Some really great replies, lots of good bits in here. Here are a bit or two from me. (But no shave and a haircut…)
What is it that is going on as your brain slowly meltsdown: Well, your executive function is saying “Hey! Do the thing! Job! Important!” and the rest of the brain is basically saying “But it’s haaaaaaard… I don’t waaaaaannaaaaaa, there is nothing in it for meeeeee” and being all whiney because at the end of it, when neuro typical people get that boost of happy feel good chems in the brain, we get bupkis.
What to do: On your computer or phone, start a 10 minute timer. Work for ten minutes. Just ten minutes. When timer stops, get up, stretch your legs. Walk around the office, something. Get some coffee, sweet tea, lemonade, something with water soluble sugar. With LOTS of it, ideally. Go back to desk.
Set timer for 10 minutes. Sip drink. Work. Sip. Work. Sip. Work. Timer. 3 minute break. Timer. Sip. Work. Sip. Work. Timer… BATHROOOM! (Ahem.)
Your working memory, the part that needs to buffer, is small. Exercise will give a short boost to it, but it’s still small. If most folks have 8 gigs of RAM, we have like… 5. Maybe 3. Something smaller, and ODD and so people freak out trying to figure out an odd number of RAM. Who has an odd number of RAM? It should be even…
The working memory uses a fuel tank to operate. The Crane of Data Input is trying to insert and move around the freight in a small freighter ship. If it was a BIG freighter, it would be fine, just kinda chuck it all in and figure it out once it is in there. Nope. Not us. We special.
As the crane starts tetrising the cargo in, it has to handle it in the right order and time, and drop it in the right place, for the line to clear, a datum to compute, and we can write down the result and move on to the next part of the problem.
In my work, this would look like "I need to script an install here. I need to accomplish X, Y, and Z with script, with these other factors, and make it silent to the user, and test it in a group, and then deploy. So first, I need to find the switches in the installer file. Then write a bat file using the switches, find if order of operation is important… " And I need to break it down step by step, solve each step in order, externally, write the answer down, and move on. Neurotypical do that, but it isn’t as external, and they can hold more of it internally before they need to do a datadump somewhere.
Also, when the line clears, it isn’t really TOTALLY clear. Junk data remains. Ever sorta “wake up” from a work session you have been really getting things done in, and you look around and it is like seeing your workspace for the first time? The working memory is dumping the junk data out so that it can take a fresh look at the new data.
But wait… it gets worse.
The crane? It is not Electric. It is not hooked up to the city power grid.
And there is no fuel gauge.
And when it runs out, it is down for a while. You can refill it, but if you wait too long to refill, it has to warm up again. And you gotta wait.
And the Crane operator? Has. No. Fudging. Clue. None. WTF. Who hired him? Who ordered this!?!?!?!
Oh… wait. We are the operator. And after YEARS of banging on the crane we finally figured out that cranes aren’t meant to work like this!
OUR CRANE IS BROKE, YO!
And SHIPS should be BIGGER.
The sugery drink? Here is the deal. It fuels the crane. Sip. Work. Sip. Work. Now, you can’t gulp. You will flood the system, and maybe the crane starts going janky. Sip. Work. Just top off. Keep it from going empty.
Ok, the crane Operator is keeping an eye on the gas tank. And now he knows to clear junk data, and that how the cargo is loaded is important, and he is being real careful, AND he has a timer going because he figured out that if he ran the crane too hard for ten minutes or so the engine heats up and seizes. And right as he is in the groove of things h-
“Hey, Crane Guy, can you look at this other ship for a moment?”
And the plans crane guy had for the current ship sorta… flicker…
“Gotta get this other ship loaded, gotta a bunch of Jargony Jargon that excels the words and points power and the access to publishers and suite stuff yo.”
… “But… I’m working on this ship.” Says the crane op.
“Yeah,” flicker “but this’ll just take a minute and then you can get right back to your ship. Sorry, but you are the most efficient crane op we have.”
“Ok, if you really need me…”
And the plans crash to the ground as we can no longer hold both it and the new interruption in our heads. And we can’t have a partially loaded ship.
So we unload what is in the ship, (and if it is written down, at least the stuff that already cleared the line is ok), move the next ship in line, and start working. Oh, shoot… gotta cool the engine down. And top the tank, and… and… and…
Half and hour later that ship sails (see what I did there?) and we take the next ship in line. And the next and the next. And then we see the manifest sitting next to us for the first one, that we NEVER got back to.
What do we learn from this?
Well, we talking about the brain already. Timers, breaks, sugar, hacking the biochemistry to get done what we need to get done.
Now we need to re-program what we taught our selves about how we work with others, and what they taught us to do for them.
We need to talk about Self-Advocacy.
We need to talk about saying the dreaded N word.
“Hey, Crane Op, you gotta minute?”
“… But I need help.”
(Still not looking away from work) “I got a freighter I need to get out in the next hour. Every time you interrupt me studies say I will spent 20 minutes simply picking up pieces of where I was to even get started again. (Real studies, btw, per my old ADHD coach) So unless you got a burning ship, or you get the harbor master to re-task me, I literally don’t have time. Sorry.”
“… Okay. Can I try again in an hour or so?”
“You can try. No promises.”
Don’t be rude (unless you gotta), but be firm. You don’t want (… usually) to ignore them, you just cannot afford to give them what they want. And, explain that. If they say that study is garbage and you have never disclosed anything about ADHD, simply say “My experience says that” and let that sit.
Most of the people in my dept now know that they need to get my supervisor or manager to re-task me if they have something they perceive to be urgent, but is not in my direct area. (“Hey, need Eric to help with a script in KACE.” “Eric doesn’t do KACE anymore.” “I know, but he knows it best, and we need to get this out by end of day.” “Sigh, ok, I’ll go get him.”)
Practice saying “No.”
Learn the difference between caretaking and caregiving.
Co-worker is struggling. “Hey, Eric, I cannot get this to work, I don’t know why. Can you help?”
Look at problem. Identify issue. Lead co-worker through it, let them fix it. Care giving.
Look at problem. Identify issue. Take it, fix it, hand it back. Care taking. In the end, he is just gonna keep asking. Which leads to more stress.
Also, be wary of holding on things too much. Lately I am needing to allow a co-worker to do more of the things I do, and I hate it because I know he is gonna screw up. I know it. Boss does too. But I can’t keep up the way it is going. I need to have some back up. And if that is going to be the only way for them to learn, well…
I call it the Mordin Problem.
(Mass Effect 2 and 3, for those who don’t know)
I have a hard time believing that someone else could do what I do. It does not help that there are really three of us on the team, one is more focus on another half of the issues, I am on the other, and third guy is a bit iffy on ability and covers both. … Sorta feeds the belief, however wrong it may be.
I have now been typing for an hour. I really should be working. So. Later!