ADHD Accountability Group

From about September through December last year, I signed up for Eric Tivers ADHD Coaching and Accountability Group. It was a great experience. Eric’s exactly the right kind of guy to be running a group like this. He knows a lot, he’s an experienced coach and therapist, and, significantly, he’s very, very clear that he’s on the journey too. He isn’t the expert handing down wisdom from on high, he’s the guide who’s a few clicks out in front of us, surveying the landscape, sifting and sorting through all the data (and apps!), and then living into and through it.


There were a dozen or us. We met between two and four times a week, depending on what was going on. Typically, we’d meet on Monday to set goals for the week and to get insight some aspect of goal setting and time management. Then, on Friday, we’d meet to see how we did and, always, talk about what worked. That’s one of the things I really liked – being pushed to review “what worked” – though I admit I sometimes found it hard to do. I had (and still have) difficulty believing I will take those successes and learnings and implement them in the long term. Reality argues against it – I’m continuing several of the things I learned – but the fear is still there.

One key learning for me was to really embrace the category: “things I’m not doing any time soon” and even “things I may never get to.” Over the last year (and probably longer), I’ve spent a lot of time culling my “to do” list. At one point, I was averaging at least an hour a day on this. It was insane but I was trapped in my model. (I was using a modified version of SCRUM [a software development methodolody] and did have the categories of “active work” and “backlog” [my terms, not theirs], but even at that, my “active work” list contained dozens and dozens of items.)

I hate walking away from any of my ideas. I feel like I’m abandoning them. I love the idea of “things I am not getting to soon”. It’s very helpful – I don’t feel like I’ve orphaned good ideas or like the ideas were bad. They are all good, I just can’t do them all. (Right now.)

Getting the backlog out of my head and on paper has side benefits: it both frees up bandwidth for you to think about other things, and it can transform what seems like an infinite swirl of ideas into a finite number.

The other thing Eric introduced was the mind map. (I use the desktop version of Simple Mind, though I’m not recommending it over others, I haven’t used many others. There is also a free app that does an excellent job.)

When Eric introduced the idea, I was reluctant. I already had everything dumped and organzied in Wunderlist (a tool I also love and recommend) and I didn’t want to go through a data transfer. By hand.

On the other hand, I wanted to really engage in the class, do the work, not resist. So I gritted my teeth and went for it. And it turned out I liked it. It’s a nice way to see everything at a glance, a lot better than my “pages of Post-it notes” approach.

The biggest benefit to me was having everyone visible at once – I’ve heard that from others too. A big side benefit was that I dropped a lot of the backlog, which reduced my workload by about 30%. I just printed out those lists. I wasn’t going to manually input things I may never get to.

I’m on-and-off about working with Star Charts. I understand the benefit and I’ve done it a few times (in fact, I’m doing it this week), but I don’t think it’ll last forever. I’m good with a checklist I have embedded in my day planning sheet. I’ll put up a post on that later, someone might find it helpful.

The other facet I wanted to mention was the people – the other folks enrolled in the group. There’s more I want to say, but this entry is getting long, so I’ll just say that it’s always a treat meeting people who are facing some simliar issues and all of us working through them together.

And, circling back to something I said earlier, I think this is one of the strongest things Eric brings to the experience: a very clear sense that we’re all going through this together.

That’s very important to me, knowing I am not alone.

Physical / Tactile / Nostalgic / Beneficial?

IMG_3240I’m still working my way through digitizing all of my old reel-to-reel tapes but I noticed something today. I’m going to miss the feeling of threading the tape through the transports and onto the take-up reel. I remembered how much I liked threading the 8mm film through the projector or even crawling under an old beater car to wire the muffler and tailpipe back to the frame to save a few dollars on repairs (my cars never lasted more than a few years anyway).

Naturally, that got thinking…

There’s been a lot written over the years about the value of engaging with the physical world. One of the earliest I remember is the book “Chop Wood, Carry Water” (the title comes from a Zen quote “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water”). I’ve seen articles about how kids are being affected by being distanced from nature, whether it’s urban/suburban living or the X-box (etc, etc). The topic is even subtext for movies like “The Matrix” or “Surrogates” (a truly creepy movie).

In ADHD world, I’ve seen it mentioned in a few places. For example, an article on kids and gardening in ADDitude Magazine or a study from University of Illinois about how walking can help with ADHD symptoms.

I think a lot of us have experienced this. And if not, why not give it a try?

If you  hit the wall on a problem, get up and take a walk around the office or around the house. If you feel some frustration coming on with the task you’re doing, stand up and take a few breaths or stretch.

Make sure you spend some time during the day doing something physical. Maybe not “build a playhouse in the backyard”, but sit down and doodle or color a few pages (all the rage these days). If you have kids, play a little catch or take a bike ride. (OK, I know I’m writing this in January, but you get my point.) If you have a pet, play with it.

If all else fails, you can try to use this as a positive motivation to go do the laundry.