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Tailoring Strategies for Personal Success

6 August 2019

Kate read ADD Stole My Car Keys by Rick Green and Dr. Umesh Jain, M.D., PhD. and reflected on some of her favorite strategies to get through a work week.

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As a coach, I believe that all my clients have innate potential, and I have a particular interest in helping people who struggle with attention find ways to focus their energy on their goals. To that end, I keep a running list of resources for my clients with ADHD that is as varied as their symptoms. ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a persistent pattern of (1) inattention, (2) hyperactivity-impulsivity, or (3) a combination of the two that interferes with functioning or development. While those presenting most or only symptoms of inattention are formally diagnosed with “ADHD - Predominantly Inattentive Type,” many with a diagnosis of this type refer to the former diagnostic term of “ADD.”  This summer I have been revisiting my collection of books and rediscovering gentle reminders for everyday life. You can explore my list of alternative works on the resources page of Coaching Cville.

ADD Stole my Car Keys is an easy read for a newly diagnosed adult who is still processing an ADHD diagnosis and could use a little lightheartedness in the first stages of acceptance, understanding, and identifying who they are and how they want to show up. As is so aptly stated in the preface, “Not every one of the 155 ‘signs’ will apply to you. The human brain is complex. Each person's situation is different, so every ADDer is unique. Yet they have so much in common.” Green and Jain describe the numerous ways in which ADHD shows up in all areas and stages of life, both positively and negatively, and offer strategies for tackling the challenges based on a differently wired brain.

Much of life is designed around our capacity to “do” – accomplishing goals and managing the daily tasks of peopling, work, play, and interacting with the world around us. It’s important for anyone to have access to a variety of flexible strategies that bend to individual preferences, and this is mission critical for an ADHD brain, which is wired for interest, fun, competition, urgency, and/or one-on-one connections. Reading some of the suggestions from the authors prompted me to reflect on the strategies that I use to get through my own work week and gave me some new inspiration.

The strategies that my clients and I come up with to complete tasks and goals during the work or school week are as unique as their interests. The key to a good strategy is the user’s willingness and desire to engage. Here are a few strategies that I use to create a productive space:

  • Setting a solid foundation is where both Rick Green and I begin; exercise, sleep management, and proper nutrition can be game-changers. When my week goes sideways, I always check in with myself on these three basics.
  • Making a list is another favorite of mine, but list styles vary widely based on personal preference. Rick Green keeps a daily list with only 1 item while I write a master list for my week, breaking down larger items into steps, and then I set a goal of 3 items each day.
  • Noticing distractions and redirecting my attention is also key for me. Distractions can really derail my momentum, so I leave the less desirable items for the mornings when I’m rested. If I get derailed, a quick walk or brain break is a big help to get me back on track.
  • Taking control of time is important because being late is a common challenge for ADHD brains. Some of the strategies I use are calendar reminders, a preparation ritual, and a busy bag. As with all other things, personalizing your own strategies to tactics you can stick with is critical for success.

Finding what works for your personal style can set the stage for lower stress and increased productivity. Playing to your interests can more readily engage your brain in the work you are aiming to do. ADD Stole My Car Keys provided a great refresher for the multitude of options that help each of us achieve our personal best and a little inspiration to tweak what isn’t working in my own world. It’s definitely a keeper on my reading list for clients.


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