ADHD can be challenging to diagnose and treat because everyone experiences it differently. There is a cluster of symptoms, but they can look different across ages and genders. What tools might work for you to stay focused won’t work for your son who has ADHD.
And don’t even get me started on ADHD medications – how finding the medication and dose that works best can become a trial and error exercise.
The only thing consistent about ADHD is its inconsistency.
This also includes what you do on a daily basis to manage your ADHD. You could have a great day on Tuesday – you stuck to your healthy habits, ate well, and used all your tools to stay on track and get stuff done. You arrived at the correct station successful and confident! YAY! Then Wednesday hit and nothing worked. It was like someone switched the railroad path overnight and you couldn’t get anywhere. Even when you were using the exact same train engine as the day before.
Yup, ADHD is inconsistent.
So what do you do when things spin out of control and everything you are trying to do gets derailed? When your time management, plans, and even productivity go completely off the rails?
1. The first thing that you need to do is realize and recognize. This is your ADHD. The problem isn’t you. You aren’t a failure. ADHD is a brain chemistry thing. The reality is you have a brain that works differently than other people‘s brains. (And to be honest, everyone has days that go off the rails – even people without ADHD.)
You also need to step into the awareness of the signs that your brain isn’t heading in the right direction. How does it feel and what are you doing? Have you run out of fuel and your emotions are out of control? Are you making silly mistakes, not paying attention, ruminating, getting easily distracted?
2. Get curious about what’s going on when things go off the rails. Shame and guilt are NEVER a solution. If you are feeling either, then it’s a reminder to step back and shift into problem-solving mode. Kicking yourself when you’re down is never helpful.
Instead, get curious about what was going on before you made the mistake – what were you thinking of? Are you exhausted from sitting at the computer all day? Is something happening with your family? Have you been taking care of your brain and body? Are you over-committed or have too much on your list? Are you unrealistic in what you could do? These are all important things to evaluate so you can move on to the next steps.
3. Take emergency action to get back on track. Open up your ADHD toolbox and pull out the quick fix to course correct immediately. Adjust your plan for the day and lower expectations of what can be accomplished.
The ADHD Success Club is a fantastic way to learn quick fix and long-term tools to help you stay on track and limit how often your day goes off the rails. Sign up today to keep your ADHD train chugging down the right track!
4. Identify what you will do differently in the future. Pay attention if your brain is constantly taking side trips – what new tools do you need to add to keep on the right path? How will you remember the signs that you’re off track? And make sure you look further down the track so you can plan for days when you might have to flip the switch and return to the correct rail.
REMEMBER: ADHD is inconsistent but you don’t have to settle for ADHD mayhem. Life doesn’t need to be so hard!
Want to learn more? Check out the Kick Some ADHD podcast:
I talk often about ‘keeping track of’ and ‘becoming aware of’ and one way to do this is to have a way to easily write down what happened that day so you can refer back and see what works and doesn’t for you. People with ADHD don’t often learn from our past because we forget it! I have many clients who LOVE Planner Pads to keep track of their schedules. You can add these colorful lined sticky notes to jot down what DID happen that day (and I recommend these fun planner pens to keep it fresh and colorful). Our ADHD brains love sparkly and new! Try it out and let me know what you think!