Narrow Attention, Scanning Attention, and ADHD

Have you ever paid attention to the difference between narrow attention and scanning attention? Narrow attention is like texting. Attention is focused narrowly. Scanning attention is like driving a car. You’re scanning signs, speed, other cars, spatial changes in relation to yours, etc. Note, you can’t use narrow and scanning attention at the same time. That’s why texting while driving is so dangerous.

In my work as a coach and in my studies of attention, it seems to me intuition is scanning attention. Let me illustrate. Have you ever looked at someone and your intuition tells you something is different? I have. It’s frustrating, because your gut says something is different, but you can’t prove it, that is, until your narrow attention notices he had shaved off his mustache or lost 10 pounds. Many times, our intuition (scanning attention) picks up on something, but since we can’t isolate it with narrow attention, we often override what our gut is telling us. Continue reading “Narrow Attention, Scanning Attention, and ADHD”

Exercising Your Attention

Attention is as simple as it is complex to understand. In an interview I did with noted ADHD expert Dr. Russell Barkley, he noted that, if you are to inhibit anything, you must be aware of it. As I’ve learned, understanding and observing one’s own attention to become aware of it can be the single best tool to help those with ADHD.

Coaches reference mindfulness, the Eastern religions meditate, and mental health professionals have the notion of metacognition, or thinking about what you are thinking. Each has its differences, but in the end, they are all basically attention exercises that help one become aware of attention in service to managing it. Continue reading “Exercising Your Attention”

Thinking about Thinking

Every once in a while, you stumble onto a phrase or something that’s worded in a way that puts things into perspective and brings an aha because you can finally articulate it and wrap your mind around the concept. I once heard it stated, “I don’t know who discovered water but I’m sure it wasn’t a fish.” To me, this is a very profound statement, because there are some things in this world that are so obvious that they’re missed because they’re so obvious.

Continue reading “Thinking about Thinking”

Why Tips and Tricks Don’t Always Work

All the reminders in the world won’t work unless you engage.

Ever wonder why proposed systems or solutions don’t work for you?  I’ve found the invisible elephant in the room is the ability to self-regulate.  You can set reminders and alarms all over the place, but in the end, none of them will work unless you engage.  In simple terms, setting an alarm to wake up is useless if you hit snooze time and time again.  The trick is to associate the alarm to putting your feet on the floor and standing up.

Activating is more about making it easy to put your feet on the floor or having something to look forward to in order to get out of bed, not so much about the alarm. If you want to move forward, you have to address more than just the symptoms. Continue reading “Why Tips and Tricks Don’t Always Work”

Are Your Sleep Problems Due to Boredom?

Do those with ADHD have a hard time going to bed or do they just have a hard time going to sleep? Research suggests those with ADHD struggle with agitated boredom.

As a coach I’ve realized the most boring time of the day is the time between when you put your head on the pillow and the time you fall asleep. Bottom line is, it is boring. Continue reading “Are Your Sleep Problems Due to Boredom?”

Who Is Motivated to Do Taxes?

Taxes are up there with root canals. We’d rather rearrange our sock drawers! But is it because we are motivated to organize our socks, or is it because we are running away from our taxes?

“If only I had more motivation” is something I hear often. Don’t be confused: you ARE motivated – only not motivated enough to do what you “should” be doing. Let me explain.

You ARE motivated to organize your sock drawer. Why socks? Who knows, maybe because it helps you avoid taxes, maybe because the socks are hard to locate, maybe because you want to move the socks to another location. . . . Continue reading “Who Is Motivated to Do Taxes?”

ADHD Holidays: Expectations vs. Joy

In the summer of 1982, I found myself in a Jacuzzi at a swimming pool in Mission Viejo, California, at World Game Trials. I’ll never forget a comment I heard from Steve Lundquist, who was ranked number one in the world in the 100-meter breaststroke competition. He said, “First is first and second is last.” At that time, I latched onto that mindset because I wanted to be a great swimmer and believed that’s what would get me there. As time went on and my record improved, I began to find myself more frustrated about my performance. I was improving but was never first. At the end of my swim career, I was upset and depressed about never being first. Continue reading “ADHD Holidays: Expectations vs. Joy”

Are your reminders annoying?

Do you need visual reminders to remember to complete a task or attend an event? Could your “reminders” be clutter to your mate/roommate? One of my recent clients was very visual. If something was out of sight, it was out of mind, so he left items out to serve as visual reminders.

Dr. Russell Barkley, one of the world’s leading experts on ADHD, tells us that those with ADHD need to focus on the point of performance. Thus, leaving a screwdriver on the kitchen counter is a good structure, as it will remind him that he needs to tighten a few screws on the front porch. Simple enough, right? Continue reading “Are your reminders annoying?”

The Stories We Tell Ourselves Control Our Attention

As a seasoned coach, I’ve learned to see past clients’ “stories” and to use observation skills to discover “basic truths.”

Motivation “basic truth” examples:

Why Decluttering Systems Don’t Always Work

One important fact I’ve learned over the years from coaching folks with ADHD is this:

ADHD is a self-regulation issue with a working memory challenge.

Now, let’s look more closely at the word “memory.”

Many folks with ADHD find clutter distracting. They prefer clean and tidy work spaces to help them relax and think. Interestingly, these same folks wrestle with memory challenges and tend to hold onto things because of the memories they represent; thus creating clutter.
Continue reading “Why Decluttering Systems Don’t Always Work”