind of think of myself, or my brain at least, as a analog to a cell phone battery. It doesn’t drain at a constant rate. It depends on what you’re doing. If you’re streaming Netflix or gaming it’s going to burn faster than if you’re just talking or texting or the phone is mostly on standby. I think our brains are much the same way. The one key difference is that once our attention battery is depleted, we can’t plug back in and get ourselves up to 25% and go back at it. Usually, if we burn our battery out, it’s out for a while. So that extra hour in the day, if we are not in a place to have the bandwidth to utilize it, it really doesn’t do us much good.

The point being that we have to manage the content of the hours in our day and how they affect / drain our battery to maximize those hours. Of course, to a certain extent, this means different things to different people. But, to me it means taking breaks, being intentional about my tasks, practicing really good self-care including exercise, mindfulness, and sleep.

I also emphasize to my clients how important it is to recognize when you hit the point of diminishing returns. This comes up a lot with my student clients. There is a point at which continuing to do homework is actually a waste of your time. You are better off going to sleep, getting a good night’s sleep, and waking up well rested to finish whatever work you have. Unless you’re running on adrenaline, which is an entirely different problem and a different blog entry, what you get done between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. will never be enough to justify being up for that hour. That is especially true if it perpetuates a cycle of sleep deprivation, which continues to deteriorate your overall attention and bandwidth.

And, of course, addressing the underlying attentional issues pharmacologically and behaviorally is foundational to all of this. That will increase your bandwidth and might as well give you more hours in the day.

See standard disclaimer in other blog posts.

Leave a Reply