Overcoming ADHD Distractions

by | Jul 9, 2015 | ADHD Productivity | 2 comments



See Jane. See Jane struggle to overcome ADHD distractions.

See Jane try to open the mail.

See Jane get distracted before she’s finished.

See Jane walk away from her desk carrying an important letter. See Jane leave the important letter on top of the file cabinet.

See Jane return to her desk later to find mail spread all over the place. See Jane searching frantically for the important letter.

Jane has a problem familiar to people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: It’s tough for her to stay focused on what she’s doing. ADHD distractions make Jane jump from one thing to another leaving a clutter trail of disorganization behind her.

Tasks go unfinished. Things get lost. Time gets wasted.

Jane pays an emotional price for her ADHD distractions.

She often is overwhelmed. At her worst she is on edge and stressed out. She loses her temper in her frustration and snaps at people around her. Jane sometimes even resorts to lies to cover her tracks. She is ashamed of herself.

Distractions are very typical of adult ADHD. Though it’s an issue that surfaces often in coaching calls, it doesn’t have to be a show-stopper.

One of my favorite strategies for overcoming ADHD distractions is one I learned from Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, my ADD Coaching instructor at the Optimal Functioning Institute.

The Trick to Overcoming ADHD Distractions

This is a simple technique called Name the Game. Here’s what you do:

  • First, name the task at hand: For Jane, the Name of the Game is Opening the Mail.
  • Second, decide how you’ll know when the task is complete. Jane’s game of Opening the Mail is finished when all the mail is open, the junk is in the recycling bin and the items that need action are in the In Box.
  • Third, talk your way through the task. When you find you’re off task, say, “No, that’s not what I’m doing now,” and repeat the name of the game aloud. (Warning: you may get a reputation for talking to yourself!)
  • When you finish your task, dance a jig and yell, “I’ve won the game!”

You’ll find Name the Game works best when you jump into it wholeheartedly. It takes a certain amount of concentration.

Now, let’s return to Jane and see how Name the Game has helped her.

Jane realized that for Name the Game to work she needed to become more aware of exactly what she was doing. When she starts opening the mail on her desk she says, “The name of the game is Open the Mail.”

When her eyes drift to the unread article in the magazine lying open on the table, Jane reminds herself, “The name of the game is Open the Mail.”

When she hears co-workers nearby talk about the new movie she’s wanted to see, Jane reminds herself, “The name of the game is Open the Mail.” Jane continues to play the game, and nothing but the game, until it is done.

Jane has learned that when she names a task she becomes more conscious of what she is doing. Her focus improves. She is calmer and more in control. She is less likely to lose things. There are fewer messes to pick up, fewer messes to cover up.

Jane truly can be a winner. So can you!

What I want for you is the peace that comes when you can focus on what you want to do and the self-respect that comes when you act the way you want to act. To me that is ADHD success in a nutshell.

If you need help overcoming ADHD distractions give Name The Game a try. I hope it works as well for you as it does for Jane (and me).


  1. doug puryear

    dana – really good strategies. i will link thanks

  2. Jennifer G

    This is awesome! I have done this since I was in school (glad to know I’m not weird 😉 ). And for the reputation you mentioned? My first boss told me one day that she could tell when I was stressed out because I would stop talking to myself.


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