The other day I had a conversation with some friends on a business Facebook group I belong to. One of the women said that she was my ideal reader and asked if I had any advice on taming squirrels. I jokingly said I had nothing about squirrels, but did write a post once about herding cats. That video still makes me laugh.
But really. Taming squirrels? Herding cats?
Doesn’t that describe our brains perfectly?
And sometimes it can be SO hard.
You sit down to do something and it’s like your brain just got emptied out completely, or everyone and everything just showed up at once.
People who don’t have ADHD have no idea what it’s like.
And all of the funny, descriptive methods we use really don’t explain it. Nor do they convey the amount of frustration we experience – not just on a daily basis – but on a minute by minute basis at times.
Prioritizing is hard for us to begin with, but to be able to order things at all means that you have to somehow get them out of your head and down on a piece of paper or in a document of some kind. (Actually typing it out would probably be faster, especially if you could click and drag the list to reorder it.)
Whipping Those Squirrels into Shape
So what do we do? Is there an easy way to make some sense and order out of the chaos in our brains?
I know that a lot of people rely on medication for that, and if it works for you, that’s great.
For me, one dose of ADHD medication – which is meant for 4 hours – gives me about two and a half hours worth of focus. It also gives me the urge to talk A LOT (I’m a very quiet person), as well as a headache and anxiety.
Most days, it’s not worth it to me.
So what can we do instead?
I think the biggest key is to get as much as we can out of our head.
And yes, I know how hard that is.
Some days, it just feels like a fog that I can’t even see. I don’t know what’s in there, much less how to get it out.
A Few Suggestions
I don’t think that there’s ever just one solution to anything.
And sometimes what works one time, won’t work the next. Situations change and you need something different.
So I’ve got a few ideas that work for me. And be warned: some days, they just won’t. The squirrels in our brain have run amok and there’s just no controlling them.
Here are my ideas:
- Get things out of your head and onto a piece of paper or a computer document. If you’re using paper, I would suggest a page in your planner or a notebook that you keep. That way you can refer back to them. Most likely many of the squirrels are really things you need to do or remember, and this way you will have them.
- At some point, it would be wise to prioritize your list. That way, you can concentrate on the most important tasks or ideas and take care of them. (I used to think that just tackling a few quick and easy ones was a good idea, but I’m taking a class on productivity and that’s not the best idea. The little ones might be easy, but are they leading you towards your goals?)
- If I do my list on paper, I just write until I can’t think of anything else. Then I go back and number the items in terms of priority. Once the task is done, I highlight it. I think it’s more motivating seeing that page fill up with all those bright colored highlights.
- If you do your list on the computer, I did some research for something that would let you reorder the list as you need. And what did I find? Only my favorite thing – Trello! It’s free and I love it. Once you create a board and list, you can create a card for all of your thoughts. Use the checklist option on the right hand side menu. Once all of your ideas are on there, you can drag them wherever you want in order to put them in order.
- If all else fails, walk away for a while. Stop trying to get anything done. I know. Sometimes that’s not possible. But it is possible to take a short bathroom break (if you’re at work). What you’re looking for is just a few minutes of quiet. Try and rest your brain and see if it helps. If you can, do a short meditation, or even just zone out on your phone for a few minutes.
Hopefully some of these ideas will work for you and those busy squirrels. If you have anything to add, please comment below.
And if you need further instructions on Trello, leave a comment and I’ll add it to the comments.