Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Power of Autopilot

When our son was three he used to go to a daycare that was on my way to work.  One Saturday morning as I was on that road headed to the grocery store I found myself pulling into the daycare parking lot.  It took me a minute to realize that a) I didn't have my child with me. b) It wasn't even a weekday.  When we do things on a daily basis, we learn how to do it so well we eventually start doing it on autopilot.  In my case, I seem to turn the autopilot on and zone out so fast it isn't even funny.  This can be hard to deal with when the autopilot decides that we should log on, cycle through facebook, IM's, email, and youtube instead of paying a bill.  Whoosh!  There went an hour.  

The good news is that we can make out ADD brains tendency to cruise on autopilot work for us.  There's a couple of ways that you can do this:  
  1. Work with a focused friend.  This is by far my favorite way to get things done.  When I'm talking to a friend it's easy to clean up the muckiest messes and come up with the greatest ideas.  This seems to work best for me in person and over the phone - I haven't yet been motivated by text messages, IM, or twitter.  I'm hoping to try Skype cleaning to see if that works as well as an in person visit.  I'll keep you posted on that. 
  2. Distraction.  I know you're probably going "Wait a second! Stop!  I read this because I'm trying to figure out *not* to be distracted, and here you are telling me to distract myself to get things done?  Explain yourself, Phera!"  Here's what happens to me:  My mind wanders when I'm sorting socks, doing dishes, sweeping up, or any of the zillion mindless things that have to be done around the house.  I find it really helpful to have some sort of an anchor to keep my mind from wandering.  This can be a cleaning podcast or watching a movie while I do laundry, even a really good radio station.  I think of this directed distraction as as kind of trellis - I can do anything around the trellis that I want to, but in the end I'm growing up towards the sun. 
  3. Repetition.  By far my least favorite method, I'm including this because it works.  Yes.  If you do something enough times, it becomes a habit and you'll do it without even thinking about it.  Why isn't this my favorite? Well, it's really really really hard to do a routine enough times to make it a habit.  Once again, this is where the cleaning podcasts come in really handy.  It's easier to start small, so I'd recommend a short 15 minute routine to begin:  AM Basics or PM Perkup are good 15 minute routines to start off with.
My advice for the day?  Accept that your brain will sometimes want to do things that drive you nuts, and work with your strengths, not against them. 

1 comment:

  1. Let's try number 1 and see Skype works so we can rule it in or out.

    I'm noticing the more I have routines and new habits the less noticable my ADD symptoms are.