How to Focus

Hey guys, my name is Daniel, I’m 33 years old and I’m studying community services.
I have recently been diagnosed with ADHD. I have been getting used to living with my diagnosis but I just wanted to know how do you focus? While writing this i’m finding it difficult to concentrate on this while the tv is on.
I guess my main concern though is with study, when it loses it shine. How do you focus on something that bores you. I want to get back that initivite I once had but get easily distracted with video games, things that are more engaging.

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With great difficulty!

Yes, we can hyperfocus on something that is interesting to us . . . that challenges us!

But routine, boring, mindless activities very much work against our ability to complete any such task.

So what does one do? Aye’s . . . there’s the rub!

My son (a :brain: as we say here) could only study with music playing. As for me (the father :brain:) I can only study in complete silence while wearing earplugs, in an otherwise quiet setting! and that helped only a little bit. I too would get bored and quite a few times just fall asleep at the desk. I found that I did my best studying in short spurts of no more than 10 to 15 minutes. I would then get up and do something to get the blood moving in my body. Or eat some sugary food to give me a temporary brain boost. What finally worked best for me, both in college, grad school and in my career as a social worker . . . Was to try and avoid boring things and do those things that I found stimulating. That often did not work well for me even though. I ignored things . . . necessary things to indulge myself in those things that also were needing to be done . . . but that I found it interesting. Luckily for me for the last 20 years of my career I found a position they gave me a great deal of latitude and deciding what to do first second and third. I could mix up the boring things with the stimulating things. Of course there were times when I did not meet deadlines for things that were needed but that were boring to me. Luckily, I was very good at those things that interested me . . . and that were priorities for the organization. I was also fortunate in having a boss who, while not knowing anything at all about ADHD, recognized that I was a mixed bag of pluses and minuses. I also had a coworker who I was able to help with a number of things and in turn she helped me with things that I struggled with (such as planning, organizing, staying focused, and remembering important details I got lost in the fog of my brain. Toward the tail end of my career, I was offered an executive position that was more prestigious and came with a higher salary. However, it was much more diverse than the rather specialized and narrowly focused area that I was accustomed to. I accepted the fact that given my short term memory problems, difficulty staying on task and low frustration tolerance . . . that I would be unable to '"'do the job. I recognized my limitations . . . it was the right decision!

Not sure if any of this is helpful. I hthought that might be!

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Hey Brooklyn,

This is very helpful. I easpacialy like the analogy of we are a mixed bag of plus and minus’.

I guess I’m one of those :brain: that can only study in silence and can do it for 40 minutes to 3 hours max otherwise I start to burn out.

I actually had a change in ownership at the company I work for. They brought in this girl who I worked with 3 years ago to be a supervisor. I was thinking to myself why they didn’t offer it to me because I know how to do everything in the company but I’m actually glad they didn’t offer it to me because it’s too much responsibility for me due to my inetentive nature haha. I am comfortable with what I am doing, I know how to do it and I do it well. However I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life which is why I started studying community services.

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@cheeko1000

Daniel, as @Brooklyn shared so well, what works for one :brain: doesn’t work for all.

…but for me, it depends on the circumstances. At different times, I have to use different strategies, depending on my current state at the time:

  • Being alone in total silence
  • Sitting in the presence of others [known as "body doubling] who are also studying, but still in silence
  • With others, engaged in discussion about the topic of study
    … For all the following
  • Alone, but with “white noise” like traffic or wind chimes or birds tweeting in the background, instrumental “elevator” music (classical, light jazz/blues/pop, “new age”, Celtic, folk, worship [I’m Christian, but I’m open to various faiths’/cultures’ musical styles for background music, not just my faith]… On that :notes: note - non-english chant music is much the same as instrumental music for me.)

…I have more to share on this, but my mind is too distracted and busy right now, so I have to step away. (That’s another thing I had to learn, recognizing when I’m not able to focus…)


Here’s an interesting video from ADHD coach and licensed clinical social worker Eric Tivers, explaining Distraction, Focus, and Hyperfocus… using a plasma ball!
(I might have to watch it again. I was more focused on the plasma than his words in some parts of the video. :yum:)

@j_d_aengus

Tangentially speaking . . .

How true . . . How true . . .

Brings to mind all of those TV commercials for medications (ALL of them) where more than half of the time is to warn of the many side-effects . . . up to and including DEATH!

So as you hear (more likely don’t hear) what bothersome (or deadly) side-effects you might experience . . . the visual is dedicated to beautiful people playing badminton, jumping into a backyard swimming pool, or playfully running across a flower laden meadow in sheer delight (et. al.) . . . all the while one should really be listening to side-effects that might change all of that idyllic imagery!!

🫣

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Hi Daniel,

There are many strategies out there but it all takes effort. Avoidance is a big thing for me at the moment (I think that the role trauma may play here may be often underestimated in the ADHD community, just as is the role of ADHD among many therapists).

Strategies

  • Time-tracking and timers:

  • I have used many different apps in the past and now to track my time on different activities and stay aware of the time. It is important to incorporate rewards and free time because if you turn your responsibilities into a living hell, you will want to avoid them and no app will save you from this.

  • I am currently using this app, which is not ideal because you cannot track progress on a task, but you can track unlimited activities and set gothe als and limits. The pro version also includes Pomodoro technique. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aloggers.atimeloggerapp&hl=en_GB&gl=US

  • Register with disabilities if you haven’t already done so. You can get all sorts of support and I would recommend making use of it. You can also get free accessmind mapssoftware.

  • Mind Maps: Notes in mind-maps do not require that much attention and it is easier to recognise what is important and integrate knowledge. I use Mind-manager because I have free access through my UNI.

  • Planning and discipline/routine habits; SLEEP: This is an important point but it’s also where I keep failing. It is important to learn how long things take and plan based on your experience rather than what you think you should blongle to do and how ling it should take.

  • Quiet study place, optimally somewhere else than where you relax.

  • Physical activity and nutrition: Another one that I commonly regret and I always regret it. It makes a huge difference

  • Self-care and mental health: . . .same

  • Having the right motivation:
    It is important that you know what you are doing and why. You need to be studying for yourself and have some reason for doing it and find things that you enjoy. It is extremely difficult to keep doing something without doing it for yourself and it marks the difference between being happy and miserable.

Helpful courses:

These were just some things that help me to some extent and that are often recommended, but all of is also require a lot of energy and sometimes things don’t work as well in real life as they work in theory. I think it’s most important to be kind to oneself and maintain a positive attitude, everyone fails at times, including “moral” failures and it is important to keep positive about life. Productivity and success are not the most important things, important is that you enjoy what you are doing and find life meaningful.

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Thanks guys for the helpful tips. I finally forced myself to study. I broke it down into parts. Take notes on the first sub chapter then the next until I finsihed the chapter. Also telling myself to sit down and study for at least 15 minutes helped too.

Also loved the video. Great explanation.

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Hey guys,

I have always been forgetful throughout my life and I never understood why, until now. I used to punish myself immensely because of it. I wasn’t as smart as everyone else and as a kid it felt traumatic but I’ve come to realise that it’s ok, I have many other talents I can share with the world.
I have come to realise I am an all rounder I’m not the best at one specific task but good at a lot of different task.
I am teaching myself now to embrace my forgetfulness that it’s ok, like last night I came home from was making a sandwich for dinner took out the sandwich press and had absoulty no recollection of taking it out. Old me would punish myself for somthing so insignificant l but new me is telling myself it’s ok, I have a diagnosis and these are some of the synptoms and I am content with that.

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Some of it might also be that you’re in fight or flight mode or just have depleted levels of dopamine. So emotional management might be helpful for that and punishing yourself is making it worse/might partly be the cause.
I think that forgetfulness might potentially have something to do with conscientiousness, how goal-oriented you are, and memory rather than intelligence. So it doesn’t say anything about your ability to think critically, for example. Many geniuses are forgetful.