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.
Impulsivity and distractibility are traits used to describe and diagnose ADHD. Both are attention-based. To manage our own attention, we must be aware of it or notice it in order to inhibit it. Attention exercises enable us to notice it and begin to observe our attention and pause as it unfolds. This awareness empowers those with ADHD to pause, notice, and choose to attend to things differently. In effect, it enables you to move past impulsivity and distractibility.
I encourage you to listen to an interview of Gregg Krech on Attention Talk Radio. He talks in depth about attention and actively demonstrates an attention exercise: http://tobtr.com/2109347
Also check out my video interview of Dr. Ari Tuckman on metacognition, the concepts of paying attention, and thinking about what you are thinking: https://youtu.be/HwTefiGixY8
The reason I think it’s useful to pay attention to attention exercises is that many with ADHD can make significant progress just through these simple exercises on a regular basis, to notice their attention, to become aware of it, and to choose to attend differently.