My last post here was 12 days ago. That’s not unusual here, or for other blogs. However, my goal (one of my New Year’s Resolutions, actually) was to write here (and on my other blogs) daily.
Now, in all fairness, that’s a tall order, but 12 days between posts isn’t even in the ballpark. As Jules from Pulp Fiction might say, “That’s not even the same damn sport.”
The issue, as is so often the case for us with adult ADD and ADHD, is a combination of getting started, and keeping going. Depending upon the way your personal ADD manifests, one of those two things might be harder for you. For me, it’s the former, although, at any point if some external event causes a break in the flow, it’s just as likely as not that I will not get restarted. (One might argue that this is still the issue of getting started, just from a new, unexpected, starting place.) For example, just now, I remembered that my coffee should be ready. I know that if I leave to get that coffee, this article will likely sit in an open tab in Chrome for DAYS, and that’s if I ever get back to it at all.
On the other hand, when I do get going, the results are often really good. It’s just that I can’t necessarily make myself get going. That’s really more of the whole depression/anxiety side of things, than a pure ADD trait, but it doesn’t matter where it comes from. The fact is, that it holds me up from achieving everything I am capable of achieving, and therefore, it must be dealt with.
Actually Getting Something Done
For nearly four years, we debated what to do with the little patch of land beside the sidewalk to the front of our house. It was once nicely landscaped by the previous owners, but had been let go by us. But, we made a decision to do something… four years ago. There was a plan. To execute the plan we had to go to Home Depot. Then, it turns out that plan was pretty expensive, so we put the project on hold, you know, to do some research and stuff. Then we came up with another plan. Another reason to put it on hold.
Finally, earlier this summer after literally FOUR SUMMERS of plans and no action, my daughter and I dug it up, laid down landscape fabric, covered it with wood chips, and planted three lilac bushes. It looks pretty good. It took less than half a day. Boom! Done.
It came down to the fact that after all of the years of failed plans, my wife officially gave up. (I’m not blaming her, but she has the design skills and planning skills. I just copy what I see someone else do.) The other critical factor was we bought the lilac bushes and put them in big pots, but it turns out, you can’t grow lilac bushes in a pot like that, so they were dying. It was, do something now, or throw away the plants, and the $100 we spent on them. Now, I may be ADD lazy, but I’m also a former financial planner, and a world class tightwad. The reality is that I could have thrown them away and not cared, but I knew in the back of my mind that I would have to buy something else to replace them, and when it comes to spending money, I always want to spend it on Hawaii, not house stuff.
Editors note: I just went and got the coffee. That was a foolish decision, but I really wanted it. And, having mocked myself earlier in the article, I made a deal with myself that I would, for sure, come back to writing. I usually weasel out of these kinds of deals with myself (they aren’t REAL deals), but having just talked about it, I was able to see the problem coming and avoid it by rushing up, and back down before I could move my brain onto something else. — This is the point of this article, if you can see it coming, you can avoid it (sometimes).
The problem is that motivation is fleeting. So, I did two things that ended up ensuring the project would actually go. (I didn’t do either of these things intentionally. I realized after the fact, when I was trying to figure out why I can do some things –like this project– but end up not doing other things.) First, I offered my daughter allowance money for helping out. This is important. I never let my kids down. I let myself down all the time, but never my kids. Backing out of the project now, meant taking away an opportunity that I had promised her. Not going to happen if I can help it. Second, I didn’t plan. I didn’t figure it out. We measured quickly, and we went straight to home depot. We bought that red cedar mulch (it’s what they use at the Botanic Gardens), and came straight home, unloaded the bags, and started digging. Once we had part of it ready, we stopped digging and moved onto laying down the landscape fabric and wood chips. (It’s disheartening to work hard and then still have a long way to go, so “completing” parts is a good strategy if you can make it work.) Before you know it we were done.
Go! Go! Go!
Total time from initial motivation to DOING SOMETHING: Less than 10 minutes. — This is critical.
Total time from start to finish of project: Less than a day. — Not always practical, but super helpful.
Basking in my success, I announced that on Monday I would go get sod and fix the backyard. No plan, just sod the whole thing. Plus, I would figure out how to glue down the loose bricks on the back patio.
Boom! Nice yard, no more weeds, stable bricks.
My wife gave me that look that says, not only do I not really approve of what you are doing, you should already know why I don’t approve of it.
So, I stopped. We talked… for 45 minutes. Have we really decided to keep the brick patio? Do we really want the whole thing to be grass? Do we want a deck, a platform, a pergola?
You can probably guess what happened from there.
We planned. We agreed. NEXT WEEKEND, we went to Home Depot. It would take $1000+ to execute the plan, and not just a weekend, but WEEKENDS… several actually.
Was that really the way we wanted to spend our summer?
My yard is still full of weeds and loose bricks.
The key to living successfully with ADD / ADHD, is knowing what it is and how it affects you. I don’t mean the fancy descriptions in all those ADD Books you probably already read, or about executive function, and serotonin levels. I mean, what trips you up. When does it happen, and can you see it coming, and if so, can you head it off at the pass?
Like many people with ADD, I have some level (relatively low I think) of depression and anxiety that makes forcing myself to so something very difficult. If I can just harness any motivation that does pop up, that really helps. It’s not the whole ballgame, but it helps a lot. Unfortunately, some things that need to be done I’m never motivated to do. But, for those other things, the key is to catch that momentum, get it going, and keep it going.
I’m calling this idea crashing forward. For me (and I bet for a lot of others) the main issue is letting all of those “other” things that are in the way stop us. Nike used to say, Just Do It, and that’s right, just doing something is great, but just do what? Therein lies the rub. If just doing it, means setup, prep, thinking, designing, planning, scheduling, and so on, then it’s game over. What I need is to crash through those steps and just get going. Will I make mistakes? Yes. Will things go wrong? Yes. Will I maybe do it the wrong way and have to do it over? Again, yes.
I will DO IT!
This is the key. Imagine if for the backyard, I hadn’t said anything. Imagine I had just gone out and sodded the whole thing and glued down the bricks. That doesn’t mean we couldn’t have planned out something better. It doesn’t mean we couldn’t have done it the following weekend. But, if, in the very likely circumstance, it took a little while to execute, we would have a nice yard in the meantime. Now, it’s fall, and I don’t really have time, and… here we go again.
It comes down to the difference between the long-game and the short-game. I win the long game by playing the short game. I’ll never finish a full curriculum on my own, but you bet I can finish a crash course when my energy and enthusiasm is high. That’s what I need, a way to turn everything into the crash course version. Not just any crash course, but the crashiest possible course.
That’s my new project: Crashiest.
It’s a time management, organization, to-do list, motivation, all natural ADD treatment, planning, task management, completion system. — I bought the domain name a year ago. There is still no website. Why? I’ve been looking at whether to make it a blog or a regular website, researching frameworks, looking at templates, picking fonts, deciding on how to code the site, figuring out linking and design and….
You get the picture. Obviously I have work to do, both on myself, and on that website / system / program.
I’m headed there next to build it. I made a mistake coming here and blogging about it first, but I still have some motivation, so… wish me luck.
If it worked this time (09/20/2016), by the end of the day you should see something at crashiest.com when you click. I’m going to crash forward right here, right now.
I’m going to make it a regular website. I’ll add a blog. I’m going to use the Zurb Foundation framework/template thing, but I’m going to leave off all the extras. I can add them in later if I choose.
It should be ugly to start. It should have a lame design, and need some work. It should not be ready for me to use as a project sample for my web development career. Not yet.
But, what it should be is THERE, because I did something, instead of “working on it.”