First, What is ADHD?
People with ADHD often have the same struggle: performing daily tasks in a set timeframe. Those with ADHD have a completely different way of operating. According to ADDitude, ADHD is a “developmental impairment on the brain’s self-management system.” Basically, an ADHD brain doesn’t have the same motivation to complete tasks as other brains do. Most people will know they need to complete a task by a certain time, and that will be enough for them to do it. Even simple things such as getting up and eating breakfast look different for people with ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD include bad time management, lack of focus or attention, impulsive behavior, hyperfocusing on tasks, and perhaps the biggest one, executive dysfunction.
What is Executive Function?
Executive dysfunction is one of the major things that differentiate ADHD brains from “normal” brains. Executive functioning means knowing something has to get done and the timeframe in which it needs to get done, and being able to execute it to reach a goal. It has to do with organization, planning, and scheduling. People with ADHD do not function this way. They are motivated by urgency; getting things done at the last minute because it’s happening now, rather than planning for something in the future. That’s why another symptom is time blindness. ADHD brains don’t think about things until they are happening in the moment.
For example, you have a big work project due in a month. Most people would utilize their time and begin preparing for the project; gathering ideas, researching, etc. Someone with ADHD would see it as a “future problem,” and think “I have so much time! I’m not going to worry about it right now.” They may go about their day, coming up with new hobbies in the meantime, until a few days before the project is due, and they start to panic and go into crisis mode. This period of time is what motivates them; when they have no choice but to start their work because it’s due now. They’ll get it done, but it won't be enjoyable and probably won't be their best work. In simple terms, the due date becomes the do date.
Watch the video here.
How to Get Stuff Done With ADHD
Jessica McCabe, a 34-year-old with ADHD, started her channel to support others with ADHD the way she wished she had been supported. She was told as a child that she didn’t have ADHD because she had good grades or she was well-behaved. We now know that bad grades and behavioral issues are not defining symptoms of ADHD. You may notice that a lot of the videos in this article are from her channel. That’s because they’re extremely informative, fun to watch, and are ADHD friendly.
This video, How to Get Stuff Done With ADHD, she discusses the ADHD brain’s two time zones: now and not now. She explains that when we are children, we don’t have to differentiate between now and not now, because adults do it for us. When we become adults, we struggle to manage ourselves and our time. Jessica explains that the prefrontal cortex in an ADHD brain reacts differently to working than the average brain, and that unless something really sparks the interest of someone with ADHD, it isn’t going to be enough for them to focus. She recommends using a kitchen timer. This method is called the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s to combat difficulties concentrating. By setting the timer for 25 minutes, and then taking a five minute break, you are giving your brain a reward for working, and setting a start and stop time. This gives you a sense of urgency and an opportunity to work with the clock instead of against the clock. Knowing when to start and stop is difficult for someone with ADHD. They require set times and structure, so you have to give yourself that structure. A reward in the form of a break is a key motivating factor for someone with ADHD as well. She gives a step-by-step explanation for using the timer to your advantage.
Self-Care With ADHD
Bubble baths, expensive spa days, buying yourself a new bag, these are all things that are advertised on social media as forms of “self care,” but what actually is self-care? It means something different for everyone, and it isn’t always glamorous, expensive and fun.
In this video, Jessica goes into explaining her point of view on self-care. That it doesn’t always have to cost money, and that it’s up to the individual. For example, if you haven’t been eating healthy, self-care might look like cooking a nutritious dinner for yourself and sitting down to eat it. If you’re dehydrated, it might be drinking more water. If you’re feeling stressed and anxious, self-care might be taking an hour to yourself to sit and meditate, or watch your favorite sitcom.
Whatever you need to boost your mood and your quality of life. She says that self-care might be going to therapy and working out your trauma, which isn’t always easy, but it might be what you need to improve your quality of life. With ADHD, it can be difficult to prioritize and schedule things like self-care, but with enough support and by listening to what you need, it can improve your daily life immensely.
Watch the video here.
Meal Planning With ADHD
In this video, Jessica explains that people with ADHD trying to eat well can be very different from those who are neurotypical. In order to make sure you are taking care and nourishing yourself, it’s important to prioritize eating regularly. While this may seem obvious to a neurotypical brain, to someone with ADHD, hyperfocusing can cause them to forget to do things like eat three meals a day.
Meal planning is a great way to combat this issue. Oftentimes, the thought of gathering ingredients and cooking a meal from scratch can be overwhelming. In the video, she creates a dozen recipes that take only a few ingredients to make, and are “executive function friendly.” They range from snacks to breakfast to dinner recipes, and are extremely easy to make. If you find yourself struggling to get your three meals a day, this video is for you.
Watch the video here.
Living with ADHD can be frustrating, and can feel quite lonely at times. However, the help and support is out there. There are people who experience the same struggles each day, and with a little support and the help of YouTube, your life may just get a little easier.