Distractions, known as shiny objects, are dangerous for adults with ADHD. They sparkle and call your name. Like a magnet, they pull your attention away from what you’re supposed to be doing. Time management gurus call it shiny object syndrome and tell you to avoid distractions at all costs. I disagree with that common rule of thumb when it comes to living successfully with ADHD.
Those shiny objects can serve a purpose. In fact, if you use them wisely, shiny objects can become a useful tool to manage ADHD.
You see, a common problem for people with ADHD is getting started on projects and tasks. They get stuck before they get started. They procrastinate and do everything under the sun except the thing they’re supposed to be doing.
And that’s when shiny object syndrome can help; it’s one of the tools you can use for living successfully with ADHD.
How can you use shiny object syndrome to manage ADHD?
It turns out the same thing that causes distractions to pull us away from important tasks can also pull us toward important tasks.
What is this magical force?
Seeing something new and exciting gets our energy buzzing and our thoughts flowing. It draws us in and lights a fire within us.
So take a look at a new task and find a little piece of it that lights you up. Find something in there that energizes you. Then follow the energy. That’s your shiny object, your distraction.
The trick is not getting pulled into the magnetic force of the distraction to the point where you get stuck and can’t get back to what you’re supposed to be doing.
Develop that skill and shiny object syndrome is no longer dangerous; it becomes your friend.
What we can learn from rats about using shiny object syndrome to manage ADHD.
We have three pet rats, May, Stormy, and Ruth. (Before you say “EEEWWWEE”; rats make great pets. They’re smart, affectionate, funny and just naughty enough to be interesting.)
May, Stormy and Ruth adore shiny objects. Dangle something shiny in front of their noses and they stop whatever they’re doing and lunge for it. But before they grab a shiny thing they gently bite it to decide if it’s something they really want. If not, they leave it be.
Learn from May, Stormy, and Ruth. Choose your distractions carefully; be selective about when to employ shiny object syndrome and make it work for you as you manage ADHD.
Dana Rayburn is an ADHD Coach in Oregon, but don’t worry… She works by telephone helping ADHD adults all over the world live more effortlessly and successfully with ADHD.