Adult ADHD can throw our lives into chaos. Lost keys, misplaced paperwork, running late and missing appointments – these are the hallmark of an ADHD life. But you can change that. Simply focus on these 6 key areas to create structure for ADHD – what I like to call scaffolding.
So how strong is the scaffolding holding up your ADHD life?
Is it firm and stable? Are you able to focus and follow-through? Can you get things done? Can you do what you need and want to do? Live your life to your full potential?
Or, is the scaffolding holding your ADHD life together weak?
Like one of those shoddily constructed buildings that may look okay from the outside but eventually collapses into a pile of rubble?
If your scaffolding is weak you’ll know it. So, will everyone around you.
Your life will be chaotic. You’ll be late, tired, overwhelmed and unable to bring your big ideas to life. You’ll waste a lot of time. Maybe talk a big game. Make lots of promises. But you won’t be able to hold the details together enough to make them happen.
Your life will be infused with failure, frustration, damaged relationships, and lost opportunities.
Over the years I’ve heard other ADHD experts divide ADHD structure into three areas: medication, skills, and therapy.
Yet, as I look at my life and the lives of other ADHD adults who have learned to successfully lift themselves above ADHD’s chaos, I see a bigger picture. Dividing successful ADHD management into three categories just doesn’t go far enough.
I believe the scaffolding of a strongly constructed ADHD life has six parts. Over the next few weeks, I’ll write about each of these in more detail. However, for now, here’s an overview:
- A Mentor or ADHD Coach – This person will act as the placeholder for your goals. A guide who can teach you the skills of living a successful ADHD life, hold you accountable, help you flesh out your buckets of ideas, rein them in and focus on the ones that will get you where you want to go.
- A Support Team – These people fill in the gaps. They support areas where you’re weak and help you make your big ideas happen. They take over repetitive tasks and tasks that can’t hold your attention. Yes, it’s administrative support but their role is bigger than that. They also provide deadlines and accountability to keep you focused and on track. Most of us are more productive when we have to do something for someone other than ourselves.
- Mindset – Part of the package of growing up with ADHD is ending up with a lot of emotional baggage that needs to be dealt with before we can step into being our most productive selves. Therapy, EFT, subliminal affirmations, and other mindset work will help change the internal thoughts and messages playing on a continuous loop telling you you’re not good enough. Thoughts that keep you stuck and procrastinating if you don’t challenge them head on.
- Brain Care – We need to make our brains as sharp and laser focused as possible. This is where medication comes in as well as basic brain self-care: sleep, diet, exercise, hydration, supplements, and knowledge of food allergies.
- Skills and Understanding – There are skills you need in order to function day-to-day; productivity skills that help you plan, organize, stay focused and on track. You also need understanding – understanding of your personal brand of ADHD and how it impacts your life.
- Tools and Structure – Daily life is a challenge with adult ADHD but there are basic tools and structure you can put in place to help you function each day. Routines and habits can provide the structure. Technology can provide tools; your cell phone, calendar, and apps. Some might clump this under the Skills and Understanding category, but I think it’s clearer when separated.
The bottom line?
If you have adult ADHD and want to live a productive life, live to your full potential, you need to build and maintain a strong scaffolding of support in each of these areas. No matter who you are and what you do: business owner, construction worker, accountant, housewife or student.
You can’t neglect one and expect to be able to move forward and reach your goals.
Each piece of the scaffolding requires your attention. Stay tuned as I dig deeply into each of the 6 Key areas that create structure for ADHD adults in future issues of ADHD Success.