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An Alternative Approach To Focusing With ADHD

Procrastination weaves its evil tricks at the best of times, but when you suffer from ADHD, it’s even easier to procrastinate and allow yourself to succumb to distractions. This is an alternative approach to focus with  ADHD written by David D. Nowell, Ph.D For Psychology Today. According to Dr Nowell, those who suffer from ADHD have lower density of dopamine receptors than those who do not suffer from ADHD and since dopamine is responsible for reward and motivation, those who suffer from ADHD tend to struggle to maintain concentration with boring tasks and often seek attention from others.

An Alternative Approach To Focusing With ADHD

And these longer term goals can be broken down into daily step by step action items. Some of those to-do items are not fun, and are not easy. And as we approach boring or hard tasks our brains begin to scan the environment for something—anything—more immediately and intrinsically rewarding.

At my ADHD workshops for clinicians and teachers I suggest that there’s no such thing as procrastination. There’s just choosing. And choosing again. That moment by moment choosing is the “stuff” of longer-term goal attainment. If you know anyone with an academic degree, a savings account, a healthy body, or a relationship that’s lasted longer than three weeks, give them (or yourself) a pat on the back! That goal required day-by-day, decision-by-decision commitment to a mental picture in which you believed, and towards which you strived—even when it wasn’t fun or easy.

Our brains are wired for just this type of visualization and sequencing and “stick-to-it-iveness.” But it’s not easy, and we’re surrounded by seductive distractions. And people with ADD/ADHD are at particular risk of being seduced off-task.

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An alternative approach to focusing with ADHD such as visualization of your goals is thought provoking, not just for those with ADHD, but for non sufferers too. Developing a mental image of your goal using sensory detail, together with affirmations is often advised in a few books I’ve read recently. The penultimate paragraph of advice was poignant:

When you see me struggle with dull or difficult tasks, help me “connect the dots.” Remind me of why I’m doing this and what the payoff will be for me. Describe for me in vivid sensory detail (the smells, the visuals, the feelings) what it will be like for me once I’ve attained that goal.


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