Spring is sprung. The weather is getting nicer. Birds are singing and those darn squirrels are reveling in the sunshine causing… you guessed it… distractions!
I don’t know about you, but this time of year kicks my ADHD into overdrive. In fact, over the next 6 months, there’s a good chance I will be much more easily distracted, unfocused, and unmotivated to sit inside and do anything. All I want to do is frolic outside in the sun like those darn squirrels.
So let’s just put it out there and talk about – ADHD and distractions.
I believe the ‘attention deficit’ component of ADHD is a misnomer. We can pay attention. Anyone who has witnessed an adult with ADHD hyperfocus on something they are incredibly interested in can attest to this.
So, at its core, ADHD is a deficit of brain stimulation. Scientifically speaking, it’s a deficit of stimulation of the neurotransmitter activity that helps you do things like focus, organize, and follow through.
You see, the ADHD brain is always on the lookout for something more stimulating than what it’s doing at the moment. We HATE boredom or tuning into the same thing for any length of time. Our brains are attracted to novelty – sound, movement, physical sensations, ideas, thoughts – and this shows up as distraction.
Where Do ADHD Adults Struggle with Distractions the Most?
This will come as no shock to you, I’m sure, but technology is a huge distraction.
The Internet is like a disco ball + Disneyland + Northern Lights + pinball machine all rolled into one. One flashing image on a web page or the ding of an incoming email message captures our attention and off we go.
One link leads to the next. Facebook posts, Instagram stories, and dancing celebrities on Tik Tok keep us scrolling. Games challenge us to beat the next level. Every next new thing keeps us hyperfocused and distracted at the same time. Sparking a spiral of ADHD troubles.
What Problems Do Distractions Cause for ADHD Adults?
Distractibility causes many problems for people with ADHD:
- Distractions cause trouble at work. Projects take too long to finish. Deadlines get missed. Priorities and clients are neglected. Troubles ooze over into home when people have to work late to catch up.
- Things like keys and wallets get lost when our attention gets pulled off task onto something else. (I lost my yoga mat at the gym once because I got distracted by an interesting conversation with another woman in the locker room.)
- Clutter builds when ADHD adults get diverted and don’t finish what they were doing, leaving a trail of unopened mail, random files, and clothes behind them.
- Reading comprehension suffers when you can’t read a paragraph without looking up from the page.
- We don’t get enough sleep because we have to get things done in the middle of the night when the world is quiet enough that we can finally focus. (In college, eons before I knew about ADHD, I often got up at 3 AM since it was the only time I could focus enough to study.)
- Relationships suffer when ADHD adults can’t stay focused on conversations. Many ADHD adults have perfected the art of what I call ‘fake listening’. That means pretending to be paying attention when they’re not. When our friends and loved ones catch on to our tricks they think we don’t care about them.
- We miss out on precious memories of life because we aren’t present enough for them to sink into our long-term memory.
Your mission as an ADHD adult is to cue into and control the distractions. To take control of the power of your focus. Why? So you can live the life you want to live and be the person you choose to be.
Learning how to be the boss of your focus isn’t a quick or easy challenge and it’s a key part of my ADHD Success Club and coaching.
In next week’s blog, we are going to talk about what you can do to help minimize the problems that distractions can cause in your life. So stay tuned…
In the meantime…I’m going to go outside and enjoy the sun. Go see what those darn squirrels are up to!