Often when I share with others that I live with ADHD, I’m met with the pretty common response of “but you don’t act like you have ADHD.” Throughout my life, it's been pretty evident to me that there’s a major stigma associated with ADHD along with a whole host of misconceptions; among them that folks like us are altogether incapable of focus, that our lack of attention is just a form of laziness, and that it’s a diagnosis that only applies to children. Although living with an attentional difficulty does come with its challenges, there are a whole host of benefits that aren’t commonly discussed.
Living with ADHD allows us to live life with a sense of spontaneity that can bring upon so many wonderful life experiences. Living with ADHD allows us to experience the excitement of hyper-focus, a common symptom of ADHD in which one can be so intently focused on a task that we forget the world around us. Living with ADHD allows us to be intuitive and curious. Since the ADHD brain lets in a lot of what the non-ADHD brain might consider irrelevant noise, sometimes, ADHDers are able to notice things that others naturally filter out. This allows us to recognize patterns where others may only see chaos--a huge benefit for creativity and problem-solving!
Oftentimes living with ADHD means that the good old trusted organizational strategies that work well for the majority just don’t seem to work quite as well for the ADHD brain. Working productively with an attentional difficulty requires a much more creative and clever approach, but it can absolutely be done. The next time you find yourself having difficulty with focus and productivity, consider using the Time Cube method. It’s a system that has worked wonders for me in terms of productivity and getting things done effectively while living with an attentional difficulty.
The Time Cube Method
The Time Cube is essentially a fancy kitchen timer shaped like (you guessed it) a cube. There are durations of times written on each of its sides, anywhere between 5 minutes to 60 minutes.
The key strategy behind the Time Cube is that it can help with compartmentalizing tasks. By doing this, we are teaching our ADHD brains to focus on one small task at a time, instead of the big picture. We are learning to allocate a specific amount of time to individual tasks, rather than multitasking and then feeling even more distracted.
So how does it work? Begin your day by writing out the most important tasks that you are hoping to complete on that day. Decide for yourself how much time you should allot to each task. For example, allocating 60 minutes in the evening to finish up a work assignment or school paper, or allotting yourself 10 minutes in the morning to catch up on emails. Set the timer on your Time Cube and remind yourself that this time you have set is for that task and that one only. The minute the timer rings, take a break, have a snack, and begin your timer for the next task. This teaches our ADHD brains how to compartmentalize tasks and encourages us to utilize the ADHD superpower of hyper-focusing on the tasks that we’ve deemed most important for the day.
When we’re having a day full of distractions, we can likely feel pretty frustrated with ourselves and our ADHD. Being mean to ourselves about it, however, doesn’t increase our focus. Rather, we can see it as an exciting challenge to get creative in exploring tools and productivity hacks that work specifically for us. And if all else fails, remind yourself that you share your ADHD brain with the likes of Albert Einstein, Michael Jordan, AND Richard Branson (which is pretty cool if I do say so myself!).