Archives for 2013

How to Prioritize When You Have ADHD

How to Prioritize When You Have ADHDAdults with ADHD have big problems knowing how to prioritize. One reason why it’s so tricky is because the brain is like a popcorn machine; constantly generating ideas of things to do, see and create. When faced with all these interesting options, it’s hard to know what to do first.

The definition of Prioritize is:
‘designate or treat (something) as more important than other things.’

The big question is, how do you decide what is more important than the other things? The best way for ADDers is to step back from the day-to-day dramas and mini crises and figure out what matters most to you. These are the things that, even on your deathbed, you are proud you spent time doing. Think of your BIG 5, health and family are normally in there; others will vary depending on you personally.

When you have your BIG 5, prioritizing your time will be easy. For example, if health is number 1 and you get invited to an event when you had planned to exercise, it’s an easy decision to say, “thanks, but no thanks” to the event.

Your Big 5 will stay pretty constant throughout your life. However, life is constantly changing and so do your short-term goals. Every 12 weeks, pick 3 priorities for this time period. These Flexi 3 will reflect your short-term goals. They could be related to anything from a work project to home renovation.

When you are clear on your BIG 5 and Flexi 3, write them down in places you will see often; such as: in your wallet, above your desk, etc., so you never forget them.

Getting clear on what is important to you doesn’t take long, but it does really help you to prioritize quickly and effectively, be productive, less scattered, make and enable you to focus your attention on projects and activities that mean the most to you.

ADHD and Sugar Addicts!

ADHD and Sugar Addicts!Do you think you might be a sugar addict? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone!! It is easy to become addicted to sugar as it’s readily available, cheap and hidden in the most unlikely foods.

Like everyone, ADHDers love sugar… but it’s extra enticing for you because when you eat sugar, you get a shot of Dopamine! Because the ADD brain is lower in dopamine than non-ADD brains, it is always on the lookout for ways to increase dopamine.

Compared to caffeine, smoking cigarettes, street drugs and over-spending, sugar seems like a pretty harmless way to get dopamine. However, it can still take its toll on your body.

Here are a few ways it can affect you in relation to your ADHD:

– Mood swings
– Fatigue
Depression, anxiety
– Insomnia
– Irritability
– Distractibility

Dopamine makes you feel happy, and because it feels good to feel happy, you reach for more and more sugar. Unfortunately, sugar also depletes your nutrient stores; which is another reason you keep reaching for the sweet stuff.

For your body to metabolize sugar and convert it to energy, it uses micro nutrients like B vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Because sugar doesn’t contain vitamins and minerals itself, it has to use your stores. This leaves you feeling tired and lethargic and because of the lack of nutrients, your body doesn’t feel nourished, so you reach of more food. If you are a sugar addict, that food will probably be sugar!

There are a few ways to give up sugar:

1) Slowly reduce your sugar intake until it isn’t part of your diet.

2) Go cold turkey. This can be painful because you feel withdrawals such as low mood and energy.

3) Follow a sugar detox program such as ‘The 21 Day Sugar Detox’ by Diane Sanfilippo. This book is full of healthy super tasty ADHD friendly recipes. I highly recommend it!

Not only will you have greater mental clarity and reduction from the other ADHD symptoms, you will have more energy and zest for life and lose weight. It might be hard to quit sugar, but there is a huge pay off. Good Luck!

How to Plan a Productive Day When You Have ADHD

How to Plan a Productive Day When You Have ADHDWhen you are planning your day, are you ambitious in your expectations?

Do you believe you will get more done than humanly possible?

Then, at the end of the day, do you feel bad about yourself for not finishing everything?

You are not alone! Many ADDers do this.

It’s partly because:

1) You are an optimist and genuinely believe you will be able to do everything.
2) You have SO much you want / need to do, you plan to move mountains.
3) Time travels differently when you have ADD so it’s harder to know what is realistic in the time allowed.

However, constantly being disappointed in yourself is damaging to your self-confidence and self-esteem. Here are some suggestions to create do-able to-do lists:

1) Limit the number of things you plan to do, to what you can write on a post-it note or index card. If you have regular sized hand writing, that will be about 3-5 things.

2) By the side of each item, note how long it will take. If you don’t know, time yourself doing it 3 times and then, work out the average. This gives you a realistic idea of how long something takes and helps you plan in the future.

3) Schedule your day and to-dos in a day-time planner. How your day looks, influences how many things you will be able to cross off. A day with back-to-back meetings will leave you with less time than a day when you have none.

4) Take action first thing in the morning. When you cross one thing off, you get a shot of dopamine and this makes you want to get more things done; which makes for a very productive day!


ADHD Christmas Checklist

ADHD Christmas ChecklistThe holidays are getting closer! Even though they are a whole month away it’s surprising how much there is to do and how quickly the time disappears. Holidays can be a lovely time to spend with the people you care about, however, for an adult with ADHD, this time of year can be highly stressful as there are so many extra things to do and coordinate.

Here is a checklist to help take the pain out of the holidays, so that you can feel organized and on top of everything!

Christmas Checklist


1) Holiday Binder
Get a 3 ring binder and dedicate to holiday planning. It will house all the information you need for an organized holiday season.

2) Location, Location, Location
Talk to family members to decide how and where you are going to spend the holidays this year.

3) Book flights
If your holiday plans require flying, book them now. Then print out the details in your binder.

4) Going away?
If you are going away, either by air or land use the ADHD Travelers checklist as well as this one.

5) Create Lists
Create lists and put them in your binder. Here are a few suggestions, but make lists around topics that will be useful for you, gift ideas, menus, Christmas cards, general to do’s.
When you have the lists you can just add information to the appropriate list when you think of it.

6) Post Office Check
If you are sending presents through the mail check to see when they need to be posted by.
International parcels need to be sent much earlier than you think.

7) Holiday Budget
Create a holiday budget for the holidays. This reduces stress and guilt about spending money. This is a creative budgeting tool for all year round

Mid November

8) Address labels
Order address labels with your address. This saves you having to write it out millions of times on envelopes and/or parcels. This company does nice simple one:

9) Events calendar
Print out a calendar for November and December to keep track of your holiday activities

pop it in your binder so you don’t lose it and it is easy to add new dates to.

10) Make Reservations
Decide what activities really enjoy doing over the holiday, then make reservations for example, Nutcracker Ballet, and then you can add other commitments around them.

11) Write a Christmas Card List
Write a Christmas card list, so you know exactly how many cards and stamps you need.

12) Buy Christmas Cards, Wrapping Paper, Gift Tags, Tape
It’s good to buy Christmas cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, tape at the beginning of the season and then you are all prepared. Put it all in a box that is easily accessible from now till the end of the holidays. This saves constantly on hunting for any of these items.

Last week of November

Write your Cards
13) Take your Christmas card list, address book, address labels, pen, Christmas cards and stamps to a coffee shop and write them all. On your way home, mail them. Multi-step task are hard when you have ADD having everything you need at once means you will get them sent off without getting side tracked.

14) Wardrobe Inventory
Take look at your events calendar and decide what you will wear for each event. Make sure everything is clean or if you need to buy something you have scheduled a time to shop.

1st Week of December

15) Give Your Home A Really Good Clean
You might not have time later and it’s easier to do it now before the decorations are up.

16) Buy All Your Gifts
When this is done you will feel really accomplished.

17) Hairdressers
Visit your hairdressers for a trim. Then you know you will look good for the rest of the holidays.

2nd Week of December

18) Decorations
Buy your tree and decorate it, as well as, other parts of your home

19) Wrap presents
When you wrap a present and put a gift tag on it, write down what you got the person in your binder. What you actually got them might differ from what you planned to get them and you might forget never the time when they are thanking you for it.

20) Menus
Create menus for the meals you will be preparing over the holidays. No need to go crazy, if you don’t like cooking. Simple is okay.

Few days before Christmas

21) Go Food Shopping
Pick up everything on your list.

Christmas Day

22) Relax and Enjoy!

Another article about how to enjoy the holidays

Can’t Start a Task Even Though It’s Really Important?

Are you having trouble starting a task even though it’s really important? You aren’t alone. This is a very common issue for adults with ADHD. The most common reasons are: fear of failure, feeling overwhelmed, fear of success, and lack of motivation.

Fear of Failure:

This happens when you feel you aren’t capable of achieving a task, so you don’t want to start. Interestingly this frequently happens when the task is connected to something that is very important to you. You would rather have an unfilled dream with the potential of it working out, than facing the disappointment of taking action and failing.

Feeling Overwhelmed:

Sometimes a task seems too overwhelming and that you don’t know where to start. So you don’t. The best way to combat being overwhelmed is to the break the task down into tiny, bite size pieces. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down all the steps you can think of. If a step still seems daunting, break it down further.

When the list is finished, you can check off items when you have completed them. This gives you a sense of accomplishment and will motivate you to continue.

Fear of Success:

This might sound strange, but it’s more common than you might imagine. A client had one semester until she graduated University. She had a 3.8 average and enjoyed school. However, she didn’t know what she wanted to do afterwards. Her friends were getting jobs, but she was scared about what life would be like in the real world. She was couldn’t bring herself to study for exams or write assignments and had several panic attacks. In the end, she dropped out and went back to live with her parents. This is an extreme case, but it illustrates how scary success can be.

If you find you are fearful of success, focus on what is happening in the moment. For example, you might say, “right now I am sitting in Starbucks with my favourite coffee and access to the internet.” Or “right now I am lying in my comfortable bed, my cats are next to me.” When you are mindful of what is actually happening it stops you worrying about what might happen in the future. And whatever happens in the future you will be able to handle.

Lack of Motivation

ADHD is less about attention and more about motivation (Dr. Barkley). So, if you are struggling to start a task there is a good chance you aren’t motivated by it. As you are reading this you might be thinking “but it’s really important I  SHOULD be motivated.” Don’t feel guilty or ashamed if there is a pressing deadline, but you aren’t taking action. Instead work out something that would motivate you.

Here are Some Ways to Motivate Yourself:

1) Reward yourself:
Think of something to reward yourself after you have finished the task, or if it’s a large task, after you have reached a certain point, e.g. watch a movie, have a favourite meal or spend time with a friend.

2) Link the task to a bigger goal that does motivate you.
For example, if you are struggling to write a paper for school remind yourself how much you want to get a degree.

3) Set challenges for yourself.
For example, if you are decluttering your house you could set the challenge of finding 10 things to donate to charity in 30 minutes. Or 1 garbage bag of rubbish in 30 minutes. Then see if you can beat that in the next 30 minutes.

Action: Next time you have a task that you can’t get started on, identify what is stopping you and apply these tips!