October is ADHD Awareness Month and our Senior Consultant Jo Lacy has written an article about their experience. ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. For those of you who aren’t aware of this incredibly poorly named trait, it’s better characterised as differently directed attention. It’s not that there is a lack of attention, it’s that there are real difficulties in directing the focus. Like a weathervane in the wind, it doesn’t matter if you want to point east, if it’s a northerly wind you’ll really struggle to point east but focusing north is effortless.
Focusing on something isn’t necessarily a challenge for the ADHD brain – Eddie Hall set national swimming records in the UK before moving to strongman competition and setting multiple world records on his road to becoming World’s Strongest Man. Michael Phelps is one of only 5 people to have won more than 8 Olympic gold medals (4 people have won 9 golds, he’s won 23). They both were able to focus single-mindedly on their chosen sports and dedicate themselves to it, admittedly with ‘Hyperactivity’ but clearly not with an ‘Attention Deficit’.
It should also be noted that when doing work that isn’t necessarily physically tiring, people with ADHD may require music in headphones, or an audiobook, or some kind of visual stimulation or fidget toy to maintain focus on the task at hand. I frequently find myself looking around the room while I’m typing because it gives me some visual interest that “scratches a different part of the brain”, so to speak. Alternatively, I’ll have something familiar playing in headphones that I don’t need to focus on – music or even audiobooks are great for this, especially if they’re familiar so you don’t get surprised by anything. Just filling in the empty space where the brain could get distracted to help one focus on the “important” task at hand.
Another aspect of ADHD that people may not be aware of is the Urgent vs. Not Urgent problem. This blog writing is a case in point. It’s Monday 2nd October as I write this post for October’s ADHD Awareness Month. I’ve known about it since about April, but haven’t got to it until now so here’s why. It wasn’t urgent!
It wasn’t urgent, it didn’t need doing “now”, so it didn’t get done because I had the opportunity to do other things instead. Now, it’s urgent and needs doing “now”, so it gets done “now”. This isn’t to say that a huge project gets left to the last minute – if a project will take 3 weeks, it will be urgent 3 weeks before the deadline. But it may not be urgent 4 weeks from the deadline.
ADHD can make the time management aspect of my professional consultancy work a challenge, but also gives me the ability to focus on the work at hand because it’s important to me that I do things to the best of my ability. The specific project is not that important to me (it isn’t relevant if it’s a new condenser for a takeaway, a residential housing scheme or a new industrial park), it’s that I’m doing the highest quality of work I’m capable of. To return to the weathervane analogy, the wind is my focus on quality of work, it’s not particularly relevant if it’s raining, snowing or shining sun.
This youtube channel has been immensely useful and insightful over the past few years for me, so maybe you’ll enjoy it too. As always, please feel free to reach out to me personally and I’ll do my best to respond as soon as possible.