Learning to Take a Break

The other night I spent several hours working on a small but important part of this website. I’ve had readers who signed up for my newsletter and had trouble with some of the links, so I was trying to fix those and change the sign up box as well.

This is normally something that would take 30 minutes, tops. I spent about 3-4 hours on it and, as you can see, I didn’t finish. (Well maybe you can’t see because you don’t know what I wanted to change, so trust me on that.)

At the end of the night, I realized that what I had been trying to do manually was actually something that was done automatically if I approached things correctly.

Here’s my point: at times, those of us with ADHD struggle mightily to do something that would normally be done in a flash.

And being the stubborn people that we are (what? you mean it’s just me?), we keep trying over and over with no success. Yes, I know the definition of insanity….

What we need to learn to do instead is to step back, take a break, and try again later, preferably in a day or two.

Just like our ADHD, our brains are inconsistent. We can be computer whizzes one day and totally incompetent the next.

This is one of the reasons that kids with ADHD struggle so much in school. The math lesson they learned on Monday made perfect sense until Tuesday or Wednesday, when it completely vanished from the face of the earth.

What happens is that our brains have a “unique” way of filing things. Most people’s brains take a piece of information that they want to be able to retrieve again later and store it in a logical place.

That “logical” place is our problem.

Let’s say you just got a new DVD player and you want to watch one of your favorite movies – Snakes on a Plane. (Please tell me that’s not one of your favorite movies.)

So you have to learn to use your new player in order to watch your movie. And because you’re looking forward to watching your movie, your ADD brain may associate operating your DVD player with snakes and planes rather than something more logical like electronic devices.

Now the next time you want to watch a movie, your brain will remember that the last time you used the DVD player, you watched Snakes on a Plane. So, it looks for DVD player under snakes and planes, you remember how to operate the DVD and all is good.

Let’s flash forward to a few months and many movies from now. Most likely you know how to operate the DVD by now without the use of snakes or planes.

But one night, you just can’t figure it out. And you don’t remember that Snakes on a Plane was the first movie you watched on your new player.

Even though you’ve been doing it for months, all of a sudden, without that prompt, your brain can’t find the instructions for operating the DVD. It goes wandering through the halls and file cabinets of your brain looking for the right file, with no luck.

It happens, for lots of reasons.

Maybe you’re tired, or stressed, or just have too much on your mind.

That’s when you need to learn to take a break, and try again later.

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About Brenda Nicholson

I am an ADHD Expert, Coach, and Consultant. I want you to learn how to celebrate your life with ADHD too.

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