Really! Happy Holidays with ADHD

 

 

The joy of the holiday season can be overshadowed by chaotic, frazzled, over-committed holidays. It is tempting to enjoy all the delights of the season. Holidays can be joyful by setting up strategies for organization and time management. Now is the time to set up systems that empower you and your family throughout the holidays

 

Create a holiday notebook

Tired of reinventing your holiday activities each year? It is time to start a holiday notebook. In the notebook, create these tabbed pocket dividers with these topics:

  • Calendars for this year and the previous year’s activities including holiday traditions
  • Gift closet inventory
  • Gift list for family, friends, and work
  • Tipping list for family hair, nails, and other service providers
  • Holiday cards from prior years and for this year
  • Vendor list for holiday cards, photographer, ornament purchases, and more
  • Budget
  • Meals, menus, and recipes
  • Décor and photos from previous years’ decorating

Keeping all this information together helps you save time and energy, as well as stay organized. You may decide from year to year to discontinue one or more activities. Keep it in your notebook for future reference.

 

Host a family meeting

A family meeting brings everyone together before the holiday season. Post a family calendar for everyone to write dates of upcoming events and parties. Discuss everyone’s favorite activity and be sure that one activity is included on the calendar. Host this meeting the week of Thanksgiving to be sure you are on top of all dates.

 

Make a list and check it twice

Make a list of everyone’s activities and tasks for the holidays. Now prioritize that list. Knowing what is coming up and deciding what is most important to each family member and yourself helps us be realistic and also have fun. Add these to a calendar to see when activities and events overlap. Start early with this and host a family meeting weekly to be sure to stay on track.

 

Tracking Rudolf and Santa

We are all ordering online, tracking gifts, and praying for their arrival. Use a dedicated email address for shopping and a folder in your inbox for receipts. Having one place to look for these details saves time and keeps you organized.

 

Gifts, gifts, and gifts

Getting stuck in finding the perfect gift? Move forward with gift cards, experiences, or a small something that you especially love. There is a reason why Oprah’s favorite gifts are given. Choose a gift-giving strategy that works for you and your budget. Kids and teens love gift cards they can use as they like. Adults appreciate that little gift of self-care such as lip balm. Families love time together at a special event. Being thoughtful is what is most important, not the gift itself.

 

Holidays are for everyone, including you as head holiday merry-maker. We get over the top with activities and fatigue. Keep routines and self-care a priority to make the most of your holiday joy!

 

 

 

ADHD 2022 International Conference on ADHD

adhd2022
My work with my clients is my priority. And also my professional development, learning, and training. Continuing education and career training allow me to develop new skills, stay up-to-date on current trends, and advance our work together in sessions. It is my commitment to be on the leading edge of training for our work together.

Learning from ADHD experts

Over the last three months, I have attended seminars on ADHD and anxiety, addiction, and oppositional defiance through ADDA-SR. Last summer, I was privileged to attend the ADHD Intensive. This month I attended the International Conference on ADHD. What did I learn?
  • A strong foundation and commitment to self-care prepare you best for every other part of your work, managing your home and relationships.
  • Coaching is a positive strategy for processing information and creating strategies for home, work, and life.
  • Whether you are a child or an adult with ADHD, there are ways to make change happen when you are ready.
  • Setting strong positive boundaries helps us navigate difficult relationships. These boundaries include both options that are desirable and non-negotiable.
  • More research on ADHD is needed to help with assessments and medications for ADHD.

This information reinforces much of what I know to be true. However, taking these experts’ information to my clients is my next step with my coaching and hands-on work.

 

Collective joy in a community of learning

Conferences, Summits, and community learning are coming back after uncertain times. For me, it is a true joy to sit and listen with my colleagues in person to experts and authors. Taking notes, reading materials, and discussing information bring life to learning. I call this collective joy in that we are all together learning and engaging.

There is so much joy in meeting new colleagues and reconnecting with my peers. Time spent together in person, experiencing conferences together, discussing our work, and meeting new people bring purpose to my work. I love connecting with my colleagues who work in this specialty.

 

I am grateful for the opportunities for professional development this year and going forward. It is who I am to continue learning, seeking information, and sharing that with everyone around me.

 

 

ADHD Friendly Tips for Connection

adhd friendly tips for connection

 

The value of connection is priceless for all of us. During the pandemic, relationships are what kept us moving forward. For those with ADHD, connection is the solution for support. That connection includes work with colleagues, daily life with family and friends, and those around us in our environment. There are many ways to do this, and here is a short ADHD- friendly list to help you.  We know that these connections empower us and enhance our lives.

 

Double up

Make connections by doubling up on both connection and another positive activity. Take a walk or an exercise class with a friend. You are getting exercise and connecting.

Do it now

Thinking of a friend? Send a quick text just to say hello.

 

Dinner time

Work to have a regular dinner time multiple times a week and always once on the weekend. Do not worry so much about what you are serving as making sure everyone comes to the table to talk. Talk about the highs and lows of the day to know more about everyone’s emotions that day.

 

Family meeting

Family meetings promote communication and organization. Host a weekly meeting for your family to talk about calendars, responsibilities, and upcoming holidays.

 

Communicate gratitude

Sadly, and rarely, do we hear about the beauty of a friendship. Share the impact that person has on you and the strengths of that person when you connect. Being grateful moves us toward happiness. Be someone else’s cheerleader today.

 

Remember a birthday

Just a quick text or a snail mail card makes a difference for you and your connection. Keep a list of birthdays and a stash of cards to send at the beginning or end of the month for all the birthdays coming up or just passed.

Play games online

Online games connect you to others with the same interest and in the global community. Join in the games with your kiddos.

 

Join a book club

Book clubs are where people are enjoying books and connecting.

Connect through spirituality

Our communities are filled with those practicing spirituality at temples, synagogues, mosques, and churches. Reach out to those with similar paths, attend, and join a community. These foundations have many activities to connect to others regularly.

 

Use social media wisely

Connect with others on social media positively. Often there are groups to join with common interests. Set a time to sparingly join online to prevent hyperfocus.

 

Volunteer

We make connections when helping others. Volunteer and do good while connecting.

 

Connection is so important that it should be a time block on your calendar. Take time this week for one small step.

 

 

 

ADHD Friendly Tips for How to Declutter

 

Has a space become chaotic and cluttered in your home? Are you keeping a lot of unnecessary items just in case with no place to store these? Has clutter been keeping you in a funk? These are some of the challenges of ADHD and organization.  Here are some tips for how to declutter with an ADHD-friendly approach.

 

Getting ready

You have been thinking a lot about decluttering and have yet to start. It is overwhelming because you are not sure where to start or what to let go of. Start with what will create some urgency for you. That’s a deadline! Aim for an important date with a holiday, family event, or company coming. A deadline will make this task a real activity.

 

Gather your stuff together

Marie Kondo suggests gathering your same items together to be ready to declutter. I agree! Group items by category in order to see how many you have in order to make a decision on which items to keep.  Gather your stuff by category no matter where it is currently being stored. Start with a large group to gather, such as clothes, so you can make a big impact.

 

Make it fun

Organizing with a team or using an “organizing playlist” brings joy to your work. Find what is fun for you!

 

Conquering the clutter

  • Get going! Use a timer to set the amount of time you are working.
  • Make it a manageable task. Break your decluttering into chunks of work that work with your schedule. That could mean 15-minute organizing bursts too.
  • Here are twelve rules that my colleagues and I have shared about decluttering. These rules include rules for emotions such as do I love this item, physical space such as large items first, or a timeline with how recently did you wear or use the item.

 

Set up a system that works for you

Your goal should be not only to declutter but also to create a storage spot (“home”) for each category. That storage depends on your strengths. If you are a highly visual person, make sure your system plays well with your system. Lists and labels empower this strength. An auditory learner might talk through the system as it is being created. A kinesthetic learner might set up a system that includes movement and physical processes. Each of these systems amplifies the learning style and maintains the system.

 

Decluttering and editing end when it is easy to find the items in your house which make you happy.  Letting go of what is bogging you down, taking more energy, and taking time away will be your ultimate goal.

 

 

 

 

 

ADHD Friendly Tips for Self Care

adhd friendly tips for self care

 

Self-care is important for all of us and most especially those with ADHD.  Strategies for sleep, exercise, diet, and collaboration support and strengthen successful lifestyles. Even more so, there are other aspects of self-care that empower you. ADHD symptoms and associated stressors can be helped with attention to rejuvenation and

 

Acknowledging the value of self-care

Self-care as a sanity saver and self-preservation tool? Yes! Self-care helps us be resilient, use our energy well, and manage our emotions. Daily self-care is about practical actions that afford you more capability and capacity to focus, work, and connect. This is done best by prioritizing self-care and establishing a structure throughout the day, week and month.

Structure for daily self-care is like other routines in our lives. It can be a time block for mindfulness or exercise. Or it could be weekly meal plan deliveries. Structure and habits are foundations set into place.

If you see obstacles to self-care, it is often because of boundaries. Self-care can also be staying in and heading to bed early, asking for what you need, and asking for help. This is where knowing ourselves well plays a big role. Each of us has different needs.  Having strong boundaries helps you prioritize your time for you. Too many projects, too many activities, and too much “saying yes” means that your self-care will diminish. Feeling overwhelmed means you are in need of self-care.

 

Healthy self-care categories

Self-care extends to many areas in life and lifestyle.

  • Physical health self-care includes not only a good night’s rest, exercise, and a healthy diet. It also includes regular doctor’s visits, therapy, coaching, and possibly nutritionist visits.
  • Connection self-care includes fostering positive relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Organizational self-care includes establishing an organized environment, keeping up with finances, and maintaining good routines with laundry.

You may have good self-care established in one area and a gap in others. Focus on strengthening one area in one small way and you continue with your other areas.

 

Creating self-care strategies

As with all routines, start small in creating self-care strategies. Knowing what is best for your self-care includes learning education. You might attend a webinar about a topic before strategizing how to include it in your daily routine. Plan out your day and write a checklist that includes self-care. Start working with a coach or certified professional organizer to help you be accountable for your new routine. Make small, specific, changes with dates and timelines to reinforce your success.

My motto for all my clients is to build a bigger team first. Find an exercise class to join or switch up exercise classes to keep engaged. Meal plan and prep with one of your family or bring in meal prep boxes. Build a care team of physician, psychiatrist, a coach, and other assistants.  Each member of your team helps reinforce your goals and care. Your team offers support with positive encouragement and loving accountability.

 

Practicing self-care and self-compassion

Creating new routines can take from 21 days to 254 days, much longer than what we think should happen.

Being graceful with yourself as you take on new self-care means giving self-compassion. Not only is building self-care a lengthy process, but it can also evaporate as quickly. Keep the momentum going by keeping it simple. Complex self-care requires a lot of juggling. Freshen up self-care by changing up exercise and diet. Know the value of taking time off to reset. It is not easy but worth the effort.

ADHD Friendly Solutions to Productivity Challenges

 

adhd friendly solutions to productivity challenges

 

It is common for people with ADHD can have productivity challenges. It is hard to get started, stay focused, and complete tasks. Depending on the challenge, there is an ADHD Friendly solution to your productivity obstacle.

 

Challenge: Having trouble getting started

Executive function challenges can prevent you from starting a task. Initiating a task requires a “warm-up” to the task. It could be using a timer that is set for 15 minutes, organizing the stuff or space you are working or reviewing materials for the task.  Writing a note where you left off helps start up the next work session.

 

Challenge: Gathering too much information for a project

Many people are “information seekers” and love researching information. Often that leads to more information than needed for a project and disorganized information that is hard to use. If you are a paper person, write the information on note cards or post-it notes to organize later. Evernote works well for digital people to gather information in “notebooks.” Call this information into your messages and dictate it verbally to capture it. Set a guideline for how much information you need, such as how many websites to visit or sources to quote. With a “rule” in place, it is easier to gather less data.

 

Challenge: Getting distracted while working on a project.

External and internal distractions are part of the lives of everyone with ADHD. Make a plan for yourself to lessen distractions. Make a list of quick finish tasks to feel the joy of finishing a project. Establish a power period for deep work at your best time of day. Matching your chronotype to your work lowers distractibility. For external distractions, use headphones while working or move to the quietest space at work.

 

Challenge: Getting bored with the project while in the middle of it

When projects drag on, there are many updates or details, or project scope changes, the thrill, and interest in a project can wane. Reclaim your interest by checking “why” you are investing time and energy in the project. That “why” can be something related to the greater good too.

 

Challenge: Not prioritizing your To-Do List

The best list is a prioritized list! Knowing the most important tasks for that day helps you feel accomplished. For those with impulsivity, it’s tempting to jump right in!  Many people with ADHD use urgency as a prioritization tool. Take a bigger look at your list for the week and the day and color code or number your priorities. Remember, the only task you can count on working on in any day is the first task of the day.

 

Challenge: Scheduling a task and ignoring it

The reminder chimes and you ignore it, over and over again. A better strategy is to schedule mindfully and match your task with a time block. Give yourself ample time in your block to get started and do a deep dive into the work. Time blocks should also match your best times to work.

 

Challenge: Finishing a project late

Those with ADHD lack time awareness and do not know how long it takes to complete a task or project. Overestimate the time it takes to complete a project. Work backward from the due date to set intervals for project progress.

 

Challenge: Being overwhelmed by a project

Overwhelming projects are a part of home and work life. Just thinking about these may be paralyzing because of the planning, executing, and doing the work itself. Use sticky notes or a mind map to jot down all the parts of the project. Then write in who can help with each step. Make a note of which steps have deadlines. Keep these notes in a notebook for reference as the project moves forward. Write only the first steps on your To Do list. Adding in help makes the project more fun.

 

Challenge: Too much paper around

People with ADHD have a love/hate relationship with paper. Highly visual people like to see information in print, rather than digitally. Kinesthetic modality people like to write notes to keep information and to keep focused. Printing often feels like the right step to not lose information. Set up rules for paper management. That might be never open junk mail or keep all paper in a basket rather than on your desk. Paper management systems include a command center or file cart near your workspace to keep the paper organized.

 

Being intentional about your ADHD -productivity challenges is a starting point. Productivity may occur more in spurts than seamlessly. Choose one of these optons to find your own solution for your best workflow.

3 Tips for Reducing Cognitive Load

reducing cognitive load

 

Have you heard the term cognitive load? “Cognitive load” is the amount of information that working memory can hold at one time. The term is often used in the learning environment. However, we have an ever-increasing amount of cognitive load, especially since the pandemic. We are holding a lot of information in our heads, often novel information that is being processed. The information in working memory is more and more complex. Because we are incorporating and processing the information, it feels unwieldy to think.  Happily, there are a variety of tools to help us reduce that load.

 

Use a reliable, easy-to-use capture tool.

Write stuff down. Use an app to capture information. The less we keep in our heads the more we free up the cognitive load. First capture, then prioritize the information. By capturing information it is no longer in working memory. By evaluating you shorten your list of tasks.

  • Be intentional about your paper capture tool. A notebook keeps all the information together. A disk binder system creatively gives you the opportunity to create sections for information. Your binder becomes a safe place for all information.
  • Use apps wisely. The Notes app is an easy-to-use system.
  • Use your system consistently for the best off-loading of cognitive load. That is to have a routine to add to, delete and review your information. GTD, Getting Stuff Done, uses a capture and review system with a weekly planning time.

 

Add routines to daily living.

Daily routines lighten your cognitive load by creating an auto-pilot for daily and weekly self-care. Routines add consistency which adds serenity.

  • Use a checklist for your daily routines. Dry erase board checklists can help start or end the day. Your family will benefit from this as well. No more yelling at your family to get stuff done too.
  • Create a parallel schedule for your day with getting up and going to bed at the same time. You will be sure to be well rested and better able to think.
  • Track your success with visual signs of success. Whether it is a checkmark on your planner or a habit tracker app, you will enjoy your success knowing this data.

 

Be intentional about new information, tasks, and projects.

Intention can lighten your cognitive load. Paying attention to the purpose and related actions that are behind a task brings clarity. Limit new projects to no more than 2 simultaneous projects and have pre-set rules for decisions as new information comes along. Remember that anxiety can affect your cognitive load and create stress and paralysis. When you give yourself time to process and create a plan, you gain control and create successful outcomes. Intentional actions include giving yourself time to plan, time to process information, and time to act on the plan. All of this can be accomplished with a fresh perspective and time blocking.

 

Remember the phrase, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Ultimately, that is the remedy for reducing cognitive load.

 

Getting Derailed and Getting Back on Track

getting derailed and getting back on track

 

You are moving forward, being productive, getting stuff done, and taking care of yourself. Then all of a sudden – poof! – this vanishes. It could be from being overwhelmed, being unprepared for life’s circumstances, being unmotivated, or just because. All of a sudden, after so much effort, you feel derailed and unsure of what to do next. So what to do to get back on track?

When you get derailed by too many projects

Additional projects are added to your responsibilities at work. In your enthusiasm, you add on more home chores like repairs and home renovation.

Use your task list wisely. If you are overwhelmed, make a list of all the responsibilities and tasks. Then assign these to time blocks for getting these started and completed. At home, take on no new responsibilities until you feel more in control. There are many project management apps that can help you organize your projects and time. 

 

When you get derailed by a lack of motivation

Lack of motivation can occur when you feel overwhelmed or lack purpose behind a project. You might start with a lot of interest and enthusiasm, and then those emotions wane.

Break projects into small steps to feel consistent success. When you see your success, it builds in motivation to continue. If you come to a point where you don’t remember or see the end goal, use a mind map to reconsider the outcome and what is important to you about the completion of the project. Bring in additional team members to add interest and motivation.  

When you get derailed by vacation

You have really enjoyed your time off, and now it is time to get back to work. There’s so much to do and you are not ready to roll.

Set up for success with a catch-up day. On the first day, you return, establish a no meeting policy. Set a time to catch up on email and connect with colleagues on projects. Use a task list continuously or start now to keep a list of all responsibilities. 

 

When you get derailed by “life happening”

“Life is happening!” That is when there is a new relationship, a loss of a family member, a job change, moving to a new home, or multiple circumstances happen simultaneously.

Self-care is the key to getting through situations. First, start with a good night’s rest and get support. Support can be meeting with a therapist or coach, seeking medical attention, adding a team member to your work group, or delegating to a paid helper. There are times that there is too much for us to handle. 

 

When you get derailed in general

You are a marvel at your task list, getting to the gym, and eating healthy. Then you stop.

Everyone gets derailed at some time. Don’t fret about it –  just do it (whatever that was) and start again!

Use These Schedules for Back to School Routines

back to school routines, schedules and checklists

 

Families with ADHD need reliable and consistent routines and schedules. That applies to the parents and the kids with ADHD. Setting up the structure of the morning and evening with positive expectations and well-established schedules helps improve everyone’s balance and set the pace for the day. Here are suggested schedules to help your family back to school success.

 

Getting buy-in with your family

Start with a family meeting to gain momentum with your routines. Families intuitively know and feel the benefits. Get official buy -in with a conversation highlighting that routines preclude making every decision every day and therefore offer stress relief.  Making multiple decisions every day wears everyone out. Following the structure of routines helps achieve their goals, whether that is getting a good night’s rest, getting better grades, or having more time for games. With a schedule, everyone knows what to do and when to do it without nagging. The results are more of what everyone wants which is time together to have fun.

Next, move on to designing a schedule that works. Be realistic about what you can accomplish and the time it takes for tasks. While it is hard for those with ADHD to sense how long a task takes, give yourself time to get tasks done and a deadline to do this.

 

Writing out the morning schedule

Getting everyone ready and out the door on time is the priority in the morning.  Prepare as much as you can the night before using a landing strip for backpacks and setting a wake-up alarm. Avoid adding in extra tasks and emails in the morning. A simply written schedule should be:

7:00 wake up, take meds, wash face, get dressed

7:15 eat breakfast, pack lunch

7:30 grab backpack, head to car

Keep it simple with only the highlights of this routine. Post this routine where your family sees it and the point of use. For kiddos, that’s the bathroom mirror.

 

Write a checklist for the afternoon schedule

Afternoon schedules have more to do and require a checklist to be sure it is all accomplished.  There is homework, activities, and dinner together.  Establishing a set study routine eliminates the choice of what time to start. Hiring a homework helper to reinforce settling into homework time. Review what is expected during homework time to ensure completion. End the evening with fun.

4:00 Snack and chat

4:30 Homework time at dinner table, kitchen table or home office alongside you

6:00 Gym, music, scouts, or other activity

7:00 Dinner together

7:30 Clean up and prep lunches

8:00 Bath, books and bed

Adjust this checklist depending on your child’s age and stage. The flow of activities is the same. Parents of middle and high schoolers are more frequently limiting gaming time during the week. Set a time of day for technology to start and end, including turning off wifi. It’s easier for you as a parent to enforce these times with this routine. Post this checklist at the family command center for everyone to see it.

Dinner time together helps everyone stay connected. Work around activities and church to find time together each evening to sit and enjoy time together. Make dinner simple with cereal or sandwiches, kids cooking, or healthy takeaway dinner. Eating a meal together without technology keeps everyone connected. Try conversation starters like high and low, talking about the high points and low points of the day with your kids, or other conversation starters.

Wind down with a Bedtime Routine

Bedtime is crucial for those with ADHD.  For those with ADHD, it takes a sleep routine to fall asleep. Set a time to get ready for bed with extra time for quiet conversation with you. Encourage relaxation by turning off all blue light devices an hour before bedtime and placing these in the common charging spot. Use bath time as a wind-down mechanism with lavender bath salts. A cool, dark room with quiet music or a sound machine set the stage for sleep for kids and adults.

 

Keep routines going

Here are the tricks to routines – keep it, simple sweetie! Start with a small routine, and add that single step to another existing routine. Make it visual so that everyone can remember and see the steps for the routines.

Remember, routines keep going because you as know the value and power of routines. Routines can be re-started every week to stay consistent.  Don’t give up because on the first day or week the routines are not in place. It takes practice and the conviction you are a family who follows routines to keep these in place.

 

 

 

5 Strategies for a Positive School Year

 

5 strategies for a positive school year

 

Some students love school and thrive, but many are anxious. Grades often feel like the only measure of success for kids. A positive school year builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Our goal as families is to build self-esteem and we can do this with a structured, intentional approach.

 

Start off strong with self-care

The transition to school can be rough. Moving from little structure to lots of structure, no bedtime to early bedtime, and getting up early are all opportunities for crankiness. Start the transition to school a week ahead with earlier bedtimes. Getting more read helps everyone. Make a plan for breakfast, lunch at dinner to smooth the transition. Looking forward to community times together as well as nutritious options is a happy thought. As the school year progresses, self-care is where to turn to when the going gets rough.

 

Embrace support

Start the school year with the support needed. If your student struggled with math, have a tutor in place. Subject area tutors get your student on track or ahead early on in the school year. Bigger support can look like a homework study partner, a coach, or a therapist. Bringing in support helps your student know you understand their needs. Your strong support by building a bigger team for your student shows you understand their needs. Be open to adding support throughout the school year.

 

Acknowledge successes

From the beginning of the year, acknowledge successes of all sorts. Praise is a powerful strategy for building self-esteem. That can be a strong work ethic, tenacity, friendliness, kindness, inclusivity, and other qualities your student is developing. Good grades will come along as confidence builds. Also, embrace a growth mindset with perspectives when things don’t go well. Resilience balanced with realistic expectations creates good self-esteem.

 

Add in options

Students need optimal choices to encourage responsibility and create ownership. You encourage taking responsibility for homework and home chores when there are a few choices. Set up a schedule for both with your student so that they will buy into the work. Offer levels of flexibility and independence as part of the choices. That would be when the time is set or how much supervision is possible. Be clear about the outcome no matter the options. Using a chart with clear expectations makes clear the outcome.

 

Always remember it’s about the relationship

Self-esteem and self-confidence flourish in a loving environment. Your relationship is the most important factor. Students with ADHD often feel they’re letting you down, doing things wrong, or not being ‘good.’ Protect your relationship by providing perspectives when things get out of kilter. Change can happen when you focus on support, strengths, and common ground.