ADHD and Brains That Work Slower Than Yours

glacier-382486_640I got this great question from a blog reader…

Can you write a post about why people with ADHD become super frustrated because people move and think at glacial speed when we can see the problems and solutions easily?

Many people with ADHD (Inattentive subtype and hyperactive subtype) find their brains work faster than people who dont have ADHD. Your nonlinear way of thinking means you can problem solve, catch on to new ideas and have high speed conversations in a way that nonADHDers just cant.

This can be a blessing and a curse.

If you are having a conversation with someone else like you, it can be an exhilarating experience.  However, because most of the worlds brains don’t work like yours, you can end up feeling restless, impatient and bored.

To make matters worse, some things do take you longer to do, housework, grocery shopping etc. So it seems very unfair when you do have something you can do fast, though it cant be fully utilized and appreciated.

Have Either of These Happened to You?

At a staff meeting, a problem is identified. You come up with a solution in minutes. People keep talking and after 30 minutes, they come up with the same idea that you did.

At party, a person seems to be taking forever to explain something. It is agony for you because you already know exactly what they are going to say.

You know if you try to rush someone, or finish their sentence, they think you are rude. Nevertheless, it is hard for you because while you are waiting for them, you are frustrated and bored.

Here Are Some Suggestions:

1.     Your Friends

It is physically and mentally draining to always have to practice patience and restraint. Find other quickthinking people to spend time with. You can be yourself, talk quickly, jump from topic to topic and not have to explain anythingthey just get you. They might have ADHD too!

2.     Your Career

Pick a career that works with your strengths. If you find it frustrating talking to people, a customer service role might not be a good option. If your boss gets annoyed with your constant suggestions of how to improve the workplace, become a consultant. Consultants get paid to solve problems. Its a winwin!

3.     Your Leisure Time

In your leisure time, take part in activities where your strengths will be celebrated. Join a debate team, go to open an open mike night at a comedy club and find an improvisational theatre club. These will allow you to use your skills and express yourself. Your confidence and selfesteem will grow and you will be have lot of fun. The opposite happens when you hide parts of yourself. You feel ashamed, depressed and your confidence shrinks.

4.     Develop Strategies

Now that you have made changes to your environment, there will still be times when you are in a situation where people seem to be talking or thinking very slowly.

Here are some tips:

·         Practice meditation, it helps you to focus on the moment.

·         Treat your ADHD. It helps reduce feeling impatient and frustrated.

·         If you do interrupt, simply say sorry.

5.     Reframe

Remember different brains work in different ways. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. It is much easier to be patient and appreciate other people’s strengths when yours are being appreciated. Which is why it is important to implement suggestions 1,2 and 3.

People with linear brains, need to go step by logical step until they get to the solution that you could leap to. Remind yourself that they arenbeing purposely slow to annoy you.

What has helped you to deal with people whose brains work slower than yours?


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  1. Steffen says:

    Great tips, but the person in question is my mother, who talks abnormally slow, especially when giving instructions or critisism. I alreaddy do meditate, and it’s not enough. I can’t switch out my own mother (I wouldn’t want to), and I’ve tried telling her, she refuses. Any advice on coping technice that allows me to both get what she’s telling me, and allows me to remain calm?

    • Amy Skalicky says:

      I struggle with this as well with others, especially my husband. I am learning that self-talk and mindfulness are helping me develop patience. I remind myself that dealing with me can be as frustrating as my dealing with others, and I work on keeping that balance in mind. I also take long slow breaths, and play a game with myself…”How much can I remember word-for-word?” I know it sounds silly, but it distracts me from being impatient.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Jacqueline thanks for posting this article. I’ve always felt that I was different and misunderstood as young as 8 years old. When I was in second grade I remember getting up at 4:00 am washing up, bushing my teeth, getting dressed and watching Mr.Wizard in the morning before school. My teachers always wanted to put me on Ritalin. I’ve always excelled at every job I’ve had. Everyone always wants to work with me. I like most people in the comments can figure things out easily and quickly. Sometimes it’s very frustrating because my mind never stops running and I have trouble sleeping at night. It’s like I want to work around the clock. I have a great job now but I’m always thinking about the next step in my career. Most of my co-workers are 20 years older than me and they don’t think like me, it’s hard. I feel like they have no clue of what is going on and they’re in their 50’s. Hopefully you see this and reply back to me. Thanks again.

    • Hi Jeremy
      That is so great that you are doing well at work!
      For your busy mind that won’t switch off, it takes practice but it is possible. It has served you very well up to now, so thank it! and now you are ready to try new things.

      1) Plan fun and engaging activities that capture your attention after work. Don’t do things that other people find fun, but are a little dull for you. Start getting really good at knowing yourself and what is fascinating for you.

      2) If you are physically fit, start doing physically challenging exercise. When you are pushing yourself physically its hard to think about other things beside taking the next step. Sign up for a Spartan race, etc.

      3) Learn to mediate. This might feel really strange and tricky at first. However you will get better and better at it. There are even 1 minute mediation you can do.

      Let me know how you get on!

  3. Colleen says:

    Love this blog and would like yo get this newsletter


    Your articles are just awesome, thank you so much! Enjoy your Mom and happy Mother’s day to you!

  5. Rachel says:

    Hi Jacquie,

    I loved your comment about constantly upsetting the boss by making suggestions for improvements. I am always making suggestions for improvement in the workplace. I have recently started a new job at a new university and find myself wanting to improve everything. Unfortunately, not everyone is enthusiastic as me about making improvements. I’ve started to realise that maybe my standards/ expectations are too high or maybe that I need to move into a different kind of role where I can maximise my strengths.

    I was wondering also do you think you could do a blog on ADHD and female hormones? I find my monthly hormone changes are affecting my ADHD symptoms and wonder if other females experience the same problem and how do they cope?

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Rachel
      You are right! hormones do affect ADHD symptoms. There is a article on PSM that I think you will find is the link.
      Check out the comments other readers left, because they can be helpful too. Let me know if you are experiencing anything else that the article doesn’t cover.

  6. Melissa B says:

    Wow! I was struggling with this strange dichotomy recently as well. I wondered how it was that I could put together these disparate pieces of information together in crazy interconnected ways to solve problems or gain insights but I just could not seem to get it together to get my dishes done or stick to a regular exercise schedule. Now I know that other people are like me in this way. I always took pride in my “smarts” but also often felt dumb too because what other people saw as simple was hard for me. Like Mike above I find it hard to find my “Tribe” as well. I have many fast thinkers in my friend group but they use their fast brains for things that I am not interested in. I feel really dumb in their presence to be honest but our friendships are fulfilling in other areas as well so I am content to “keep them”. I am on the quest for fast thinkers in my interest fields though but it is tough when I have so many interests and little time to spend on them. Good Luck all!!!

    • Hi Melissa
      That is great that you have some fast thinking friends! and even though they aren’t interested in the same things as you, you know that these people exist and you will be able to find others who share your interests.
      I like what you said that your friendships are fulfilling in other areas. It is rare for one person to be able to fullfill all our needs, so enjoying each person for what they bring to your life is perfect.

  7. Thank you very much, Jacquie for posting the query ( I think it was mine lol). Now, that some readers have chimed in, I realize I was always saying as a Physio – I could manage better than my managers so often, my manager took me up on my word and let me manage.
    She came back to the happiest group of Physios and O.Ts’ ever and Nurses who stopped slingung shots at us in a 700 bed hospital. What she didn’t know is, that I took everyone out to lunch, bought wine and had everyone use their overtime whilst I did their work and mine. All this whilst living off island and commuting 5 hours a day. She realized from then on, that work is is not all about money but; rather compromise and providing solutions that are rather unusual lol!
    Pretty good for an almost deaf adhd person- oh yes, meditation is key every day.

    • Hi Susan
      Meditation is wonderful isn’t it. It’s can be hard to get the hang of it at first, but once you have mastered it, its wonderful.
      Great job!

  8. Caroline Swartwood says:

    I am so grateful for this article! I was noticing this about myself. For YEARS I have been extremely frustrated when I would listen to information in a meeting or conversation, present a solution, only to receive blank stares and ignored. After everyone talked about it FOREVER…they would come up with the exact same solution and that person would be praised for their brilliant idea. It was exasperating and left me feeling disliked, not respected and ignored. All of which tends to eat away at your confidence, self-worth and soul. I can’t tell you what a blessing this was to read today!!! THANK YOU!!!!

    • Melissa BB says:

      That happens to me too!

    • Hi Caroline
      So happy you found the article helpful Caroline! It is horrible when you don’t feel valued. However remember its not you!
      In the article ‘ ADHD feels like..’ I ask people to describe what ADHD feels like to to them. Nanci Ratey said this “ADHD feels like…I have to constantly “dumb myself down” as a way of accommodating “normies” who don’t share my set of neurobiological advantages” can read more about here…
      I think it will help you to know you aren’t alone and give you a confidence boost.

    • Melissa BB says:

      Thanks for this Jacqui! I started a new job last fall in business development and at my review in April with my very linear Managing Director (his first job as one, where I have had that position twice). I was told that my work products are excellent, that I am a great facilitator of people and teams, BUT I seem scattered in my work efforts, and my communication skills need a lot of work because many times I say or email inappropriate things. That last comment was a new one because I am usually very direct – maybe that scares him! And on any given day I could spend the entire day on the computer doing research into potential clients, as it is hard to stop wanting to do that instead of making appointments and getting on the road.

  9. Yolande Carlse-Heunis says:

    Out here in the Southern point of Africa there is no such thing as ADHD. I am incredibly lucky to have Drs that saw the issue and helps me by treating and explaining its inner workings. Mostly its all awesome, however explaining how you think and why you cant help being rude is very difficult. I have been thinking about questions and topics for my next Drs visit. I would not have been able to phrase my issue as on the point as this post does. It is very refreshing to know I am not the only person who feels this way. I described the feeling to a co-worker as never being allowed to do and say things exactly how u are, u allways feel either inappropriate for taking years to do stupid daily things or you have to bite ur tongue in order to have an adult conversation where you dont complete peoples sentances. I do however have a struggle that I would love to know if others have the same. I can have a conversation with one person get to the end of their sentance in my mind and start listening to other peoples conversations around me, I then feel guilty I am not giving my full attention and fear my face will give away that I stopped listening

    • Hi Yolande
      One of my newsletter readers emailed me with strategy they find very helpful. When someone is talking to them they visualize the words being spoken in their head. It helps them to focus on what the speaker is saying and remember it too. It’s like a form of mindfulness.
      Why not give this a might find it helpful too!

      • Teresa says:

        Thanks for the advice. I struggle with interruption because I too, know what they are saying and have finished the conversation with the solution I already may know. Then I feel terribly rude but can’t seem to stop myself. I will try this strategy. Obviously patience is not my finest virtue.

  10. B says:

    I love your blog! I’ve been reading it for awhile now and always get excited when I see you have a new post! They are extremely relatable and to be completely honest… give me such comfort knowing that others understand and face the same struggles. Sometimes I find myself in situations where I wish I could be “normal” but then I read an article on here and realize I am ADHD normal, and for all the downfalls I feel of ADHD, the way you address them, makes them seem like positive qualities. Thank you for being you and thank you for helping me (and others) feel comfortable and proud of our ‘superpower’ brains 🙂
    I teach elementary and come across many students with ADHD as well, I often direct them or their parents to your blog. i recently had all my students write a paper on mental health (for mental health awareness week) and we referred to them as ‘Mental Health Super Powers.’ It was fascinating and heart warming to see the kids research, and learn all about various mental health issues and gain a deeper understanding. All my ADHD kids wrote on ADHD and their writings were beautiful, and brought me pride. We need more people to understand ADHD and accept it, work with us (as we so frequently try to learn how to works with non ADHDer’s) so that we can utilize our strengths in this, sometimes ‘slow moving’ world.
    Thank you again 🙂

    • Hi B!
      LOVE what you said about being ‘ADHD normal’! That is so true.

      Your ADHD kids are so lucky to have such a positive and understand teacher and role model. Dr Ned Hallwell, has ADHD and dyslexia. He attributes so much of his success to his first grade teacher, who provided a safe place for him to learn. It is easy to dismiss our gifts and think ‘oh I am just one person’ but one person can be life changing to many people!! Keep doing what you are doing B!
      hugs Jacqui happy you love this blog 🙂

  11. Ashutosh says:

    Great article, Jacqui. Very very thanks to you from my side, because me peoples ( having ADHD) frustrated maximum times and thinks about that why i have This problem. But after reading your article i am thinking this is not a problem but traits.

  12. Carlos says:

    Jim before you go into meetings try taking medication, it should help you be still and have to listen to boring conversations. I myself get super bored easily, especially in class.

    We need to find people that think as fast as we can. In sometimes feel like normal people are dumb idk why.

  13. Nice Post Jacqui! ‘Connect immediately with your advice as your tips are always practicable!

  14. Indeed, there are studies out there that show people with ADHD process information more quickly than usual. I can feel it myself when my friends talk nonstop about a topic in depth for hours while my ADHD brain problem solves the root issue minutes later…

  15. Mike says:

    “Find other quick–thinking people to spend time with.”

    I’ve been thinking about this line for two days. It makes a lot of sense: find your tribe. How to do that is the bewildering part. What do you search for? I’ve looked for local Meetup groups. I’ve searched for online support groups, even. A Google search for “quick-thinking adults with ADHD” is (predictably) pretty fruitless.

    How does one find highly-functioning ADHD adults, as opposed to those who are just looking for a place to bellyache? (I appreciate emotional support as much as the next guy, but some of us just want to get busy.)

    • That is a great way to put it Mike…’find your tribe’ . Rather than finding a group that is centred around being quick thinking, I would focus on the activities that you like to do. If you are quick thinking and enjoy X, then it makes sense that other people who share your speed thinking would also enjoy that activity.
      The places I mention in the article, like a debate team, open an open mike night at a comedy club, and a improvisational theatre club, would also attract people like you.
      The additional benefit of going to these places rather than a support group environment, is your energy is going to be focused on doing, rather than reflecting. Let us know how you get on!!!

      • Sandra says:

        38, recently diagnosed, I think it is great that everything you mentioned for things to do is what I am into and have thought about. I watch debates (mostly of Christopher Hitchens) on YouTube and I have been saying for a while that I am going to do stand-up comedy and improv. How interesting!
        Also, my psychiatrist told me that I will just gravitate towards others who have it. And I have! Especially working in a restaurant. They seem to gravitate there. 2 people I work with that I know of told me they have ADHD. How funny is that.

      • Hey Sandra! that is awesome! you know what they say..birds of feather flock together 🙂

  16. Jim Murphy says:

    Great article! This is the key reason that I went into consulting and auditing as a career choice. Accounting and Finance was just too boring and unfulfilling for me.
    I like solving problems, challenges, working in different projects and audits and traveling.
    But yes – good tips on conversations and business meetings. I do struggle sometimes with those and can be frustrated at times (impatient or inattentive).
    Jim from Boston

  17. Hi Jacqui, I love the part about constantly upsetting the boss by making suggestions for improvements. That is so me!
    x x x

  18. Nice Post Jacqui! ‘Connect immediately with your advice as your tips are always practicable!

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